Help with Greek Grammatical Cases please
I am currently studying Greek and have no sort of serious prior language or linguistic study under my belt.
I'm pretty confused by the constant references to various grammatical cases (nominative, vocative, genitive etc.) and what on earth they all actually mean.
I'd really appreciate if someone could help clarify these cases for me - what they mean and where they are found, in layman's terms.
Some languages, including Greek, have grammatical cases. This means that a noun, an adjective and even some pronouns can be found in different cases according to their functions in the sentence. Most Greek nouns, adjectives and pronouns change their ending (and sometimes their stress as well) according to cases. Modern Greek has four cases: nominative (ονομαστική), genitive (γενική), accusative (αιτιατική) and vocative (κλητική).
- The nominative is used for subjects and predicates.
- The genitive expresses possession, but it is also used after some prepositions.
- The accusative is used for the object of verbs and after some prepositions. A few verbs may take an object in genitive as well.
- The vocative is used when calling or addressing someone. Therefore you only need to learn the vocative forms of names.
Here are some examples to make it clear:
- Το αγόρι παίζει με
τα παιχνίδιατης αδερφής του. = The boy plays with his sister's
-> το αγόρι is in the nominative case, as it's the subject of the sentence.
-> τα παιχνίδια is in the accusative case, as it follows the preposition με (= with), whose complement must be in the accusative case.
-> της αδερφής του is in the genitive case, as it shows who possesses something (in this case, the toys).
- Άννα! Κοίτα
αυτό το βιβλίο! = (Hey,) Anna! Look at
-> Άννα is in the vocative case, because the speaker addresses her.
-> το βιβλίο is in the accusative case, as it's the object of the verb κοίτα.
-> αυτό is in the accusative case as well, as it qualifies the noun το βιβλίο. When a word qualifies a noun, it has to be in the same case as the noun.
You're lucky we got rid of the dative case over the centuries. ;-)
I hope this helps. :-)
Ευχαριστώ πολύ, Παναγιώτης! I'm bound to have other questions, but this is very helpful and I'm sending a big thank you for taking the time to write this all out!
You should say "Παναγιώτη" - this is the vocative case in use. Masculine names ending in -ης change to -η in the vocative.
I don't know if in school you ever had to do sentence trees where you take a sentence and break it down into its constituent parts. If so, doing the same into/out of Greek will help you understand what the different parts are (is it a subject/object/possessive/etc.?) and how to apply the cases appropriately per Panagiotis' explanations and examples above.