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Genitive or accusative? Polish language issue.


hitnroll 2 | 5
10 Dec 2015 #1
I'm using ankiweb to increase vocab and get a better understanding of grammer. One sentence is :

To nie może być nic dobrego

I can't figure out why 'nic dobrego' is used. One thought is that as this is a negative construct then it should be genitive but in that case it would be 'niczego dobrego' ? Or is it still in accusative and we can infer then that what can't be anything good is masc personal or masc inanimate due to it being dobrego and not dobry/dobre/dobrą
Lyzko 31 | 7,812
10 Dec 2015 #2
Polish tends to use the genitive in ways generally unfamiliar to, say, English speakers:-)

The above sentence is one such instance. Other constructions include wishing anyone "a good/nice day", "Enjoy your meal!", "Happy Holidays!" etc... If translated literally, "OF nice day!" (Miłego dnia!), "OF tasty!" (Smacznego!), or "Wesołych Świąt!" (OF happy holidays)....

When indicating possession, the Polish genitive functions much as in other languages, e.g. "Ksiąźka mojego brata" (My brother's book aka "Saxon" genitive) etc...

The tricky or quirky part comes in when Accusative sentences require GENITIVE case endings when the direct object is a LIVING MALE, e.g. "nauczyciel" - teacher (as opposed to "VIRILE" aka NON-MALE, yet masculine living nouns, e.g. "kot" - cat, "pies" - dog etc.. which do NOT require genitive endings!)

This material would need a far lengthier post than I can squeeze in at the moment. Suffice to say, my explanation above DOESN'T stop right there...not by a long shot:-)))
OP hitnroll 2 | 5
10 Dec 2015 #3
Thanks for the reply Lyzko :)

Unfortunately I'm still a little none the wiser about the sentence in my example as to why it says 'nic dobrego' :(

I totally get what you are saying about 'Miłego dnia', 'Smacznego', 'Wesołych Świat' - but in those examples the complete phrase is genitive. In my example shouldn't it be 'niczego dobrego' then if the same applied ?

So that leads me to think this is actually accusative (as you say dobrego can also be accusative) - but I don't understand why it is accusative in a negative construction and also why dobrego is used as opposed to dobry/dobre/dobrą !

Any further clarification greatly received !
Ziemowit 13 | 4,497
10 Dec 2015 #4
To nie może być + nominative.
To nie może być : prawda / moja matka / ta książka / nic co kocham / nic.

nic / coś + genitive of something which I suppose is the noun created on the basis of an adjective such as: dobry, miły, ciekawy, fajny, drogi, tani.

nic / coś : dobrego / miłego / ciekawego / fajnego / drogiego / tani

nom: dobre / ciekawe
gen : dobrego / ciekawego
dat : dobremu /ciekawemu
acc : dobre / ciekawe
inst : (z) dobrym /dobrym
loc : (o) dobrym / dobrym

This construction is really hard to understand and I'm not even sure if my explanation is good.
krecik71
10 Dec 2015 #5
As you indicated it Polish grammar is not easy. I think a good example, and a frequently used one, of when accusative sentences need genitive endings is when ordering beer. Proszę duzego Zywca, okocima, etc. The general rule is that a factory produced item that is a well known brand may well need the genitive ending when in the accusative. Also foods that have a foreign name or are frequently used. Proszę burgera, kotleta etc.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,848
10 Dec 2015 #6
the main problem for English speakers is that so few of us even know what 'genitive' 'accusative' and so on even mean.
I mean, I do, but then I have made a point of finding out.
OP hitnroll 2 | 5
10 Dec 2015 #7
I think that is a great explanation Ziemowit.

It seems identical to how you would use dużo + genitive - which is logical when coming from English when you think of genitive as being something of something. eg house of bob (bob's house). So lots of water - dużo wody - is genitive

From what you are saying nic and coś work in the same way as dużo - they take genitive. And in my example it was a genitive adjective. So I just need to remember it as 'nothing of....' or 'something of....' when using nic and coś and use genitive.

Lovely stuff. Bardzo dziękuję :)
Ziemowit 13 | 4,497
10 Dec 2015 #8
nic / coś + genitive

A similar construction as 'nic dobrego' can be met in modern Dutch. Of course, Dutch people do not realize any longer that the genitive is used there as the case system ceased to exist in Dutch, nevertheless they still use phrases like: 'niets belangrijks', 'niets bijzonders' or 'iets lekkers'

So lots of water - dużo wody - is genitive

That's exactly this.
Lyzko 31 | 7,812
10 Dec 2015 #9
"It may not be anything good." is how I would translate your Polish sentence, htnroll!

Just to add to what Ziemowit posted, the "nic dobrego" is simply the Polish genitive used where English wouldn't, that's all.

Word for word translation? "That not may be nothing (of) good.", which makes little if any sense in English:-)

Just a quickie addendum! A common expression is "Nic nowego" i.e. "Nothing new" to the answer "Co słychać?" = Hey, what's up? or "How ya doin'?, What's new? etc."Niczego nowego" would be wrong here because it would merely be redundant:-)

Explain things a bit more?
OP hitnroll 2 | 5
10 Dec 2015 #10
Yup - its all a lot clearer now :)

Thanks for the help everyone !
Lyzko 31 | 7,812
10 Dec 2015 #11
Gladly, htnroll!

Polish is not an easy nut to crack, something I've said over and over again here on PF.
Even amongst Poles there isn't always clarity on correct usage:-)
Ziemowit 13 | 4,497
10 Dec 2015 #12
"Nothing new"

Don't forget the Latin "nihil novi" as in "nihil novi (genitive) sub sole (ablative)"


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