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4. nouns, cases, prepositions

There are three important grammatical categories that determine the composition of Neoslavonic nouns (and also pronouns, adjectives and numerals): the case, number, and gender. Please, download and print this from here.


number

Number is singular and plural. Neoslavonic has the optional dual as well, which is like a special form of plural for exactly two objects. Dual is fully used only in Slovene and Sorbian, but its residua are in almost all Slavic languages. In this tutorial we will not use the dual because it is not absolutely needed for basic communication. We will just to remind paired body parts (eyes, ears), where the dual will be showed.

Unfortunately there is no simple rule to form the plural from the singular like "-s" ending in English or Spanish. As in Latin, each grammatical pattern has its own specific plural endings. You have to learn them together with the case endings.


gender

There are three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. Unlike English, these three genders are assigned to all words.
  • Of course, if a living being is visibly a masculine (e.g. žrebec = a stallion, byk = a bull, ...), it is grammatically masculine as well. The same goes for feminine. Neuter are all cubs of animals (e.g. tele = a calf). 
  • If a living (animate) being does not clearly have the distinguishable male of female sex, we have to know that grammatical gender can be any of these three. For example ryba = "a fish" is feminine, pes = "a dog" is masculine, životno = "an animal" is neuter.
  • Also inanimate things may have masculine or feminine gender. For example, nož = "a knife" is masculine, voda = "water" is feminine, mlieko = "milk" is neuter.
For this reason, grammatical gender of words must be given in the dictionary. Evidently, there are majority of feminine words ending in -a, majority of neuter words ending in -o, and majority of masculine words ending in a consonant, but a beginner can not rely on it.


cases

Neoslavonic has 7 grammatical cases. (modern Greek and German has 4, ancient Greek has 5, Latin has 6, Sanskrit has 8, ...) Neoslavonic cases are:
  • N nominative
  • G genitive
  • D dative
  • A accusative
  • V vocative
  • L locative
  • I instrumental
Remember that the nominative and vocative can never be combined with prepositions. Other cases (genitive, dative, accusative, locative and instrumental) are used with prepositions, but may also be used without them.


nominative case

The nominative case answers the questions kto, što? = who, what? The NS nominative is the very basic form of any word found in dictionaries. The nominative case is used for the subject of the sentence.

We must point out that in some Slavic sentences the subject in the nominative case is hidden. This is when the subject of a sentence is a personal pronoun in English. In the English, we need to say pronoun in order to express the personal form of the verb, but Slavic verbs themselves carry this information though the personal postfixes.

Example: Čitaju. = (I) read. Čitaje. = (He) reads. Čitajeme. = (We) read. Čitajut. = (They) read. ...


vocative case

The vocative is used only for calling/addressing someone or something. The vocative is very similar to the nominative. It is the only case, where may occur palatalization of consonants at the end of word stem due to adding vocative ending. Remember that this palatalization is g→ž, hš, kč and -ec-če!.

Example: žena = a woman N, ženo! = (you) woman! VBog = the God N, Bože! = Thou God!, Oh God! V


accusative case

The accusative case designates the object of an action.

Example: Pišu pismo = (I) write (a) letter. Vidim ženu. = (I can) see (a) woman.


dative case

The dative case is a grammatical case generally used to indicate the noun to which something is given, as in "John gave Mary a drink".
 In general, the dative marks the indirect object of a verb.

Example: Pišu pismo svojemu prijatelu. = (I) write (a) letter (to) my friend. or (I) write my friend (a) letter.


locative case

Nouns take the locative case when they’re used to refer to a place, or time. It corresponds vaguely to the English prepositions "in", "on", "at", "about".
In the ordinary conversation the locative case is always used with some preposition.

Example: v zimie = in Winter, na v'rhu = on (the) top, ...


instrumental case

In general the Slavic instrumental case is used to indicate how something is done or the means by which an action is carried out, usually in English it’s expressed by the prepositions "by, with". 

Example:
                Q: Kako jesi prišel k nam? = How did (You) come to us?
                A: Autom. = (With a) car.


genitive case

The genitive case refers to things (or living beings) belonging to other things (or living beings). Just like when you use "of" or the possessive "-'s" in English.

Example: Kniga mojego brata. = A book of my brother.


animate and inanimate masculine patterns


In all masculine patterns, the accusative (A) is either identical with the genitive (G) or with the nominative (N). This two kinds of masculine declension are called animate declension and inanimate declension. The animate declension (A=G) is intended for those nouns who represent living beings or other subjects able to perform verbal actions (e.g. robots and similar machines, ...). Here the accusative is different from the nominative in order to make clear who is a performer of an action and who is a matter of an action. The inanimate declension (A=N), has the accusative identical with the nominative as it is in neuter patterns.

Example 1: Petr slyši Ivana. (Peter is listening to Ivan) The accusative of Ivan is animate and therefore identical with the genitive, because both Petr and Ivan are able to listen. This is why in this sentence we need to make clear, who is listening to whom.

Example 2: Petr stroji dom. (Peter makes/builds (a) house) The accusative of dom (a house) is inanimate and
therefore identical with the nominative of dom, because a house is not able to have something. It this sentence, it is clearly obvious who is a builder and what is built.

Remember that there is one good tool to distinguish animate and inanimate subjects in Neoslavonic: We ask of animate subjects using kto? (who?), but we ask of inanimate subjects using što? (what?). Here you can see that even English distinguishes animate and inanimate subjects.


dual number


Majority of
Slavic languages ​​still use the remnants of the dual number for the human body parts.

Please remember that oko (an eye), oči (two eyes), oka (eyes) and uho (an ear), uši (two ears), uha (ears) have their singular and plural according to the standard neuter pattern slovo (a word) slova (words), but if we are talking about exactly one pair of eyes and ears of some living being, we need to use a palatalized dual, which is identical with the feminine plural pattern kosti (bones).


Example: Moje oči. (My two eyes, oči
as consistent with the pattern kost in plural), Sto ok. (Hundred eyes, ok as consistent with the pattern slovo in plural)


prepositions

The prepositions stand before nouns, pronouns and numerals. They help to create and modify relationships between clause elements in the same way as in English. A preposition itself is not clause member, it becomes only in conjunction with the appropriate expression. Frankly said, the prepositions create adverbial parts of sentences that carry the information about "when?", "where?", "how? or "why?". Please learn them together with prepositions:

 kogda? 
 when? 
 kako? or jako?   how?
 zašto? or začo?  why?
 kdie?  where? (an existing position of something/somebody)
 kamo?  where? (a new desired position of something/somebody)
 kudie?  where? (on the way to a new desired position from an existing position) 

Neoslavonic has a lot
of miscellaneous prepositions associated with all kinds of cases except the nominative and vocative. Some prepositions (colored in red) are associated with more cases in order to clarify the precise meaning. But for the basic conversation, it would be enough to know just these prepositions and their appropriate cases.

 genitive: 
 bez 
 without, except 
   iz  from
   do
 into, inside, to 
   ot  out from, by
   u
 near to, at
   kromie 
 except
   posle  after
   vnie  out of, outside of
   okolo  around
   radi
 due to, in order to, because 
     
 dative:
 k  to, at
   protiv  against
   po  in the way of
     
 accusative: 
 nad  above, over
   pod  below, under
   pred  before, ahead of, in the face of 
   črez  through
   v  in, into, inside of
   za  after, behind, for, towards
   na  on, at, onto, upon
   vnie  out of, outside of
   medžu  between, among
   mimo  beyond, outside, aside, except
     
 locative:
   
   o  about, concerning
   po  after, upon, on
   pri  at, near to, by (where?)
   v  in, into, inside of
   na  on, at, onto, upon
     
 instrumental: 
   
   s  with, together with, by (how?)
   nad  above, over
   pod  below, under
   pred  before, ahead of, in the face of
   za  after, behind
   medžu  between, among

For Your help, please remember that
  1. accusative structures are always about the desired space/time positions of something/somebody (e.g. answers to kamo? or kudie?) and
  2. other structures are always about an existing space/time position of something/somebody (e.g. answers to kdie?).
Example:

Idu na veliku goru. (
veliku goru is the accusative of velika gora = (a) big hill.)
(I) go at (a) big hill. (I am not not yet there, but I want to be there, I am moving there.)

Jesm na velikej gorie. (
velikej gorie is the locative of velika gora = (a) big hill.)
(I) am at (a) big hill. (I am there, this where I am.)


how to learn cases - declension symmetries

We know that this matter is the most difficult issue for the non-Slavic people. Neoslavonic has been designed in the way that from the on the one side it would be most similar to real living languages, but on the other side it would be much better taught. For this reason we created a collection of simplified case patterns and introduces some auxiliary symmetries between these patterns. Please try to find them in the Neoslavonic grammar and learn them:
  1. There are basically two fundamental patterns for each gender: hard one and soft one. The vowel "o" from the hard patterns corresponds to the vowel "e" from the soft patters. This means that you will find a variety of hard-soft pairs of endings of the same cases as -om/-em, -oj/-ej, -ov/-ev, for example.

  2. The singular dative and singular locative of the same pattern have the same endings.

  3. The singular dative and singular locative of masculine hard and soft patterns and neuter hard and soft patterns have only one endings -u.

  4. In all patterns and all genders except the pattern kost = (a) bone, the plural dative has -am, the plural locative has -ah and the plural instrumental has -ami.

  5. In all patterns and all genders except the pattern kost = (a) bone, the dual genitive together with the dual locative has -u and the dual dative together with the dual instrumental has -ama.

  6. The plural genitive (-') is identical for the hard feminine and the hard neuter patterns. The plural genitive (-ej) is identical for the soft feminine and the soft neuter patterns.

  7. In the same feminine pattern, the singular genitive is identical to the plural nominative as well as the singular dative is identical to the dual nominative.


irregular declension patterns

Although Neoslavonic is an artificial language, but it must be understood by Slavs without the need to learn it. This is why Neoslavonic must contain, at least partially, some popular but unfortunately irregular phenomena that are used in living Slavic languages.
  1. There are masculine words (both soft and hard) having feminine declension pattern in the singular. These words end by -a in nominative. Their plural is regular masculine pattern, this exception is related to the singular only. If it happen, it is usually noted in dictionaries.

    Example: vladyka (a ruler, a governor) is masculine, but his singular cases are identical with the feminine pattern žena (a woman).

  2. There are yet four more irregular patterns, which in their case endings add extra consonants. They are called N-patterns, R-patterns, S-patterns and T-patters accordingly on the consonant being added. This irregularity is also typical for classical European languages. Remember for example the Greek word "drama" with its derivatives "drama-ti-cal" or "pragma", "pragma-ti-cal", ... As in the previous point, these words have special inflections only in their singular and their plural and dual are regular. Moreover in order to make this problem easier, among these four patterns is symmetry of endings.

    Example: diete N, dietete G, dieteti D (a child, T-pattern); ime N, imene G, imeni D (a name, N-pattern)


appendix

If You are familiar in some other indo-european language having cases (e.g. Latin, Greek, German, ...), this information can help You, because Neoslavonic together with the living Slavic languages shares common indo-european declension paradigms as follows:

  1. All neuter patterns have identical the nominative, the accusative and the vocative.

  2. Masculine and neuter patterns are similar and have many identical endings of the same cases.