Estonian: question about objekt

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Trauer

Member
Polish
I'd like to ask about object in Estonian sentence, because my teachers haven't cleared this matter to me yet.
Are there sentences in which it is possible to use object in singular genetive case or is partitive used most of the time, e.g. Ostan raamatut?
Perhaps it's not very wise of me, but I compare forms of object to the Finnish ones, which demand genetive case quite often, e.g. Mä oon lukenut tämän kirjan loppuun.
 
  • agriprop

    New Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    Just FYI, in your Finnish example the objects are not in genitive case, but accusative.
     

    hollabooiers

    Member
    Estonian
    I'm not a linguist by any means, so I'm not sure how accurate my explanations are going to be, but I might as well give it a try as a native speaker.

    It seems it all depends on three things: the verb used, the meaning of the sentence, and whether or not the object in question is countable. Your example about buying a book actually takes genitive, not partitive, because books are countable objects. With verbs like to read (a book), to listen to (music) the object takes partitive, while with other verbs it depends on what you're trying to say. For example there's a difference between saying "I drank beer" (as in just generally had some) and "I drank a (bottle of) beer" (as in finished up a particular bottle) and in Estonian that difference is expressed by whether you use partitive or genitive.

    Ostan raamatu - genitive, I by a book
    Loen raamatut - partitive, I read a book
    Kirjutasin raamatu - genitive, I wrote a book (meaning I finished writing it)
    Kirjutasin raamatut - partitive, I wrote a book (meaning I was at a point in time busy with the act of writing a book, I didn't necessarily finish)
    Ostan piima ("overlong ii") - partitive (as opposed to "long ii" were it genitive), I buy milk, which is an uncountable object

    I hope that all made at least a little sense?
     

    Hakro

    Senior Member
    Finnish - Finland
    Did I understand right?

    Ostan raamatut. Incorrect.

    Ostan raamatu. I buy a book. OK.

    Then how do you say in Estonian:
    - I buy (several) books. Finnish: Ostan (useita) kirjoja.
    - I buy (those) books. Finnish: Ostan (nuo) kirjat.
     

    Trauer

    Member
    Polish
    Kirjutasin raamatu - genitive, I wrote a book (meaning I finished writing it)
    Kirjutasin raamatut - partitive, I wrote a book (meaning I was at a point in time busy with the act of writing a book, I didn't necessarily finish)
    Ostan piima ("overlong ii") - partitive (as opposed to "long ii" were it genitive), I buy milk, which is an uncountable object

    I hope that all made at least a little sense?
    Aitäh! :)
    Yeah, it does make sense. So now I know it's the same thing about partitive and unfinnished action as it is in Finnish, the same with uncountable objects.

    On the other hand I've noticed that rules about object's case aren't necessarily as difficult in Estonian as they are in Finnish (for foreigner obviously).
    Are there rules in Estonian like: in negative, passive and necessive ("have to do" - type) sentences there will be always object in partitive or nominative, never in genetive?

    And Hakro's question about plural is what I wanted to ask about as well.
    Do you use plural partitive at all, because we haven't even learned it, as our teacher said that it is really unnecessary for us right now.
     

    hollabooiers

    Member
    Estonian
    Ah I just realized it's crap what I said about ostan raamatut being incorrect. XD I'm sorry! It's almost always genitive, yes, but there are actually cases when partitive can be used here after all. About the only time I can imagine saying "Ma ostan raamatut" would be if say someone called me while I was buying a book and I explained to them what I was doing. Or maybe to answer a question like "So what were you doing yesterday when I called you?" - "Ostsin parajasti raamatut."

    So it seems the finished/unfinished action thing counts with buying countable objects as well. Ostan raamatut can be correct as well, it just isn't in most situations.

    Everything else I've said should be correct though. ... Or let's hope so anyway. :D

    To answer your question, Hakro:

    Ostan (mitmeid) raamatuid (plural partitive). - I buy several books. This is only used as a really general way of saying "I buy books" though, you just buy some abstract, non-specified books. If you're being more concrete (which happens more often than not), you use the next option.
    Ostan mitu raamatut (singular partitive). - I buy several books. This would be the equivalent of the Finnish ostan monta kirjaa.
    Ostan need raamatud (plural nominative). - I buy those books, same as in Finnish.

    So it seems we do use plural partitive when it's all not that specific or with words like few/many/a lot of etc. As in ostan palju raamatuid - I buy a lot of books. Yet with numbers and words like a couple it's always singular partitive. Ostan kaks/viis/kaheksa/paar raamatut. Like just two books is kaks raamatut and in the sentence "I buy two books." it just stays as it is: "Ma ostan kaks raamatut."

    Now about that rule you mentioned, Trauer. It does seem to be true with negative (ma ei osta raamatut; sa ei söö porgandit) and passive (ostetakse raamatut/raamat; süüakse porgandit/porgand), but when it comes to necessive the object seems to take both genitive and partitive (not nominative), depending on the meaning. As in pean ostma raamatu/raamatut, peame sööma porgandit/porgandi. Or maybe you had some specific examples you wanted to ask about?

    But yes, from what I've seen, it's usually best not to rely on Finnish too much. Not that I'd know from personal experience, I can speak the language (I lived in Finland for a good few years as a child and it used to be kind of a second native language for me), but I've never payed attention to where which language uses which case, because I never really had to study it. It just seems the rules of one of the languages won't always work in the other one - a lot of them do, but there are always those random ones that don't.
     

    Trauer

    Member
    Polish
    Now about that rule you mentioned, Trauer. It does seem to be true with negative (ma ei osta raamatut; sa ei söö porgandit) and passive (ostetakse raamatut/raamat; süüakse porgandit/porgand), but when it comes to necessive the object seems to take both genitive and partitive (not nominative), depending on the meaning. As in pean ostma raamatu/raamatut, peame sööma porgandit/porgandi. Or maybe you had some specific examples you wanted to ask about?
    Thanks so much for it!
    Nope, I hade in mind just what you wrote :)

    But I remembered right now that there's one more case, when it's impossible to use genetive in Finnish - in imperative sentences. Is it the same in Estonian?
     

    hollabooiers

    Member
    Estonian
    You're very welcome. :)

    Yeap, no genitive for objects in imperative sentences. It's either nominative or partitive, osta raamat; söö porgand/porgandit. I can't think of an example where you'd use partitive when it comes to buying books though (well except for negation, ära osta raamatut), I guess it's the countable/uncountable nouns thing again.
     
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