Polish Cases: The Vocative (wołacz) 5/5 (6)

Find out everything you need to know about vocative case in the Polish language and its usage using many practical examples!

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.

Vocative (wołacz)

Vocative is the seventh and thus last case in the Polish grammar. This is a special case, which is mainly used as the form to address people. First names, titles, job titles may be in vocative, but family names are always in the nominative case. With respect to its specific function no question are needed to define this case, an issue being in contrast to remaining cases.

Different endings of vocative forms only occur in singular, in plural the nominative is always used. There is no German or English equivalent for this case. In German, the nominative takes over the vocative’s function of the Polish language.

Usage

The only usage of the vocative is to address people and possibly animals.

Examples:
Szanowna pani!
Dear Mrs …!

Mój drogi przyjacielu!
My dear friend!

Co robisz, człowieku!
Man, what are you doing!

Szefie, co mamy robić?
Boss, what should we do?

Nouns in vocative – declension

Masculine singular (Liczba pojedyncza rodzaju męskiego)

Vocative masculine form in the singular is similar to the locative, for example all male nouns receive the -e or -u ending. The specific usage of this ending depend on the last letter of the noun and is described in details in the chapter Locative.

There are few exceptions like masculine nouns ending in -ec as ojciec (father) or chłopiec (boy). While in the locative they receive -u ending (ojcu, chłopcu), in vocative form the proper ending is -cze. These forms are quite commonly used, but can be considered as sophisticated language usage.

ojciec – ojcze
chłopiec – chłopcze

Example sentences:

Szanowny panie dyrektorze!
Dear Director!

Dzień dobry sąsiedzie!
Good day, neighbour!

*Hej chłopcze, co robisz?
Hey boy, what are you doing?

*Przebacz mi ojcze!
Forgive me father!

Neuter singular (Liczba pojedyncza rodzaju nijakiego)

All neuters in the vocative have the same form as the Nominative, and there are no exceptions.

Example:

Chodź do mnie dziecko!
Come to me, kid!

Feminine singular (Liczba pojedyncza rodzaju żeńskiego)

Feminine and masculine nouns ending with -a in vocative form have -o ending (after the removal of the -a vowel) and are thus are the only ones who have their own ending in vocative.

NominativeVocative
koleżanka (colleague)koleżanko
mama (mom)mamo
siostra (sister)siostro
córka (daughter)córko
*tata (dad)tato

The few feminine nouns ending with -i like pani (woman) or gospodyni (landlady) remain unchanged in the vocative – so they are the same as their nominative form.

Examples:

Szanowna pani…
Dear Mrs…

Exception:Some feminine nouns like diminutives and pet names in the vocative receive -u ending, for example:

ciocia (aunt) – ciociu
mamusia (mommy) – mamusiu
Kasia (female first name, Cathy) – Kasiu
babcia (grandma) – babciu

Both the female and the male first names can use -u ending in the vocative form of the nominative. This is particularly common for the addressing beloved people, when nominative is neutral.

Examples:

Marek (nom.) – Marek! (Voc.) / Marku! (Voc.)
Tomek (nom.) – Tomek! (Voc.) / Tomku! (Voc.)

Marek/Marku, chodź do mnie!
Marek, come to me!

Vocative plural (wołacz liczby mnogiej)

All masculine, feminine and neuter vocative forms in plural are the same as nominative.

Example:
Dzieci chodźcie na obiad!
Children, come to dinner!

Overview of common endings in vocative

MasculineLocative
NeuterNominative
Feminine–o/-i
PluralNominative pl.

Adjective in vocative – Wołacz przymiotnikowy

Since the vocative form is used to address people, adjectives are of no use, except in phrases such as:

  1. Dear Mrs (szanowna pani)
  2. Dear Mr (szanowny panie)
  3. Dear Sirs(szanowni państwo)

In such situations the adjective takes the same form as the nominative.

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