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In
grammar In linguistics, the grammar of a natural language is its set of structure, structural constraints on speakers' or writers' composition of clause (linguistics), clauses, phrases, and words. The term can also refer to the study of such constraint ...
, the nominative case (
abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for example, the word ''abbrevia ...
), subjective case, straight case or upright case is one of the
grammatical case A grammatical case is a category of nouns and noun modifiers (determiners, adjectives, participles, and Numeral (linguistics), numerals), which corresponds to one or more potential grammatical functions for a nominal group in a wording. In vari ...
s of a
noun A noun () is a word that generally functions as the name of a specific object or set of objects, such as living creatures, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.Example nouns for: * Organism, Living creatures (including people ...
or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject of a
verb A verb () is a word (part of speech) that in syntax generally conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''become''), or a state of being (''be'', ''exist'', ''stand''). In the usual descrip ...
or (in Latin and formal variants of English) the
predicate Predicate or predication may refer to: * Predicate (grammar), in linguistics * Predication (philosophy) * several closely related uses in mathematics and formal logic: **Predicate (mathematical logic) **Propositional function **Finitary relation, o ...
noun or predicate adjective, as opposed to its
object Object may refer to: General meanings * Object (philosophy) An object is a philosophy, philosophical term often used in contrast to the term ''Subject (philosophy), subject''. A subject is an observer and an object is a thing observed. For mo ...
or other verb arguments. Generally, the noun "that is doing something" is in the nominative, and the nominative is often the form listed in dictionaries.


Etymology

The English word ''nominative'' comes from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
''cāsus nominātīvus'' "case for naming", which was translated from
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Greek Dark ...
ὀνομαστικὴ πτῶσις, ''onomastikḗ ptôsis'' "inflection for naming", from ''onomázō'' "call by name", from ''ónoma'' "name".
Dionysius Thrax Dionysius Thrax ( grc-gre, Διονύσιος ὁ Θρᾷξ ''Dionýsios ho Thrâix'', 170–90 BC) was a Ancient Greece, Greek Grammarian (Greco-Roman), grammarian and a pupil of Aristarchus of Samothrace. He was long considered to be the author o ...
in his The Art of Grammar refers to it as ''orthḗ'' or ''eutheîa'' "straight", in contrast to the
oblique Oblique may refer to: * an alternative name for the character usually called a slash (punctuation) ( / ) *angle#Types of angles, Oblique angle, in geometry *Oblique triangle, in geometry *Oblique lattice, in geometry *Leaf#Base, Oblique leaf base, ...
or "bent" cases.


Characteristics

The reference form (more technically, the ''least marked'') of certain parts of speech is normally in the nominative case, but that is often not a complete specification of the reference form, as the number and the gender may need to be specified. Thus, the reference or least marked form of an adjective might be the nominative masculine singular. The parts of speech that are often declined and therefore may have a nominative case are nouns, adjectives, pronouns and (less frequently) numerals and participles. The nominative case often indicates the subject of a verb but sometimes does not indicate any particular relationship with the other parts of a sentence. In some languages, the nominative case is unmarked, and it may then be said to be marked by a
null morpheme In Morphology (linguistics)#Morpheme-based morphology, morphology, a null morpheme or zero morpheme is a morpheme that has no phonetic form. In simpler terms, a null morpheme is an "invisible" affix. It is a concept useful for analysis, by contra ...
. Moreover, in most languages with a nominative case, the nominative form is the lemma; that is, it is the reference form used to cite a word, to list it as a dictionary entry etc. Nominative cases are found in Albanian,
Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic languages, Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C ...
, Estonian,
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor languages had Trans-cul ...
, Slovak, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Georgian, German,
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
,
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
, Icelandic,
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabita ...
,
Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French: ) was the language spoken in most of the northern half of France from approximately the 8th to the 14th centuries. Rather than a unified language, Old French was a linkage of Romance dialects, mutually intel ...
, Polish, Serbian, Czech,
Romanian Romanian may refer to: *anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Romania **Romanians, an ethnic group **Romanian language, a Romance language ***Romanian dialects, variants of the Romanian language **Romanian cuisine, traditional ...
, Russian and
Pashto Pashto (,; , ) is an Eastern Iranian languages, Eastern Iranian language in the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family. It is known in historical Persian literature as Afghani (). Spoken as a native language mostly by ethni ...
, among other languages. English still retains some nominative
pronoun In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a word or a group of words that one may substitute for a noun or noun phrase. Pronouns have traditionally been regarded as one of the part of speech, parts o ...
s, which are contrasted with the
accusative The accusative case ( abbreviated ) of a noun A noun () is a word that generally functions as the name of a specific object or set of objects, such as living creatures, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.Example nouns for ...
(comparable to the
oblique Oblique may refer to: * an alternative name for the character usually called a slash (punctuation) ( / ) *angle#Types of angles, Oblique angle, in geometry *Oblique triangle, in geometry *Oblique lattice, in geometry *Leaf#Base, Oblique leaf base, ...
or disjunctive in some other languages): ''I'' (accusative ''me''), ''we'' (accusative ''us''), ''he'' (accusative ''him''), ''she'' (accusative ''her''), ''they'' (accusative ''them'') and ''who'' (accusative ''whom''). A usage that is archaic in most current English dialects is the singular second-person pronoun '' thou'' (accusative ''thee''). A special case is the word ''you'': originally, ''ye'' was its nominative form and ''you'' the accusative, but over time, ''you'' has come to be used for the nominative as well. The term "nominative case" is most properly used in the discussion of nominative–accusative languages, such as Latin, Greek and most modern Western European languages. In active–stative languages, there is a case, sometimes called nominative, that is the ''most'' marked case and is used for the subject of a
transitive verb A transitive verb is a verb that accepts one or more object (grammar), objects, for example, 'cleaned' in ''Donald cleaned the window''. This contrasts with intransitive verbs, which do not have objects, for example, 'panicked' in ''Donald panick ...
or a voluntary subject of an
intransitive verb In grammar, an intransitive verb is a verb whose context does not entail a direct object (linguistics), object. That lack of Transitivity (grammar), transitivity distinguishes intransitive verbs from transitive verbs, which entail one or more o ...
but not for an involuntary subject of an intransitive verb. Since such languages are a relatively new field of study, there is no standard name for this case.


Subjective case

English is now often described as having a subjective case, instead of a nominative, to draw attention to the differences between the "standard" generic nominative and the way that it is used in English. The term objective case is then used for the
oblique case In grammar, an oblique (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ; from la, casus obliquus) or objective case (list of glossing abbreviations, abbr. ) is a nominal noun case, case other than the nominative case, and sometimes, the Vocative ca ...
, which covers the roles of accusative, dative and objects of a preposition. The
genitive case In grammar, the genitive case (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is the grammatical case that marks a word, usually a noun, as modifying another word, also usually a noun—thus indicating an attributive noun, attributive relationshi ...
is then usually called the ''possessive'' form, rather than a noun case ''per se''. English is then said to have two cases: the subjective and the objective.


Examples


Subject

The nominative case marks the subject of a verb. When the verb is active, the nominative is the person or thing doing the action (
agent Agent may refer to: Espionage, investigation, and law *, spies or intelligence officers * Law of agency, laws involving a person authorized to act on behalf of another ** Agent of record, a person with a contractual agreement with an insuranc ...
); when the verb is passive, the nominative is the person or thing receiving the action. *The boy saw her. *She was seen by the boy.


Predicate noun or adjective

In copular sentences, the nominative is used for both subject and predicate. *Socrates was a wise man. *Socrates was wise.


References

{{Authority control Grammatical cases