Moderator: aaakknu

Posts: 72
Joined: 2006-07-26, 1:02
Real Name: russell
Gender: female
Location: Houston Texas
Country: US United States (United States)


Postby kloie » 2019-01-20, 19:05

Is the partitive and Accusative the same cases? I've noticed that finnish and hungarian have accusative but estonian doesn't.

User avatar
Posts: 700
Joined: 2012-02-16, 22:09
Gender: male
Country: EE Estonia (Eesti)

Re: Accusative/partitive

Postby ainurakne » 2019-01-20, 20:40

No, they are not the same thing. They are kind of like the opposites.

Basically, partitive refers to a partial object - the object is partially affected by an action (or a subset of objects are affected) or the action itself partial - kind of like a process without a definitive end result:
Avan akent. ~ I am opening [a/the] window

Accusative, on the other hand, refers to a whole object - the object is wholly affected by an action (or a whole set of objects are affected) or the action itself has a definitive end result - kind of like an achievement:
Avan akna. ~ I will open [a/the] window

Officially, there is no case called "accusative" in Estonian. But the concept exists in pretty much identical form as in Finnish.
You can think of accusative either as a concept that expresses itself via nominative and genitive case, or as a separate case that sometimes looks identical to nominative and sometimes to genitive case.

Broadly, the rules for which "form" of accusative to use are as follows:
Use genitive case (or the form of accusative that looks like genitive): Avan akna.
Except when:
- the object is plural: Avan aknad.
- imperative mood is used: Ava aken!
- the verb is impersonal: Avatakse aken.
- the verb is da-infinitive and is not itself an object to another verb.
Eesti keel (et) native, English (en) I can manage, Suomi (fi) trying to learn, Pусский (ru)&Deutsch (de) unfortunately, slowly fading away

Posts: 2085
Joined: 2016-09-17, 5:06

Re: Accusative/partitive

Postby Linguaphile » 2019-01-20, 22:11

I'm not really adding anything to what Ainurakne already said, but I thought I'd post a couple of other explanations of the same grammar point. Basically Estonian has täissihitis/"total object" and osasihitis/"partial object" rather than "accusative." Sometimes the total object (or the partial/total object set) is called accusative, although it isn't a separate case but rather a combination of cases.
Also, don't pay any attention to this site which says that accusative is the partitive case. It's misrepresentations or oversimplifications like that which make me avoid using the word "accusative" entirely because there is too much confusion and inconsistency surrounding that term with regards to Estonian grammar.

Honestly, the total/partial object system is one of the more difficult aspects of Estonian grammar for speakers of other languages. Don't let the idea that "Estonian doesn't have an accusative case" fool you into thinking that makes it simpler than languages that do. :wink:

from Estonian Institute's overview of the Estonian language:
Despite the large number of cases, the Estonian language lacks the ordinary object case, the accusative, which is common among the Indo-European languages. The direct object in Estonian is expressed by the nominative, genitive or partitive, in the singular, and by only the nominative or the partitive in the plural. Using the genitive object in the singular and the nominative object in the plural, marks the totality and finiteness of the action directed at that object. The usage of the partitive case expresses the partiality or unfinished nature of the action.

from Estonian for Beginners (Oser/Salasoo):
As a general rule, the total object must be used when all of the following three conditions are met:
1. the sentence is a positive statement
2. the action of the verb has been completed
3. the action of the verb embraces the whole, total object.
In cases where all three of the above conditions are not met, the partial object is used. The partial object is always in the partitive case, answering the questions mida? or keda?
The total object in the singular is either in the genitive case, answer the questions mille? or kelle? or, for positive commands, in the nominative case, answering the quetsions mis? or kes? The total object in the plural is always in the nominative case, answering the questions mis? or kes?

from Estonian Textbook (Tuldava):
The direct object (called sihitis in Estonian) can be considered either as a "total" object or a "partial" object. The total object (täissihitis) may also be called the definite, complete, or whole object. It is used in sentences were all three of the following conditions are met:
1) The sentence is affirmative.
2) The action of the verb leads to completion.
3) The object is effected in its entirety.
In an imperative sentence (where a command is given), the total object is in the nominative case. In a declarative sentence (where a statement of fact is given), the total object is in the genitive case if it is in the singular and in the nominative case if it is in the plural.

Total object examples:
Võta raamat! (nom. sing.) = Take the book!
Võta raamatud! (nom. pl.) = Take the books!
Ma võtsin raamatu. (gen. sing.) = I took the book.
Ma võtsin raamatud. (nom. pl.) = I took the books.
Loe raamat läbi! (nom. sing.) = Read the book [all the way through]!
Ma lugesin raamatu läbi. (gen. sing.) = I read the book [all the way through].
Ma ostan raamatu. (gen. sing.) = I will buy the book.

Partial object examples:
Ära võta raamatut! (part. sing.) = Don't take the book!
Õpilane loeb raamatut. (part. sing.) = The student is [engaged in] reading a book.
Loe raamatut! (part. sing.) = Read [some of] the book! (but not necessarily to the end)
Ma lugesin raamatut. (part. sing.) = I was reading the book. (unfinished)
Ma ostan raamatut. (part. sing.) = I am [engaged in] buying the book.

User avatar
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 1146
Joined: 2015-05-10, 12:24
Real Name: Ira
Gender: female
Country: UA Ukraine (Україна)

Re: Accusative/partitive

Postby aaakknu » 2019-01-21, 21:49


I have splited the discussion about future tense into a separate thread: viewtopic.php?f=53&t=56606
I thought this topic might be interesting / confusing for many learners, so it will be more visible if it has its own thread.

I have moved the question about käima / minema here: viewtopic.php?f=53&t=51889

You can continue the discussion in the other threads.

I hope you don't mind. :)
Здайся на Господа у твоїх справах, і задуми твої здійсняться. (Приповідки 16, 3)
TAC 2018
Sign up for the Broken Translation Game 2018 and Oral Broken Translation Game 2 and Conlang Broken Translation Game 3 and FUBAR Game 2018

Return to “Estonian (Eesti keel)”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest