Author Topic: Lesson #3 – The Matter of Case in English  (Read 78092 times)

Joe Carillo

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Lesson #3 – The Matter of Case in English
« on: May 16, 2009, 12:32:10 AM »
THE MATTER OF CASE IN ENGLISH

We now go to the third part of our discussions on how the English language really works.

A. The Matter of Case

In English, case is any of the three forms that a noun, pronoun, or modifier takes to indicate its functional role in a sentence, whether nominative (subjective), objective, or possessive. Another definition of case is that it is an inflectional form of a noun, pronoun, or adjective indicating its grammatical relation to other words.

There are only three cases in modern English:

1. Nominative (subjective) case – nouns or pronouns are in the nominative case when they
    perform the verb’s action (nominative case) or act as the subject of the sentence (subjective
    case).

    Examples:
        Nominative: “The woman slapped him.”
          [the noun “woman” is in the nominative case]
         
          “She slapped him.”
                         [the pronoun “she” is in the nominative case]

        Subjective:  “The woman is lovely.”
          [the noun “woman” is in the subjective case]

          “She is lovely.”
                         [the pronoun “she” is in the subjective case]          

2. Objective case – nouns or pronouns are in the objective case when they receive the verb’s   
    action or act as the object of a sentence.

    Examples:
   "The woman slapped Mario.”
        [The noun “Mario” is in the objective case, serving as a direct object of the verb “slapped”]

        “The woman slapped him.”
        [The pronoun “him” is in the objective case, serving as a direct object of the verb “slapped”]

        “The woman slipped Mario a note.”
        [The noun “Mario” is in the objective case, serving as an indirect object of the verb “slipped”]

        “The woman slipped him a note.”
        [The pronoun “him” is in the objective case, serving as an indirect object of the verb “slipped]      

3. Possessive case – nouns or pronouns are in the possessive case when they indicate who or
    what possesses or owns something.

    Examples:
   “This seat is mine while that one is yours.”
   [Both “mine” and “yours” are possessive pronouns]

   "Theirs is the glory while ours is the hard work.”
   [Both “theirs” and “ours” are possessive pronouns]

Below is a chart of the English pronouns classified by case. You need to master the use of these pronouns to be able to write and speak good English.


Keep in mind that in English, with the exception of “you” (this second-person pronoun remains the same for both the nominative and objective cases), the personal pronouns inflect or change form in all of the three cases (nominative, objective, and possessive).

In contrast, nouns in English are indistinguishable in the nominative and objective cases, and as such are considered to have the so-called common case. For instance, the noun “Alfredo” takes the same form when used as a subject in this sentence, “Alfredo is the chairman of the youth club,” and when used as direct object in this sentence, “The youth club elected Alfredo as its chairman.” In the possessive case, however, nouns inflect to the form “noun + ’s”, as in “Alfredo’s position in the youth club is chairman.”

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For a more extensive discussion of case in English, click this link to The Guide to Grammar and Writing by the Capital Community College Foundation

Next: Developing the English Sentence

« Last Edit: June 06, 2009, 12:48:04 AM by Joe Carillo »