How to Decline Names and Surnames in Polish?
Spelling of names and surnames in Polish is one of the most challenging problems in our language. This is the reason I decided to make a little overview illustrating this problematic issue. My students are always surprised and shocked when they realize that sometimes their name has five forms. For example:
Nominative – To jest John. (This is John.)
Genitive – Nie ma Johna. (John is not here.)
Dative – Dziękuję Johnowi za pomoc. (I thank you John for help.)
Accusative – Lubię Johna. (I like John.)
Instrumental – Idę z Johnem do pubu. (I go with John to the pub.)
Locative – Mówię o Johnie. (I talk about John.)
Vocative – O! John! (O! John! – being positively surprised when we see John on the street).
For some of the students it is hard to accept so many forms of their names because they do not recognize themselves when somebody is saying: “ Szukam Victora”. (I am looking for Victor) or “ Idę z Jasonem do kina” (I go with Jason to the cinema). They may feel as though somebody is attacking their personality or editing their name to something more intimate. Some of my students also ask me for support in the idea of not declining their names but unfortunately I cannot say “yes”, because we have to follow the grammar rules. Some foreigners feel happy because five forms of their name is like five different points of view for themselves, for the intricate human nature. I do not know another grammar problem which causes so many philosophic, deep and smart discussions after the part of lesson informing how to inflect names and surnames in Polish!
The grammar rules are strict. Feminine names that ends in ‘ a’ are declined like nouns, for example names Amelia, Herta, Olga, Victoria.
Nominative – To jest Amelia. (This is Amelia.)
Genitive – Nie ma Amelii. (Amelia is not here.)
Dative – Dziękuję Amelii za pomoc. (I thank you Amelia for help.)
Accusative – Lubię Amelię. (I like Amelia.)
Instrumental – Idę z Amelią do pubu. (I go with Amelia to the pub.)
Locative – Mówię o Amelii. (I talk about Amelia.)