Introduction to Noun Case EndingsTo comprehend sentences correctly, the different ways in which nouns are used has to be understood. They have several different roles which are called 'cases'. Cases of nouns are expressed through word order (eg: by following verbs and prepositions) and/or by distinctive word endings.
In English, we must rely on word order to understand how a noun is acting, as word endings have virtually died out. There are a handful of survivors, such as a few pronouns which retain their case endings such as 'he', 'him' and 'his'.
In Serbo Croat, on the other hand, nouns must use distinct endings expressing seven different grammatical concepts. Each of these endings has several variations depending on the gender and number of the noun.
Example English Sentence: 'He sees him.'This sentence has a typical simple structure of Subject-Verb-Object. The subject is the noun that is doing the action. This is in the Nominative case. The object on which the verb is acting takes the Accusative case so the ending of 'he' changes to 'him'.
Example Srpski Sentence: 'On crta sliku' [He draws a picture]'On' is performing the action and is nominativ whilst the object of that action, the picture (slika), is akusativ. Therefore the sentence is constructed as follows:
If 'in the studio' (atelje) is added to the sentence it must take the lokativ case to denote location:
If he uses a pencil (olovka) then the instrumental case is used to denote 'with' and if the picture is of a woman (žena) then the genitiv case is used to denote 'of':
|He||draws||with a pencil||a picture||of a woman||in the studio|
The Seven Cases in SerbianThe full list of seven cases, with a simplified explanation is:
|Nominativ||The subject of a verb|
|Akuzativ||The direct object of a verb.|
|Vokativ||For addressing someone|
Note: The normal form of the word listed in dictionaries is the nominativ. For a list of all the various endings see Noun Declensions. Pronouns change also. Adjectives have changeable endings which have to match the case of the noun they describe. See Adjective Declensions for a list.
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