Oblique case

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Not to be confused with oblique argument.

In grammar, an oblique (abbreviated OBL) or objective case (abbr. OBJ; Latin: casus generalis), is a nominal case that is used when a noun phrase is the object of either a verb or a preposition. A noun or pronoun in the oblique case can generally appear in any role except as subject, for which the nominative case is used.[1] The term "objective case" is generally preferred by modern English grammarians. When the two terms are contrasted, they differ in the ability of a word in the oblique case to function as a possessive attributive; whether English has an oblique rather than an objective case then depends on how "proper" or widespread one considers the dialects where such usage is employed – e.g.

An oblique case often contrasts with an unmarked case, as in English oblique him and them vs. nominative he and they. However, the term oblique is also used for languages without a nominative case, such as ergative–absolutive languages; in the Northwest Caucasian languages, for example, the oblique-case marker serves to mark the ergative, dative, and applicative case roles, contrasting with the absolutive case, which is unmarked.

Bulgarian[edit]

Bulgarian, an analytic Slavic language, also has an oblique case form for pronouns:

Dative role:

  • "Give that ball to me" дай тaзи топка на мен (day tazi topka na men)

(This oblique case is a relic of the original, more complex proto-Slavic system of noun cases, and there are remnants of other cases in Bulgarian, such as the vocative case of direct address.)

English[edit]

An objective case is marked on the English personal pronouns; these forms are often called object pronouns. One can observe how the first person pronoun me serves a variety of grammatical functions:

Charlie bit me!
My parents reluctantly sent the army me. (rare)
The army sent me to Korea.
  • in a dative role for an indirect object:
Kim passed me the pancakes.
Kim passed the pancakes to me.
That picture of me was blurry.
(c.f. That picture of mine was stolen.)
[referring to a photograph] This is me on the beach.
  • in existentials: (sometimes, but not always, replaceable by the nominative—in very formal style):[2]
It's me again.
(c.f. Once again, it is I. [formal])
Who is it?—It's me.
(c.f. It is I [to whom you are speaking].)
It's me who should fix it.
(c.f. Since I made it, it is I who should fix it.)
  • in a nominative role with predicate or verbal ellipsis
Who made this bicycle?—Me.
(c.f. Who made this bicycle?—I did.)
I like him.—Hey, me too.
(c.f. I like him.—Hey, I do too.)
Who's gonna clean up this mess?—Not me!.
Me and him are going to the store.
(c.f. Is he going? Yes, he and I are going.)
Me, I like Spanish.
  • marking possession in some dialects:
That's me tractor you's stealin'.
  • as a comedic stylistic effect of blatant error:
[spoken by Cookie Monster] Me so hungry.

The pronoun me is not inflected differently in any of these uses; it is used for all grammatical relationships except the genitive case of possession (in standard English) and a non-disjunctive nominative case as the subject.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "oblique" in David Crystal, 2008. A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, 6th ed.
  2. ^ Huddleston, Rodney; Pullum, Geoffrey K. (2002). The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 459. ISBN 0-521-43146-8.