The accusative case (abbreviated acc) 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 (some or all) prepositions. It is a noun that is having something done to it, usually joined (such as in Latin) with the nominative case, making it an indirect object.
The accusative case existed in Proto-Indo-European and is present in some Indo-European languages (including Latin, Sanskrit, Greek, German, Polish, Swedish, Romanian, Russian, Ukrainian), in the Uralic languages, in Altaic languages, and in Semitic languages (such as Hebrew and Classical Arabic). Finnic languages, such as Finnish and Estonian, have two cases to mark objects, the accusative and the partitive case. In morphosyntactic alignment terms, both perform the accusative function, but the accusative object is telic, while the partitive is not.
Modern English, which almost entirely lacks declension 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 forms, of which the -m and -r endings are characteristic. This conflation of the old accusative, dative, instrumental, and (after prepositions) genitive cases is the oblique case. Most modern English grammarians no longer use the Latin accusative/dative model, though they tend to use the terms objective for oblique, subjective for nominative, and possessive for genitive (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.
The English name "accusative (case)" is an Anglicisation of the Latin accūsātīvus (cāsus), which was translated from Ancient Greek αἰτιατικὴ (πτῶσις), aitiatikē (ptôsis). 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 вини́тельный vinítel’nyj, from винить vinít’ "to blame".
In the sentence He sees the woman, "he" is the subject of the sentence, while in The woman sees him, "him" is the object. In English we distinguish the two uses by different forms of the pronoun: he/him. If, however, instead of a pronoun, we use a noun, we make no such distinction in the form of the word. Thus, we use the same word "man" in both The man sees the woman and The woman sees the man. In many languages, however, different forms of the word are used not only for pronouns, but for nouns too. For example, in Latin The man sees the woman = Vir feminam videt, while The woman sees the man = Femina virum videt. For "man", Latin uses "vir" for the subject, and "virum" for the an object. Likewise, in the same pair of sentences, we have "femina" for a subject and "feminam" for object. The form used for the direct object ("him", "virum", "feminam") is known as the "accusative case", while the form used for the subject ("he", "vir", "femina") is known as the nominative case.
Just as with pronouns nouns, many inflected languages make distinctions between cases for adjectives and (for languages that have them) articles. Thus in German, "the car" as the subject of a sentence may be expressed as der Wagen. This is the form in the nominative case. If this article/noun pair is used as the object of a verb, becomes den Wagen, the accusative. In this example, the noun does not change, but the definite article is der in the nominative but den in the accusative case.
In Latin, nouns, adjectives, or pronouns in the accusative case (accusativus) can be used
- as a direct object.
- 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 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, 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 to Ulysses in Ovid's Remedium Amoris; note that this is feminine: the masculine form would be me miser).
For the accusative endings, see Latin declension.
The masculine forms for German articles, 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.
|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) of the sentence.
Some German pronouns also change in the accusative case.
The accusative case is also used after particular German prepositions. These include bis, durch, entlang, 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.
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).
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.
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 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.
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.
In both Ancient and Modern Greek, nouns, adjectives, verb participles, articles and pronouns are used in the accusative case, when they indicate a direct object or if they are preceded by a preposition. There is a wide variety of accusative markers depending on gender, number and declension. Like in Latin, all neuter names yield the same form in both the nominative and the accusative case in Ancient Greek. In its modern successor, this rule also extends to most feminine nouns, except these ending to -ος.
Example: "He was also calumniating Socrates."
- In Ancient Greek: "Διέβαλλε δὲ καὶ τὸν Σωκράτην." (Diéballe de kai ton Sōkrátēn.)
- In Modern Greek: "Διέβαλλε και τον Σωκράτη." (Diévalle ke ton Sokráti.)
Esperanto grammar 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 case 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.
In Ido 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.
According to traditional Finnish grammars, the accusative is the case of a total object, while the case of a partial object is the partitive. The accusative is identical either to the nominative or the genitive, except for personal pronouns and the personal interrogative pronoun kuka/ken, which have a special accusative form ending in -t, kenet.
The major new Finnish grammar, Iso suomen kielioppi, 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.
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, resulting in -at, -et, -ot, or -öt. The rules are complex, also involve consonants, and have exceptions. Thus: kertet (garden), kéket (blue); falat (wall), hatot (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 -á and -é, respectively, before -t. E.g.: fa (tree) -> fát. 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).
|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|
- Nominative: awīlum (a/the man)
- Accusative: apaqqid awīlam (I trust a/the man)
In Arabic, the accusative case (also the subjunctive mood) is called النصب an-naṣb, and a word in the accusative case (also a verb in the subjunctive) is called المنصوب al-manṣūb, both from the verb نصب naṣaba "set up". The accusative is used to mark the object of a verb and to form adverbs.
- Nominative: rajulun "a man", ar-rajulu "the man"
- Accusative: as'alu rajulan "I ask a man", as'alu ar-rajula "I ask the man"
- Oxford University Press. Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed..Oxford, 1989
- accūsātīvus. Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary on Perseus Project.
- αἰτιατική. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
- "accusative". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.
- Harper, Douglas. "accusative". Online Etymology Dictionary.
- Herbert Weir Smyth. A Greek grammar for colleges. p. 353, sect. 1551.a.: name of the accusative.
- Russian Accusative: , , , 
- German Accusative Case Grammar lesson covering the accusative case in the German language
- Arabic case endings