• Estonian grammar
  • 1 Estonian sentence structure [0/2]
  • 2 Estonian nouns [0/3]
  • 3 Estonian pronouns [0/3]
  • 4 Estonian cases [0/11]
  • 5 Estonian verbs [0/8]
  • 6 Estonian adjectives [0/1]
  • 7 Estonian prepositions and postpositions [0/1]
  • 8 Estonian adverbs [0/1]
  • Estonian cases

    Cases in Estonian

    All nouns, adjectives, pronouns and numbers in Estonian have 14 different case forms, in both the singular and plural. However, beginners shouldn't feel intimidated by this fact. There are only a few basic case forms, upon which the rest of the case sysem is based. You will see, that the case system is regular. The endings are constant and are added to the word stems without change, so it is easy to distinguish between the stem and the ending.


    1. Nominative case

    The first and the easiest case is called the nominative. It answers the questions 'who?', 'what?' or 'what kind?'.

    English Estonian
    What is this? Mis see on?
    This is a table. See on laud.


    2. Genitive case

    The second case is called the genitive. It is mainly used to show possession or ownership of something.

    English Estonian
    Whose book? Kelle raamat?
    Father's book. Isa raamat.


    3. Partitive case

    The partitive case answers the questions 'whom?' and 'what?'. In it's basic meaning, it indicates an indeterminate whole, of which only a part is under consideration.

    English Estonian
    The boy is eating (some) bread. Poiss sööb leiba.
    It is snowing (some snow is falling). Lund sajab.


    4. Inner locative cases

    There are three inner locative cases in Estonian, all of which indicate location with reference to the interior of something.

    • movement into something (where to? whither?)
    • location inside something (where?)
    • movement out of something (where from? whence?)
    Case English Estonian
    Illative I am going home. Ma lähen koju.
    Inessive I am home. Ma olen kodus.
    Elative I am coming from home. Ma tulen kodust.


    5. Outer locative cases

    Estonian has also three outer locative cases, which like the inner locative cases, indicate location or movement. However, they do it in relation to the surface or the environment of something.

    Case English Estonian
    Allative Put the glass on the table. Pane klaas lauale.
    Adessive The glass is on the table. Klaas on laual.
    Ablative I took the glass from the table. Ma võtsin klaasi laualt.


    6. Translative case 

    The translative case indicates what someone or something is turning into.

    English Estonian
    I want to become a doctor. Ma tahan saada arstiks.
    The child has grown up (big). Laps on kasvanud suureks.


    7. Terminative case

    The terminative case is used for showing the time or place which ends (or limits) the action.

    English Estonian
    It's 2 weeks until Christmas. Jõuludeni on 2 nädalat.
    From here it's 5 km to my home. Siit on mu koduni 5 km.


    8. Essive case

    The essive case indicates in what capacity or form something/someone performs an action. 

    English Estonian
    I work as a teacher. Ma töötan õpetajana.
    She was really pretty as a child. Ta oli lapsena väga ilus.


    9. Abessive and comitative case

    The comitative case corresponds to the English preposition 'with' and the abessive case, on the opposite, corresponds to 'without'.

    Case English Estonian
    Comitative I am going there with my friend. Ma lähen sinna oma sõbraga.
    Abessive It's impossible to live without air. Ilma õhuta ei saa elada.


    Next lessons

    1 Nominative case in Estonian Find out what is the nominative case in Estonian and when is it used.
    2 Genitive case in Estonian Learn how to form the genitive case in Estonian.
    3 Partitive case in Estonian Learn when to use the partitive case in Estonian and how to decline the words accordingly.
    4 Inner locative cases in Estonian Learn the illative, inessive and elative case in Estonian.
    5 Outer locative cases in Estonian Learn when to use and how to form the allative, adessive and ablative case in Estonian.
    6 Translative case in Estonian Learn when to use and how to form the translative case in Estonian.
    7 Terminative case in Estonian Learn when to use and how to form the terminative case in Estonian.
    8 Essive case in Estonian Find out when to use and how to form the essive case in Estonian.
    9 Abessive and comitative cases in Estonian Find out when to use and how to form the abessive and comitative cases in Estonian.
    10 Plural declension in Estonian Learn how to decline the words in plural form.