Sunday, November 04, 2007

Nominative vs. Genitive

I thought we should go over when those cases are actually used, now that we've covered how to decline nouns in a couple of cases. (Well, singular nouns, at least. Plural nouns are a different matter. The first time I asked my Russian 101 teacher how to decline the genitive plural, he just laughed at me.)


This is the case used for the subject of a sentence or clause. In the sentence "The factions soon agreed," "The factions" are the subject of the sentence, so they would be in the nominative case.

Another common use of the nominative case is with the verb "to be." In the sentence "I am your father," "I" is the subject of the sentence. However, the verb "to be" is acting like an equals sign which equates the things on both sides of it. In the same way that "I = your father," both sides of the "equation" are in the nominative case. This is true for positive statements using "be," "am," "are," "is," "was," "were," "have been," etc.


The genitive is basically the case of possession and parts. In English, it's commonly translated with the preposition "of." In the phrase "Brother of Jared," "of Jared" would be in the genitive case. In English, we can also express this as "Jared's brother," but it would come out the same way in Russian as before (брат Иареда).

The genitive has many other uses, which will be discussed in future posts.

For homework, give the case that would be used for the word or phrase in brackets in each of these sentences:


[Howl's] Moving Castle [Genitive]
[The customer] glared. [Nominative]
There was [the sound] [of wheels]. [Nominative, Genitive]

It was [a small room].
[The stones] [of the floor] were stained.
[Sophie] folded her skinny arms.
There was [a scarecrow] at the door.
[Howl] explained in great detail.
[The footman] passed them on to a page boy in red velvet.
[The reason] was [Princess Valeria].
She could see the window [of her old bedroom], up above the shop.
[Sophie] looked out of the window.
It could have been [a lump] [of cinder].
She had climbed into [Sophie's] lap.

Extra credit: Give me two more sentences with nominative and genitive words or phrases underlined.