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Prepositional case (abbreviated PREP) is a grammatical case that marks the object of a preposition. This term can be used in languages where nouns have a declensional form that appears exclusively in combination with certain prepositions. For example, in Russian and Polish, the case that appears with (non-directional) uses of the prepositions na, w, pri, o (roughly, "on", "in", "near", "about") is traditionally referred to as the prepositional case (Russian: предложный падеж, predlóžnyj padéž).
Because the objects of these prepositions often denote locations, this case is also sometimes called the locative case: Czech and Slovak lokál (as opposed to lokatív), miejscownik in Polish. This is in concord with its etymology: the Slavic prepositional case hails from the Proto-Indo-European locative case (present in Armenian, Sanskrit, and Old Latin, among others). Small rudimentary traces of locative case are also present in Russian - the prepositional case of certain nouns, often denoting locations, with "in/on" prepositions differs from the same case form of the same nouns with another prepositions, as in "в лесу (v lesu)"="in the forest" (locative), but "о лесе (o lese"="about the forest" (prepositional). For most words, the locative case is merged with the prepositional case - like "в машине (v mašine)"="in the car" and "о машине (o mašine)"="about the car."
In Irish and Scottish Gaelic, nouns that are the objects of (most) prepositions may be marked with prepositional case, especially if preceded by the definite article. In traditional grammars, and in scholarly treatments of the early language, the term dative case is incorrectly used for the prepositional case. This case is exclusively associated with prepositions. However not all prepositions trigger prepositional case marking, and a small group of prepositions which are termed compound mark their objects with genitive case, these prepositions being historically derived from the fusion of a preposition plus a following noun which has become grammaticalised. (Compare English "in front of", "because of".) Note however that many nouns no longer exhibit distinct prepositional case forms in the conversational language.
In Pashto language, there also exists a case that occurs only in combination with certain prepositions. It is more often called the "first oblique" than the prepositional.
In many other languages, the term "prepositional case" is inappropriate, since the forms of nouns selected by prepositions also appear in non-prepositional contexts. For example, in English, prepositions govern the objective (or accusative) case, and so do verbs. In German, prepositions can govern the genitive, dative, or accusative, and none of these cases are exclusively associated with prepositions.
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