Estonian: partitive plural

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Senior Member
English, USA

In Estonian, does the distinction betwen nominative/accusative and partitive case ever correspond to the distinction between definite ("the") and indefinite ("a(n)")?

I ask because, in Finnish, the partitive plural of a noun is often equivalent to the indefinite plural: e.g., taloja (partitive plural) can often be translated as "houses", in contrast to talot (nominative/accusative) "the houses".

(This distinction only applies when a noun is the subject or object of a sentence: e.g., taloista (elative plural) can mean either "about some houses" or "about the houses".)

Does a similar contrast exist in Estonian? E.g., does the difference between majad (the nom. pl. of maja "house") and maju / majasid (partitive plural) have anything to do with definiteness/indefiniteness?

Thanks for any info
Last edited:
  • sirammaris


    yes, it could, but there is no definite or indefinite article in Estonian, so you should either use a word to indicate indefiniteness ("one", "some" or "that") or it's understood from the context. The partitive plural does that, though it also has many other functions. For example:

    ostsime maju - we bought some houses
    pesime kàsi - we were washing hands (not "some hands", ours, obviously)

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