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rules for genetive declension of female nouns ending in 'a'


solaris783 4 | 7
21 Jan 2014 #1
I'll preface this by saying that it's been difficult gathering the rules of declension. Most sources like books, websites, and course materials give an incomplete abbreviated version. If anyone has a source with a complete set of *every rule* for declension, please let me know. I know a lot of them are special cases, but it would be good to have the non-special case rules.

Here's what I've gathered thus far:
SINGULAR: if the second to last letter is...
k, g, j, or l then the declension ends in an i:
dziewczynka -> dwiewczynki
droga -> drogi
kolacja -> kolacji
koszula -> koszuli
If the second to last letter is 'i', just drop the 'a' for domestic words...
kawiarnia -> kawiarni
...and add an extra 'i' for foreign-derived words:
harmonia -> harmonii
For all other second to last letters, use a 'y':
eg, koperta -> koperty

PLURAL:
If the second to last letter is a 'k' then the ending becomes 'ek':
dziewczynka -> dziewczynek
This one I'm vague on, but the examples I've looked at all seem to pan out:
if the word ends in 'cza' then it ends in a 'y' (and equal to singular genetive):
pomarańcza -> pomarańczy
In foreign-derived words where the second to last letter is an 'i', you add an extra 'i' (and equal to singular genetive):
harmonia -> harmonii
if the word ends in 'oga', you make it 'óg':
droga -> dróg
In all other cases, you omit the last letter:
kawiarnia -> kawiarni
koszula -> koszul

Does this sound complete? Anything I'm missing? Thanks in advance!

I'll add that I'm doing this because I'm writing a program to help me with Polish. As I'm reading srories, lessons, news, etc, I can highlight a any word and the program would give me the meaning of the word, which declension is being used, and why. Don't know if it will be useful to anyone else after I'm further along but for now it's an interesting hobby :)

Information is so spread out about Polish. I just wanted other people's input. For example, the words ending in 'cza' becoming 'czy' is one rule I don't see written anywhere.
Paulina 9 | 1,448
21 Jan 2014 #2
Does this sound complete? Anything I'm missing? Thanks in advance!

Solaris783, I must say I'm impressed - I'm a native speaker and I wasn't even aware of those rules lol I guess as kids we simply learn all of this stuff by heart unconsciously.

So I'm afraid I can't help you with this...

I'll add that I'm doing this because I'm writing a program to help me with Polish. As I'm reading srories, lessons, news, etc, I can highlight a any word and the program would give me the meaning of the word, which declension is being used, and why.

Sounds cool :)
OP solaris783 4 | 7
22 Jan 2014 #3
Hey Paulina, thanks for the reply. I'm curious, what is covered in Polish grammar as you're going through school (primary, secondary, high school)?

I'm adding feminine words not ending in 'a':

Singular and Plural for these cases are always the same.

If it ends in ć, ń, ni, ź, l, ś, then add an 'i' and ending accented letters lose their accent:
czerwień -> czerwieni
nowość -> nowości
myśl -> myśli
łódź -> łodzi

If the first vowel before then ending consonant is an 'ó', it also loses its accent:
łódź ->łodzi
sól -> soli
* note that 'ł' counts as a vowel in regards to this rule (żółć becomes żółci -> 'ó' stays intact)

Exceptional case: ending 'ieś' becomes 'si'
wieś -> wsi

If it ends in cz, rz, c, ż, then add a 'y'
twarz ->twarzy
podróż -> podróży
moc -> mocy

** went through a ten thousand word dictionary noting all cases I saw...whew!
cinek 2 | 344
22 Jan 2014 #4
I'm writing a program to help me with Polish.

I'm a programmer too and wish you luck with that task. And I want to warn you that collecting all the available forms (declensions, conjugations, plurals, genders etc.) of Polish words to make you program work is a HUGE task. So I think you should try using an external dictionary. This one: sjp.pl has a very useful feature that allows for finding the 'base' word given any form of it (which is not so obvious in other dicts). Once you have the base you can find the full table of declinations/conjugations in any other online dict (e.g. wictionary.org).

Cinek
OP solaris783 4 | 7
22 Jan 2014 #5
wow, thanks cinek! I thought I did a fair amount of research into online dictionaries but didn't find one that did what you're saying. I'll try it out...

I feel finding / writing all the rules of declension is helping me learn at the moment. Over time I can get an intuitive feel for it (I hope :)
Wlodzimierz 4 | 544
23 Jan 2014 #6
Stanisław Westfal offers an exhaustive commentary on "a" vs. "u" for masculine endings in the genitive singular alone, but I've yet to encounter a similar treatise in English for the feminine endings per se!
ranrod 6 | 35
23 Jan 2014 #7
That is so surprising, Wlodzimierz! A whole book on the genitive masculine alone! Thanks for the reference. I was starting with simpler cases such as female declensions of nouns. I'm going to see if there's any way to programmatically access the dictionary service cinek suggested.
Wlodzimierz 4 | 544
23 Jan 2014 #8
Good idea! Not so sure the feminines are any "easier", they seem however a bit more consistent, i.e. a tad less quirky, than the masculines.

Westfal is but one of several reliable sources. The very disclaimer to the introduction remarks on how complex Polish must be for the foreigner if an entire text is devoted to the final letter distinction for just one single noun gender!!

Problem too might be that for a foreign learner, it's not always that clear which gender is assigned to which noun. Take "odpowiedź" (answer, reply). I know I've encountered nouns with a "-dź" ending which are masculine (although none neuter, to my knowledge), yet seeing a new word for the first time, it wasn't always intuitive for me when I began studying.

This is where a native speaker is always super helpful!

Come to think of it though, we may only be complicating things a trifle.


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