Accusative case

Accusative case

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The accusative case of a noun
Noun
In linguistics, a noun is a member of a large, open lexical category whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition .Lexical categories are defined in terms of how their members combine with other kinds of...

 is the grammatical case
Grammatical case
In grammar, the case of a noun or pronoun is an inflectional form that indicates its grammatical function in a phrase, clause, or sentence. For example, a pronoun may play the role of subject , of direct object , or of possessor...

 used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb
Transitive verb
In syntax, a transitive verb is a verb that requires both a direct subject and one or more objects. The term is used to contrast intransitive verbs, which do not have objects.-Examples:Some examples of sentences with transitive verbs:...

. The same case is used in many languages for the objects of (some or all) prepositions. It is a noun that is having something done to it, usually joined (such as in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

) with the nominative case
Nominative case
The nominative case is one of the grammatical cases of a noun or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject of a verb or the predicate noun or predicate adjective, as opposed to its object or other verb arguments...

, making it an indirect object.

The accusative case existed in Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 and is present in some Indo-European languages
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 (including Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

, Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

, Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

, Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

, Ukrainian
Ukrainian language
Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet....

), in the Uralic languages
Uralic languages
The Uralic languages constitute a language family of some three dozen languages spoken by approximately 25 million people. The healthiest Uralic languages in terms of the number of native speakers are Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Mari and Udmurt...

, in Altaic languages
Altaic languages
Altaic is a proposed language family that includes the Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic, and Japonic language families and the Korean language isolate. These languages are spoken in a wide arc stretching from northeast Asia through Central Asia to Anatolia and eastern Europe...

, and in Semitic languages
Semitic languages
The Semitic languages are a group of related languages whose living representatives are spoken by more than 270 million people across much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa...

 (such as Classical Arabic
Classical Arabic
Classical Arabic , also known as Qur'anic or Koranic Arabic, is the form of the Arabic language used in literary texts from Umayyad and Abbasid times . It is based on the Medieval dialects of Arab tribes...

). Finnic languages
Finnic languages
The term Finnic languages often means the Baltic-Finnic languages, an undisputed branch of the Uralic languages. However, it is also commonly used to mean the Finno-Permic languages, a hypothetical intermediate branch that includes Baltic Finnic, or the more disputed Finno-Volgaic languages....

, such as Finnish and Estonian, have two cases to mark objects, the accusative and the partitive case
Partitive case
The partitive case is a grammatical case which denotes "partialness", "without result", or "without specific identity". It is also used in contexts where a subgroup is selected from a larger group, or with numbers....

. In morphosyntactic alignment
Morphosyntactic alignment
In linguistics, morphosyntactic alignment is the system used to distinguish between the arguments of transitive verbs and those of intransitive verbs...

 terms, both perform the accusative function, but the accusative object is telic
Telicity
In linguistics, telicity is the property of a verb or verb phrase that presents an action or event as being complete in some sense...

, while the partitive is not.

Modern English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, which almost entirely lacks declension
Declension
In linguistics, declension is the inflection of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and articles to indicate number , case , and gender...

 in its nouns, does not have an explicitly marked accusative case even in the pronouns. Such forms as whom, them, and her derive rather from the old Germanic dative
Dative case
The dative case is a grammatical case generally used to indicate the noun to whom something is given, as in "George gave Jamie a drink"....

 forms, of which the -m and -r endings are characteristic. These words can arguably be classified in the oblique case
Oblique case
An oblique case in linguistics is a noun case of synthetic languages that is used generally when a noun is the object of a verb or a preposition...

 instead. Most modern English grammarians feel that due to the lack of declension, except in a few pronouns where accusative and dative have been merged, that making case distinctions in English is no longer relevant, and frequently employ the term "objective case
Objective (grammar)
An objective pronoun in grammar functions as the target of a verb, as distinguished from a subjective pronoun, which is the initiator of a verb. Objective pronouns are instances of the oblique case....

" instead (see Declension in English). Hine, a true accusative masculine third person singular pronoun, is attested in some northern English dialects as late as the 19th century.

Etymology


The English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 name "accusative (case)" is an Anglicisation
Anglicisation
Anglicisation, or anglicization , is the process of converting verbal or written elements of any other language into a form that is more comprehensible to an English speaker, or, more generally, of altering something such that it becomes English in form or character.The term most often refers to...

 of the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 accūsātīvus (cāsus), which was translated from Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 . The Greek term can mean either "(inflection) for something caused" or "for an accusation". The intended meaning was likely the first, which would be translated as Latin causātīvus or effectīvus, but the Latin term was a translation of the second. Compare Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 вини́тельный vinítel’nyj, from винить vinít’ "to blame".

Description


In the sentence I see the car, the noun phrase
Noun phrase
In grammar, a noun phrase, nominal phrase, or nominal group is a phrase based on a noun, pronoun, or other noun-like word optionally accompanied by modifiers such as adjectives....

 
the car is the direct object of the verb "see". In English, which has mostly lost the case system, the definite article and noun – "the car" – remain in the same form regardless of the grammatical role played by the words. One can correctly use "the car" as the subject of a sentence also: "The car is parked here."

In a declined language, the morphology
Morphology (linguistics)
In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description, in a language, of the structure of morphemes and other linguistic units, such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context...

 of the article or noun changes in some way according to the grammatical role played by the noun in a given sentence. For example, in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, one possible translation of "the car" is der Wagen. This is the form in the nominative case
Nominative case
The nominative case is one of the grammatical cases of a noun or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject of a verb or the predicate noun or predicate adjective, as opposed to its object or other verb arguments...

, used for the subject of a sentence. If this article/noun pair is used as the object of a verb, it (usually) changes to the accusative case, which entails an article shift in German –
Ich sehe den Wagen. In German, masculine nouns change their definite article from der to den in the accusative case.

Latin


In Latin, nouns, adjectives, or pronouns in the accusative case (
accusativus) can be used
  • as a direct object
    Object (grammar)
    An object in grammar is part of a sentence, and often part of the predicate. It denotes somebody or something involved in the subject's "performance" of the verb. Basically, it is what or whom the verb is acting upon...

    .
  • to indicate duration of time. E.g., multos annos, "for many years"; ducentos annos, "for 200 years." This is known as the accusative of duration of time.
  • to indicate direction towards which. E.g. domum, "homewards"; Romam, "to Rome" with no preposition needed. This is known as the accusative of place to which, and is equivalent to the lative case
    Lative case
    Lative is a case which indicates motion to a location. It corresponds to the English prepositions "to" and "into". The lative case belongs to the group of the general local cases together with the locative and separative case...

     found in some other languages.
  • as the subject of an indirect statement (e.g. Dixit me fuisse saevum, "He said that I had been cruel;" in later Latin works, such as the Vulgate
    Vulgate
    The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

    , such a construction is replaced by
    quod and a regularly structured sentence, having the subject in the nominative: e.g., Dixit quod ego fueram saevus).
  • with case-specific prepositions such as "per" (through), "ad" (to/toward), and "trans" (across).
  • in exclamations, such as me miseram, "wretched me" (spoken by Circe
    Circe
    In Greek mythology, Circe is a minor goddess of magic , described in Homer's Odyssey as "The loveliest of all immortals", living on the island of Aeaea, famous for her part in the adventures of Odysseus.By most accounts, Circe was the daughter of Helios, the god of the sun, and Perse, an Oceanid...

     to Ulysses
    Odysseus
    Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

     in Ovid
    Ovid
    Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

    's
    Remedium Amoris; note that this is feminine: the masculine form would be me miserum).


For the accusative endings, see Latin declension
Latin declension
Latin is an inflected language, and as such has nouns, pronouns, and adjectives that must be declined in order to serve a grammatical function. A set of declined forms of the same word pattern is called a declension. There are five declensions, which are numbered and grouped by ending and...

.

German


German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 uses the accusative to mark direct objects and objects of certain prepositions, or adverb
Adverb
An adverb is a part of speech that modifies verbs or any part of speech other than a noun . Adverbs can modify verbs, adjectives , clauses, sentences, and other adverbs....

s relating to time. The accusative is marked for masculine articles
Article (grammar)
An article is a word that combines with a noun to indicate the type of reference being made by the noun. Articles specify the grammatical definiteness of the noun, in some languages extending to volume or numerical scope. The articles in the English language are the and a/an, and some...

, pronoun
Pronoun
In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun is a pro-form that substitutes for a noun , such as, in English, the words it and he...

s, and adjective
Adjective
In grammar, an adjective is a 'describing' word; the main syntactic role of which is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified....

s.
German articles

The masculine forms for German articles
German articles
German articles are similar in most respects to English articles. However, they are declined differently according to the number, gender, and case of their nouns.-Declension:...

, e.g., 'the', 'a/an', 'my', etc., change in the accusative case: they always end in -en. The feminine, neutral and plural forms do not change.
Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
Definite article (the) den die das die
Indefinite article (a/an) einen eine ein


For example, "Hund" (dog) is a masculine (der) word, so the article changes when used in the accusative case:
  • Ich habe einen Hund. (lit., I have a dog.) In the sentence "a dog" is in the accusative case as it is the second idea (the object
    Object (grammar)
    An object in grammar is part of a sentence, and often part of the predicate. It denotes somebody or something involved in the subject's "performance" of the verb. Basically, it is what or whom the verb is acting upon...

    ) of the sentence.

German prepositions

The accusative case is also used after particular German prepositions. These include
bis, durch, für, gegen, ohne, um, after which the accusative case is always used, and an, auf, hinter, in, neben, über, unter, vor, zwischen which can govern either the accusative or the dative. The latter prepositions take the accusative when motion or action is specified (being done into/onto the space), but take the dative when location is specified (being done in/on that space). These prepositions are also used in conjunction with certain verbs, in which case it is the verb in question which governs whether the accusative or dative should be used.
German adjectives

Adjective endings also change in the accusative case. Another factor that determines the endings of adjectives is whether the adjective is being used after a definite article (the), after an indefinite article (a/an) or without any article before the adjective (many green apples).
Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
Definite article -en -e -e -en
Indefinite Article -en -e -es -en
No article -en -e -es -e

German adverbial use

In German, the accusative case is also used for some adverbial expressions, mostly temporal ones, as in "
Diesen Abend bleibe ich daheim" (This evening I'm staying at home), where "diesen Abend" is marked as accusative, although not a direct object.

Russian


In Russian, accusative is used not only to display the direct object of an action, but also to indicate the destination or goal of motion. It is also used with some prepositions. The prepositions
в and на can both take accusative in situations where they are indicating the goal of a motion.

In the masculine
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

, Russian also distinguishes between animate and inanimate
Animacy
Animacy is a grammatical and/or semantic category of nouns based on how sentient or alive the referent of the noun in a given taxonomic scheme is...

 nouns with regard to the accusative; only the animates carry a marker
Marker (linguistics)
In linguistics, a marker is a free or bound morpheme that indicates the grammatical function of the marked word, phrase, or sentence. In analytic languages and agglutinative languages, markers are generally easily distinguished. In fusional languages and polysynthetic languages, this is often not...

 in this case.

In fact Russian almost lost the real PIE accusative case, since only singular feminine nouns ending in 'a' have a distinct form. Other words use the genitive case or the nominative case in place of the accusative, depending on their animacy
Animacy
Animacy is a grammatical and/or semantic category of nouns based on how sentient or alive the referent of the noun in a given taxonomic scheme is...

.

Armenian


While the Armenian
Armenian language
The Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenian people. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia as well as in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The language is also widely spoken by Armenian communities in the Armenian diaspora...

 dialects both have a de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

 accusative case, Eastern Armenian uses an accusative marker for transitive verbs

Example:

գիրք - girkh - book (Nominative)

ուսուցիչ - usuchičh - teacher (Nominative)

Արամը վերցրեց գիրքը:

Aramë verchrech girkhë

Aram took the book.

Արամը սիրում է իր ուսուցչին:

Aramë sirum ē ir usuchičhin

Aram loves his teacher.

Esperanto


Esperanto grammar
Esperanto grammar
Esperanto is a constructed auxiliary language. A highly regular grammar makes Esperanto much easier to learn than most other languages of the world, though particular features may be more or less advantageous or difficult depending on the language background of the speaker...

 involves only two cases, a nominative and an accusative. The accusative is formed by the addition of -n to the nominative form, and is the case used for direct objects. Other objective functions, including dative functions are achieved with prepositions, all of which normally take the nominative case. Direction of motion can be expressed either by the accusative case, or by the preposition al (to) with the nominative.

Ido


In Ido
Ido
Ido is a constructed language created with the goal of becoming a universal second language for speakers of different linguistic backgrounds as a language easier to learn than ethnic languages...

 the
-n suffix is optional, as subject–verb–object order is assumed when it is not present. Note that this is sometimes done in Esperanto, especially by beginners, but it is considered incorrect while in Ido it is the norm.

Finnish


According to traditional Finnish grammars, the accusative is the case of a total object, while the case of a partial object is the partitive
Partitive case
The partitive case is a grammatical case which denotes "partialness", "without result", or "without specific identity". It is also used in contexts where a subgroup is selected from a larger group, or with numbers....

. The accusative is identical either to the nominative
Nominative case
The nominative case is one of the grammatical cases of a noun or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject of a verb or the predicate noun or predicate adjective, as opposed to its object or other verb arguments...

 or the genitive
Genitive case
In grammar, genitive is the grammatical case that marks a noun as modifying another noun...

, except for personal pronoun
Personal pronoun
Personal pronouns are pronouns used as substitutes for proper or common nouns. All known languages contain personal pronouns.- English personal pronouns :English in common use today has seven personal pronouns:*first-person singular...

s and the personal interrogative pronoun kuka/ken, which have a special accusative form ending in -t.

The major new Finnish grammar,
Iso suomen kielioppi
Iso suomen kielioppi
Iso suomen kielioppi is a reference book of Finnish grammar. It was published in 2004 by the Finnish Literature Society and to this date is the most extensive of its kind...

, breaks with the traditional classification to limit the accusative case to the special case of the personal pronouns and kuka/ken. The new grammar considers other total objects as being in the nominative or genitive case.

Hungarian


The accusative case in Hungarian applies to nouns, pronouns; even to adjectives and numerals when either of them stands alone in the sense of direct object.

Accusative is formed by the suffix -t. In many cases, -t is preceded by a suffix-initial vowel, primarily based on specific vowel harmony
Vowel harmony
Vowel harmony is a type of long-distance assimilatory phonological process involving vowels that occurs in some languages. In languages with vowel harmony, there are constraints on which vowels may be found near each other....

, resulting in
-at, -et, -ot, or -öt. The rules are complex, also involve consonants, and have exceptions. Thus: kertet (garden), kéket (blue); falat (wall), hat
ot (six); polcot (shelf), nyolcat (eight); ködöt (fog), könyvet (book).

In fewer cases, the root of the word is also affected. Word endings
-a or -e will (even if they are the endings of a preceding suffix) change to and , respectively, before -t. E.g.: fa (tree) -> f
át. The long vowel of a one-syllable word may get shortened. E.g.: úr (lord) -> urat. But: búr (Boer) -> búrt. If a word has more than one syllable and the last syllable ends in a consonant, the vowel of the last syllable may drop. E.g.: köröm (fingernail) -> körmöt
. But: köröm (my circle) -> körömet. Notably, the first-person and second-person personal pronouns have quite unique accusative forms (indeed, as indicated in the table, in the singular case the ending -et is rather optional, even considered archaic).
Nominative Accusative
first-person singular (I) én engem(et)
second-person singular (you) te téged(et)
third-person singular (he/she/it) ő őt
first-person plural (we) mi minket
second-person plural (you) ti titeket
third-person plural (they) ők őket

Semitic languages


Accusative case marking existed in Proto-Semitic, Akkadian
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

, and Ugaritic. It is preserved today only in literary Arabic
Literary Arabic
Modern Standard Arabic , Standard Arabic, or Literary Arabic is the standard and literary variety of Arabic used in writing and in most formal speech....

 and Ge'ez.

Akkadian

Nominative: awīlum (a/the man)
Accusative: apaqqid awīlam (I trust a/the man)

Classical Arabic

Nominative: rajulun (a man)
Accusative: as'alu rajulan (I ask a man) as'alu ar-rajula (I ask the man)


The accusative case is called in Arabic النصب an-naṣb, and it has many other uses in addition to marking the object of a verb.

External links