Grammar Cases. If you are in the process of learning a language and have done a little research, you may have come across this term "grammar cases" while reading.
If you're not past the beginner stage in your language, you may not know what these things called cases are.
Why are cases a big deal?
Different language learners struggle with different aspects of language learning. For some, it's harder to remember vocabulary and for seems impossible to remember grammar rules.
Languages are unique because in every language there are aspects that are more difficult for learners depending on their background and native language. The grammar of languages with many uppercase and lowercase letters will be much more difficult for a learner whose language does not have many of them, while a language with a sound system, such as Chinese, may be difficult for someone who has trouble remembering vocabulary because many of the characters sound similar if you don't have an ear for sounds.
As long as the cases don't keep you from continuing with the language, they're not much of a problem. But if you really don't feel like spending the time memorizing extra vocabulary and learning the rules for cases, then a language with multiple cases may not be right for you.
So what are cases?
If you look up the definition of cases, you will find long and complicated explanations in many materials. And when you start learning a language, long and complicated explanations are part of the process. But they also quickly discourage German students from continuing to learn.
The truth is that the cases are quite complicated, but it also depends on looking at them in a certain context. Trying to memorize the rules and the words that go with them separately can make learning a language much more difficult, which is why I advise against it.
The word "case" is derived from the Latin word casus, which means "to fall." It is used to describe words that have fallen from their nominative or stem form.
Casuses are the grammatical function of a noun or pronoun within a phrase, clause, or sentence. To use English as an example, it is essentially the difference between I and me, he and him, she and her. "Ich habe ihn getroffen." or "Er hat mich getroffen." It indicates who or what is doing the action and with whom or what it is being done.
What does this mean?
It means that in a case-sensitive language, you have to learn multiple versions of every noun you learn. In a language like Croatian, where you're already dealing with gender and the plural form of words, capitalization adds a whole new dynamic to memorizing vocabulary and mastering even basic grammar.
Cases can be quite intimidating for someone who doesn't like grammar, especially because they are very important relatively early on. But please don't let that deter you from learning a language if you really want to learn it. Yes, they are hard, but they are not impossible. And once you learn the rules, they become second nature. It may be hard work to reach that point, but once you do, you'll be rewarded all the more for persevering.
What are some of the different cases?
I've included this section just to describe a few of the different cases. There are more than the ones listed here, of course, and the descriptions I've included are really simplified versions of the rules surrounding the cases. The way cases are used varies from language to language, and can be much more complex than what is here.
So why did I include this section? To give you some basic examples of cases and how they work. You can find even more examples of cases in different languages on Wikipedia if you feel like taking a look.
Do you want to avoid cases in a language where they exist?
To some extent, of course, there are two ways to do this. You may not eliminate the use of cases altogether, but you can reduce the number of cases you need to express your thoughts.
One way is to change the word order. Again. "Die Schuhe wurden mir von meiner Schwester geschenkt." as opposed to "Meine Schwester hat mir die Schuhe geschenkt." can make a big difference in your ability to form sentences.
It's about exercising your speech muscles and using what you know to construct the things you want to say. Sometimes that means being a little roundabout. And that's fine, as long as you say what you mean and mean what you say.
There's even a special word that describes the loss of cases, or the merging of two separate cases into one. It's called syncretism. This word describes the loss or reduction of case in the various languages, which include Modern Greek, English, and German.
Want to learn more about the grammar background and usage of German cases? Then check it out here! Here you will find not only numerous example sentences but also many, many exercises including solutions to try out what you have learned directly. Have fun!