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  5. "Kaczka nie jest psem."

"Kaczka nie jest psem."

Translation:A duck is not a dog.

December 12, 2015



especially on the menu

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I think it's proper grammar to put an indefinite article "a" or "the" before "duck", and "a" before "dog".

e.g. "The duck is not a dog"; "A duck is not a dog".

I'm not sure if "Ducks are not dogs" should be a proper translation, because the nouns in the sentence are singular (even if it conveys the same idea).


You can't translate it into plural to be honest. That would sound "kaczki nie są psami" ant it would make it even more complicated to learn. Not to mention the change in meaning.


Not unless you visit Poland


Why can't I say Kaczka nie jest pies?


Because it makes no sence - it's ungrammatical. After the verb 'być' (to be), one has to use the instrumental case, which in this example is 'psem' ('pies' being the nominative).

Trying to explain it to English speaker... mhmm, imagine a sentence, "Jestem psem" - 'I am a dog'. 'Jestem pies' would sound like 'I be dog', ears begin to bleed.


Thank you for explaining that


this example is nonsense.

"i be dog" = "ja być pes."

all you changed was the be-verb. not the case. here's how it works in slavic languages.

czech: Jsem pes. (NOMINATIVE)
russian: я собака (NOMINATIVE)
serbian: Ја сам пас. (NOMINATIVE)
polish: Jestem pesem. (INSTRUMENTAL)

each slavic language has its own case rules and exceptions DETERMINED BY VERBS AND/OR PREPOSITIONS. in this case, the verb "być" demands the instrumental case is used.

when you get better at the language, you can find lists of verbs and their associated cases to practice with. But for now...ya just gotta suck it up.


I suppose his intention was only to show how „Jestem pies” sounds for Poles. And as there is no case system (I know it's not that simple) in English he rendered this error the simplest way he could. Ok, maybe "I am dog's" would be better.


Great comment! In your Russian example, the present tense verb есть is omitted, but in past or future tense, instrumental can be used: Я был собакой/псом, Я буду собакой/псом. Also, the verb являться is used sometimes in the present tense and does use the instrumental case in the object. Это является собакой/псом.


thanks :)

yeah, tense change is tricky. in czech if i use instrumental in present tense constructions like this, it implies a sense of "becoming" whereas in polish it's just a static is.


Yeah, in that respect, Russian is more like Polish than Czech:

to be a dog = быть псом (byt' psom), instrumental case


Unless you're Lord Jaraxxus, then it would be just fine


If that is the case, there is also a phrase here where i was marked incorrectly for writing "Lew nie to psem". Does the use of "To" rather than "jest" change the case that the noun should be written in?


Yes. Staying with affirmative sentence, you can have:

X to Y (Y in Nominative)

or X jest Y (Y in Instrumental).

Also, when negating an "X to Y" sentence, you put "nie" before the noun. There kinda is a hidden "jest" in such a sentence: "Kaczka to (jest) pies", "Kaczka to nie (jest) pies". Using this 'jest' is not wrong, but rather not very natural.


Thanks for clearing up. makes sense when you consider the whole "jest = the verb of being" thing. As long as it exists in the sentence then the case becomes instrumental


Nominative....instrumental...I totally have a headache!


Very well explained! Thnx


Kaczka nie jest psem means "A duck is not [in the state of being] a dog," which is correct. If you say Kaczka nie jest pies, it's like saying "Duck no is dog." --broken English. Instrumental case means "in the state of being" when following the verb być: jestem, jesteś, jest, etc.


Thank you that makes sense now


Well explained sir! Thankyou


Check out the description of Instrumental in here: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Polish/Noun_cases. It is used in Polish with certain verbs including to be (być).


Does violin use the instrumental case? ;-)


Depends on the contects :D violin = skrzypce. "Gram na skrzypcach" - I'm playing the violin (locative). "Nie ma skrzypiec" - There's no violin (genitive). "Flet gra ze skrzypcami" - The flute plays with the violin (like on a concerto - instrumental). You can multiply the examples and find a perfect use for each case :)


That was a joke, Krzysztof. A violin is an instrument and is carried in a case. Hence "instrumental case." Hahaha


Lol. That was awesome. XD


Is there a way to differentiate between a solo violin and several violins in Polish?

Flet gra ze skrzypcami. "A flute plays with a violin." "A flute plays with the violins."


If you really need to do it, I guess you could count them. I don't think there's another way.


Enjoying the humour of it all

[deactivated user]

    You can say "kaczka to nie jest pies".


    Wouldn't it be 'kaczka to nie pies', without the jest?


    All three sentences are correct: Kaczka nie jest psem. Kaczka to nie jest pies. Kaczka to nie pies.


    Everytime I try to find out about wording I do not understand, I read the comments but in many cases I just get more confused :-(


    Try asking a question. I'm sure someone would be happy to help explain. :) We've got some awesome mods in this course!


    You mean like The Who?


    Hahaha! I just got that joke, even though I read this comment a long time ago! Good work! LOL

    Do we have any awesome rockers here, though?


    i didnt get the joke :(


    Check out The Who's movie Quadrophenia from 1979. "Mods" and rockers.


    What's your question?


    I with Lian on her comment about grammar confusion and it just means it will take longer study days to understand it all, but it will happen eventually.


    Sorry I may have presumed a female name. Should have left the Her out of the reply

    [deactivated user]

      Everything is so easy here. :) What problem have you got?


      How does "pies" become "psem"? It has only one letter in common...


      The vowel, ie, between the 2 consonants p and s is contracted in the instrumental case. Instead of piesem it's psem


      Thats what I was thinking too nicklas. When it was talking about gender when you click the word to see what it means, i thought it was a separate word for a different dog gender like bitch and dog in English


      Why psem and not pies?


      The possibilities here are "Kaczka to nie pies" and "Kaczka nie jest psem". Read more about it here: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/16373167


      I still dont know when to use the em ending, can anyone make it clear and obvious :(


      The instrumental case is used on the object after the verb "am/is/are," in Polish jestem/jesteś/jest/jesteśmy/jesteście/są.


      Pies is a dog why has it changed to psem


      Grammar. "pies" is the basic, Nominative form, but in a sentence like this one you need Instrumental: "psem".

      Alternatively, you can also say "Kaczka to nie pies" using a different grammatical structure.

      More info here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/16373167


      Is this some kind of common phrase in Poland? It just sounds like it could be a funny sort of thing to say when stating the obvious.


      No, it is not. It is just an example of a sentence to practice Polish instrumental:

      nominative case - Mianownik (kto? co?) pies (singular)/psy (plural) instrumental case - Narzędnik (kim? czym?) psem (singular)/psami (plural)

      Because it is a very general statement, you can assume that it is as true for
      a singular "kaczka" (a duck) as it is for every "kaczka", that is plural: "kaczki"(ducks). The word "kaczka" or "kaczki" is the subject of the sentence, which takes the nominative case, but the second noun psem is in the instrumental
      here (it does not refer back to the subject like the predicate nominative does in the English sentence and the Polish one to its right).
      Note: plural subject requires this noun be in plural as well, which is: psami:

      Kaczka nie jest psem - A duck is not a dog - Kaczka TO nie (jest) pies
      Kaczki nie są psami - Ducks are not dogs - Kaczki TO nie (są) psy


      Can anyone explain why 'nie' comes first in the sentence and not 'jest' I'm confusing myself


      Because nie is negating the verb.


      The rule : If subject is a masculine word , we must put the instrument -em ending. If it is a feminine work we must put the -ą ending. But if we talk about this case, we are putting -em ending even though we are talking about a feminine word "Kaczka". There is similar situation on this sentence. Ona jest mężczyzną. why it is not mężczyznem ?


      The subject doesn't matter anymore, it has been put in the sentence already, and you went further. The only thing that matters is that "pies" itself is masculine. Its Instrumental form will always be "psem", even if you are talking about a female dog. "Lassie jest psem".

      Well, firstly, "Ona jest mężczyzną" is wrong, because that means "She is a man". OK, we could start discussing transsexualism here, I don't know if that's something that would be said about a transsexual woman or not, I don't have knowledge on this topic.

      Anyway, the word "mężczyzna" is masculine, even if it ends with -a and undergoes declension the way that feminine nouns do. After all, it means "a man". There is no such word as "mężczyznem".


      Why does the genitive not apply here? I thought rhe object was genitive qhen the verb is negated


      You're taking the rule too far.

      Negated Accusative = Genitive. Other cases stay the same when negated.


      Why is psem and not pies?


      After the verb jestem / jesteś / jest / jesteśmy / jesteście / są, the object takes the instrumental case.


      It is in chinese restaurants


      My girlfriend tried explaining to me why pies is incorrect here, and she didn't know how to. Sounds very confusing according to the other comments.

      I thought psem was plural, so "a duck is not a dogs" is how i would interpret that. It seemed wrong to me. So confusing :(


      psem is not plural. It's singular, instrumental case. Plural, nominative case is psy. The object after the verb "to be," jest in this case, takes the instrumental case. Here is a link as follows. Once there, go down to "Polish," then click "declension of pies."



      So, "pies" when its the subject, and "psem" when its not?


      Click on the link above, in my post above your post, and once there, click on "declension of pies". There are more noun cases than just nominative and instrumental.

      You are over-simplifying. Nominative case is used for the subject of a sentence, but not just that. And psem is in the instrumental case, but it not that simple.

      When saying "something is something," using conjugations of the verb być, the object uses the instrumental case.

      Doberman jest psem. Dobermany są psami. (Plural)

      When instead using the word "to" or the phrase "to jest" (or "to są") the object stays in the nominative case.

      Doberman to pies. Doberman to jest pies. Dobermany to psy. Dobermany to są psy. (Plural)


      What about that glottal stop in the word "psem"? Is it normal or does the audio have a problem with this word throughout the whole course


      I don't hear a glottal stop. The recording at the top of this webpage clearly pronounces the T in jest and the "ps" in psem.


      I hear the glottal stop between the "ps" and the "em" in psem, but for some reason I don't hear it in the recording of this page indeed, maybe the issue is only found in the phone app? But anyway, I hear that glottal stop in most of the psa and psem words in the course!

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