Case of Nouns and Pronouns

Case is the relation of nouns and pronouns with other words in the sentence.

There are different types of cases in English.

  Nominative case

Objective case

Possessive case

Vocative case

Dative case

Case in Apposition


 


1. Nominative case: 


Look at the following sentences:

 (i) Joe is a cricketer. 

(ii) He plays well.




Here “Joe” and “He” are the subjects of the sentences. “Joe” and “He” are said to be in the nominative case. 


So, what is a nominative case?

When a noun or pronoun is used as the Subject of a verb, it is said to be in the Nominative Case. Nominative case is the subject form of a noun or pronoun. It is also called Subjective case. 


 

How to find our a nominative case?

To find the Nominative, put ‘Who?’ or ‘What?’ before the verb.


 Della cooks a cake.

 

Question: Who cooks a cake? 


Answer: Della 

Della is a nominative case.




2. Objective Case: 

Read the following sentences: 

 (i) Joe plays cricket. 

(ii) People like him.





Here “cricket” and “him” are the objects of the sentences. We say that “cricket” and “him” are in the objective case. 


So, what is an Objective Case? 

When a noun or pronoun is used as the Object of a verb or preposition, it is said to be in the Objective or Accusative Case. Objective case is the object form of a noun or pronoun. 



A noun or pronoun which comes after a preposition is also said to be in the Objective Case. 


 Ben plays with me. 

We live in London.



  

To find the Object, put ‘Whom?’ or ‘What?’ after the verb.


 Della cooks a cake. 

Question: Della cooks ‘what?’ 

Answer: a cake 




Note that nouns do not change their forms when they are used as subject or object. But pronouns change their forms. Notice the changes: 


Read the following sentences. 

Subject
Verb
Object
Joe
loves
Luna.
Luna
loves
Joe.


We can also say: 


Subject
Verb
Object
He
loves
her.
She
loves
him.



Direct & Indirect Objects: 

A verb can have two types of objects. The direct object, and the indirect object. 


If the verb has one object only, it is Direct Object. 

 Ben has a bat. 

He likes it.



 


If the verb has two objects, the first one is Indirect Object and the second one is Direct Object. 

 Pass me the salt. 

Send her a message.


 


“me” and “her” in the above sentences are Indirect objects. 


“the salt” and “a message” in the above sentences are Direct objects. 


Note that the indirect object is generally a person. Also note that direct object receives the action of the verb and indirect object receives the direct object. 




Indirect Object appears immediately after the verb and the direct object goes after the Indirect Object.

 Joe gave me a bat. 

I showed him my ball.



 


If we put the indirect object after the direct object, we put a preposition before it. 

 Give me the pen. 

Give the pen to me.


 


Nouns in English have the same form for the Nominative and the Objective. How do you know which is Nominative and which is objective? The answer is simple. 


The Nominative generally comes before the verb, and the Objective after the verb and the preposition. Hence, they are distinguished by their position in the sentence, or by the sense.



3. Possessive Case: 

Possessive case is the ‘s form of nouns like—

 Ben’s bat.

Lilly’s bag.


 


The ‘s form of noun is called possessive case or possessive form because such forms show ownership or possession. 

 Joe’s bat=the bat belonging to Joe.

Bill’s bag=the bag belonging to Bill.




Pronouns have different possessive case forms. 

 Ben’s bat=his bat

Sophia’s bag=her bag


 


Here is a list of Nominative, Objective and Possessive Case forms of Pronouns: 


Nominative
Objective

Possessive

Adjective

Possessive

Pronoun

I
me
my
mine
we
us
our
ours
you
you
your
yours
he
him
his
his
she
her
her
hers
it
it
its
its
they
them
their
theirs
who
whom
whose
whose


Possessive case answers the question, ‘Whose?’

 Whose bat? - Joe’s





The Possessive Case does not always show possession. It may show authorship, origin, kind, etc. 

 A week's holiday = a holiday which lasts a week.

A children’s park = a park for children.

Whitman’s poems = the poems written by Whitman.

Don's school = the school where Don reads.

Mila's house = the house where Mila lives.





Formation of the Possessive Case

Rule-1:  To form Possessive Case, we add ‘s to the noun. 


Singular +’s

 Woman’s college 

Linda’s school


 


Plural +’s

 Women's college  

Men’s saloon


 



Rule-2:  If the noun ends in s, we only add an apostrophe (‘). 


Singular + ’ 

 Chambers’ dictionary

Charles’ house


 


Plural + ’ 

 Boys' school; 

girls' school;


 



Rule-3:  If a person’s name consists of several words, we add Possessive sign only to the last word: 

 APJ Abdul Kalam’s speech 

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh’s office





Rule-4:  If two nouns are in apposition, add possessive sign to the latter only: 

 Our headmaster Mr. Baker’s letter



Rule-5:  If two persons possess the same thing, add possessive sign to the latter: 

 Jim and Della’s house

Ali and Scott’s car


 


But if two persons possess different things, add possessive sign to both. 

 Victor Hugo's and E.M. Forster's novels.

Donne's and Byron's poems.





Use of the Possessive Case


(i) The Possessive Case is now used chiefly with the names of living thing; as,

 The Governor’s bodyguard; 

the lion’s mane.




(ii) For lifeless things, we use the preposition of. We say:

 The name of our school [not, our school’s name] 

The leg of the table [not, the table's leg].

The cover of the book [not, the book's cover].

The roof of the house [not, the house's roof).



(iii) The Possessive is used with the names of personified things.

 India's heroes; 

Nature's laws; 

Fortune's favourite; 

at duty's call; 

at death's door.




(iv) The Possessive is also used with nouns denoting time, space or weight; as,

 A day's leave. 

a week's holiday; 

in a year's tour; 

a stone's throw; 

a foot's length; 

a pound's weight.




(v) The following phrases are also in common use:-

 At his fingers' ends; 

for mercy's sake; 

to his heart's content; 

at his wit's end; 

a boat's crew.




4. Case in Apposition

Read the following sentence:


Ricky, our captain, is a smart boy.


We see that Ricky and our captain are one and the same person. The noun captain follows the noun Ricky simply to explain which Ricky is he. 


When one noun follows another to describe it, the noun which follows is said to be in apposition to the noun which comes before it.


[Apposition means placing near.]


A noun in apposition is in the same case as the noun which it explains.


In the above sentence the noun captain is in apposition to the noun Ricky, and is in the Nominative Case; because Ricky is in the Nominative Case.