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Partitive case

Partitive case

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The partitive case is a 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...

 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.

Finnish


In the Finnish language
Finnish language
Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

 and Estonian language
Estonian language
Estonian is the official language of Estonia, spoken by about 1.1 million people in Estonia and tens of thousands in various émigré communities...

, this case is often used to express unknown identities and irresultative actions. For example, it is found in the following circumstances, with the characteristic ending of -a or -ta:
  • After numbers, in singular: "kolme taloa" -> "three houses" (cf. plural, where both are used, e.g. sadat kirjat "the hundreds of books", sata kirjaa "hundred books" as an irresultative object.)
  • For atelic
    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...

     actions (possibly incomplete) and ongoing processes: "luen kirjaa" -> "I'm reading a book"
    • Compare with 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...

       actions in accusative case: "luen kirjan" -> "I will read the (entire) book"
  • With atelic
    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...

     verbs, particularly those indicating emotions: "rakastan tätä taloa" -> "I love this house"
  • For tentative enquiries: "saanko lainata kirjaa?" -> "can I borrow the book?"
  • For uncountables: "lasissa on maitoa" -> "there is (some) milk in the glass"
  • In places where English would use "some" or "any": "onko teillä kirjoja?" -> "do you have any books?"
    • Compare with nominative case: "onko teillä kirjat?" -> "do you have the (specific) books?"
  • For negative statements: "talossa ei ole kirjaa" -> "in the house, [there] is not [a] book"


Where not mentioned, the accusative case would be ungrammatical. For example, the partitive must always be used after singular numerals.

As an example of the irresultative meaning of the partitive, ammuin karhun (accusative
Accusative case
The accusative case of a noun is the grammatical case used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb. The same case is used in many languages for the objects of prepositions...

) means "I shot the bear (dead)", whereas ammuin karhua (partitive) means "I shot (at) the bear" without specifying if it was even hit. Notice that Finnish has no native future tense
Future tense
In grammar, a future tense is a verb form that marks the event described by the verb as not having happened yet, but expected to happen in the future , or to happen subsequent to some other event, whether that is past, present, or future .-Expressions of future tense:The concept of the future,...

, so that the partitive provides an important reference to the present as opposed to the future. Thus luen kirjaa means "I am reading a/the book" whereas luen kirjan means I will read a/the book". Thus "luen" can mean "I am reading" or "I will read" depending on the case form of the word that follows. The partitive form kirjaa indicates incompleted action and hence the meaning of the verb form is present tense. The accusative form kirjan indicates completed action when used with the past tense verb but indicates planned future action when used with a verb in the present tense. Hence luen kirjan means "I will read the book".

The case with an unspecified identity is onko teillä kirjoja, which uses the partitive, because it refers to unspecified books, as contrasted to 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...

 onko teillä (ne) kirjat?, which means "do you have (those) books?"

The partitive case comes from the older ablative case
Ablative case
In linguistics, ablative case is a name given to cases in various languages whose common characteristic is that they mark motion away from something, though the details in each language may differ...

. This meaning is preserved e.g. in kotoa (from home), takaa (from behind), where it means "from".

A Western Finnish dialectal phenomenon seen in some dialects is the assimilation of the final -a into a preceding vowel, thus making the chroneme
Chroneme
In linguistics, a chroneme is a basic, theoretical unit of sound that can distinguish words by duration only of a vowel or consonant. The noun chroneme is derived from Greek χρονος , and the suffixed -eme, which is analogous to the -eme in phoneme...

 the partitive marker. For example, suuriisuuria "some big --".

Sámi


Of the Sámi languages
Sami languages
Sami or Saami is a general name for a group of Uralic languages spoken by the Sami people in parts of northern Finland, Norway, Sweden and extreme northwestern Russia, in Northern Europe. Sami is frequently and erroneously believed to be a single language. Several names are used for the Sami...

, Inari
Inari Sami
Inari Sámi is a Uralic, Sami language spoken by the Inari Sami of Finland. It has approximately 300 speakers, the majority of whom are middle-aged or older and live in the municipality of Inari. According to the Sami Parliament of Finland 269 persons used Inari Sami as their first language. It is...

 and Skolt Sámi still have a partitive, although it is slowly disappearing and its function is being taken over by other cases.

Skolt Sámi


The partitive
Partitive
In linguistics, the partitive is a word, phrase, or case that divides something into parts. For example, in the English sentence I'll have some coffee, some is a partitive determiner because it makes the noun phrase some coffee refer to a subset of all coffee...

 is used only in the singular
Grammatical number
In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

 and can always be replaced by the genitive. The partitive marker is -d.

1. It appears after numbers larger than 6:
  • kääu´c čâustõkkâd: eight lassos


This can be replaced with .

2. It is also used with certain postpositions:
  • kuä´tted vuâstta: against a kota


This can be replaced with kuä´đ vuâstta.

3. It can be used with the comparative
Comparative
In grammar, the comparative is the form of an adjective or adverb which denotes the degree or grade by which a person, thing, or other entity has a property or quality greater or less in extent than that of another, and is used in this context with a subordinating conjunction, such as than,...

to express that which is being compared:
  • Kå´lled pue´rab : better than gold


This would nowadays more than likely be replaced by pue´rab ko kå´ll

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