There are seven cases: nominative, ergative, dative, genitive, instrumental, adverbial and vocative. Though vocative is not strictly a case, because a case must relate to a verb or a noun, and thus cannot be regarded as an integral part of a sentence.
In Georgian, there is no accusative which is replaced by nominative (ex. მხატვარმა დახატა სურათი) and dative (ex. მხატვარი ხატავს სურათს) cases .
There is only one type of noun declension in Georgian, but some phonetic changes happen though during the inflection.
The declension of a noun depends on whether the root of the noun ends with a vowel or a consonant. Stems may end with all vowels (ა,ე,ი,ო,უ), though ი is very uncommon. These words are essentially foreign words (ex. ჩაი, ტრამვაი, ჟოკეი, პაი, გეი and personal names გიორგი, ამროსი, აკაკი, კორნელი). Stems ending with a consonant have -ი as a nominative case marker. In Old Georgian and all nouns ended with ი/ჲ (ex. დედაჲ, მამაჲ, კლდეჲ). Some dialects of Georgian preserved this (ex. რაი, გზაი, ქვაი).
The roles of noun casesEdit
Georgian has seven cases as described here. These also apply to adjectives and pronouns.
This case is used for the subjects of intransitive verbs in all screeves, for the subjects of transitive verbs in the present series, for the direct objects of transitive verbs in the other series, and for the direct objects of indirect verbs. It is also the case in which nouns are cited. The nominative case marker is -ი -i.
This case is often known in English as the ergative, and is used for the subjects of transitive verbs in the aorist series. The narrative case marker is -მა -ma.
The dative is used for subjects of indirect verbs and of transitive verbs in the perfect series. It is also used for the direct object of transitive verbs in the present series, and to mark the indirect objects of transitive verbs (except in the perfect series) and of intransitive verbs. The dative is also found in expressions of place and time. The dative case marker is -ს -s.
The genitive is used for possession and to mark other close relationships. The genitive case marker is -ის -is.
The instrumental expresses means, and corresponds to the English 'by means of', as in this example.
- badit' tevzaobs.
- net (instrumental singular) fishes (present 3rd person singular)
- (He) is fishing with a net.
The instrumental case marker is -ით -it.
The adverbial case found in contexts such as the following.
- mdivn-ad da-nishn-es.
- secretary (adv sg) X-appoints-Y (aor 3s 3s)
- He was appointed secretary.
- mascavleblad mušaobs.
- teacher (adverbial singular) works (third person singular present simple of work)
- (He) works as a teacher.
This case can often be translated using ‘as’ (‘They appointed him as secretary’, ‘He works as a teacher.’). The adverbial case marker is -ად -ad.
The vocative is used in addressing, as in ჩემო კარგო! č'emo kargo! (‘my dear’, ‘darling’). The vocative case marker is -ო -o.
Phonetically there are three forms of declension:
- Neither case marker nor stem affects each other.
- Case marker that starts with a vowel affects a stem and either:
- Stem's interior vowel is dropped (called syncope)
- Comment: there is no strict rule, but usually, stems ending with -ალ-, -არ-, -ან-, -ელ-, -ოლ- or -ორ- are affected. But not all of them (see ქალი, მხარი, ცალი, დარი).
- Stem's interior vowel weakens and changes into ვ
- Stem's last vowel gets truncated
- Stem's last and some interior vowels drop
- Comment: apparently this is a combination of 1 and 3 cases.
- Examples: ქვეყანა
- Stem's last vowel affects case marker
- case marker's first vowel is dropped.
- Comment: obviously this applies to only vowel-ending nouns. Affected cases are genitive and instrumental. There are four cases where this type of declension happens:
- When noun's stem ends in -ო, -უ or -ი.
- When stems ending with vowel denote person's name/surname.
- When noun is formed by -ა#Etymology_4 suffix.
- When the word is a foreign
- When certain words (ex. დედა, მამა) is used to refer not to general concept, but rather speakers' own.
- “Georgian noun declension” in Arnold Chikobava (editor-in-chief) (1950–64), k’art’uli enis ganmartebit’i lek’sikoni [Explanatory Dictionary of the Georgian language], in 8 vols, Tbilisi