Comparatives and Superlatives

compare
 
Comparative and superlative adjectives in Polish have a few things in common with those in English. Firstly, they are relatively easy to form with a suffix (or prefix); secondly, there are a few irregular cases (just like good, better and best) and lastly, there are some comparatives and superlatives which can’t be formed with a suffix or prefix, but require an extra word (like more beautiful and most beautiful).
 

Comparatives Formed with Suffixes

 
Comparatives are usually formed simply by adding szy / sza / sze to the stem of the word for masculine, feminine and neuter respectively. Hence,

ciekawy, ciekawa, ciekawe (interesting) becomes ciekawszy, ciekawsza, ciekawsze (more interesting).
gruby, gruba, grube (thick/fat) becomes grubszy, grubsza, grubsze (thicker/fatter).

…but if the stem ends in k, ok, or ek, these endings are dropped before adding szy / sza / sze. For example:

ciężki, ciężka, ciężkie (heavy) becomes cięższy, cięższa, cięższe (heavier).
głęboki, głęboka, głębokie (deep) becomes głębszy, głębsza, głębsze (deeper).

…and if the stem ends in n or , then instead add iejszy / iejsza / iejsze. E.g.:

pikantny, pikantna, pikantne (spicy) becomes pikantniejszy, pikantniejsza, pikantniejsze (spicier).
potężny, potężna, potężne (powerful) becomes potężniejszy, potężniejsza, potężniejsze (more powerful).
 

Stem Changes

 
Sometimes, the stem of the word changes before adding the suffixes above. Some of the most common, shown in the masculine form only, are as follows:

gorący (hot) -> gorętszy (hotter)
drogi (expensive) -> droższy (more expensive)
tani (cheap) -> tańszy (cheaper)
wczesny (early) -> wcześniejszy (earlier)
dojrzały (ripe) -> dojrzalszy (riper)
miły (nice) -> milszy (nicer)
wesoły (cheerful) -> weselszy (more cheerful)
niski (short) -> niższy (shorter)
 

Irregular Comparatives

 
There are a few comparatives that don’t follow the rules above at all and, unfortunately, they are important enough to warrant learning them:

dobry (good) -> lepszy (better)
zły (bad) -> gorszy (worse)
duży (big) -> większy (bigger)
mały (small) -> mniejszy (smaller)

 

Comparatives Formed with Bardziej and Mniej

 
Some adjectives can’t be turned into comparatives using the suffixes described above, and require the use of bardziej (more).
 

 
Generally speaking, longer words and words borrowed from English tend to fit in this category, but be aware that some shorter words do too, so you’ll need to learn these as you come across them:

nowoczesny, nowoczesna, nowoczesne (modern) -> bardziej nowoczesny/nowoczesna/nowoczesne (more modern).
 

Superlatives

 
barrels
 
Superlatives are thankfully easier to form. Where the comparative is formed using a suffix, simply add the prefix naj to the start of the comparative. Where bardziej is used, swap this for najbardziej instead. For example:
 

Adjective (m) Comparative Superlative
kwaśny (sour) kwaśniejszy (more sour) najkwaśniejszy (most sour)
szybki (fast) szybszy (faster) najszybszy (fastest)
efektywny (effective) bardziej efektywny (more effective) najbardziej efektywny (most effective)

 

Less and Least

 
To express less and least, just as in English, you can do away with suffixes and prefixes and just use mniej or najmniej before the adjective.

Listen to mniej in the expression mniej więcej (more or less):
 

 

Forming Sentences

 
To compare two things, you have a choice of niż + nominative or od + genitive. The two are equivalent, except that the first is easier if you haven’t yet got to grips with the genitive! For example:

Londyn jest większy niż Warszawa (London is bigger than Warsaw)
London jest większy od Warszawy (London is bigger than Warsaw)

To express more and more, use coraz with the comparative:

Chleb jest coraz droższy (bread is more and more expensive).

You can use im and tym to form sentences like the bigger the better (im większy tym lepszy).

And finally use tak and jak to say two things are equivalent – no comparative needed:

Mój nowy samochód jest tak drogi jak twój (my new car is as expensive as yours).
 

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The Locative Case

Location
 
The Polish locative case is used, as the name implies, to indicate location and is used with a number of prepositions:

w (in, inside), o (about, at (time)), po (after), przy (by, close to) & na (on, at).

The accusative case could also be used with all of these prepositions except przy. The key is to use the locative when your are describing a static state, and the accusative when motion is involved.

Although it’s fairly easy to understand when to use the locative, the rules for forming it are complex and the table below should be considered a rough guide!
 
 
The Locative Case 
 
 

Adjectives

Clocks
 
For feminine singular adjectives the same ending is used as in the genitive, -ej. This is why in the previous post, Telling the Time, the same form of the cardinal number is used for o pierwszej (locative) and wpół do pierwszej (genitive).

To form the masculine and neuter singular adjectives, simply add m to the masculine nominative (dictionary) form.

To form the plural of all adjectives, add ch to this form instead.

Here are some examples:

Nom. Singular (m) Loc. Singular (m/n) Loc. Singular (f) Loc. Plural
zabawny (funny) zabawnym zabawnej zabawnych
drogi (expensive) drogim drogiej drogich
suchy (dry) suchym suchej suchych
puszysty (fluffy) puszystym puszystej puszystych
jasny (bright) jasnym jasnej jasnych

 
 

Nouns (Singular)

Confused
 
This is where things get a bit more difficult, and you could try and rely on the above summary table alone, learn through experience of hearing these words or delve further into the detail here, which is still something of a simplification!


 
Generally speaking, nouns with a stem finishing in a ‘hard consonant’ end in -ie in the locative. Note however that d changes into dz and t into c.

For r and ł which change into rz and l respectively, the ending is not -ie but -e.

As this rule applies to all noun genders, an awful lot of nouns are subject to it. For example:

stół (table) → stole
okno (window) → oknie
komputer (computer) → komputerze
lampa (lamp) → lampie
ściana (wall) → ścianie
aparat (camera) → aparacie


 
Another rule is applicable only to masculine and neuter nouns, and this is that stems ending a ‘soft’ or ‘hardened’ consonant, plus k, g and ch, are given the ending -u :

biurko (desk) → biurku
dach (roof) → dachu
kosz (basket) → koszu


 
Whereas feminine nouns with stems ending a ‘soft’ or ‘hardened’ consonant are generally given the ending -i or -y respectively, subject to the transformations shown above.

There is special treatment for feminine noun stems ending in c, k, g, and ch, which are transformed as shown above and given the ending -e.

półka (shelf) → półce
burza (storm) → burzy
sieć (net) → sieci
podłoga (floor) → podłodze

 
 

Nouns (Plural)

relieved
The locative plural is thankfully much easier to form, with nouns of all genders ending in -ach.
 
 

Test

 
You can test yourself with the short quiz below. If you have any feedback, questions or would like to suggest any clarifications or ideas for future posts please comment below or Contact Us.

 


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