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in the following sentence:

"Teraz idę do żabki po sok"

What is the function of the genitive case applied on the noun "żabka"?

I'm aware that with the preposition "do", especially regarding a location, the genitive case is used to decline the following nouns. And I'm aware that verbs and prepositions go with specific cases.

But can someone explain the grammatical function of the genitive in this sentence, and the grammatical reasoning behind why it's this case and not another that is used?

I would appreciate a thorough, detailed explanation. If you happen to be a grammar nerd, I sincerely encourage you to answer, your response will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance.

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    Why do you think that it has a "grammatical function" rather than being a historical accident?
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Mar 21, 2023 at 20:00
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    The word is genitive, not genetive. [apply to, not on]
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 21, 2023 at 20:42
  • 1
    @Lambie If you have suggested edits to typos, you can use the "Edit" feature and have your edits reviewed and applied to the post.
    – jogloran
    Commented Mar 21, 2023 at 22:33
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    Do is found in all the Slavic languages as a preposition with the meanings “[up] to” and “before”, and in all the Slavic languages that have cases this preposition governs only the genitive case, so it's not just a Polish phenomenon, the reasoning of this fact lying somewhere about 15 centuries ago.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 0:55
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    @Lambie 'Genetive' is an older and more Latin-based spelling of 'genitive': en.wiktionary.org/wiki/genetive // Personally, I prefer the traditional genitive, but it's not a wild misspelling as it might appear.
    – cmw
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 4:12

1 Answer 1

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Do is found in all the Slavic languages as a preposition with the meanings “[up] to” and “before”. In all the Slavic languages which have cases, this preposition governs only the genitive case, so it's not just a Polish phenomenon, the reasoning of this fact lying somewhere about 15 centuries ago when the Slavic languages split from Proto-Slavic.

I don't know the exact historic reasoning, but I can suggest a rather logical practical way to explain the genitive case usage with this preposition, a way for an English-speaking learner to understand and memorize it.

There are 3 similar prepositions in Polish that govern the genitive case, blisko “near”, do “to”, and od “from”. For my explanation, we need to slightly re-analyze their meanings. Originally, blisko (+ gen.) is “near”, e.g. blisko sklepu “near [the] store”. But let's assume blisko means “in-the-outskirts”, "in-the-vicinity", and assume the following genitive case means “of-”, then blisko sklepu comes to look like “in-the-vicinity of-[the]-store”, which is pretty English and quite logical. Similarly, do means “to-the-vicinity”, so do sklepu is “to-the-vicinity of-[the]-store”. And od means “from-the-vicinity”, so od sklepu is “from-the-vicinity of-[the]-store”.
There's one more Polish locative preposition with genitive, z “from”, but it's not “from-the-vicinity” like od, it's “from-the-inside” ~ “from-the-interior”, so z Polski is “from-the-inside of-Poland”.

With a little bit of imagination one can find quite plausible justification practically for everything. Even if it wasn't like that historically, the pattern I suggest is quite productive. Mind, my explanation is for aligning the Polish cases with the English lack thereof, but it can also be aligned with other languages, with little effort.

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