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Ablative case

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Ablative case

In grammar, ablative case (abbreviated abl) is a grammatical case (a type of noun inflection) in various languages that is used generally to express motion away from something, although the precise meaning may vary by language. The name "ablative" derives from the Latin ablatus, the (irregular) perfect passive participle of auferre "to carry away".[1] There is no ablative case in modern Germanic languages, such as English.

Indo-European languages


The ablative case in Latin ([casus] ablativus) has various uses, including following various prepositions, in an ablative absolute clause, and adverbially. The ablative case was derived from three Proto-Indo-European cases: ablative (from), instrumental (with), and locative (in/at).


In Ancient Greek, there was no ablative case; some of its functions were taken by the genitive and others by the dative; the genitive had functions belonging to the Proto-Indo-European genitive and ablative cases.[2] The genitive case with the prepositions ἀπό apó "away from" and ἐκ/ἐξ ek/ex "out of" is an example.


Kaspar von Stieler ("der Spate"), Johann Balthasar von Antesperg and Johann Christoph Gottsched, listed an ablative case (as the sixth case after nominative, genitive, dative, accusative and vocative) for German words. They considered the dative case after some prepositions to be an ablative, as in von dem Mann[e] ("from the man" or "of the man") and mit dem Mann[e] ("with the man"), while they considered the dative case after other prepositions or without a preposition as dem Mann[e] to be a dative.

Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian

As in Ancient Greek, the functions of the ablative case in Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian are performed by the genitive case. Of three forms of genitive in Serbian, as well in Croatian and Bosnian, namely partitive, possessive and ablative, the noun in the ablative genitive marks the origin of something, so as departure or detachment from it.


The ablative case is found in Albanian where it is the fifth case and is called rasa rrjedhore.


The ablative case, known as apādāna (अपादान) in Sanskrit, is the fifth case (panchami) in the grammar, and has similar function to that of Latin.

Sanskrit nouns in this case often refer to a subject "out of" which or "from" whom something (an action, an object) has arisen or occurred—e.g., patram vṛkṣāt patati "the leaf falls from the tree".

This case is also used for nouns in several other senses, e.g., where the action occurs "because of" or "without" a certain noun; nouns indicating distance or direction. When it appears with a comparative adjective, e.g. śreṣṭhatamam, "the best," the ablative is used to refer to that which the adjective is comparing, "better than X".


The modern Armenian ablative has different markers for each main dialect, both originating from Classical Armenian. The Western affix -է (definite -էն -ēn) derives from the Classical singular; the Eastern affix -ից -ic’ (both indefinite and definite) derives from the Classical plural. For both dialects, the affix is singular with the corresponding plurals being -(ն)երէ(ն) and -(ն)երից.

Western Eastern gloss
from (a) man
from the man
(տուն) > տանէ
(dun) > danē
(տուն) > տնից
(tun) > tnic’
from a house/from home
(տուն) > տանէն
(dun) > danēn
(տուն) > տնից
(tun) > tnic’
from the house

In Armenian, the ablative case has several uses:

  • its principal function is to show "motion away" from a location, point in space or time;
Western Eastern gloss
քաղաքէն եկայ
k’aġak’ēn yega
քաղաքից եկա
k’aġak’ic’ yeka
I came from the city
այստեղէն հեռու կը բնակէի
aysdeġēn heṙu gě pnagēi.
այստեղից հեռու բնակում էի
aysteġic’ heṙu bnakvum ēi
I used to live far from here
  • the case also shows the agent when used with the passive voice of the verb;
Western Eastern gloss
ինծմէ միջտ կը սիրուէիր
incmē mišd gě sirvēir
ինձնից միջտ սիրում էիր
indznic’ mišt sirvum ēir
You were always loved by me
ազատիչներիէն ազատեցանք
azadič’nerēn azadec’ank’
ազատիչներից ազատվեցինք
azatič’neric’ azatvec’ink’
We were freed by the liberators
  • The ablative case is also used for comparative statements in colloquial Armenian (including verb infinitives and participles);
Western Eastern gloss
Ի՞նչ մեղրէն անուջ է
Inč’ meġrēn anuš ē
Ի՞նչ մեղրից է անուջ
Inč’ meġric’ ē anuš
"What is sweeter than honey?" (proverb)
Մարիամ եղբօրմէն պզտիկ է
Mariam yeġpōrmēn bzdig ē
Մարո ախպորից փոքր է
Maro axporic’ p’ok’r ē
Mary is younger (lit. smaller) than her brother
թզեր համտեսել տեսնելէ աւելի լաւ է
t’ëzer hamdesel desnelē aveli lav ē
թզեր համտեսել տեսնելուց ավելի լավ է
t’ëzer hamtesel tesneluc’ aveli lav ē
Figs are better to taste than to see
  • The ablative case also governs certain postpositions;
Western Eastern gloss
ինծմէ վար
incmē var
ինձնից վար
indznic’ var
below me
քեզմէ վեր
k’ezmē ver
քեզնից վեր
k’eznic’ ver
above you
անոնցմէ ետք
anonc’mē yedk’
նրանից հետո
nranic’ heto
after them
մեզմէ առաջ
mezmē aṙač
մեզնից առաջ
meznic’ aṙadž
before us

Uralic languages


In Finnish, the ablative case is the sixth of the locative cases with the meaning "from, off, of", e.g. pöytä – pöydältä "table – off from the table". It is an outer locative case, used just as the adessive and allative cases to denote both being on top of something and "being around the place" (as opposed to the inner locative case, the elative, which means "from out of" or "from the inside of"). In the locative meaning, the receding object was near the other place or object, not inside it.

The Finnish ablative is also used in time expressions to indicate start times (e.g. kymmeneltä "at ten") as well as with verbs expressing feelings or emotions.

The Finnish ablative has the ending -lta or -ltä according to the regular rules of vowel harmony.


away from a place
  • katolta: off the roof
  • pöydältä: off the table
  • rannalta: from the beach
  • maalta: from the land
  • mereltä: from the sea
with the verb lähteä (stop)
  • lähteä tupakalta: stop smoking (in the sense of putting out the cigarette one is smoking now; literally 'leave from the tobacco')
  • lähteä hippasilta: stop playing the game of tag (hippa=tag, olla hippasilla=playing tag)
to smell/taste/feel/look/sound like something
  • haisee pahalta: smells bad
  • maistuu hyvältä: tastes good
  • tuntuu kamalalta: feels awful
  • näyttää tyhmältä: looks stupid
  • kuulostaa mukavalta: sounds nice


The ablative case in Hungarian is used to describe movement away from a solid object. For example, if one is walking away from a friend one could say: a barátomtól jövök - I am coming (away from) my friend.

Use of this case implies movement from next to the solid object, and not from inside it. So a postától jövök would mean one had been standing next to the post office, and not inside the building.

The application of vowel harmony gives two different suffixes: -tól and -től. These are applied to back- and front-vowel words respectively.

In contrast, the cases used to express movement towards a solid object and for being next to that solid object are the allative case and the adessive case respectively. The cases for movement away from, or out of, something are the delative case (for movement from a surface or from a Hungarian city) and the elative case (for movement out of a container or from out of a foreign city).[3]

Turkic languages


The ablative in Azeri (çıxışlıq hal) is expressed through the suffixes -dan or -dən. Examples:

Ev - evdən
House - from/off the house

Aparmaq - aparmaqdan
To carry - from/off carrying


The ablative in Turkish (-den hali or uzaklaşma hali) is expressed through the suffixes -den, -dan, -ten, or -tan. Examples:

Ev - evden
House - from/off the house

At - attan
Horse - from/off the horse

Taşımak - taşımaktan
To carry - from/off carrying

Ses - sesten
Sound/volume - from/off sound/volume

In some situations simple ablative can have a ”because of” meaning, in these situations ablative can be optionally followed by ”dolayı” (because of) preposition.

Yüksek sesten (dolayı) rahatsız oldum. / I was uneasy because of high volume.


  1. ^ The Ablative , The Latin Library, accessed 06-01-14
  2. ^ Herbert Weir Smyth. Greek Grammar. par. 1279: composite or mixed cases.
  3. ^ "Hungarian Ablative Case, Hungarian Reference,1 June 2014

External links

  • What is the ablative case?
  • Ablative case in Hungarian
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