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.

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.
(cf. 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.
(cf. Once again, it is I. [formal])
Who is it?—It's me.
(cf. It is I [to whom you are speaking].)
It's me who should fix it.
(cf. 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.
(cf. Who made this bicycle?—I did.)
I like him.—Hey, me too.
(cf. I like him.—Hey, I do too.)
Who's gonna clean up this mess?—Not me!.
Me and him are going to the store.
(cf. 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.