• 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]
  • Translative case in Estonian

    When to use the translative case in Estonian?

    The translative case (saav kääne in Estonian) indicates what someone or something is turning into. It answers the questions kelleks? 'becoming whom?' and milleks? 'becoming what?'. 

    In addition, the translative case has the following usages:

    1) in conjunction with the verbs tegema 'to make', olema 'to be' and lugema or pidama in the sense of 'to consider (as)', in expressions of this sort:

    • See teeb mind kurvaks. --- This makes me (become) sad.
    • Ta peab mind targaks. --- He considers me (to be) smart.
    • Õpetaja oli meile eeskujuks. --- The teacher was a model (example) for us. 

    2) to indicate the purpose or goal of the action of a verb:

    • Meil on piknikuks süüa vaja. --- We need food for the picnic.
    • Tütar sai emalt kingituseks hea raamatu. --- The daughter got a good book as a present from her mother.
    • Vastuseks teie kirjale teatan ... --- In response to your letter I inform you ...

    3) to indicate the time during which or by which something occurs. Here the translative case answers the questions kui kauaks? 'for how long?' and mis ajaks? 'by when?'.

    • Kui kauaks sa Inglismaale lähed? --- For how long are you going to England?
    • Ma jään siia üheks nädalaks. --- I will stay here for one week.
    • Kodutöö tuleb ära teha homseks. --- Homework must be done by tomorrow.

    4) to indicate the order in which something occurs.

    • Ta tuli jooksus esimeseks. --- She came in first in the race.
    • Ma jäin viimaseks. --- I came in last (I was in last place).
    • Esiteks, teiseks, kolmandaks. --- First of all, secondly, thirdly.


    How to form the translative case in Estonian?

    The suffix -ks is added to the genitive form of the word.

    Nominative   Genitive     Translative   English
    Arst Arsti Arstiks Doctor
    Tugev Tugeva Tugevaks Strong
    Mees Mehe Meheks Man
    Ilus Ilusa Ilusaks Beautiful
    Tuletõrjuja Tuletõrjuja Tuletõrjujaks Firefighter


    The adjective modifying a noun in the translative case must also be in the translative case.

    • Tütar on kasvanud ilusaks naiseks. --- The daughter has grown up to be a beautiful woman.
    • Väike poiss tahab saada tugevaks tuletõrjujaks. --- The little boy wants to become a strong firefighter.
    • Me lähme reisile pooleks aastaks. --- We will go on a trip for half a year.

    enlightened An adjective in the translative case which is in the predicate of a sentence usually is in the singular case, even if the subject is in the plural.

    • Laps on kasvanud suureks. --- The child has grown up (big).
    • Lapsed on kasvanud suureks. --- The children have grown up (big).


    yes Continue to the exercises to practice declining words in the translative case!


    Exercise: translative case