I am currently busy with a project that involves production rules.

From my years in Latin at college, I learned about the six basic ones. But if I am not confused, ablative could represent several cases such as:

by, by whom, with, from, in, on.

I am looking for examples of a language that would include more cases than the ones mentioned above as I am considering using declensions as terminal symbols to be appended to some lemma as base for the grammar.

And is this path (declensions) the most ergonomic in terms of programming / parsing?

As this is my first question here, maybe someone can hint at another forum if not appropriate.

  • Czech has 7 cases, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czech_declension Jun 5, 2016 at 17:45
  • The term you seem to be interested in is "case". Latin has 5 declensions numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (well, I, II, III...), where the first declension is the mostly-feminine -a final nouns. In each declension, there are rules for forming the nominative (accusative, etc) case, which also requires reference to number.
    – user6726
    Jun 5, 2016 at 17:54
  • I apologize for the time it took to reply. Thanking all those who took time to reply. All answers were useful. I could define the usage cases that would complement the set of declensions found in Latin.
    – GerardLvy
    Jun 28, 2016 at 20:35
  • @lemontree Yes, it was about representing several cases which I think clearly do not fit with the ablative case (hence the set of prepositions which I provided). The set of cases is finite, the question was about defining the minimalist set that can be represented using declensions.
    – GerardLvy
    Jun 28, 2016 at 20:44
  • @Luboš Motl Thanks for the link, it helped define my cases. One of the goals was to eliminate explicit prepositions from generated syntactic tree.
    – GerardLvy
    Jun 28, 2016 at 20:48

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure I understood what you want to know: Whether there are languages with more than six cases, or languages where ablative is used for more than "by, by whom, with, from, in, on"?

There definitely are languages with a richer case system, usually agglutinative languages. E.g. Finnish has 15 cases, Hungarian about 18 (for Hungarian it's a little harder to decide what counts as a case and what is merely a postposition that has been attached to the word over time; some linguists argue there are only 5 cases, some even talk about 40).

If it's about what ablative can be used for, things are not that clear, as the prepositions you mentioned often are vague in meaning.
For those languages that do have ablative in the first place, the basic semantics should obviously the same when choosing the same term; what exactly ablative is used for will also heavily depend on what other cases the language offers. For example in Finnish, which has ablative too, the partitive case is used for a large range of meanings where Latin would rather use ablative (or something different).
But the basic meaning, namely ablative expressing something like movement away from something, isn't that much different from the use of ablative in Latin or in other languages that have ablative case as well, otherwise you wouldn't call the case like this.

  • Thanks, that was exactly the purpose of the question: listing all possible cases represented in English using prepositions (to, from, by, etc.), or missing 'to' as in French J'ai donné un cadeau a ma femme (I gave my wife a present), as I am setting up a grammar which I want as ergonomic as possible. Starting from a lemma [an abstraction in some lexicon, but carrying a lexical class as metadata], affixing it with inflections (hard-coded values); I am tempted to use declensions rather than breaking down into multiple entities. Still undecided.
    – GerardLvy
    Jul 13, 2016 at 1:42
  • Since the English equivalents to the use of ablative (or cases in general) depend so much on the language it occurs in, it would be best to encode this language-specific (possibly that's what you wanted to do anyway, can't imagine what to do else with it), and for the single languages then, it would be relatively easy to look up the possible English translations in a good grammar book of that language. That will probably give you more appropriate results than listing any preposition that might apply in some marginal case for any language that has something like ablative. Jul 14, 2016 at 15:03

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