The Five Cases in the Greek Language

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When learning Greek, there really is no need to obsess over the grammar. However, you may notice that in certain circumstances, the same word could look slightly different and have different endings depending on where in the sentence it is located. This is because Greek has five different cases. In the English language, a noun’s placement in a sentence doesn’t really impact the way a word looks. There’s no need to spend a lot of time on this, it’s simply enough to be aware of the grammar.

Nominative Case

The nominative case relates to the subject of sentences. In the Greek language, all nouns are classified according to gender. They are either masculine, feminine, or neuter. Nominative nouns can be put almost anywhere in the sentence as the roles of words in Greek sentences are mainly assigned according to inflections. When a nominative noun is the subject of the sentence, its position in the sentence is usually after an action verb. A nominative pronoun will be placed in front of the verb.

Example (Nominative noun is boldfaced) – Ο Νίκος αγοράζει μήλα. – Nikos buys apples.

Genitive Case

The genitive case denotes possession. A noun, pronoun, or adjective in the genitive case is often used as a possessive form or the object of a preposition. The genitive case is used much like in the English language with words such as: “my,” “your,” “his,” “hers.” A genitive often follows after the noun it qualifies. A genitive occurs with verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions.

Example (Genitive noun is boldfaced) – Το αυτοκίνητο του Νίκου. – Niko’s car.

Accusative Case

A noun, pronoun, or adjective in the accusative case is mostly used as a direct object or the object of a preposition. The accusative case is the most common as it is the most general in its unaffected meaning.In both ancient and modern Greek, nouns, adjectives, verb participles, articles, and pronouns are used in the accusative case. The accusative marker used depends on gender, number, and declension.

Example – (Accusative noun is boldfaced) – Ο Νίκος γνωρίζει τον Κώστα. – Nikos knows Costa. 

Vocative Case

The vocative case is primarily used for direct address, such as when you are talking to someone. The noun is grammatically independent from the rest of the sentence. Each declension has its own vocative form. The 1st declension is singular, mostly masculine declension nouns. The 2nd declension is singular mostly masculine nouns. It will replace the omicron stem vowel with a epsilon. The 3rd declension is also singular, mostly masculine. To form this vocative it will add nothing to the stem of the noun.

Example – (Vocative noun is boldfaced) – Νίκο! – Nico!

Dative Case

In dative case has functions in classical Greek. In biblical and classical Greek, the dative case was quite versatile. It took on the role of other cases such as genitive. Dative is used for indirect objects, instruments of action, and other uses. In contemporary Greek, the dative case has been replaced by the accusative, but the dative is still found in certain phrases and expression. The dative case was used regularly up until a few decades ago. In modern Greek, the accusative case of a word is used where the dative case used to be. 

If you are only learning Greek casually, there really is no need to spend a lot of time on this grammatical concept. It is simply enough to memorize enough Greek to get around while you are in the country. However, it is always a good ida t have this concept in the back of your mind.

The Learn Greek section on was written by Greeks to help people understand the conversational basics of the Greek language. This article is not a substitute for a professional Greek learning program, but a helpful resource for people wanting to learn simple communication in Greek.

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