Nominative Case - Linguistic Characteristics

Linguistic Characteristics

The reference form (more technically, the least marked) of certain parts of speech is normally in the nominative case, but this is often not a complete specification of the reference form, as it may also be necessary to specify such as the number and gender. Thus the reference or least marked form of an adjective might be the nominative masculine singular. The parts of speech which 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 other parts of a sentence. In some languages the nominative case is unmarked, it may be said to be marked by a zero morpheme. 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 Slovak, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Georgian, German, Latin, Greek, Icelandic, Old English, Old French, Polish, Czech, Romanian, Russian, and Pashto, among other languages. English still retains some nominative pronouns, which are contrasted with the accusative (comparable to the oblique 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, but not all, 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 which is the most marked case and is used for the subject of a transitive verb or a voluntary subject of an intransitive verb 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.

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