The Accusative Case – Akkusatiivi
The case called ”the accusative” has been the cause of many arguments among linguists. It’s a case used to mark the object in a sentence. Please get familiar with how the object works so you can understand what we’re talking about on this page!
The Accusative: History and Controversy
Originally, the accusative was seen as a case that could have several different-looking endings based on the context. These endings were: -n (which looks like the genitive), -t (which looks like the T-plural) or no ending at all (which looks like the nominative). The reason these were all grouped under the accusative name was purely grammatical: it was used to mark the total object of a sentence.
However, some linguists (and Finnish teachers) found that basing a case on its function was not the most logical way to look at it. Much easier would be to base it on its looks. Hence:
- when a total object looks like a genitive (Ostan auton), we will call the case the genitive
- when a total object looks like the nominative (Osta auto), we will call the case the nominative
- when a total object looks like the T-plural (Ostan autot), we will call the case the plural nominative.
This leaves the ”accusative” with a role that is much smaller than before.
The Accusative Case Currently
These days, the accusative is usually only used to indicate personal pronouns which appear as a total object in a sentence.
- Sinä kutsut minut juhliisi.“You invite me to your party.”
- Minä kutsun sinut juhliini. “I invite you to my party.”
- Me valitsimme hänet. “We chose him.”
- Pomo lomauttaa meidät. “The boss lays us off.”
- Teidät on valittu meille töihin! “You have been chosen to work with us!”
- Hän näki heidät eläintarhassa. “She saw them in the zoo.”
- Kenet valittiin puheenjohtajaksi? “Who was chosen as the spokesperson?”
You can find more verbs that will get minut or sinut as their object in this article, which contains total object verbs which can have a person as their object.
Very Clear, kiitos!
Teidät on valittu meille töihin!
Kenet valittiin puheenjohtajaksi?
Aren’t these the subject of the sentence?
They’re passive sentences. Valittiin and valittu are the verb valita conjugated in passive tenses.
Teidät on valittu -> “You were chosen”, you weren’t doing any choosing yourself
Kenet valittiin -> “Who was chosen”, they didn’t chose themselves.
This article could definitely use some translations and links to other articles, I will work on that.
As a beginner, it confused me a lot to call the total object -n as genetiivi. It cleared up a lot for me when I discovered that it functions as another case (accusative). I think it’s more clear for beginners to learn the -n object as accusative, so there’s less confusion.
Interesting point of view! Most students think that it is weird to call the -n the accusative when it looks like the genetive. You seem to think of the function first, while most students think of the way it looks first.
I’m glad you figured it out for yourself! There are a lot of confusing things and getting to the bottom of WHY can be difficult sometimes.
Thanks for the answer! Interesting to hear that I’m the black sheep here 🙂 Maybe my experience with this particular topic comes from the fact that my native tongue is Turkish, which has a very clear distinction between the two cases, and genitive is also formedwith an -n suffix (see grammar\noun section in Wikipedia’s “Turkish” page).
Same here – I was also totally confused by the genitive being used with objects… And when I found out that Finnish supposedly uses a different case for plural objects, I couldn’t believe it! This clears it up a lot of the confusion, thanks!
Before learning it was the “genetive”, I actually thought that the accusative just looks the same as genitive (this kind of stuff happens a lot with cases in Czech). I\m glad I wasn’t entirely wrong! 😀
First of all, sorry if I’m replying to a really old thread – I only recently (re)discovered this site, and there doesn’t appear to be anything telling me how old a comment is.
But learning it as the accusative was also much more intuitive for me. In my case I think it’s because a) the first time I came across cases was learning German, which has a distinct form for the accusative and is basically the first case you’re taught (nominative for were not really taught as a case until you had to compare and contrast with the accusative); and b) I’m interested in linguistics and how languages work so I know what the accusative is and what it does.
I found it really confusing to sometimes call the accusative the genitive, sometimes call it the nominative, and sometimes call it a plural nominative, and much easier to try and learn that the accusative can have a couple of different forms that look like other cases.
But that’s one of the fascinating things – everyone learns in a different way!
hei hei Inge, I think the English translation of the sentence ‘Kenet valittiin puheenjohtajaksi?’ should be “Who was chosen…?’
because the English answer to the question would be ‘she/he/… was chosen…’ instead of ‘her/him was chosen’. (though the Finnish answer would still be ‘hänet valittiin …’).