What is the best way to understand and remember the nominative plural form? I tried to understand the logic, but no success.
I always thought that the most important is to know what is hard and what is soft consonants. But I see not that it's not enough.
Example where I'm confused:
cz or rz is hard but ends differently (-e) than other hard consonants (-y) for masc.personal
b, d, f, ch, ł, m, n, p, r, s, t, w, z
ends -y but
c, cz, dz, dż, h, ż, rz, anin, ć, dź, j, l, ń, ś, ź
ends -e (some part is soft some hard)
How can you learn it?
Thank you for any advise...
1. Look at the noun in its singular form.
2. Try to pronounce it in a way that's easier to do so.
3. Check the correct version.
Eventually you should get a grasp. It's a bit of a dick advice, but I don't think there's much point in learning the endings of every word. The plural form isn't as irregular as it is in German, anyway.
ta macierz - te macierze
ta klacz - te klacze
So I think the endings are -e in both cases. Hard to explain why though.
macierz - matrix; klacz - mare
edit: just re-read your post and realized you gave the example, and not were asking to explain it; silly me.
Just did some research into -cz feminine nouns, I don't think only the last sound matters.
ta klacz - te klacze
ta rzecz - te rzeczy
ta rozpacz - no plural
ta ciecz - te ciecze (I had to check it to be sure, it doesn't appear in plural too often)
The hard-and-fast answer:
-neuter nouns replace -e/-o with -a.
The handful of neuter nouns that end in -ę are irregular, as always.
You're familiar with the division into soft and hard consonants:
b, w, f, s, ł, etc. are hard, also ch and h (where did you find that h in feminine nouns enforces Nom.pl. in -e?)
ć, ń, dź, ś, ź, mi, pi, wi, ri, etc. are soft.
sz, dz, cz, dż, rz (all digraphs except ch), and also l, j, ż, c are known as functionally soft consonants: technically they're hard, but in declension they act just like soft consonants (so they require -e in Nom.pl.). The only difference is that ć, ń and the other accented consnants alternate with ci, ni, etc., whereas functionally soft consonants don't.
Simple feminine noun treatment:
Feminine nouns that end in a soft or functionally soft consonant (or have one just before the final -a) have Nom.pl. in -e.
Otherwise, Nom.pl. ends in -i (after k or g) or -y.
As noted above, rzecz and mysz are exceptions --> rzeczy, myszy. I can add myśl-->myśli, and brew--> brwi (rather than brwy).
There are also tons of exceptions among nouns ending in -ść, -ć, -dź.
postać-->postaci/postacie (both forms exist in contemporary Polish)
You can never really be sure with these endings, what the Nom.pl. is. Beware feminine nouns in -ść, -ć and -dź!
Masculine nouns (not people)
As before, soft and functionally soft consonants require -e (very few exceptions, if any).
Other than that, it's -i (if the noun ends in k or g) or -y otherwise.
Masculine nouns (people)
Functionally soft: ending -e
Exceptions: nouns in -c end in -y: sportowiec-->sportowcy, cudzoziemiec-->cudzoziemcy, głupiec-->głupcy
Otherwise (hard stems) you get consonant alternations!
most consonants get -i
ł would change into l, but can't think of a decent example right now.
t would change into ci and d into dzi
Nouns ending in -a get -i or -y with an alternation where appropriate:
mężczyzna-->mężczyźni (zn, st and some other pairs get softened together)
all of the above (on masculine personal nouns) can be thrown away for some nouns which get the ending -owie in Nom.pl. They can't be identified from the Nom.sg. form, you need to know where it happens.
syn-->synopwie (but not syny)
ojciec-->ojcowie (not ojce)
wróg-->wrogowie (not wrodzy)
Sometimes -owie is optional, e.g. both profesorzy and profesorowie is ok, so is psycholodzy and psychologowie, and wnuk-->wnuki/wnukowie. But you can't stick -owie arbitrarily onto any noun: nauczycielowie would be spectacularly wrong.
Pitfall 2: (small)
A few masculine nouns have sneaky soft consonants that don't look soft. This is a historical artifact. Many of them are place names. Three most important ones, to my mind:
"Wrocław" also belongs to this group, but you don't often use the plural of a city name (which would be Wrocławie). This has implications for the Locative, though: we say "we Wrocławiu", but "w Krakowie" (it's the different ending that is important, ignore the difference between we/w---that's a whole different story).