Trips Off the Tongue: Daj mi papierosa

A: The word papieros (a cigarette) is indeed an inanimate noun, and in the accusative case it should bear a “zero” ending, meaning the word should be written the same way as in the basic form (the nominative). However, the inanimate accusative takes the same ending as animate nouns in some categories of words, such as: some inanimate species (por-a – leek), brand names (Adidas-a), names of dances (polonez-a), names of mushrooms (muchomor-a – toadstool), names of currencies (dolar-a), countable names of foods (kebab-a) as well as some words ending with –man (e.g. walkman-a), – us (plus-a), and –os, such as papieros. That’s why when asking for a cigarette, a Pole would say “daj mi papierosa” instead of “daj mi papieros”. Of course, if he or she would like to be polite, a “prosze” at the end will make a positive response more likely.

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