Mystery solved!
Zagadka rozwiązana!

It’s Friday afternoon and your Polish colleagues end that last video call with “Miłego weekendu!” (have a good weekend!). You’re probably too excited about the prospect of having some free time to notice that there’s something not straightforward about this phrase. Well, it’s time to celebrate now, right? After all, it’s not only Friday but also your birthday. While switching back to your pyjama pants to join a Zoom party, you hear somebody saying “Miłej zabawy!” (have fun!). Probably you get slightly suspicious now. Miłej? Zabawy? What’s that?, you might wonder. But this is only the beginning: you open your laptop again to receive a shower of all possible birthday wishes from your Polish friends: “wszystkiego najlepszego!”, “zdrowia!”, “szczęścia!”, “pomyślności!”. You’re truly moved but perhaps also quite puzzled. What are all these forms? And, most importantly, why can’t you even enjoy your birthday without launching a new investigation into Polish grammar? While we can’t really help you with the latter (your wandering mind is to be blamed there!), we can certainly offer some assistance regarding the former.

Let’s grab our grammar detective’s equipment and take a look then. Here is our evidence sorted by grammatical gender. To get us started, on the left you can see the basic forms (Nominative), and on the right the forms that we’ve observed in the text with a few more examples:

MASCULINE:
miły weekend ➡ miłego weekendu!
miły wieczór ➡ miłego wieczoru!
miły dzień ➡ miłego dnia!

FEMININE:
miła zabawa ➡ miłej zabawy!
przyjemna podróż ➡ przyjemnej podróży!
szeroka droga ➡ szerokiej drogi!
wszelka pomyślność ➡ wszelkiej pomyślności!

NEUTER:
zdrowie ➡ zdrowia!
szczęście ➡ szczęścia!
powodzenie ➡ powodzenia!

After a brief analysis you might notice that these are the same forms that you use when mentioning all the things that you don’t like, e.g., Nie lubię szpinaku ani żółtego sera! Nie piję zielonej herbaty ani ciepłego mleka!

Aha! The genitive case, dopełniacz! All right, half the job done. Now, why do we use the genitive case here? As you might know, this case has many different functions, it’s a very versatile form. We also use it after certain verbs, such as e.g., szukać, używać i życzyć. But the magnifying glass clearly shows that there’s no verb in the expressions that we’re investigating here… That’s only partially true, though. We don’t say it, but we do mean it: we want to wish someone a good weekend, a good journey or good luck. Hence, if we carefully reconstruct the full expression with our grammar tweezers, it looks like this:

(Życzę) miłego weekendu/miłej podróży/powodzenia!

As the verb życzyć requires the use of the genitive case, we have to modify our wishes accordingly and change the following nouns from the nominative to the genitive case. Well done, inspector! Case (!) closed! Gratulujemy sukcesu!

PS Wait, sukcesu? You guessed it, the genitive once again! 🙂 Check out our recent Instagram posts to learn when we use the discussed expressions!

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