Nie możesz pracować będąc zmęczonym (Question)

I came across the above sentence on another language learning app.

Someone in the forum for that site asked, ‘‘what case is ‘zmęczonym’ and why?’’.

The answer, I believe, is that it is the instrumental case, which has presumably been used as it follows ‘‘będąc’’ which is a derivative of ‘‘być’’ and this requires the instrumental form.

However, I’m not sure why the adjective has been declinated, as it is not paired with a noun e.g. it would be Jestem zmęczon/y/a, rather than jestem zmęczon/ym/ą. This can be contrasted to, for e.g., ‘‘Jestem zmęczonym mężczyzną’’, which does have a noun.

Can anyone help with an answer to this? My understanding was that sole adjectives (not paired with a noun) just take the nominative form (the exception being when they follow certain prepositions)? Thanks

That’s a great question!

When an adjective stands by itself (= isn’t followed by a noun), it will usually behave like a noun, and take the same case a noun would in that sentence position.

It is perhaps easier to grasp in sentences such as “Musimy pomagać biednym” (“We need to help the poor”) or “Nie podobała mi się czerwona, więc kupiłam zieloną.” (“I didn’t like the red one, so I bought the green one” [in this example, the omitted noun is feminine]).

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Thanks alukasiak and nice to hear from you!

If I have understand this correctly …

  1. Under normal circumstances, a stand alone adjective will take the nominative form e.g.

Jestem zmęczony. = I’m tired.

  1. A stand alone adjective will be declinated if it follows certain prepositions e.g.

Tom wygląda na szczęśliwego. = Tom looks happy.

  1. A stand alone adjective having a defined material/physical form will be declinated e.g.

Jest bardziej nauczycielem niż uczonym. = He is more a teacher, than a scholar.

(This appears to operate with a lot of adjectives, that, by convention, also operate as a noun e.g. krewny, ocalały etc).

  1. A stand alone adjective having an implied physical/material form will also be declinated e.g. (using your example)

Nie podobała mi się czerwona, więc kupiłam zieloną. = I didn’t like the red (one), so I bought the green (one).

So, going back to the original sentence …

Nie możesz pracować będąc zmęczonym = this would imply = ‘’ You cannot work, being (a) tired (person)’’.

Have I got the gist of this???


Yepp, you’ve got it right!

In example 3, uczony (scholar) is actually a noun rather than an adjective. It does derive from the adjective uczony (meaning “learned”, “educated”), but is considered a noun when it is used as a name of a profession.

(see: uczony - Wiktionary

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