I'm just starting to learn about food in Polish, and I noticed that the word 'tasty', is spelt 3 different ways. 'Smaczny', 'Smaczna', and 'Smaczne' I learnt that there was Masculine, Feminine and Neuter, but I don't know which words are which.
For example, Duolingo says that 'Ser' (which means cheese) is masculine inanimate, 'Jajko' (which means egg) is neuter, and 'woda' (which means water) is feminine. But all of these words are foods/drinks, so how am I supposed to know which is masculine, and which is feminine, and which is neuter witch other foods/drinks?
Is there any way to determine which words will be masculine, which will be feminine and which will be neuter? Because I am really confused in trying to figure out which words are which when trying to translate from English to Polish! Thank you if you know! :) (And sorry if this is a bit confusing!)
Well, the first thing is to know what the word means. If it has gender of it's own, grammatical gender will be the same. Therefore „Mężczyzna” (a man) is of masculine grammatical gender.
If one cannot determine the gender aforementioned way, we go to second criterion, which is the ending of the noun. In general (very very rough approximation) -a ending is feminine, -o ending is neuter and the rest is masculine. Of course rules can get much more complicated than that and there are many exceptions.
Please read more here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/14133935
In the end I guess it's a lot of memorisation, just like in French or German. In French and German there are certain patterns by which you can try to determine whether a noun is feminine or masculine (or neutral, in case of German), but our French teacher suggested that we just ignore them and learn each word along with its gender otherwise we'll just get confused with all the exceptions. I guess Polish is a similar case. If looking at endings helps you, good, but be prepared for a lot of exceptions anyway. When learning nouns in German and French I always check or deduce gender along with their meaning, the two must always go together. Because, surprise surprise, the genders do not match between any of the three languages, the third one being of course my native Polish. Grammatical gender isn't something objective.