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Usage

I wrote this article based on a great grammar book - Polish Grammar in a Nutshell1

Below you can find list of situations, when you have to use the Instrumental Case.

When telling means by which somethins is done

When you speak about an activity done using a thing, then that thing must be in Intrumental Case.

Examples

JadępociągiemdoWrocławia - I am traveling by train to Wroclaw

Artystamalujefarbamiobraz. - The artist paints a picture with paints.

Gramykartamiwpokera. - We play poker with cards.

After the verb to be

Sometimes (but not always!) you have to use the Instrumental Case after the verb to be.

  • when you want to say who somebody is, for example when talking about someones profession.

Examples for who

Mojasiostrajestnauczycielką. - My sister is a teacher.

Onajestpiosenkarką. - She is a singer.

Jesteśmylekarzami. - We are doctors.

Onibylimoimiuczniami. - They were my pupils.

  • when you want to say what something is, for example when something is a representative of a bigger group.

Examples for what

Kwadratjestprostokątem. - The square is a rectangle

Taksiążkajestświatowymbestsellerem. - This book is a world bestseller.

Drzewadomemdlawieluzwierząt. - Trees are home to many animals.

Warning

Instrumental Case is not used in the constructions This/That is ..., These/Those are .. or It is .... Instead you must use the first Nominative Case in such sentences:

Tojestnauczyciel. - It is a teacher.

Touczniowie. - These are pupils.

Tojestksiążka. - This is a book.

When talking about body movements

When we talk about body movements, then the noun describing the moving body part is in Instrumental Case

Examples

Więzieńuderzyłpięściąwstół. - The prisoner punched the table with his fist.

Piłkarzkopnąłnogąpiłkę. - The player kicked the ball with his leg.

Podrapał sięrękąpotyłku. - He scratched his hand over his backside.

Nauczycielpokiwałgłową. - The teacher nodded his head.

When using certain time periods

Examples

Wczesnymrankiemposzedłemnasiłownię. - Early in the morning I went to the gym.

Nocąspadłśnieg. - It snowed at night.

Wieczoremposzliśmydokina. - In the evening we went to the cinema.

LatemmamyburzewPolsce. - In the summer we have thunder storms in Poland.

Późnąjesieniąspadająliściezdrzew. - Leaves fall from trees in late autumn.

After certain prepositions

Polish English
między between
nad above / over
pod below / under
przed in front of / before
z with
za behind

Examples

Mójdomjestmiędzydomemmoichznajomychidomemmoichwrogów. - My house is between my friends' house and the house of my enemies.

NadpolemkukurydzyprzeleciałstatekUFO. - A UFO ship flew over the corn field.

Podstołemśpipies. - Dog is sleeping under the table.

Dziecibawią sięprzedszkołą. - Children play in front of the school.

Idęzchłopakiemnarandkę. - I'm going out with my boyfriend on a date.

Ktośstoizadrzwiami. - Someone is standing behind the door.

After certain verbs

Polish English
interesować się be interested in
kierować direct
zajmować się be busy with

Examples

Interesuję sięsztuką. - I am interested in art.

Wieluchłopcówinteresuje się piłką nożną. - Many boys are interested in football.

Ktokierujesamochodem? - Who drives the car?

Policjantkierujeruchem. - The policeman directs traffic.

Każdyzajmuje sięswoimisprawami. - Everyone deals with their own affairs.

Kiedyśzajmowałem sięochronąśrodowiska. - I once dealt with environmental protection.

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