10 Noun Cases
Raised Object Infinitive
S. – Subject
PN. – Predicate Nominative
DO. – Direct Object
IO. – Indirect Object
SA. – Simple Address
English does not have rules declared by any government, unlike Chinese. Instead, schools and publishers derive grammar theory from Skakespeare and the King James Bible, when English was strongly established under Queen Elizabeth. While elementary English tests may ask questions about grammar, true English tests only examine whether a person can correctly use English.
All English grammar is mere theory, which differs from one institution to another. Noun case is one more debated theory among many. Any grammar rule is only as “true” as it is helpful for good English usage. If your theory doesn’t help you live right, then your theory is wrong.
“Case” theory is that nouns can be used many different ways, like having different colors which help us see nouns more easily. Non-case grammar theory often sees some words as adjectives or adverbs. However, seeing nouns as nouns used as if adjectives or adverbs may help you gain better command of English, and you will still use English correctly.
English is an artful painting. The words are the pain brushes. The cases are the paint colors.
This case theory uses ten cases. A nine-cases system, plus the Oblique case from the spelling-based three-case system: Nominative, Oblique, Genitive.
Classic case systems recognize five main cases:
Our nine cases are:
When viewing the nine cases with the five case system:
- Locative, Instrumental, and Lative are annexed by Dative.
- Ablative is annexed by Genitive, but is annexed by Oblique in the three-case system; so Ablative is an “Oblique-Genitive”.
The ten-case theory is based on prepositions. Many case systems presume that “case” is the spelling morphology of nouns. Just how verbs change spelling based on tense, mood, or voice, nouns change spelling based on case. But, this is mainly in languages of Easter Europe—Russian, Czech, German, Greek, etc.
In English, there are only three spelling-based cases: Nominative, Oblique, Genitive. These only apply to personal pronouns: I, me, mine, respectively.
However, nouns can derive case from prepositions. The scholar FF Bruce taught an eight-case system for Greek, even though Greek only has five spelling cases. The eight-case system derives case from prepositions, not only from spelling.
So, case can come from prepositions, not only from spelling. Therefore, English nouns can have case.
The word “preposition” comes from “pre-position”. It is a word that comes before anther word. For example…
In this sentence:
- Go to town.
The word “to” does not work with “go” as in:
- go to
It works with “town” as in:
- to town
Prepositions mark the noun that follows. They have a close relationship, which is how English developed from other languages.
Case-based grammar is older than English. So, our English language is based on other languages that did in fact use case. By understanding case, we can get a better understanding of what is happening in English.
This makes English easier for native English speakers. But, it also makes it easier to learn non-English languages. And, it makes English easier for those learning English as a Second Language.
Case-based English makes language easier to master, no matter what language you are using.
Three cases do not use prepositions: Nominative, Accusative, and Vocative. All other cases use prepositions.
Nominative and Accusative can be used as modifiers.
- coffee cup
- water bottle
- calligraphy pen
- note pad
All of these are nouns. They could be Nominative/Subject/PN or Accusative/Object for their place in a sentence.
Equally, adjectives could be used in their place. So, they are not adverbs nor adjectives; they are nouns used as modifiers.
Accusative: Location Object —
Accusative-Location Object can also apply to a could-be “Locative” Case candidate when not having a preposition; viz “place”, whether “temporal place” or “place in space”, AKA “time & space”. This applies to “nouns of time & space”.
- Go/get home.
- Do it tomorrow.
- Come here.
- Look west.
- Look to the west. (Dative/Locative)
Some grammar systems may consider these as adverbs, but this is controversial. In the above example, we could call “home” a “Location Object”.
- I like swimming.
The word “swimming” is not an adverb describing the nature of “like”; it is an object that is liked. To be consistent, we also say:
- I went swimming.
- Then, I went home.
The noun after the verb “went” is an Accusative – Location Object (Acc-LO).
(tomorrow/yesterday = pronoun, Cambridge CGEL, discussed on Stack Exchange)
These pronouns could be treated as adjectives/adverbs, but are easier to understand as Accusative/Nominative cases.
Genitive: Experiencer —
- That was thoughtful of you.
- It was worthy of him to do such a good deed.
…because of you and of him have the person “experiencing” the predicate adjective.
Genitive: Trigger —
- He died from poison.
- She failed from lack of sleep.
…because poison was the “trigger” of his death and lack or lack of sleep “triggered” her failure.
Genitive: Possession —
- the car of you AKA your car
- the house of him AKA his house
Genitive: Substance —
- an airplane made of paper
- the bridge that was built from wood
- a house of cards
Genitive: Contents —
- a cup of coffee
- a book about English
Genitive: Subject —
- Mine is over there.
- Yours was interesting.
Genitive: Infinitive —
- We are about to leave.
- He was about to answer before the earthquake.
Accusative: Raised Object —
- I saw the dog bite the stick.
Here, “the dog” is the object of “saw” and the subject of “bite”. It is a noun between two verbs, but it is not the subject of the sentence. There is an explanation of this on Stack Exchange.
Accusative: Location Object —
- She went home.
- We went shopping. (gerund with noun case)
- They went abroad.
- I looked up.
- Then, he traveled north.
Dative: Direct Object —
- Throw to me.
Genitive: Direct Object —
- Talk about John.
- Argue about friendship.
Special Preposition Usage
Prepositions are easy to identify if you see that they mark a noun’s case.
- If it doesn’t mark the noun’s case, then it is not a preposition.
- If it marks a noun’s case, then it is a preposition.
These are nouns, not prepositions nor adverbs:
While many grammar systems consider these as “adverbs of location”, we consider them nouns with Nominative/Accusative case and “Location” use.
Below are prepositions used as pronouns—or you could seem them as prepositions without the noun.
- A hot pot is hard to get into, but more difficult to get out of.
Consider this as:
- into is a Dative/Locative without a noun, or a Dative/Locative pronoun
- of is a Genitive-Location without a noun, or a Genitive pronoun
Dative/Genitive: Comparison —
- See the forest for the trees. (Dative)
- Know how to tell truth from lie and good from bad. (Genitive)
Three English cases (for pronouns): Nominative, Oblique, Genitive
|English Cases (Pronouns, by spelling)|
Three annexed cases: Ablative (Genitive); Locative & Instrumental (Dative)
|from||Movement away||I came from town.
They flew in from Alaska.
Look away from the sun.
Get back from the stove.
|Origin||It’s [a gift] from me.
Is that from the fridge?
They’re from Europe.
Learn from your father.
|I came to town.
They flew into Alaska.
Look toward/unto the sun.
We will work until/unto dawn.
Place it upon the stove.
Give it to me.
|Explain it to us.
Sing for them.
Talk with me.
Don’t speak for me.
This is to/for you.
He stole for food.
You can in theory.
Work within reason.
In all fairness…
at, near, by,
|She walked with her cousin.
Can you finish in one hour?
I read in my office on the
floor by the window.
They sat upon chairs.
Stay within the boundaries.
|Mom writes with a pen.
They drove with care.
He spoke in anger.
We talked on the phone.
She went by bus.
Solve by asking.
It was written by her.
Note: “about” has many uses, but is always vaguely approximate.
|about [measure]||(v.) about [location]||(v.) of/about [topic/object]|
about [6 o’clock]
about [7 feet]
about [sea level]
about [eye level]
about [all I can take]
out and about
around and about
in and around
in the vicinity of
in connection to/with
|It was about noon.
He is about 6 feet tall.
We flew about level
with the mountain.
They are about on time.
|Don’t run about the house.
That bird has been flying
about the sky all day!
The ship turned about.
They are out and about.
|We talked about yesterday.
He informed us about the concert.
She spoke about medicine.
I will learn more about HTML.
You should think about that.