Can we say "the case of subject in a sentence is nominative, the direct object of a verb is accusative, the second object of a ditransitive verb is accusative, the objective of a preposition is accusative"? And are there any other possibilities of cases for these positions?

If it is correct, is there any example for "the second object of a ditransitive verb is accusative"?

  • 6
    Which language are you talking about? These statements are all language-specific and cannot be made in such generic terms as to cover ‘language’ in general. Edit: Sorry, you’ve tagged it english, so presumably this is about English? Apr 22 '20 at 14:17
  • 4
    That question is valid only if you assume English does have cases, which is rather dubious. But if you (for some reason) do assume English pronouns have cases, then they are definitely not "nominative" and "accusative", they are "subjective" and "objective". You can talk about "accusative" only when its forms are different from other indirect cases like Dative, which is definitely not the current situation in English where both direct and indirect objects are used in exactly the same form.
    – Yellow Sky
    Apr 22 '20 at 15:06

As @Yellow Sky mentioned, based on your assumption that case exists in English, let us call it Abstract Case, then the following case pronominal distribution can be found:

  1. Nominative abstract case (or subjective case): exclusive of finite clauses (tensed clauses); e.g.,

    (1) I tabled the data.

In (1), I is nominative in the subject position of a finite clause (past).

  1. Accusative abstract case in subject position of infinitival clauses (a clause without tense); e.g.,

    (2) I want him to leave now.

In (2) him is in the subject position of an infinitival clause. Infinitival clauses lack capacity to assign case. So, their subjects are case marked from an outside lexical element, in this case the verb want.

  1. Accusative abstract case in subject position of prepositional complementizers; e.g.,

    (3) For him to leave would be terrible.

Again this last example is similar to (2) because the pronoun is found in subject position of an infinitival clause.

  1. Accusative abstract case in object position of preposition; e.g.,;

    (4) She moved towards him.

  2. Accusative abstract case in object position of a verb; e.g.,

    (5) She kissed him.

  3. Accusative abstract case in object position of ditransitive (double object construction); e.g.,

    (6) She sent him a letter (orig. She sent a letter to him).

I think these are the only possibilities for pronouns. A genitive case is exclusive of nouns.

  • The whole system becomes wacky in coordinate structures, e.g. She knows you and I. Apr 22 '20 at 17:00
  • It's not the case that the system becomes wacky, this is called a derived case syncretism for stylistic purposes. A similar form is used for two different case positions. The pronouns 'you' & 'I' are both accusative in your example.
    – Tsutsu
    Apr 22 '20 at 17:54
  • @TimOsborne - Do you mean She knows you and I [know you, too] ?
    – Yellow Sky
    Apr 22 '20 at 18:10
  • Yes, I mean they are both objective. In coordination, the pronoun forms that appear are unstable and there is much variation. One frequent phenomenon is hypercorrection. Speakers put in ..and I where ...and me would be better. They think it sounds more educated. Apr 24 '20 at 2:20
  • @Yellow Sky No, I mean you and I; no gapping or stripping involved. It's called hypercorrection and it occurs very frequently. I'm sure any corpus search will turn up lots of occurrences of ...and I in object position. Apr 24 '20 at 2:22