Quick Question: What's the difference between "ta" and "tej" in the correct use of the word? shouldn't "Nie widzę ta dziewczynki" be correct too? coming from a Spanish speaker this has only one case, so I'm somewhat confused.
The difference is that "ta" is in the nominative, while "tej" is the genitive form.
Nouns have different forms depending on how they are used. I think the clearest example in English is the he/she versus him/her distinction. In the sentence "I do not see this girl", the word "girl" is the object in a negated sentence (that is, it states what the subject is not doing). As a result, in Polish the noun "girl" is in the genitive form ("dziewczynki"). Since "this" is associated with the girl, it too is placed in the genitive ("tej"). If the sentence were instead "The girl does not see me", "girl" would be the subject, requiring the nominative form ("dziewczynka"), and "this" would follow suit ("ta").
kjsoda gives an excellent summary. Basically, we categorize words into serving different functions in a sentence. In English, we usually put them in the same order (subject, verb, object). That is, "the man rides the horse" means something different than "the horse rides the man". In the first sentence, the man is the subject of the sentence, while in the second he is the object (and vice versa for the horse).
In some languages, a word is modified depending on which function it is serving. You can see this in English with the personal pronouns.
She has a dog. ("She" is the subject of this sentence.) The dog saw her. (Her is the object of this sentence.) You see the same with him and her, I and me and who and whom. But note that these (and possibly a handful of others I'm forgetting right now) are exceptions. Notice that in the above sentences, "the dog" is in the same form in both subject and object.
In Polish, this is much more regular. Every polish noun has 7 forms depending on the function it serves.
I hope that between the answers, you have a better understanding now :)
Thanks a lot, and thanks to kjsoda too. That's a good summary.
I know a lot of people like learning using the linguistic terms for things but I find it much easier to understand without the jargon, you know?
It's easier to learn something without having to learn the words that are being used to teach you what initially intended to learn, especially when the definition of said words are being skipped over 99.9% of the time.
As far as I'm concerned, you have to use the genitive form in negations, in sentences with nie, while otherwise you use the accusative. This would mean, that both "nie widzę ta dziewczynkę" and "widzę tej dziewczynki" were wrong. Only "widzę dziewczynkę" and "nie widzę tej dziewczynki" are right. If I've got a mistake, please correct me, but it should be right.
You are correct. Widzę tę dziewczynkę. Nie widzę tej dziewczynki.
All the other versions are wrong. Of course you may be understood, in the way saying "I sees she" may be understood.
But I would say it sounds rather odd to me and that the translation as I see it, is wrong. "dziewczynki" is plural and in this context and sentence it is most definitely wrongly placed.
So thus, if a Pole were to say "I do not see these girls", there would be a variant of dziewczynka for the plural genitive used? as opposed to the nominative plural dziewczynki?
Yes, that's right. I think it would be "Nie widze tych dziewczyn." for "I don't see these girls".
They aren't the same thing, they just sometimes look the same.
In short (bear in mind that the following is a gross oversimplification):
Genitive singular: -a or -u
Nominative plural: -y for hard stems, -e for soft stems
Genitive singular: -y for hard stems, -i for soft stems
Nominative plural: -y for hard stems, -e for soft stems
Genitive singular: -a Nominative plural: -a
Can I use either accusative or nominative case for a singular negation? In Russian you can either, so that's why I'm wondering.
You mean either accusative or genitive?
And the answer is no, in Polish a direct object of a negated verb is never in accusative. No exceptions.
But don't you think this sounds normal, "Nie widzę tą dziewczynę" rather than, "Nie widzę tej dziewczynki"?
Would a native always use the SVO (Subject Verb Object) format or do you sometimes modify to your liking? For instance, would it be nateral to say, //Tej dziewczynki nie widzę.//
Well, it's understandable, it's not technically wrong, but there's no reason for anyone to say that, unless it's like "You - I see, her - I see, this girl - I don't see"... It's just very unusual.
Follow up question: My observation is that sometimes the use of pronouns as objects changes the conventional sentence order; I believe I have seen SOV order in some preferred translations. Am I remembering correctly? If so, is there a good guideline for when to do so (e.g., do you always use SOV order in this context)?
The only thing that I'm able to say that generally pronouns shouldn't go at the end of the sentence, if this can be avoided.
So: "Nienawidzę jej" - no real alternative, it's ok. "Nie lubię jej" - still no alternative, as "Nie jej lubię" wouldn't make any sense. But if you start the sentence with "Ja", it turns into "Ja jej nienawidzę" and "Ja jej nie lubię". Because you CAN avoid putting the pronoun at the end, and putting it there would be like writing "HER" in capital letters, with a lot more emphasis.
Yup, wrong. Accusative would be used in a positive sentence. The negation of it needs Genitive.
"dziewczynki" is plural "girls", true.
But you also have to take cases into consideration. "widzieć" takes Accusative. A verb that needs Accusative, takes Genitive instead when negated. And just like for most feminine nouns, Genitive singular and Nominative plural are identical. And this is Genitive singular here.
My question is, how can I not see THIS girl. If we are designating this particular girl, wouldn't I already be seeing her?
'this girl that we are talking about'. Or maybe she's actually invisible.
Yes, I know that this is problematic, because what is perfectly natural in Polish (tej) may be kinda weird in English (this), but well, we have to keep to the direct translation here or otherwise it will be even more confusing.
You may answer with "that" any time you see a form of "tej". It's more of an interpretation, but it's correct.