"To jest pies."

Translation:It is a dog.

December 11, 2015

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In this situation, "To jest X", the noun that follows should always be in the nominative, right? At least that's the rule here: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Polish/Noun_cases Dziękuję!!

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Yes, in this kind of sentences it's always nominative.


Thank you for the confirmation!


This would be a good note for them to put in the Tips and Notes section


Okay, I know it should be in the nominative, now I need to know why. Is it because "To" is in the nominative, and, since it is describing "pies," "pies" needs to agree with the adjective?


"To" doesn't serve as a pronoun here, it takes the role of the subject - for which the English equivalent is either this or these. Therefore it's always 'to' no matter whether we're talking about masculine, feminine, neuter or plural. And such basic constructions "This is X" and "These are Y" simply look like this every time.

  • To jest -nominative singular-

  • To są -nominative plural-


"To" is functioning as a pronoun - it's replacing a noun in the subject. What you're talking about is that "to" doesn't decline for gender or number before a copula. Is that also true in tenses other than present?


I am revisiting old lessons and have forgotten something....

So I know that there are two meanings of 'to'...

1) to smaczne mleko (this is tasty milk)

2) to smaczne mleko (this tasty milk)

I know that in example 2, we can change the 'to' to 'tamto'

But can number 1 also be changed to 'tamto' to say "that (over there) is tasty milk"


I have forgotten this completely :(


There are more meanings ;) But let's keep to those two here.

Yes, in 2) you can use "tamto" instead. It does change the meaning, perhaps not even just to "that tasty milk" but a bit more in the direction of "that tasty milk over there".

But in 1) (This is tasty milk) it has to be "To". The only dummy pronoun is "to" and its other grammatical cases. "It is a dog", "This is a dog" and "That is a dog" mean basically the same to a Polish person.





Someone suggested elsewhere that when the instrumental case is used with być, it is like saying someone or something is being in the manner of something else. It is rather a redefinition than a mere definition.

On the other hand, we use To jest to introduce something for the first time. It is not a redefinition, so we can make sense that the instrumental case does not apply.


Should it be: "Ono jest psem"?


No. First of all, this is an "This is Y" type of sentences, so there's no he/she/it here. Secondly, if I were really to use a similar construction (let's say that I'm talking about Hektor, and my interlocutor thinks that Hektor is a person, but in fact Hektor was my friend's dog), I would use "on" or "ona" depending on the dog's gender, and not neuter "ono".


I have rarely found or come across any usage of ono.

Can u share some everyday examples (even if rare) where might use it?

It seems to be quite elusive


It is pretty rare indeed. When working on an update of this course, my colleague and I struggled to find some examples. We mostly created exercises consisting of two sentences, with the first sentence giving the context and the latter using "ono":

"Widzisz to dziecko? Ono ma mój długopis."

"Znacie to dziecko? Ono nie mówi po polsku."

"Tak, odwiedzamy to zwierzę. Ono bardzo lubi dzieci."

So if the first sentences in the two first pairs had "tego chłopca"/"tę dziewczynkę", it woud simply be "On/Ona" in the second sentences and the situation would be clear. As we used "dziecko", and especially if we imagine that we don't know the child's gender, "ono" can work. But frankly, omitting the subject there seems more natural to me.



So I guess it's good to know what it means in case someone else ever says it, but I also see that, as a beginner, I will probably not need it anytime soon!



I'm a bit confused because in the past "jest" has always required a different case afterwards: "Kot nie jest psem." Why is it here just a normal nominative?


Your question is a very common one (and actually has been answered in the comments above)

You are right that any noun (including noun-phrase) after a form of być (jest/są /jesteśmy etc) requires the object to be in instrumental case.

However, that only happens when the subject is already clearly defined.

Let's say there is a subject-noun called X

So "X jest Y" (the 'y' will be in instrumental)

But when the subject is not clearly named, and we use a dummy pronoun (a 'To' instead of X) then the object (y) remains in nominative.

It's quite simple really.

But in the beginning, it helped me to think of it like this.... "redefining something which has already been defined in the sentence, uses instrumental"


Kot jest psem (ins.)

To jest pies (nom.)

Also, remember that although when noun-phrases decline, the adjectives do too, when there is no noun and the adjective stands alone, then the adjective doesn't decline for case, though still does for number and gender

This applies for "X jest..." And also for "To jest..."

(However I'm not sure how I would decline number and gender of an adjective for 'To jest adjective' IF I don't know what the 'to' is. Maybe that can't happen in real life. (Jellei can advise) Maybe something secret is hidden in a box and your friend says 'it is green'. Will it be zielony/a/e?)


Well, if you use "To", then the pronoun itself is neuter: "To jest zielone". Unless you mean "This is (the color) green", in which case "To jest zielony" would be correct because "zielony" would refer to the masculine noun "kolor".

On the other hand, if you were wondering what's in the box and asked your friend for some hint, they rather wouldn't use "To" explicitly, but I'd still go with neuter: "Jest zielone".


Ok thanks. That makes sense.

Yeah I actually wasn't referring to the fact that the "colour" is green (but it's good to see that, as you show, the adjective would then know which noun it has to reflect to match. Ie noun is 'kolor'!!)

I was referring to the ’secret unknown object’ being green but not knowing how to match the adjective to an unknown noun gender.

I tried it in my own Indian languages (I regularly do that just to appreciate how much there is that I don't even know that I know or do. And it always helps untangle the mind and get ready for the 'Polish rule')

And in doing the comparison for this question, I realised that in my language, the 'secret unknown unnamed' object will still have a name.

("Hey Dad, I have a thing I want to give you" - the noun here is "thing" and that word ("thing") is feminine)

So if I had an old, green, big, etc thing which I want to give you, I would have to make them all feminine, EVEN if I knew that the object is actually a masculine object!! I would decline to the feminine word "thing"

(I didn't know we do that by the way lol!!)

But OK, in polish, we decline to neuter. Jest stare, zielone, duże.

Thanks jellei, as always!! :) :)


Sorry, if your friend knew that the object was masculine or feminine, but feels that saying zielony/zielona is giving us too much info, would we consider it natural and fair for him to just say zielone?

Would that uncertainty/flexibility be understood by us as being a natural way of speaking, or would we be arguing that it is very misleading because we are being lied to and being led to assume that it is a neuter object like wino or jabłko etc.??

For example, if he said zielona to a masculine object, I would consider it an explicit lie.

But maybe using a neuter on a m/f object is not a lie. Maybe it is understood that n could be either m/f/n... due to the secretive nature of the conversation


Yes, the fact that the friend knows, in my opinion doesn't change anything and it's a natural thing rather than a conscious decision. We could also say that it's "Coś zielonego" (Something green), and the word "coś", like "to", is also neuter.

The problem is that we can wonder about it on a language website but in reality I don't feel it's that common to talk about some object of unknown gender ;)


Agreed. It was more a technical "what if" question, rather than real-world use.

I have had instances in English where Ive had to ask,for example, "hey, what are those things in your garden?" Or something of that sort. In that situation I wouldn't know its gender (doesn't matter in English) But OK, if that happens in Polish, I will use neuter adjectives!! Thanks.

Ok, back to basics now :)


I tgought to could also mean is like ryba to mięzo


wedlug sluchu to jest pis


Według mnie, brzmi jak powinno brzmieć.

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