In many languages that feature multiple cases for nouns, the determiners and attributive adjectives agree with their associated nouns for case, among other things. You can find examples of adjective agreement for case and gender in Russian at this link: http://www.alphadictionary.com/rusgrammar/adjectiv.html

Are there languages whose nouns have multiple cases but whose determiners and adjectives do not agree with the nouns in case?


Turkish has 5 to 8 noun cases (depending on who you ask) and invariable adjectives. Same is true for other Turkic languages (with differing number of cases).

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  • What about determiners in Turkish? Are they inflected for case? (E.g., "that yellow book" in different cases.) – imz -- Ivan Zakharyaschev Jan 21 at 19:50
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    @imz--IvanZakharyaschev No, determiners are not inflected for case either. In fact case suffixes would be indistinguishable from postpositions if it wasn't for the different stress patterns (case suffixes are stressed, postpositions are not) and sound assimilations (including vowel harmony) they undergo. – cyco130 Jan 22 at 11:12

Yes. Nouns in Telugu are inflected for number, gender and 7 cases. However, the small closed class of adjectives (as opposed to nouns used adjectivally) does not decline.

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  • Could you give some word examples? I know Telugu. Through your examples, I want to know what is being asked in this question. – pinkpanther May 30 '16 at 19:56
  • @pinkpanther I can't find an example from Telugu right now, but it's similar to the difference in Kannada between oLLeya ('good') which doesn't decline attributively (but does decline predictively in Kannada), and koopa ('anger/angry') which always declines. – Uri Granta Jun 3 '16 at 4:32
  • What about determiners in Telugu? Are they inflected for case? (E.g., "that yellow book" in different cases.) – imz -- Ivan Zakharyaschev Jan 21 at 19:52

Well, first of all there is English, which has three cases for pronouns (he, his, him) and two for nouns (dog, dog’s), and where articles and adjectives are invariable for case (the old dog’s house).

At a more general level, linguists have a tendency to classify this sort of situation as agglutination rather than inflection. By this analysis, the “s” in this example can be analysed as a postposition affecting the whole article+adjective+noun phrase “the old dog”. You will find this in all so-called agglutinative languages (Turkish, Tamil etc. etc.)

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  • Note that as a clitic, 's can attach itself to adjectives: e.g. "the court martial's decision". – Uri Granta Apr 5 '15 at 8:58
  • @UriZarfaty - Note that as a clitic, 's can attach itself to any part of speech, e.g. "the girl I saw yesterday's name". – Yellow Sky Apr 5 '15 at 14:29
  • @YellowSky: indeed. I mentioned adjectives specifically since the question was about undeclined adjectives. – Uri Granta Apr 5 '15 at 14:33
  • Finnish adjectives agree in case and number with their nouns. – TKR Apr 5 '15 at 17:20
  • I have changed the answer accordingly. – fdb Apr 5 '15 at 17:28

Imbabura Quechua is an example, where the case affix is only NP-final (on the head noun). Apparently, there is no NP-internal case agreement in Hungarian, though there is supperficial "agreement" in appositional constructions. Spencer argues that the Hungarian markers should be considered "fused postpositions", and the same could be said about I. Quechua.

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