Oblique case

In grammar, an oblique (abbreviated OBL; from Latin: casus obliquus) or objective case (abbr. OBJ) is a nominal case other than the nominative case, and sometimes, the vocative.

A noun or pronoun in the oblique case can generally appear in any role except as subject, for which the nominative case is used.[1] The term objective case is generally preferred by modern English grammarians, where it supplanted Old English's dative and accusative.[2][3] When the two terms are contrasted, they differ in the ability of a word in the oblique case to function as a possessive attributive; whether English has an oblique rather than an objective case then depends on how "proper" or widespread one considers the dialects where such usage is employed.

An oblique case often contrasts with an unmarked case, as in English oblique him and them vs. nominative he and they. However, the term oblique is also used for languages without a nominative case, such as ergative–absolutive languages; in the Northwest Caucasian languages, for example, the oblique-case marker serves to mark the ergative, dative, and applicative case roles, contrasting with the absolutive case, which is unmarked.


Hindustani (Hindi and Urdu) nouns and pronouns decline for an oblique case which exclusively serves to mark the grammatical case roles using the case-marking postpositions.[4][5][6]The nominative and oblique cases for pronouns are shown in the tables below:

Personal Pronouns
Case 1st Person 2nd Person
Singular Plural Intimate Neutral Formal
Singular Singular & Plural
Nominative mɛ̃ ham tum āp
Oblique Ergative
Regular mujh tujh
Genitive Masculine mere hamāre tere tumhāre
Feminine merī hamārī terī tumhārī
Third Person Pronouns
Case Demonstrative1 Relative Interrogative
Proximal Distal
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative yah ye vah ve jo kaun, kyā
ye vo
Oblique Ergative is inhõ us unhõ jis jinhõ kis kinhõ
Regular in un jin kin
1 Hindustani does not have true third person pronouns and the demonstratives double as the third person pronouns.

There are six noun declension patterns in Hindustani.[7] They are mentioned in the table below:

Case Masculine Feminine
ending in -ā ending in -i/ī ending in -ø ending in -i/ī ending in -ā ending in -ø
Boy Man Tree Girl Mother Train
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative laɽkā laɽke ādmī ādmī peɽ peɽ laɽkī laɽkiyā̃ mātā mātāẽ ʈren ʈrenẽ
Oblique laɽke laɽkõ ādmiyõ peɽõ laɽkiyõ mātāõ ʈrenõ

Note: means anything other than -ā, -i, and -ī.

The oblique case is used exclusively with these 8 case-marking postpositions.[8][9] Out of these 8 postpositions, the genitive and semblative postpositions decline to agree with the gender, number, and case of the object it shows possession of, or the subject it semblance of to something/someone.

Case Case Marker Example English Equivalent
Nominative ləɽkā boy
Ergative ne laɽke ne the boy
Accusative ko laɽke ko the boy
Dative to the boy
Instrumental se laɽke se to/with/using the boy
Ablative from the boy
Genitive laɽke kā boy's / of the boy
Inessive mẽ laɽke mẽ in/inside the boy
Adessive pe/par laɽke pe on/at the boy
Limitative tak laɽke tak (up) till the boy
Semblative laɽke sā boy-ish, boy-esque
Genitive & Semblative Marker Declension
Case Masculine Feminine
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative -e
Oblique -e


Bulgarian, an analytic Slavic language, also has an oblique case form for pronouns:

Dative role:

  • "Give that ball to me" дай тaзи топка на мен (day tazi topka na men)

(This oblique case is a relic of the original, more complex proto-Slavic system of noun cases, and there are remnants of other cases in Bulgarian, such as the vocative case of direct address)


An objective case is marked on the English personal pronouns and as such serves the role of the accusative and dative cases that other Indo-European languages employ. These forms are often called object pronouns. They serve a variety of grammatical functions which they would not in languages that differentiate the two. An example using first person singular objective pronoun me:

Do you see me?
The army sent me to Korea.
  • in a dative role for an indirect object:
Kim passed the pancakes to me.
(Or colloquially, Kim passed me the pancakes.
That picture of me was blurry.
(cf. That picture of mine was stolen.)
[referring to a photograph] This is me on the beach.
  • in existentials (sometimes, but not always, replaceable by the nominative—in very formal style):[10]
It's me again.
(cf. Once again, it is I. [formal])
Who is it?—It's me.
(cf. It is I [to whom you are speaking].)
It's me who should fix it.
(cf. Since I made it, it is I who should fix it.)
  • in a nominative role with predicate or verbal ellipsis:
Who made this bicycle?—Me.
(cf. Who made this bicycle?—I did.)
I like him.—Hey, me too.
(cf. I like him.—Hey, I do too.)
Who's gonna clean up this mess?—Not me!
Me and him are going to the store. (only in highly informal speech)
(cf. Is he going? Yes, he and I are going.)
Me, I like Spanish.

The pronoun me is not inflected differently in any of these uses; it is used for all grammatical relationships except the genitive case of possession (in standard English) and a non-disjunctive nominative case as the subject.

[spoken by Cookie Monster] Me so hungry.
(the above example also employs copula deletion to similar effect)


Old French had a nominative case and an oblique case, called ‹See Tfd›cas sujet and ‹See Tfd›cas régime respectively.

In Modern French, the two cases have mostly merged and the cas régime has survived for the majority of nouns. For example, the word "conte (tale)":

In some cases, both the cas sujet and cas régime of one noun have survived but produced two nouns in Modern French with different meanings. Example today's ‹See Tfd›copain means "friend" and ‹See Tfd›compagnon is "companion", but in Old French these were different declensions of the same noun.


Kurdish has an oblique for pronouns, objects, and for objects of Izafe constructs.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "oblique" in David Crystal, 2008. A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, 6th ed.
  2. ^ "Objective case (grammar)". (about) education. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Personal pronoun". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  4. ^ https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267724707_CASE_IN_HINDI
  5. ^ https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226198692_Ergative_Case-marking_in_Hindi
  6. ^ "case marking in hindi - Google Search". www.google.com. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  7. ^ "Hindi Noun Cases". hindilanguage.info. 2012-04-19. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  8. ^ http://alt.qcri.org/~ndurrani/pubs/system_grammatical_relations.pdf
  9. ^ https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=
  10. ^ Huddleston, Rodney; Pullum, Geoffrey K. (2002). The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 459. ISBN 0-521-43146-8. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)