Appendix:Georgian noun declension

There are seven grammatical cases: nominative, ergative, dative, genitive, instrumental, adverbial, and vocative. Although the inclusion of the vocative case in this list is questioned by Arnold Chikobava and others for the reason that in Georgian a word in the vocative case is never involved in a syntactic collocation with either a verb or a noun.

In Georgian, there is no accusative; instead, that syntactic function is served by the nominative (ex. მხატვარმა დახატა სურათ) and dative (ex. მხატვარი ხატავს სურათ) cases.

There is only one type of noun declension in Georgian, though some phonetic changes may happen 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 any of the vowels ( (a), (e), (i), (o), (u)), though ი is very uncommon, and is chiefly restricted to borrowings (such as ჩაი (čai), ტრამვაი (ṭramvai), ჟოკეი (žoḳei), პაი (ṗai), გეი (gei)) and personal names (such as გიორგი (giorgi), ამროსი (amrosi), აკაკი (aḳaḳi), and კორნელი (ḳorneli)). Stems ending with a consonant have -ი (-i) as a nominative case marker. In Old Georgian all nouns ended with ი/ჲ (for example დედაჲ (deday), მამაჲ (mamay), and კლდეჲ (ḳldey)). Some dialects of Georgian preserved this (for example რაი (rai), გზაი (gzai), and ქვაი (kvai)).

The roles of noun cases


Georgian has seven cases as described below. Adjectives and pronouns can also be inflected in these cases.


The nominative case marker: -ი (-i)

The nominative 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 narrative case marker: -მა (-ma)

The ergative case, also known as the narrative, is used for the subjects of transitive verbs in the aorist series.


The dative case marker: -ს (-s)

The dative case 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 genitive case marker: -ის (-is)

The genitive case is used for possession and to mark other close relationships.


The instrumental case marker: -ით (-it)

The instrumental case expresses means, and corresponds to the English by means of, as in this example:

ბადით თევზაობს.
badit tevzaobs.
(He) is fishing with a net.


The adverbial case marker: -ად (-ad)

The adverbial case is found in contexts such as the following:

მდივნად დანიშნეს
mdivnad danišnes
He was appointed secretary
მასწავლებლად მუშაობს
masc̣avleblad mušaobs
(He/she/it) works as a teacher

This case can often be translated using as (‘They appointed him as secretary’, ‘He works as a teacher.’).


The vocative case marker: -ო (-o)

The vocative case is used in direct address, as in ჩემ კარგ! (čemo k'argo!) (‘my dear’, ‘darling’).



Phonetically there are three forms of declension:

  1. Neither case marker nor stem affects the other.
    This is the simplest and most common form. Stems of the words pertaining to this category end with a consonant.
    Examples: კაცი (ḳaci), სახელი (saxeli), ამხანაგი (amxanagi), თავი (tavi), ხელი (xeli), სახლი (saxli), ჰაერი (haeri), ქლიავი (kliavi), სკამი (sḳami), წიგნი (c̣igni), რვეული (rveuli)
  2. Case marker that starts with a vowel affects a stem and either:
    1. 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. However, there are exceptions (such as ქალი (kali), მხარი (mxari), ცალი (cali), დარი (dari)).
      Examples: სოფ(ე)ლი (sop(e)li), რძ(ა)ლი (rʒ(a)li), აკვ(ა)ნი (aḳv(a)ni), მუც(ე)ლი (muc(e)li)
    2. Stem's interior vowel weakens and changes into (v)
      Comment: either (o) (v) or (a) (v) happens.
      Examples: მინდორი (mindori)მინდვრის (mindvris)
            ნიორი (niori)ნივრის (nivris)
    3. Stem's last vowel gets truncated
      Comment: this applies to only stems ending with -ა (-a) and -ე (-e) that do not denote a personal name or surname.
      Examples: გზა (gza), მთვარე (mtvare), თხა (txa), მუშა (muša), მზე (mze)
    4. Stem's last and some interior vowels drop
      Comment: this can be seen as a combination of the first and third cases.
      Examples: ქვეყანა (kveq̇ana)ქვეყნის (kveq̇nis), ქარხანა (karxana)ქარხნის (karxnis)
  3. Stem's last vowel affects case marker
    Case marker's first vowel is dropped.
    Comment: obviously this applies to only nouns that end in a vowel. The genitive and instrumental cases are affected. There are four situations where this type of declension happens:
    1. When a noun's stem ends in -ო (-o), -უ (-u) or -ი (-i):
      Examples: წყარო (c̣q̇aro), რუ (ru), ჩაი (čai)
    2. When stems ending with vowel denote a personal name or surname:
      Examples: ვაჟა (važa), ელენე (elene), გიორგი (giorgi), ქეთო (keto), ნუნუ (nunu)
    3. When a noun is formed by the suffix -ა:
      Examples: ბუტია (buṭia), დოყლაპია (doq̇laṗia), მჟავა (mžava), ტირია (ṭiria), ძრავა (ʒrava)
    4. When the word is a borrowing:
      Examples: ატაშე (aṭaše), ჟელე (žele), კაფე (ḳape), კაშნე (ḳašne)
    5. When certain words (such as დედა (deda) or მამა (mama)) is used to refer not to the general concept that the noun represents, but rather to the a specific one relevant to the speaker:
      Examples: დედას ვაშლი (dedas vašli) means (my) mother's apple.
                       დედის ვაშლი (dedis vašli) means mother's apple.


  • Čikobava, Arnold et al., editors (1950–1964), “Georgian noun declension”, in Kartuli enis ganmarṭebiti leksiḳoni [Explanatory Dictionary of the Georgian language] (in Georgian), Tbilisi: Academy Press