czyj vs. którego

While working with a Polish textbook I came across the following line:

Sierota - dziecko, którego rodzice umarli

On duolingo I learned that the possessive pronoun 'whose' is 'czyj' in Polish. So I wondered whether it should actually be:

Sierota - dziecko, czyi rodzice umarli

Then I looked up all the duolingo sentences with 'czyj' and realized that every single time when this word came up it was in an interrogative sentence.

Does this mean that the use of 'czyj' is limited to questions only and in all other cases I must use the genitive of 'który' to express the meaning of 'whose'?

Thanks in advance for your answers!

November 14, 2017


Seems that you are almost right: Wiktionary also shows the example "Ja również nie wiem, czyj jest ten długopis." which technically is not a question, but of course the second clause could work as a question on its own.

November 14, 2017

I think 'którego' applies to attributive clauses ('jaki? który?') and 'czyj' to objective clauses ('co? czego?' etc.).

"Sierota - dziecko (jakie?), którego rodzice umarli."

"Kocham dziewczynę (którą?), której oczy są jak gwiazdy."

"Ja również nie wiem (czego?), czyj jest ten długopis."

"Zapytałem (o co?), czyich rodziców spotkaliście."

November 14, 2017

Well, that never crossed my mind, but as I am thinking of it, you use czyj (czyja, czyje, etc.) when you don't include the possessor, and który (która, które etc.) when you include the possessor (while I don't have an example at the moment I guess the possessor might be indirect).

"Policja ustala czyj to samochód"

"Samochód, którego właściciel jest nieznany"

November 15, 2017
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