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The locative case (abbreviated LOC) is a grammatical case which indicates a location. It corresponds vaguely to the English prepositions "in", "on", "at", and "by". The locative case belongs to the general local cases together with the lative and separative case.
The locative case exists in many language groups.
The Proto-Indo-European language had a locative case expressing "place where", an adverbial function. The endings are reconstructed as follows:
|Athematic||*-i, *-Ø (no ending)||*-su|
In most later Indo-European languages, the locative case merged into other cases (often genitive or dative) in form and/or function, but some daughter languages retained it as a distinct case. It is found in:
- modern Balto-Slavic languages, except Bulgarian and Macedonian, although it is mostly used with prepositions in the other Slavic languages.
- some classical Indo-European languages, particularly Sanskrit and Old Latin
- uncommon, archaic or literary use in certain modern Indian languages (such as Marathi in which a separate ablative case has however disappeared)
Old Latin still had a functioning locative singular, which descended from the Proto-Indo-European form. The locative plural was already identical to the dative and ablative plural. In Classical Latin, changes to the Old Latin diphthongs caused the originally-distinctive ending of the locative singular to become indistinguishable from the endings of some other cases.
|Declension||Old Latin||Classical Latin||Merger|
|1st||-āi||-ae||Merged with dative/genitive.|
|2nd||-ei||-ī||Merged with genitive.|
|3rd||-ei, -e||-ī, -e||Originally like the dative, but gradually replaced with the ablative.|
Because the locative was already identical to the ablative (which had a "location" meaning as well) in the plural, the loss of distinction between the endings eventually caused the functions of the locative case to be absorbed by the ablative in Classical Latin. The original locative singular ending, descended from the Old Latin form, remained in use for a few words. For first and second declension, it was identical to the genitive singular form. In archaic times, the locative singular of third declension nouns was still interchangeable between ablative and dative forms, but in the Augustan Period the use of the ablative form became fixed. Therefore, both forms "rūrī" and "rūre" may be encountered.
The Latin locative case was only used for the names of cities, "small" islands and a few other isolated words. The Romans considered all Mediterranean islands to be small except for Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, Crete, and Cyprus. Britannia was also considered to be a "large island." There are a few nouns that use the locative instead of a preposition: domus becomes domī (at home), rūs becomes rūrī (in the country), humus becomes humī (on the ground), militia becomes militiae (in military service, in the field), and focus becomes focī (at the hearth; at the center of the community).
The first declension locative is by far the most common, because so many Roman place names were first declension, such as Roma, Rome, and therefore use the same form as the genitive and dative: Romae, at Rome, and Hiberniae, in Ireland. A few place-names were inherently plural, even though they are a single city, e.g. Athenae, Athens and Cumae, Cuma. These plural names also use the form similar to the dative and ablative: Athenis, at Athens, and Cumis, at Cumae. There are also a number of second declension names that could have locatives, e.g. Brundisium, Brindisi; Eboracum, York; with locatives Brundisiī, at Brindisi; Eboraci, at York. The locative cannot express being located at multiple locations; plural forms only exist because certain proper names such as Athenae happen to be plural. "He is at home" can be expressed by "(is) domi est" using the locative, but "They are at their (individual and separate) homes" cannot be expressed by the locative.
In Ancient Greek, the locative merged with the Proto-Indo-European dative, so that the Greek dative represents the Proto-Indo-European dative, instrumental, and locative. The dative with the preposition ἐν en "in" and the dative of time (e.g., τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ or tēî trítēi hēmérāi, which means "on the third day") are examples of locative datives. Some early texts, in particular Homer, retain the locative in some words (for example ἠῶθεν - at dawn, Iliad 24:401).
The locative case had merged with the dative in early Germanic times and was no longer distinct in Proto-Germanic or in any of its descendants. The dative does, however, contrast with the accusative case, which is used to indicate motion toward a place (it has an allative meaning). This difference in meaning between dative and accusative is present in all of the old Germanic languages and survives in all Germanic languages that retain a distinction between the two cases.
Among Slavic languages, the locative is mostly used after a fixed set of commonly used prepositions. Besides location, Slavic languages also employ locative as a way of expressing the method of doing an action, time when the action is to take place, as well as the topic or theme that something describes in more detail; as such it is subordinate to other cases. Locative is becoming increasingly obsolete in East Slavic languages, especially Russian, while it remains in other branches, West Slavic and South Slavic languages. The ending depends on whether the word is a noun or an adjective (among other factors).
In Old Church Slavonic, the locative is mostly used with preposition. Some uses of independent locatives remain, mostly in expressions of time, such as zimě "in winter", polu nošti "at midnight". The locative also occurs as the complement of a handful of verbs, such as kŭto prikosnǫ sę rizaxŭ moixŭ? "who touched my garments?". In Old East Slavic, moreover, place names are regularly used in the locative without a preposition.
The Czech language uses the locative case to denote location (v České republice/in the Czech Republic), but as in the Russian language, the locative case may be used after certain prepositions with meanings other than location (o Praze/about Prague, po revoluci/after the revolution). Cases other than the locative may be used to denote location in Czech as well (U Roberta/at Robert's house -genitive, or nad stolem/above the table -instrumental).
The locative case (commonly called the 6th case) is the only one of the 7 Czech cases which cannot be used without a preposition. It is used with these prepositions:
- v (v místnosti = in the room, v Praze = in Prague). Using this preposition with the accusative case has a different meaning (v les = to the forest) and is regarded as archaic
- na (na stole = on the desk, to záleží na tobě = it depends on you). The use of this preposition with the accusative case has a different meaning (na stůl = to the desk).
- po (in different meanings: past, after, on, to, for, by). This preposition takes the accusative case in some meanings.
- při (by, nearby, with)
- o (about, with)
The locative form of substantives in the singular is mostly identical with the dative case (3rd case). The locative form in the plural typically has the ending "ch" (o mladých ženách).
See Czech declension for declension patterns for all Czech grammatical cases, including the locative.
There are several different locative endings in Polish:
- -ie Used for singular nouns of all genders, e.g. niebo → niebie. In a few cases, the softening indicated by i has led to consonant alternations:
- brat → bracie
- rzeka → rzece
- noga → nodze
- rower → rowerze
- piekło → piekle
For a complete list, see Polish hard and soft consonants.
- -u Used for:
- Some masculine singular nouns, e.g. syn → synu, dom → domu, bok → boku, brzuch → brzuchu, worek → worku*, nastrój → nastroju*, deszcz → deszczu, miś → misiu, koń → koniu, Poznań → Poznaniu, Wrocław → Wrocławiu, Bytom → Bytomiu** [* In a few cases, a vowel change may occur, e.g. ó → o, or a vowel may be dropped. ** Final consonants in Wrocław and Bytom used to be soft, which is still reflected in suffixed forms, hence -i-.]
- All neuter singular nouns ending in -e, e.g. miejsce → miejscu, życie → życiu
- Some neuter singular nouns ending in -o, e.g. mleko → mleku, łóżko → łóżku, ucho → uchu
- -i Used for:
- Feminine nouns ending in -ia, e.g. Kasia ("Katie") → o Kasi ("about Katie"), Austria → w Austrii ("in Austria")
- Feminine nouns ending in -ść, e.g. miłość ("love") → o miłości ("about love")
- -im / -ym Used for masculine and neuter singular adjectives, e.g. polski język ("Polish language") → w polskim języku ("in the Polish language")
- -ej Used for feminine singular adjectives, e.g. duża krowa ("big cow") → o dużej krowie ("about a big cow")
- -ach Used for plural nouns of all genders, e.g. kobiety ("women") → o kobietach ("about women")
- -ich / -ych Used for plural adjectives of all genders, e.g. małe sklepy ("small shops") → w małych sklepach ("in small shops")
In the Russian language, the locative case has largely lost its use as an independent case and became the prepositional case, which is used only after a preposition. The latter is not always used to indicate location, while other cases may also be used to specify location (e.g. the genitive case, as in у окна́ ("by the window")). Statements such as "в библиотеке" v biblioteke ("in the library") or "на Аляске", na Aljaske ("in Alaska"), demonstrate the use of the prepositional case to indicate location. However, this case is also used after the preposition "о" ("about") as in "о студенте", o studente ("about the student").
Nevertheless, approximately 150 masculine nouns retain a distinct form for the locative case, used only after "в" and "на". These forms end in "-у́" or "-ю́": "лежать в снегу́", ležať v snegú (to lie in the snow), but "думать о снеге", dumať o snege (to think about snow). Other examples are рай, raj (paradise); "в раю́", дым dym (smoke); and "в дыму́", v dymú. As indicated by the accent marks, the stress is always on the last syllable, which is unlike the dative-case forms with the same spelling. A few feminine nouns that end with the soft sign, such as дверь and пыль, also have a locative form that differs from the prepositional in that the stress shifts to the final syllable: "на двери́", na dverí ("on the door"), but "при две́ри", pri dvéri ("by the door"). These distinct forms are sometimes referenced as "second locative" or "new locative", because they developed independently from the true locative case, which existed in the Old Russian.
With some words, such as дом, dom (house), the second locative form is used only in certain idiomatic expressions, while the prepositional is used elsewhere. For example, "на дому́", na domu ("at the house" or "at home") would be used to describe activity that is performed at home, while "на до́ме" ("on the house") would be used to specify the location of the roof.
The Slovak language uses the locative case to denote location (na Slovensku/in Slovakia), but as in the Russian language, the locative case may be used after certain prepositions with meanings other than location (o Bratislave/about Bratislava, po revolúcii/after the revolution). Cases other than the locative may be used to denote location in Slovak as well (U Milana/at Milan's house -genitive, or nad stolom/above the table -instrumental). Preposition must always be used with this case.
There are several different locative endings in Slovak:
- -e Used for singular nouns of all genders (except masculine animate), e.g. stôl → o stole, láska → v láske, mesto → po meste.
- -u Used for:
- Masculine inanimate singular nouns ending in a velar consonant, e.g. hliník → o hliníku, mozog → v mozgu, bok → na boku, vzduch → vo vzduchu, or a glottal consonant, e.g. hloh → po hlohu
- All neuter singular nouns ending in -kV, -chV, -iV, -uV (V being o or um), e.g. jablko → v jablku, ucho → na uchu, akvárium → pri akváriu, vakuum → vo vakuu
- -i Used for:
- Masculine inanimate nouns ending in a soft consonant (c, č, ď, dz, dž, j, ľ, ň, š, ť, ž), e.g. ovládač ("remote") → o ovládači ("about the remote"), tŕň → v tŕni
- Feminine nouns ending in a soft consonant or a soft consonant followed by a, e.g. vôňa → o vôni, kosť ("bone") → o kosti ("about bone")
- Feminine nouns ending in -ia or -ea, e.g. Mária → na Márii, Andrea → v Andrei
- Neuter nouns ending in -e or -ie, e.g. srdce → pri srdci
- -í used for neuter nouns ending in -ie, e.g. vysvedčenie → na vysvedčení
- -ovi used for masculine animate nouns, e.g. chlap → o chlapovi, hrdina → po hrdinovi
- -om used for masculine and neuter singular adjectives: pekný/pekné → o peknom
- -ej used for feminine singular adjectives and feminine nouns ending in -á: pekná gazdiná → na peknej gazdinej
- -m used for masculine animate nouns following the kuli pattern (being most names in -i, -y etc.), e.g. Harry → o Harrym
- -och used for masculine nouns in plural, e.g. malí chlapi → o malých chlapoch
- -ách used for plural feminine and neuter nouns, e.g. ženy ("women") → o ženách ("about women"). There are variations:
- -ach used when the preceding vowel is long or a diphthong (ia, ie, iu, ô), e.g. lásky → v láskach, dielo → pri dielach
- -iach used after soft consonants, e.g. schopnosť → o schopnostiach, srdce → v srdciach
- -ích / -ých Used for plural adjectives of all genders, e.g. malé obchody ("small shops") → v malých obchodoch ("in small shops"), with the variation:
- -ich / -ych when the preceding vowel is long: rýchle autá ("fast cars") → o rýchlych autách ("about fast cars")
See also Slovak declension for declension patterns for all Slovak grammatical cases, including locative.
In the Eastern standard of the Armenian language non-animate nouns take -ում (-um) for the locative. Animate nouns (referring to persons especially) do not take the locative.
- համալսարանը (hamalsaranə, the university) → համալսարանում (hamalsaranum, in/at the university)
- ճաշարան (chasharan, a restaurant) → ճաշարանում (chasharanum, in/at a restaurant)
Some Turkic languages have a locative.
The locative case exists in Turkish, as the suffix generally specified by "-DA". For instance, in Turkish, okul means the school, and okulda means in the school. The morpheme may exist in four different forms, depending on the preceding consonant and vowel. The first phoneme of the locative, "D", changes according to the previous consonant: it is "t" after voiceless consonants, but "d" elsewhere. The vowel changes depending on the phonetic characteristics of the previous vowel: it is "a" after a preceding back vowel, and "e" after a preceding front vowel, congruent with the vowel harmony of the language. This gives four different versions of the morpheme:
- -ta, as in "kitapta", "in the book".
- -te, as in "kentte", "in the city".
- -da, as in "odada", "in the room".
- -de, as in "evde", "in the house".
The locative case also exists in Azerbaijani. Similar to Turkish, Azerbaijani employs a system of vowel harmony throughout the language. There are two simple Locative case endings:
-da, as in "kitabda", "in the book".
-də, as in "şəhərdə", "in the city".
The locative case also exists in Kazakh. Similar to Turkish, Kazakh employs a system of vowel harmony throughout the language. There are four simple Locative case endings:
- -та, as in "кітапта", kitapta, "in the book".
- -те, as in "сөздікте", sӧzdikte, "in the dictionary".
- -да, as in "қалада", qalada, "in the city".
- -де, as in "бөлмеде", bӧlmede, "in the room".
Furthermore, Kazakh nouns frequently utilize a possessive affix to indicate a relationship between the object and its owner. When forming the Locative case of a noun in the presence of a possessive affix, there are two possible endings:
- -нда, as in "Ерболдың қаласында", Erboldyng qalasynda, "in Erbol's city".
- -нде, as in "Ерболдың сөздігінде", Erboldyng sӧzdiginde, "in Erbol's dictionary".
The locative case exists in Uyghur, Similar to Turkish. This gives four different versions of the morpheme:
- -دا -da, as in "مەيداندا" "meydanda", "in the square".
- -دە -de, as in "ئۆيدە" "öyde", "in the house".
- -تا -ta, as in "ئاپتاپتا" "aptapta", "in the sunshine".
- -تە -te, as in "دەرستە" "derste", "in the lesson".
The locative case exists also in Uzbek. For example, in Uzbek, shahar means city, and shaharda means in the city, so using -da suffix, the locative case is marked.
Proto-Uralic has been reconstructed with a single "state" or "stationary" locative case, with the ending *-na or *-nä in accordance with vowel harmony. In many of its descendants, additional locative cases where created by combining these endings with others.
In Inari Sami, the locative suffix is -st.
- kielâst 'in the language'
- kieđast 'in the hand'.
In the Hungarian language, nine such cases exist, yet the name locative case refers to a form (-t/-tt) used only in a few city/town names along with the inessive case or superessive case. It can also be observed in a few local adverbs and postpositions. It is no longer productive.
- Győrött (also Győrben), Pécsett (also Pécsen), Vácott (also Vácon), Kaposvárt and Kaposvárott (also Kaposváron), Vásárhelyt (also Vásárhelyen)
- itt (here), ott (there), imitt, amott (there yonder), alatt (under), fölött (over), között (between/among), mögött (behind) etc.
The town/city name suffixes -ban/-ben are the inessive ones, and the -on/-en/-ön are the superessive ones.
In the Finnic languages, the original Proto-Uralic locative became the essive case, but is still found with a locative meaning in some fossilised expressions such as Finnish kotona "at home". Two new locative cases were created from the old locative:
- The inessive case referring to internal location (being inside), with the reconstructed Proto-Finnic ending *-ssa/*-ssä (from earlier *-s-na/*-s-nä).
- The adessive case referring to external location (being on, at), with the reconstructed Proto-Finnic ending *-lla/*-llä (from earlier *-l-na/*-l-nä).
These endings still survive as such in several Finnic languages including Finnish, but have been reduced to -s and -l in Estonian and some others.
The Finnic languages, like some Indo-European languages (Latin, Russian, Irish), do not normally use the verb to have to show possession. The adessive case and the verb to be is used instead, so that the combination literally means "on/at me is...". For example, I have a house in Estonian would be Mul on maja in which mul is in the adessive case, on is the third singular of to be (is), and maja is in nominative, not accusative. So maja is the subject, on is the verb and mul is the indirect object. This could be translated to English as At me is a house or A house is at me or There is a house at me.
Algonquian languages have a locative.
In Cree, the locative suffix is -ihk.
- misâskwatômin (Saskatoon berry) → misâskwatôminihk (at the Saskatoon berry) = "[in] Saskatoon, SK"
- misâskwatôminiskâ- (be many Saskatoon berries) → misâskwatôminiskâhk (at the place of many Saskatoon berries) = "[in] Saskatoon, SK"
- mînis (berry) → mînisihk (at the berry) = "[in] Saskatoon, SK"
In Innu-aimun, the locative suffix is -(i)t.
- shipu (river) → shipit (at the river)
- katshishkutamatsheutshuap (school) → katshishkutamatsheutshuapit (at school)
- nuitsheuakan (my friend) → nuitsheuakanit (at my friend's house)
- nipi (water) → nipit (in the water)
- utenau (town) → utenat (in town)
- Brown, Dunstan (2013). "Peripheral functions and overdifferentiation: The Russian second locative" (PDF). Surrey Morphology Group. Surrey, UK: University of Surrey. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
- The Locative Case
- Everything you always wanted to know about Russian grammar but were afraid to ask, AATSEEL Newsletter, October 2007, pp. 7-8.
- Buck, Carl Darling (1933). Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press.