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Cases in Greek

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Cases in Greek

Postby Johny Ze » Tue Jul 13, 2004 5:31 am

Hey, me again! I'm having trouble with the different cases of Greek, and wondering what I can do about it. Is there a clear explanation of what the cases are exactly, and how to use them. My text isn't very helpful so far on it. And should I memorize each case before moving on to anything else as they appear? thanks for the help and advice!

John
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Postby chad » Tue Jul 13, 2004 6:34 am

hi john, you're right, most textbooks give complicated (although correct) explanations of how the cases work. i can quickly describe how to "think about" each of the cases, and as you get more advanced in Greek, you can start to replace these explanations:

as a beginner, when you come to a genitive or dative, you mentally put a little word (a preposition) in front of the word.

when you come to a genitive, as a beginner put of/from in front of the word, and see if it makes sense.
e.g. [face=SPIonic]mh=nin qeou=[/face] (God is in the genitive: the wrath of God).

when you come to a dative, as a beginner put to (a person, not a place)/in/with/among/by in front of the word, and see if it makes sense.

e.g. [face=SPIonic][size=18]di/dwmi to\ bibli/on au)tw=|[size][/face] ("him" is in the dative: I give the book to him).

with the other 2 cases though (not including the vocative), the nominative and the accusative, you don't put a little word in front. instead, you (as a beginner) mentally re-arrange the words around the verb.

when you come to a nominative, mentally put it in front of the verb. and when you come to an accusative, mentally put it after the verb.

e.g. [face=SPIonic][size=18]to\n i(/ppon ble/pei o( a)nh/r[size][/face] (man is nominative, so mentally put it in front of the verb, and horse is accusative, so mentally put it afer the verb: the man sees the horse).

this will give you a basic understanding of how the cases work. as you get more advanced, you'll need to modify these explanations: e.g. some verbs naturally have genitives or datives as their "objects" (rather than the accusative), and dictionaries will tell you which case this is (by saying c. gen or c. dat). also, some greek prepositions have certain cases which naturally follow them (i.e. you can't always mentally put an accusative after a verb, if the accusative is meant to follow a certain preposition instead). i won't go on; there are lots of exceptions and rules. i hope this rambling explanation gets you started though :)

as to memorising, it's worth knowing an example word from each of the declensions. i don't think it's worth memorising the declensions of lots of different words from the 3rd declension though; you don't want to get bogged down at the beginning if it will stop you going on... you'll pick up the individual declensions of common words over time. :)
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Postby Johny Ze » Tue Jul 13, 2004 4:03 pm

cool, thanks for the help, I will give all that a try!

John
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