I am looking for the term for the grammatical case expressing provenience or origin, roughly corresponding to the English prepositions "of, from, out of, made from" as for example:

He is from Sweden.
The table is out of wood.

It's not ablative case as there is not really directionality implied.

EDIT: To be a little more specific:
I'm looking for a potential functional gloss for the Guaraní clitic "=gua" – none of the Guaraní scholars that I have read so far have been able to figure out how to call it, some use "of", others use "from", but afaik no one has figured out a good general term. =gua is often contrasted with =gui which approximates the ablative case (and which does imply directionality, "coming from somewhere", vs. =gua "being from somewhere"). So I thought I'd give it a try here, maybe someone has found a similar category in some other language that might be helpful.

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    Those two examples are pretty different semantically, so there's unlikely to be a term that covers both but excludes directional cases.
    – TKR
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 15:33
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    @TKR They look rather different in the English translation, true, but if you think of it more like a "having its origin in"-idea then it makes more sense. You can be born in Sweden although now you've arrived from Norway (you are "Sweden-gua" but you came "Norway-gui"). And the table is created out of a piece of wood (has it's origin in the wood). Some directionality is of course implied, but the main idea is that of "origin in" or "evolution out of" and not movement from A to B.
    – jan
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 8:29
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    Why not genitive? Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 20:58
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    @A.M.Bittlingmayer That is actually a good question. :) Maybe because we got used to think of genitive as only possessive case as in many Indo-European languages ... but in fact it is probably the closest to the meaning I'm looking for. That's what I'm going to use (until some Guarani scholar complains ...).
    – jan
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 9:52
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    In Classical Greek, these uses of the genitive would be called the genitive of material and genitive of origin (in Latin it would be the ablative of origin instead).
    – Michaelyus
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 10:11

1 Answer 1


Here are some cases that might apply:

  • Elative expresses direction out of something
  • Ablative direction from some point

I did not find a case for the second example (The table is out of [=made from] wood.)

A nice, but yet incomplete list of cases can be found here: http://universaldependencies.org/u/feat/Case.html

EDIT: While I am still unable to find a natural language with cases as described in the question, the constructed language Ithkuil with an impressive case system has two cases that cover the Gaurani clitic -gua

  1. The case for "made out of" is called compositive case, see §4.5.3 in the Ithkuil grammar
  2. The case for the country or region of origin is called originative case, see §4.4.7 in the Ithkuil grammar.

So you might call the case function of Guarani -gua originative-compositive when you want.

  • I had looked at them but I was unsure since all I found on the internet about elative or ablative implies some sort of directionality (in the elative case "out of the house") and the idea of something being "made out of" something else or something having its origin somewhere to me seems to be a different thing.
    – jan
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 18:29
  • @Jan, are you Czech or is your name (John in Czech) a coincidence? In Czech,both "from" and "out of" are translated as "z", and it's followed by a simple genitive of the noun en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czech_declension - I guess it's similar in most Slavic languages. It makes sense to use the same "z" (or "ze" if s/z follows), it's about the arrow. There is an arrow. At its beginning is the noun, and at the end, there is "what comes from or or out of it". The arrow may symbolize evolution or motion but it may always be imagined to go from the past to the future and simultaneously in space. Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 20:28
  • @LubošMotl no I'm not Czech, that's funny that you ask (Jan's a pretty common name across Europe, I guess) ... But it's interesting what you write that you have a similar form. So you say the noun takes the genitive (a, ů, í, according to the wikipedia) – but that "z" (preposition?) it's not really a case marker then, is it? And it's unrelated to the locative case right? The interesting thing in Guaraní is that you have locatives "to" (pe) and "from" (gui) but they're different from the one I'm looking for.
    – jan
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 8:22
  • But is Jan a translation to John in your language? Yup, "z" is a preposition. It must be followed by the genitive of the noun which has a different form than the nominative. The preposition "z" cannot be combined with a different case. The genitive case may be preceded by other prepositions, like "bez" (without), or no preposition (then the case of the noun means noun's, "something of noun"). So I believe that the genitive still ends with a case marker. I am not a linguist so even though I know things at beyond-the-high-school level and I care, this may be tough to get what you need. Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 10:58
  • This genitive, our 2nd case, with or without "z", has nothing to do with the locative, which is our 6th case. We use the locative mostly after "[talk] about" (o kom, o čem) and "in/inside" (v kom, v čem) - the latter is probably why there's still some link to "location". But I don't understand what's the relationship of "about" and location - it seems to me that the cases following many prepositions are largely random. Also, rather generally, some sequences depending on a noun need prepositions in some languages but not others. Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 11:02

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