• 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]
  • Illative case in Estonian

    When to use the illative case in Estonian?

    The illative case (sisseütlev kääne in Estonian) indicates the space or the object into which a motion occurs. The illative answers the questions kuhu? 'where to? whither?', kellesse? 'into whom?' and millesse? 'into what?'.

    The illative usually corresponds to the English preposition 'to' or 'into' but may occur in expressions that have other meanings:

    • Ma sõidan täna Londonisse. --- I am going to London today.
    • Ta läheb teatrisse. --- He will go to the theatre.
    • Ta usub jumalasse. --- He believes in god.
    • Mees armus naisesse. --- The man fell in love with the woman.
    • See ei puutu minusse. --- It doesn't concern me.


    How to form the illative singular?

    The ending -sse is added to the genitive form of a word.

    Nominative Genitive Illative English
    Süda Südame Südamesse Heart
    Voodi Voodi Voodisse Bed
    Arvuti Arvuti Arvutisse Computer
    Pudel Pudeli Pudelisse Bottle


    Some long words, which end in -se in the genitive, have a shortened version and drop the -se syllable.

         Nominative             Genitive        Illative  English
    Õpilane Õpilase Õpilasesse / õpilasse Student
    Roheline Rohelise Rohelisesse / rohelisse Green
    Küsimus Küsimuse Küsimusesse / küsimusse Question
    Lühikene Lühikese Lühikesesse / lühikesse Short


    The Short Illative

    In addition to the usual -sse form, many words have also a short form. The short illative case answers the question kuhu? 'where to? into what?'

    The short illative has the endings -de, -te, -he, -hu or simply a vowel.

    a) -de, -te

    Nominative Genitive Illative/Short form English
    Keel Keele Keelesse / Keelde Language
    Suur Suure Suuresse / Suurde Big
    Käsi Käe Käesse / Kätte Hand
    Vesi Vee Veesse / Vette Water
    • Ma kolin suurde majasse. --- I am moving into a big house.
    • Ma tõlgin lauseid inglise keelde. --- I am translating the sentences into English.

    b) -he, -hu

    Nominative Genitive Illative / Short form English
    Pea Pea Peasse / Pähe Head
    Suu Suu Suusse / Suhu Mouth
    • Laps pani endale sõrme suhu. --- The child put her finger her mouth.
    • Äkki tuli mulle uus mõte pähe. --- Suddenly a new thought came into my head.

    c) Short illative forms that end with just a vowel usually end with the same vowel that genitive form ends with. The preceding consonant or vowel is often lengthened to the third degree.

    Nominative Genitive Illative / Short form English
    Linn Linna Linnasse / `Linna Town
    Maja Maja Majasse / `Majja House
    Tuba Toa Toasse / `Tuppa Room
    Jõgi Jõe Jõesse / `Jõkke River
    • Tule `tuppa! --- Come in(doors)! 
    • Õpilane läheb homme `kooli. --- The student is going to school tomorrow.

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