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?'.
|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.
|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.
|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?)
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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'.
|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.|
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