"Two birds were sitting on the roof."

Translation:Dwa ptaki siedziały na dachu.

March 2, 2016

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Why is it "ptaki siedziały"? Isn't ptak a masculine noun?


polish gender works different with plurals. With verbs, adjectives and pronouns we have two "plural genders", masculine personal, and not masculine personal

Masculine personal is : - masculine personal plural nouns - groups that contain at least one masculine person - groups that contain at least one person and at least one masculine animated being (ex a girl and a dog)

not masculine personal is all other: - neuter plural nouns - feminine plural nouns - masculine not personal nouns


Fair enough. Guess I've never had to talk about animals doing things in the past before.

A girl and a dog being masculine personal is pretty tricky though...


Alright, but a bird is a masculine animated being such as the dog you were putting in your example. Shouldn t that make it ptaki siedzieli?


Those are two separate things.

Being animate or inanimate only matters for masculine singular nouns in Accusative (Widzę zielony stół = I see a green table, Widzę zielonego ptaka = I see a green bird).

In plural, it matters whether the noun is 'masculine personal' or not. "ptak" is masculine, sure, but it's not a person. Therefore it goes under the second plural, known under the beautiful name of 'not masculine-personal'.


Thanks for the helpful and enlightening explanation, Jellei!


Earlier there was a sentence about 15 cooks cooking a lunch and the verb was 3rd person singular. The explanation was that 15 cooks is singular because they are viewed as being one singular group of cooks. Wouldn't this also be one singular group?


I don't think I'd agree with that explanation (and I hope I'm not its author). It's more of a grammar thing.

Most numerals take a noun in Genitive. Those that do not are: 1, 2, 3, 4 and numerals ending with -2, -3, -4 but not -12, -13, -14. Moreover, things get even more complicated with virile (masculine personal plural) nouns... generally, numbers in Polish are hard.

So basically, if the given numeral takes a noun in Genitive, the resulting noun phrase (e.g. "15 cooks") is grammatically singular and that's why it takes a singular verb.

'dwa ptaki' takes Nominative, and therefore it's grammatically plural.


I implicently trust your explanation as being 100% accurate, I only hope that I can remember this while trying to speak. Thank you for a thorough explanation.

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