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Overview of Cases [UK. GRAMMAR PORTAL]


Ukrainian is an East Slavic language spoken primarily in Western and Central Ukraine by 40 million people making it the third most spoken Slavic language by number of native speakers in the world!

If there are any terms you do not understand please refer to the grammar glossary

What is a case?

A case is a suffix or ending added to a word to show its relationship to the other parts of a sentence. In other words, it tells us what the noun's job in the sentence is. Is it doing the action? Receiving it? Is it in/at a place? In Ukrainian, instead of relying on context and prepositions like in English, we add endings onto the word. English has only two cases for nouns (Nominative and Genitive) and two for pronouns (Nominative and Objective). The genitive case in English is a good way of explaining how this works. The genitive case is used to show ownership over and object, in English it's represented by 's or ' for example: The cat -> The cat's, James -> James'. For pronouns: I -> me, he -> him, she -> her. Hopefully this might help you understand roughly what cases are used for. In Ukrainian, the cases are much more complicated but don't worry! You don't need to learn all the cases now, just try one at a time :)

How are cases used in Ukrainian?

In Ukrainian, cases are used for a variety of uses. This depends on everything from the subject to the location. In Ukrainian, there are seven cases and one you've been using since you first began the course and another two are very easy and another is used in English so really, they shouldn't be too much of a problem. Here is a conversation between a mother and daughter using all the cases of кіт, meaning cat.

  • Where is my cat? - Де мій кіт?

  • I gave the cat to Mariya - Я дала марії кота.

  • Now you don't own the cat - Ти зараз не має кота.

  • But I loved to eat with my cat - Але, я любила з'їсти з моїм котом.

  • And I loved to give the cat sandwiches - Та я любила давати канапки котові.

  • That's why there was always cheese on your cat - Це тому завжди був сир на твоїм коті.

  • Oh cat! Where are you now? - Коте! Де ти зараз?

So as we can see, the nouns do change a lot in Ukrainian.

So what are the cases?

I'm gonna add links in the near future to pages dedicated to each case, but for now there will only be a brief description.

This case is used for the subject or the do-erof the verb or action. For example, in the sentence I eat the apple, I is the subject because it is doing the action of eating. This is also the base form of the noun and is the form found in dictionaries.

  • The Genitive Case (Родовий Відмінок)

This case is used to show a nouns ownership over another noun similar to the English cat VS. cat's.

  • The Dative Case (Давальний Відмінок)

The dative case is used to mark the indirect object of a sentence. This is a bit difficult for learners and many often confuse it with the Accusative case. The way to think of it is like dominoes, it's not directly affected by the action but instead it's indirectly affected. Hence, the name indirect object For example, in the sentence I give the man the apple, the man is the indirect object since the apple is receiving the action and that's affecting the man. I'll explain this further in a future post.

  • The Accusative Case (Знахідний Відмінок)

The accusative case is used to mark the direct object of a sentence. This is the easiest case to form, unlike the dative case it marks the direct object. In other words, the object directly affected/receiving the action. So in the sentence I give the man the apple, the apple is the direct object because it's receiving the action of being given. This will also be further explained in a future post.

  • The Instrumental Case (Орудний Відмінок)

The instrumental case roughly translates "with" and "by means of" in English, it better to explain with explain with examples. The words in bold would be in the instrumental case;

  • I am eating breakfast with my sister

  • I go to school in the car

  • I go to work by bus

  • The Locative Case (Місцевий Відмінок)

The locative case is another very easy case to form with only one ending and a few peculiarities. This case is used to show location so for example in the sentence, I am at school, school would be in the locative since the in would tell that school is the location.

  • The Vocative Case (Кличний Відмінок)

The vocative case is used to directly address someone or something. The English phrase O Lord!, would use the Accusative case or if you were saying something like "Viktor, why are you licking the chair?", Viktor would be in the Vocative case.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask :)

Back To The Grammar Portal

November 12, 2016



Great explanation! I've noticed some minor things about the examples, that I'd like to point out:

Ти не зараз володієш кота. Володіти always uses Instrumental, so it should be „володіти котом“. Also, note that it is quite a strong word, more like 'possess' or even 'to have power over' (after all, it has the same root as влада – power, authority), so if you simply whant to say that someone is an owner of a cat, you can use verbs like мати+Gen. (to have) or тримати+Gen. (to keep): Я маю кота. Another thing is the particle не: in Ukrainian it always should come right before the negated word, no exceptions here, whether it's a verb, an adjective or a noun. I'd say: Now you don't own the cat - (ти) (зараз) (не маєш) (кота). You can move around all the parts in brackets pretty much any way you like. The combinations may give a slightly different emphasis.

Та я любила дати канапки котові. It's technically correct, but the more natural way is to use imperfective form давати (to give, to be in the process of giving) here, instead of дати (more like, to have given). I think, it's generally better to stick with imperfectives when using the verb „любити“.

Це чому завжди був сир на твоїм коті. This one sound like a question, possibly even with a note of displeasure, like 'Hey, why is it that there have always been cheese on your cat?!'.

Now, if it's a surprised exclamation, you can translate 'this/that is why' with „ось чому/чого“, literally 'here's why'. You can even emphasize your surprise with your discovery by adding то or так in the beginning: (Aha,) So that's why... - То ось чому...

If it's an explanation, you could alswo use words like тому (for that reason, that's why) or more emphatic саме тому. Чому?(why?) is used for questions, тому(because) is for answers.

What I feel like the most natural translation: That's why there was always cheese on your cat - (Саме) Тому на твоїм коті завжди був сир.

Your Ukrainian is very good, maybe this piece will help you to improve it even more. Hope, I didn't bore you with such a long writing :)


Дякую, все зараз добре :)


This is great. Can't wait for the rest. One bit of advice if I may: The only time you should write "gonna" is in the most informal writings, like texting your good friend. Even if your intention is to convey a friendly and informal atmosphere, do not write "gonna", especially in public writing such as this. This is poor English and will undermine your credibility.


"But I loved to eat with my cat - Але, я любила з'їсти з моїм котом." Instead of the verb з'їсти (що зробити?), it is better to use the infinitive їсти (що робити?)


no prepositional?


The prepositional is the locative.

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