"Nowi chłopcy mają stare psy."

Translation:The new boys have old dogs.

December 11, 2015

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Why is it "nowi" instead of "nowe?" I was shocked to see nowi with chopcy yet stare with psy, seeing as they are both masculine and plural.


Probably I'm not the right person to explain this as I'm not a teacher and I feel like all my grammar knowledge just disappeared since I was going to school... ;) Anyway, plural nouns can be masculine or feminine and masculine plural nouns can be personal (chłopcy) or non-personal. (psy). When it comes to non-personal nouns the adjectives bahave like the feminine ones. That's why it is "nowi chłopcy" (masculine personal) but "nowe psy" (masculine impersonal) and "nowe dziewczynki". (feminine) Check out this article. Scroll down to "Adjectives", there's a nice table showing the declension of "dumny". Wikipedia


By "personal" do you mean literally "describing a human person"? I've always thought that plural adjectives were categorized as either masculine animate and masculine inanimate/feminine/plural, and using those two categories, "pies/psy" would definitely be in the former, but apparently it's in the later. That'd make sense if it was personal rather than animate.


The masculine gender is divided twice. In singular what matters is the animate-inanimate distiction. In plural it shifts into male-personal and everything else.


How do Polish people keep track of this?!


We don't think about it consciously. It comes naturally with practice.

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In plural, the only difference is between masculine personal and everything else.


Can you please explain the difference between personal and non personal?

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Personal nouns refer to people, non-personal (or impersonal) refer to anything else.

All personal nouns also count as animate.

The difference is only in the masculine gender in plural, since personal masculine nouns get their own set of endings for adjectives, verbs, numerals and themselves. All the other nouns: non-personal masculine, all feminine, and all neuter; get lumped into one pile called "non-masculine-personal" or something like that.

So in this sentence we have "chłopcy", a masculine personal noun in nominative plural, and "psy", a masculine animate but nonpersonal noun in accusative plural (which, for non-masculine-personal, is equal to nominative). That's why the adjective "nowy" gets the -i/y ending with shifted consonant, and the adjective "stary" gets the -e ending.

I think you should find some declension tables for adjectives online.


So you really only use the masculine plural adjective forms when describing male humans (or groups with at least one male human)?

That's kind of crazy weird. Are there any other languages that do this? I imagine other West Slavic languages do, but what about other Slavic languages in general, like Russian or Ukrainian?

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AFAIK out of all major Slavic languages, only Polish distinguishes personal animate and impersonal animate.

East Slavic languages do not distinguish genders in plural, they only distinguish animacy, regardless of the singular gender of the noun.

Czech, Slovak, Serbian and Croatian distinguish between 3 genders in the plural, with some weird rules for mixed-gender expressions. Czech and Slovak also preserve animacy, but in plural masculine only. South Slavic languages do not preserve animacy in plural.

So it goes like this (parentheses contain N/G/A):

Masculine personal (robotnik/dělník/работник):
Polish: A=G (robotnicy/robotników/robotników)
Czech: 3 different forms (dělníci/dělníků/dělníky)
Russian: A=G (работники/работников/работников)

Masculine animate impersonal (pies/pes/пёс):
Polish: A=N (psy/psów/psy)
Czech: 3 different forms (psi/psů/psy)
Russian: A=G (псы/псов/псов)

Feminine or neuter animate (kobieta/žena/женщина):
Polish: A=N (kobiety/kobiet/kobiety)
Czech: A=N (ženy/žen/ženy)
Russian: A=G (женщины/женщин/женщин)

Any inanimate (stół/stůl/стол):
Polish: A=N (stoły/stołów/stoły)
Czech: A=N (stoly/stolů/stoly)
Russian: A=N (столы/столов/столы)

More here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_gender#Slavic_languages


Mistake of the year: "new boys are old dogs" My observational skills are lacking, how did i miss that ):


So it can't be starzy psy?


Nope. You could say "starzy chłopcy" (a bit weird, but you could. :D) but "stare kobiety", "stare psy", "stare książki/meble/ubrania".


Not weird if it means oldboy, not old boy?


Oldboy doesn't translate nicely into Polish. You can say something like 'sportowiec-weteran' or use English word oldboy in Polish way: Oldboys competition - Zawody oldboyów. I am not sure if this is 100% correct way of writing. Borrowed words have their own rules. This is definitely not a topic for Duolingo.

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Zawody oldboysów


Does "oldboy" actually mean anything in English, or is it just a reference to the Japanese movie (and its American remake)?


It can refer to a male who attended a particular university or school. Old boy not oldboy


Andrew Wang I'm a native English speaker. I've heard people refer to old men as old boys - it seemed to be a term of affection & maybe a reference to them still having quite a lot of energy/youthful spirit


So when should I use starzy?


To say "old" about a group of people which has at least one man.


No, starsze psy means older dogs


Why not only: new boys have old dogs.


Although a lot less probable, it is accepted.


kinda weird phrase tho


It's probably just an exercise in recognizing how adjectives apply to their nouns. Probably not a common occurrence -- most likely new boys have new dogs. :D


What does Duo means by "The new boys have old dogs" like the dog is old? (ik I'm stupid -v-)


Yes, the dogs are several years old.

The new boys - let's say they are 'the new boys in class, they just transferred to our school'. It's more of a vocabulary and grammar exercise than a natural sentence.


why is it not starzy psy? thanks


I just want to verify to be sure I understand - psy is in the accusative case here, as the direct object of the sentence, and because it is not a masculine personal noun, the adjective stays in its neuter nominative form. If it was something like "the new boys have old men" (unlikely sentence but stick with me for the grammar) would it be "nowy chlopcy maja starych mezcyzn" or would it be "nowy chlopcy maja starych mezcyzni" or something else? Or do I have this whole thing completely wrong? (Please forgive my lack of correct characters, I promise I know them I just can't type them!) Thanks in advance! :)


Well, the adjective may look like the neuter nominative form, but we don't interpret it this way because there's just nothing neuter about this noun and it's still in the accusative case. Pies is 'masculine animate', but the plural only distinguishes between 'masculine personal' (aka. 'virile') and 'everything else' (aka. 'nonvirile'), so 'pies' ends up in the nonvirile category.

And the rules are:

virile accusative = virile genitive

To są wysocy chłopcy. (nominative)
Dziewczyny lubią wysokich chłopców. (accusative)
Dziewczyny nie lubią wysokich chłopców. (genitive)

nonvirile accusative = nonvirile nominative:

To są wysokie dziewczyny. (nominative)
Chłopcy lubią wysokie dziewczyny. (accusative)
Chłopcy nie lubią wysokich dziewczyn. (genitive)

Your sentence would be "Nowi chłopcy mają starych mężczyzn".

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