Noun - Cases

There are four principal cases of nouns:

  1. Subjective (or Nominative) Case - noun is used as a subject

  2. Objective Case - (Accusative and Dative cases)
    Accusative case - noun is used as direct object
    Dative case - noun is used as indirect object

    Note: In English accusative and dative cases are one and the same. So we just call them as objective case.

  3. Possessive (or Genitive) Case - noun is used to show possession

  4. Vocative Case - noun is used to address somebody

These can function as subject/object in a sentence:

  • Noun
  • Pronoun
  • Noun equivalent – Gerund, Infinitive, Noun Clause/Phrase

Subjective/Nominative Case

A noun or pronoun is in the Nominative Case or Subjective Case:

  • when it is the subject of a sentence (or you can say Subject of a verb)

    For example:
    He is going to be a big star one day.
    (He – pronoun, working as subject, is in subjective case)

  • when it completes a being verb, i.e. acts as a subjective complement (called Predicate Noun).

    For example:
    He is my brother.
    (my brother – subjective complement in subjective case)

To find the Nominative, put Who? or What? before the verb.

Saurabh threw a stone. (Who threw a stone? - Saurabh)

The clock fell on Tom. (What fell on Tom? - clock)

Objective Case

A noun or pronoun is in the Objective Case :

  • when it receives the action of a transitive verb (i.e. is the Direct Object of a verb).
    Samuel kicked him. (him – direct object in objective case)

  • when it serves as the object of a preposition. 
    I am sure that you will be helped by him. (him – prepositional object in objective case)

  • when it is used as an indirect object.
    Nicole gave me a laptop. (me – indirect object in objective case)

  • when it is used as an objective complement.
    They made him the vice-president. (vice-president - objective complement in objective case)

Note: You may find that in some books, direct objects and objects of preposition are said to be in accusative case and indirect objects and objective complement are said to be in dative case. But in English, there is no difference as such between accusative case and dative case. So, we can use a common term for both of them, i.e. objective case.

To find the Accusative put, Whom? or What? after the verb and its subject.

James threw a stone. (James threw what? – stone, which is a direct object)

The clock fell on Tom. (The clock fell on whom? – Tom, which is the object of preposition ‘on’)

Distinguishing between Subjective and Objective cases

In case of Nouns

Nouns in English have the same form in the Subjective and the Accusative case.

Mragank broke the window. (window - object)
The window was broken. (window - subject)

They are distinguished by the order of words, or by the sense - The Subjective generally comes before the verb, and the Accusative after the verb.

In case of Pronouns

In case of pronouns, spellings of pronouns in subjective and objective cases may be different.

objective case

When to use Nominative and Objective cases?

Concept 1

In a sentence whenever we need a subject, we should use the subjective case. And whenever we need an object, we should use the objective case.

Let’s see some examples:

I found he jumping. (incorrect – he is an object, but it is in subjective case here)
I found him jumping. (correct)

Her writes well. (incorrect – her is a subject, but it is in objective case here)
She writes well. (correct)

Concept 2

In case of subjective complement, we will always use the subjective case.

It is us. (incorrect) It is we. (correct – ‘we’ is the subjective complement and ‘is’ is a linking verb here)

It is me. (incorrect) It is I. (correct - ‘I’ is the subjective complement and ‘is’ is a linking verb here)

Concept 3

Preposition is followed by an object (noun/pronoun in objective case).
E.g. against him, about her, between you and me, because of him

I went their because of she. (incorrect)
I went their because of her. (correct)

Note: However when ‘because’ is used as a conjunction, we can use subjective case after because, i.e. because + subject + verb.


In a sentence whenever we need a subject or subject complement, we should use the subjective case.

Whenever we need an object (direct, indirect, prepositional) or object complement, we should use the objective case.

Vocative Case

A noun used to call somebody is in vocative case.

We can use ‘you’ for a noun of vocative case.

For example:

Children come here. (children – in vocative case)
You come here.

Aanya go there. (Aanya – in vocative case)
You go there.

Possessive Case

When the form of a noun is changed to show ownership or possession, it is said to be in the Possessive (or Genitive) Case.

The Possessive answers the question, ‘Whose?’

This is Amit’s bike. (Whose bike? - Amit’s)

Extra Books and Tools

Though the matter on our website is in-depth and comprehensive enough for the needs of most of the aptitude exams, but it may also feel daunting for the same reasons. Moreover, some learners prefer books over websites. So, if you are a beginner level English learner, and prefer books, you may explore the following English Grammar books too.

1. Wren & Martin - This book has been around for long and is still considered one of the best. Though many concepts have not been dealt with in much depth here, but beginners may find it a breeze to read. Once you are done with it, the content on our website will work as a rich add-on. If you are getting this book, make sure you get the key to its exercises too.

Link for Indian readers: Wren and Martin

2. More advanced learners may refer to the following books. However, buy them only if you must. Most of your English Grammar learning needs will easily be met by our website.

Essential English Grammar by Raymond Murphy
Link for Indian readers: Essential English Grammar

Intermediate English Grammar by Raymond Murphy
Link for Indian readers: Intermediate English Grammar

Advanced English Grammar by Martin Hewings
Link for Indian readers: Advanced English Grammar

So much so for Englsh Grammar. But what about Comprehension skills and Vocabulary?

We strongly believe that Comprehension skills and Vocabulary are more a matter of practice. The more you read, the better you will become in them. In fact, this will help you in Grammar too. Afterall Grammar rules are just in the nature of temporary scaffholding - the goal is to read, write and speak a language without consciously remembering even a single Grammar rule.

So, we suggest you to read vividly. Ideally, carry some tool with you that you may refer to learn the meaning of any word that is new to you. There are many ways you may go about it.

* The old method: Carry a good dictionary with you. But who does?

* Download a Thesauraus app on your mobile or just google it. Better, but we still need to stop reading, open app, type and then search. Boring!

The methods mentioned above kill the joy of reading. Who wants to stop reading in the midst of an interesting plot and look for the meaning of a word? And if you are a lazy soul like me, oh man! No chance!

That's why I prefer to read on gadgets like Kindle. We may just tap on any word and see its meaning there and then. It's also not taxing on the eyes.

If you guys know about any more such books, gadgets and technologies that are awesome and may help English learners, do share 😇
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