Polish Cases: The Accusative (biernik) 3.43/5 (7)

Find out everything you need to know about accusative case (biernik) in the Polish language and its usage.

This page is part of the chapter “Cases in the Polish language“.

This article is under development. It may still contain presentational or spelling errors that will be resolved shortly.

Accusative (biernik)

The accusative is the fourth case in the grammar of the Polish language. It is related to the activity or function relative to the described object. It can be used as a single or prepositional case. The accusative answers to the questions kogo? (who?), co? (what?) and its usage is mostly the same as in the English or German language.

Questions:

  • kogo? – who?
  • co? – what?

With the question kogo? (who?) you refer to people and with co? (what?) to things. The accusative case has only one “new” ending compared to other cases, and is therefore quite easy to learn. Only the division of masculine can cause a bit of confusion.

Usage

The accusative is used with transitive verbs, similar to the German language. The most important transitive verbs are presented below:

  • robić – do / make
  • badać – examine
  • brać – take
  • budować – build
  • całować – kiss
  • czytać – read
  • jeść – eat
  • kupić/kupować – buy
  • kochać – love
  • znać – know
  • bić – beat
  • malować – paint
  • mieć – have
  • nieść/nosić – carry
  • piec – bake
  • pisać – write
  • zamykać – close
  • chwalić – commend
  • lubić – like
  • tłumaczyć – explain
  • trzymać – keep
  • witać – welcome
  • ubrać/ ubierać – dress
  • spędzać – spend

In sentences, the accusative is used mainly with transitive verbs, here are usage examples:

1) Object indication in affirmative sentence (in negative sentences genitive is always required):

Examples:

Dziecko czyta książkę. (Co czyta dziecko?)
The child reads a book. (What does the child read?)

Chętnie spędzam wolny czas ze znajomymi.
I like to spend my free time with friends.

Patryk bije swojego brata. (Kogo bije Patryk?)
Patryk beats his brother. (Who does Patryk beat?)

2) With some prepositions like przez (through/over), po (in the German language used with the verb abholen or “pick up” ), na (in, on – only with verbs regarding to motion, otherwise used with dative):

Dzieci biegły przez łąkę.
Children run over the field.
The children ran through the meadow.

On idzie przez las.
He walks through woods.

Przyjdę jutro po ciebie i razem pojedziemy do lekarza.
I’ll pick you up tomorrow and we come together to the doctor.

Oni często chodzą na dyskotekę.
They often go to the discotheque.

3) In certain phrases to reflect the timing or spatial restriction:

Ona pracuje cały dzień.
She works all day.

Nie spałam całą noc.
I did not sleep the whole night.

Całe wakacje spędziłam nad morzem.
I spent the whole summer holidays at sea.

4) To describe physical or mental condition (mostly with verbs that are used only in the third grammatical person, like boleć – hurt, swędzieć – itch, cieszyć – enjoy nudzić – get bored and so on).

Boli mnie noga.
My leg hurts.

Psa swędzi łapa.
Dog’s paw itches.

Uczniów strasznie nudzi ta książka.
The book makes the students terribly bored.

Nouns in accusative – declension

Masculine Singular (Liczba pojedyncza rodzaju męskiego)

The accusative of masculine noun does not have specific ending. Depending on the meaning, ending of the genitive or the nominative is used. Therefore in the accusative animated masculine and masculine personal use -a ending in accordance with the genitive.

Examples:

Widzę chłopca.
I see a boy.

Ona bierze kota na ręce.
She takes the cat in her hands.

The inanimate masculine nouns in the accusative case are however the same as their nominative form.

Examples:

Widzę stół.
I see the table.

Wczoraj kupiłam nowy wazon.
I bought a new vase yesterday.

The phenomenon of animate and inanimate masculine, and masculine personal is precisely descibed in the Grammatical genderschapter.

Exceptions

But as in most cases there also are some exceptions to these rules, so that even the inanimate masculine nouns may get the ending -a of the animate masculine. This occurs mostly when the inanimate masculine is customized or personalized, for example:

– Names of plants, fruits, vegetables, dishes:

Dziecko je pomidora.
The child eats the tomato.
Das Kind isst Tomate.

On kupił dla swojej dziewczyny piękne tulipany.
He bought beautiful tulips for his girlfriend.

– Company names of cars, cigarettes or drinks:

On kupi sobie fiata albo mercedesa.
He will buy a Fiat or a Mercedes.

Oni zawsze piją jelcyna.
They always drink the Jelzin vodka.

Lubię pić szampana.
I like to drink champagne

– Names of dance genres, games or currency units:

Najlepiej umiem tańczyć walca.
The best dance I know is waltz.

Ona dobrze gra w tenisa.
She plays tennis good.

Masz dolara?
Have you got a dollar?

– In many fixed phrases:

Ja zawsze mam w życiu pecha.
I always have bad luck in my life.

On dostał kosza od swojej dziewczyny.
His girlfriend left him.

Ona ma stracha.
She is scared.

Neuter Singular (Liczba pojedyncza rodzaju nijakiego)

The accusative of neuter is the same as the nominative (to find out more about neuter see nominative and grammatical genders chapters).

Examples:
W rogu stoi stół. (nom.)
A table stands in the corner.

Znam ten stół. (acc.)
I recognize this table.

Moja siostra kupiła nowe mieszkanie. (acc.)
My sister bought a new flat.

To mieszkanie od dawna stało puste. (nom.)
The apartment is empty for a long time.

Feminine singular (Liczba pojedyncza rodzaju żeńskiego)

The feminine (and masculine personal*) forms receive new ending, as for the accusative. The suffix -e is added and replaces the trailing-a.

NominativeAccusative
koleżanka ( colleague (woman))koleżan
mama (mom)mamę
lekarka (doctor (woman))lekar
szkoła (school)szkołę
gazeta (newspaper)gazetę
córka (daughter)córkę
kobieta (woman)kobie
mężczyzna (man)*mężczyznę *

Examples above show clearly that creation of accusative of the feminine is easy, since there are no exceptions, letter changes or reductions.

Exception:

The feminine form of pani (woman/lady) is the only feminine noun, that do not end with but :

Widzę panią już po raz drugi w tym tygodniu.
I see you the second time this week.

Some feminine forms, ending with a consonant like noc (night), złość (anger), myśl (idea), wieś (village), jesień (autumn) behave like inanimate masculine and are the same as nominative, so they remain unchanged. But they are rarely used in their accusative form.

Example:

Jak mnie odwiedzisz, to pokażę Ci moją wieś.

When you visit me, I’ll show you my village.

Accusative plural (biernik liczby mnogiej)

The plural form of the accusative is very simple, since it almost always correspond to the nominative plural. Only the accusative of masculine personal follow the genitive plural rule.

Examples:

Accusative pl. = genitive Pl.

Masculine personal

Widzę dwóch panów.
I see two men. (acc)

Tych panów nie ma w domu.
These men are not home. (gen.)

Spotkałam dziś moich braci.
I met my brothers today. (acc.)

To są córki moich braci.
They are my brothers’ daughters (gen.)

Accusative pl.= nominative pl.

Inanimate masculine

Accusative pl. = genitive pl.

Remaining animate masculine

Kupiłam dwa stoły.
I bought two tables. (acc.)

W pokoju stoją dwa stoły.
Two tables stand in the room. (nom.)

Widzę moje psy.
I see my dogs. (acc.)

Moje psy śpią w domu.
My dogs sleep at home. (nom.)

Accusative pl. = nominative pl.

Neuter and feminine

Na targu kupiłam dwie książki.
I bought two books on the market. (acc.)

Te książki są bardzo interesujące.
These books are very interesting. (nom.)

Oglądaliśmy dwa mieszkania.
We looked at two flats. (acc.)

Te mieszkania są dla nas za drogie.
These flats are too expensive for us. (nom.)

Overview of accusative endings

Masculine

  • animate masculine = genitive sg.
  • masculine personal = genitive sg.
  • inanimate masculine = nominative sg.

Neuter = nominative sg.

Feminine -> –ę

Plural

  • animate masculine = nominative pl.
  • inanimate masculine = nominative pl.
  • masculine personal = genitive pl.

Neuter = nominative pl.

Feminine = nominative pl.

Adjective in accusative – Biernik przymiotników

Adjectives in the accusative follow exactly the same rule as nouns, their declension is similar in most cases to the declension of adjectives in the nominative and in the other, few cases the same as for genitive. Only feminine has its own ending of accusative form. Following examples will demonstrate this clearly:

Masculine: masculine personal and animate = genitive

Wczoraj spotkałam naszego nowego sąsiada.
Yesterday I met our new neighbour.

Moja córka troszczy się o swojego nowego psa.
My daughter take care of her new dog.

Inanimate masculine = nominative

Kupiłam nowy stół.
I bought a new table.

Widziałaś mój drogi samochód?
Did you see my expensive car?

Adjectives related to animate and masculine personal receive also -ego ending in accordance with the genitive, the inanimate form receives the -y/i ending of the nominative

Neuter = nominative

To stare biurko dostałam od mojej babci.
I got this old desk from my grandmother.

On kupił sobie drogie auto.
He bought an expensive car.

Adjectives that refer to neuter in the accusative case receive the -e/-ie ending of the nominative.

Feminine = nominative

Czytam właśnie interesującą książkę.
I’m just reading an interesting book.

Na urlopie spotkał swoją pierwszą miłość.
He met his first girlfriend during vacation.

Adjectives that refer to feminine nouns receive suffix in their accusative form and thus are the only ones – compared to neuter and masculine – to have their own ending.

Feminine
AdjectiveNoun
no eding allowed

Plural

In their plural form adjectives behave identically as nouns. According to this all forms except the masculine personal have the -e ending, the same as nominative. Masculine personal however, is the same as the genitive, so its ending is -ych/-ich (refer also to the chapter about the nominative and genitive).

Examples:

Moja mama piecze pyszne ciasta. (neuter)
My mother bakes delicious cakes.

Chętnie czytam stare książki historyczne. (feminine)
I love reading old history books.

Dziecko wzięło na ręce małe pieski. (animate masculine)
The child took these little dogs in his hands.

Uwielbiam stare samochody. (inanimate masculine)
I love old cars.

Poznałam ciekawych kolegów. (masculine personal)
I met great colleagues.

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