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Prolative case

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Title: Prolative case  
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Subject: Ergative case, Veps language, Translative case, Partitive case, Allative case
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Prolative case

The prolative case (abbreviated PROL; also vialis case, abbreviated VIA) is a grammatical case of a noun or pronoun that has the basic meaning of "by way of".

In the Finnish language, the so-called prolative has a highly restricted, by some almost fossilized meaning "by (medium of transaction)". For example, "postitse" ("by post"), "puhelimitse" ("by phone"), "meritse" ("by sea"), "netitse" ("over the Internet"). The prolative forms are considered by some Finnish grammarians to be adverbs because they do not show agreement on adjectives like the other Finnish cases. This claim is not true, however, because an adjective will agree with the prolative: "Hän hoiti asian pitkitse kirjeitse."

The prolative exists in a similar state in the Estonian language.

The vialis case in Eskimo–Aleut languages has a similar interpretation, used to express movement using a surface or way. For example, by way of or through the house.

Basque grammars frequently list the nortzat / nortako case (suffix -tzat or -tako) as "prolative" (prolatiboa).[1] However, the meaning of this case is unrelated to the one just described above for other languages and alternatively has been called "essive / translative",[2] as it means "for [something else], as (being) [something else]"; e.g., hiltzat eman "to give up for dead", lelotzat hartu zuten "they took him for a fool".[3] The meaning "by way of" of the case labelled prolative in the above languages is expressed in Basque by means of the instrumental (suffix -[e]z).


  1. ^ Check for example: Ilari Zubiri and Entzi Zubiri's Euskal Gramatika Osoa (Bilbao: Didaktiker, 1995); the declension reference at the website of the Basque Autonomous Government's Institute for Euskaldunization and Alphabetization of Adults (HABE); etc.
  2. ^ Jon D. Patrick, Ilari Zubiri: A Student Grammar of Euskara (Munich: Lincom Europa, 2001) [1]
  3. ^ Examples (translated from Spanish) given in Luis Baraiazarra's Diccionario 3000 Hiztegia (available online at, under the entry for Spanish "dar" [2].
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