Vowel and Consonant Changes

The Polish language is filled with different types of vowel and consonant changes that should be understand in order to understand how words are declined.

Content

ó → o

Many nouns which have an ó near the end of the word in the nominative singular form drop the accent mark when declining. Here are examples in the genitive singular.

ogród → ogrodu.
sól → soli.

Some words still keep the accent:

ból → bólu.

 

o → ó

Some feminine and neuter nouns get this change in the genitive plural.

osoba → osób.

 

ą → ę

Some nouns with ą change this ą to ę.

ząb → zębu.
gołąb → gołębia.
jastrząb → jastrzębia.

 

ę → ą

Some feminine and neuter nouns in the genitive plural form receive this vowel change.

ręka → rąk.
święto → świąt.

 

Mobile e

The mobile e, or the constantly changing positions of the letter e in words, can be a complex topic to understand.

This mobile e can be seen in mainly in nouns and prepositions.

In Nouns

Many nouns either drop or take in e when being declined.

Dropping e

When the e is dropped, sometimes there are vowel and consonant changes. Here are some examples of words in the genitive singular forms.

1. marzec → marca

In this sentence, the rz hardens into r because of the absence of the e.

2. pies → psa

Here, the removal of e hardens the first letter p, thus removing the i. These e drops are usually easy to predict because they make the pronunciation of the word easier.

Other times, the e is dropped without affecting other letters in the word.

1. budynek → budynku

2. garnek → garnka

Adding e

Feminine and neuter nouns often need to add an e to the genitive plural declension.

1. książka → książek

2. biurko → biurek

3. gazeta → gazet

Many times it can be easy to predict whether or not such nouns need an e added. The first 2 sentences need an e because it breaks up a cluster of letters. In sentence 3, no e is needed because there are no letter clusters.

In Prepositions

Some prepositions receive an -e suffix to ease pronounciations.

w (in, on) → wwtorek (on tuesday).

z (with) → Ze mną (with me).

przed (before, in front of) → przede wszystkim (first of all).

 

Consonant Changes

When ci, dzi, ni, si, or zi are in word final positions in the genitive case for feminine and neuter nouns, they usually change back into their forms with accents (i.e. removing the final i and adding an accent make).

mieszkanie (flat) → mieszkań

babcia (gramma) → babć

jaskinia (cave) → jaskiń

 

Besides in the genitive case, a couple of words have consonant changes in all forms besides the nominative singular. Here are the genitive forms of such words.

kocioł (pot/couldron) → kotła