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Are there rules to form plurals?

Cześć everyone!

Yesterday I was doing some of the lessons in the plurals skill and I noticed that generally plurals are formed by adding 'i', 'y', 'a' or 'e' to the nouns. I tried to figure out if there were any patterns but I didn't arrive at any conclusions :(. Could someone tell me if there are any rules to form the plurals?

Dziękuję bardzo!

December 16, 2015



The most obvious ones are:

  • Neuter nouns ending in -o take -a in plural (okno, n.sg., = ‘window’; okna, n.pl., = ‘windows’).
  • Masculine not personal (animate and inanimate) ending in hard (non-palatal consonant) take -y (kot, m.sg. = ‘cat’; koty, m.pl. = ‘cats’) which changes to -i after /k/ or /g/¹ (ptak m.sg. = ‘bird’; ptaki, m.pl. = ‘birds’; targ m.sg. = ‘market, marketplace’, targi, m.pl. = ‘markets’).
  • Masculine personal take -i (which palatalises last stem consonant) or -owie, and there is hardly any rule for when is which (pan, m.sg. = ‘sir, man, lord’; panowie, m.pl.; kat, m.sg. = ‘executioner’, kaci, m.pl) but -i changes into -y after /sz/, /ż/, /rz/, /c/, /cz/, /dz/, /dż/² (kupiec, m.sg. = ‘buyer’, kupcy).
  • Feminine with stem ending in hard consonant take -y similarly to masculine not personal (krowa, f.sg. = ‘cow’, krowy, f.pl.).
  • Those ending in soft (palatal) consonant take -i or -e with no clear rules (ciocia, f.sg. = ‘aunt’; ciocie, f.pl.; gość, m.sg.personal = ‘guest’; goście, m.pl., kość, f.sg = ‘bone’; kości, f.pl.).

Soft consonants here would be: ś, sz, ź, ż, rz, c, ć, cz, dz, dź, dż, l, ń, j (and sometimes m, p, b, f, w, when they change to mi, pi, bi… in inflection).

Hard consonants would be: s, ch, h, z, r, k, t, d, g, ł, n (and most of the times m, p, b…).

You can also look at declension tables on Wikipedia, which gives some basic rules.

¹ Because of Polish phonology and orthography, which both prohibit /y/ (as a letter and a sound) after /k/ and /g/.

² Again because of phonology and orthography, -i is prohibited here and it must change the other way around.

  • 3039

This is great!


Thank you very much! I think I have a general idea of these rules now. But of course, learning all these will require practice :)


Learn the distinction between hard consonants and their corresponding softs (there is a nice table on Wikibooks). Knowing which can have only -y, which only -i, and how they change when before -i will make it all pretty easy.

The only real problem is to decide when to apply -i and when -e in soft endings, and when -i or -owie in masc. personals – sometimes both are correct (Norweg m.sg. = ‘Norwegian man’, Norwegowie or Norwedzy m.pl = ‘Norwegians’).

PS. I’ve updated the post above, because I had left some consonants before. Now the lists are exhaustive.


This guy should be a moderator.


Thank you. Duolingo makes learning fun, but doesn't give the rules that help understand the very complex Polish language! I even live in Poland, and for over 20 years, but it's still such a challenge! Thanks for clarity. Appreciate it!


Don't get whats a personal noum. is it like a name?


No. The most crude division of nouns distinguish only 3 categories: masculine, feminine and neuter. It is much more convenient to subdivide masculine into 3 new categories: masculine personal, masculine animated and masculine inanimated.

Masculine personal encompasses: proper names and functions, jobs that are being done by men. Examples: Piotr (Peter), Paweł (Paul), lekarz (physician), pilot (pilot).

Masculine animated -> animals.

Masculine inanimated -> rest, so things, ideas etc.

  • 3039

Sorry that the Tips & Notes are not there yet, I understand how this aspect can be confusing for learners.

I will do my best to bring the T & N section there before the end of the year (sometimes around Christmas maybe?).


We still don't have the "Tips Notes" Section, but the silmeth's explanation was pretty good, would be great all the text schematized in the TN style.

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