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, 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.)


An objective case appears in 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!
  • in a dative role for an indirect object:
Give me the rubber hose!
Stop spitting on me!
Me, I like Spanish.
I like him. —Hey, me too.
  • with a copula (sometimes, but not always, replaceable by the nominative—in very formal style):[2]
This is us on the beach. [referring to a photograph]
It's them again.
Who is it? —It's me.
Me and him are going to the store.
  • in a genitive case role (dialectal):
That's me tractor you's stealin'.

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]


  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.