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Czego, Czemu, Co, Kto, Jak, Dlaczego?

18 Apr 2012 #61
It comes from the Russian "POczemu?", only the first syllable is purposely lopped off in Polish vernacular:-)
MeganK 1 | 6
31 Jan 2015 #62
Merged: Questions that help with learning which case to use (difference between co, czego, czym etc.)

Hi, I've been told that when polish children are learning about cases in polish, they know which one to use by working out which question is being answered (for example, co/kto would be answered in nominative and kogo/co = accusative, etc), but I find the problem is that co, czego, czym are all translated as "what" (and kto, kogo, komu, kim are all translated as "who"), so I've been trying to work out what differentiates the different forms of each word..

So far I know a couple, such as the dative questions (komu/czemu) can be translated as "for/to who" and "for what" (in other words, why).

And for instrumental, (z) kim/czym means (with) who/what.
But other than those 2, I get stuck on the other cases, so I wondered if anybody could help?

(So far, I've only really learnt about the accusative, genitive and instrumental cases, and I still have trouble knowing when to use those, so sorry if this is a stupid question- just trying to see the polish language how a polish person would see/learn it)
Ziutek 9 | 160
31 Jan 2015 #63
I think the answer you are looking for is something like this:

kto/co? - who/what?
kogo/co?- who/what?
kogo/czego? - of whom/what?
komu/czemu? - to/for whom/to/for what?
kim/czym? -by means of who/by means of what?
o kim/o czym?- about who/what?

However to write out the cases like this is neither comprehensive nor terribly helpful. For example, (as you point out) it doesn't account for the occasions when kogo/czego just means who/what nor does it clarify the difference between kto/co and kogo/co.

If I understand your question correctly, you are trying to find some unambiguous English translation of, say, kogo/czego in order to help you understand the meaning of mamy/chleba [genitive of mama (mum) and chleb (bread) respectively. But it doesn't work like that. Just as chleba can occur in various grammatical situations (Chleba nie ma - there's no bread, Potrzebujemy chleba - we need bread, Kupiłem dużo chleba - I bought a lot of bread. (only the last example corresponds to the understanding of the genitive as meaning "of" something)), so it is with czego (Czego nie ma? - What isn't there?, Czego potrzebujemy? - What do we need?, Dużo czego kupiłem ? -What did I buy a lot of?)

What you've been told about how Polish children is true, but it is simply to avoid using technical words like mianownik (nominative) and dopełniacz (genitive). Unfortunately it's not a shortcut to learning which cases to use where.
MeganK 1 | 6
31 Jan 2015 #64
Thanks Ziutek,
I think I may just never understand the difference between kto and kogo and stuff like that, but maybe it will come with practice.
Thanks anyway, the examples really help, I think I'm just a slow learner :P

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