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Comitative case

The comitative case (abbreviated COM) is a Even though the dierence is straightforward, Instrumen-
grammatical case that denotes accompaniment.[1]:1723 tal and Comitative are expressed the same way in many
In English, the preposition with, in the sense of in languages, including English, so it is often dicult to sep-
company with or together with, plays a substantially arate them.
similar role (other uses of with, e.g. with the meaning
Russian is one of many languages which dierentiates
of using or by means of (I cut bread with a knife), morphologically between Instrumental and Comitative,
correspond to the instrumental case or related cases).
so an example from Russian will help illustrate the dif-

1 Core meaning 'I'll go to the movies with my mom.'

Comitative case encodes a relationship of accompa-

niment between two participants in an event, called 'I cut the bread with this knife.'[5]
the accompanee and the companion. In addition,
there is a relator (which can be of multiple lex- In Russian, Comitative is marked by adding a preposition
ical categories, but is most commonly an ax or s and declining the companion in the Instrumental case.
adposition).[1]:1718 Use of Comitative case gives promi- In the Instrumental case, the object is declined but there
nence to the accompanee.[2]:602 For example: is no preposition added.[5]
Comitative case is also often confused with Associa-
[il professore] entra nell'aula [con] tive case. Before the term Comitative was applied to
[i suoi studenti] the accompanee-companion relationship, the relationship
'the professor enters the lecture-hall (together) was often called Associative case, and some linguists still
with his students. [2]:602 use the latter term[6] It is important to distinguish be-
tween Comitative and Associative, though, because As-
In this case, il professore is the accompanee, i suoi studenti sociative also refers[2]:605
to a specic variety of Comitative
is the companion, and con is the relator. As the accom- used in Hungarian.
panee, il professore is the most prominent.
Animacy also plays a major role in most languages that
have a Comitative case. One group of languages requires 3 Expressions of the Comitative se-
both the accompanee and the companion to be either hu- mantic relation
man or animate. Another group requires both to be in
the same categorythat is, both human or both animate.
Grammatical case is a category of inectional mor-
A third group requires an animate accompanee and an
phology, thus the Comitative case is an expression
inanimate companion. The remaining languages have no
[2]:603604 of the Comitative semantic relation through inec-
restrictions based on animacy.
tional axationthat is, through prexes, suxes and
circumxes. Although all three major types of axes
are used in at least a few languages, suxes are the most
2 Comparison to similar cases common expression. Languages which use axation to
express the Comitative semantic relation include Hungar-
The denition of Comitative case is often conated or ian, which uses suxes; Totonac, which uses prexes;
confused with other similar cases, especially Instrumental and Chukchi, which uses circumxes.[2]:602
case and Associative case. Comitative relations are also commonly expressed by
The chief dierence between Comitative and Instrumen- using adpositionsthat is, prepositions, postpositions
tal is this: while Comitative relates an accompanee and a and circumpositions. Examples of languages which
companion, Instrumental relates an agent, an object, and use adpositional constructions to express Comitative re-
a patient.[3]:593 Enrique Palancar denes the role of In- lations are French, which uses prepositions; Waypi,
strumental case as the role played by the object the Agent which uses postpositions; and Bambara, which uses
manipulates to achieve a change of state of the Patient.[4] circumpositions.[2]:603


Adverbial constructions can also mark Comitative rela- 'And Barber takes a sip together with
tions, although they act very similarly to adpositions. One Balthasar.'[1]:90
language which uses adverbs to mark Comitative case is
4.2.2 Finnish
The nal way in which Comitative relations can be ex-
pressed is by serial-verb constructions. In these lan- In Finnish, the comitative case (komitatiivi) has the suf-
guages, the Comitative marker is usually a verb whose x -ne with adjectives and -ne- + a mandatory possessive
basic meaning is to follow. A language which marks sux with the main noun. There is no singular-plural
Comitative relations with serial-verb constructions is distinction; only the plural of the comitative is used
Chinese.[2]:603 in both singular and plural senses, thus it appears al-
ways as -ine-. For instance, with their big ships is
suurine laivoineen (big-COM ship(oblique)-PL-COM-
4 Examples POS 3PL), while with his/her big ships is suurine
laivoinensa ((big-COM ship(oblique)-PL-COM-POS
3SG)). It is rarely used and is mainly a feature of the for-
4.1 Indo-European languages mal literary language, appearing very rarely in everyday
4.1.1 French
The regular with is expressed with the postposition
French uses prepositions to express the Comitative se- kanssa, thus this form is used in most cases, e.g. su-
mantic relation. urien laivojensa kanssa with their big ships. The two
forms may contrast, however, since the comitative always
'with his/her mother'[2]:605 comes with the possessive sux, and thus can be only
used when the agent has possession of some sort over the
In this case, the preposition avec is used to express main noun. For instance, Ulkoministeri jatkaa kollegoi-
the Comitative semantic relation. The preposition avec neen neuvotteluja sissien kanssa, The foreign minister,
is the standard Comitative marker in French; however, with [assistance from] his colleagues, continues the ne-
French has a special case called Ornative, a variety of gotiations with the guerrillas, has kollegoineen with his
Comitative which is used for bodily property or clothes. colleagues contrasted with sissien kanssa with the guer-
The French Ornative marker is .[2]:603 rillas, the former possessed, the latter not.

4.1.2 Latvian 4.2.3 Sami languages

In Latvian, both Instrumental and Comitative are ex- As there are many Sami languages there are variations
pressed with the preposition ar [1]:102 However, ar is between them. In the largest Sami language, Northern
only used when the companion is in accusative and sin- Sami, the comitative case means either communion, fel-
gular, or when it is in dative and plural. Otherwise the lowship, connection - or instrument, tool. It can be used
coordinating conjunction un is used.[1]:21 either as an object or as an adverbial.
It is expressed through the sux -in in Northern Sami,
'And Nelda and Rudolf looked very knowingly and is the same in both singular and plural.
at Ernestine.'[1]:21
An example of the object use in Northern Sami is Dat
lve lo riidalit isidiin", meaning She always argues with
In the example above, ar is used because Rudolf, the
her husband. An example of the adverbial use is Mun
companion, is in accusative and singular. Below, ar is
ln bleahkain", meaning I write with ink.[7]
used in the other location where it is allowable, with a
dative plural companion.
4.2.4 Hungarian
'Because it was no fun to live under someone
elses roof, especially with all the horses and In Hungarian, Comitative case is marked by the sux -
the cart'.[1]:307 stul/-stl, as shown in the example below.[8]

'I was lying in bed with my clothes and shoes

4.2 Uralic languages on.'[8]

4.2.1 Estonian However, the Comitative case marker cannot be used if

the companion has a plural marker. So when the Comi-
In Estonian, the Comitative (kaasatlev) marker is the tative marker is added to a noun, it obscures whether that
sux -ga.[1]:90 noun is singular or plural.[8]

'They went on vacation with their [3] Narrog, Heiko (2009). Varieties of Instrumental. In
child/children.'[8] Andrej Malchukov and Andrew Spencer. The Oxford
Handbook of Case. New York: Oxford University Press
Inc. pp. 593600.
4.3 Chukchi [4] Palancar, E. L. (1999). Instrumental Prexes in
Amerindian Languages: An Overview to their Mean-
Chukchi uses a circumx to express Comitative case. ings, Origin, and Functions. Sprachtypologie und Uni-
versalienforschung 52: 151166.
'The boy ran out with a gun.'[9] [5] Heine, Bernd; Kuteva, Tania (2006). The Changing Lan-
guages of Europe. New York: Oxford University Press
In the example, the circumx - is attached to the root Inc. p. 188.
gun to express Comitative. [6] Haspelmath, Martin (2009). Terminology of Case. In
Andrej Malchukov and Andrew Spencer. The Oxford
Handbook of Case. New York: Oxford University Press
4.4 Drehu Inc. p. 514.

In Drehu, there are two prepositions which can be used [7] Nickel, Klaus Peter (1994). Samisk Grammatikk [no.
Sami Grammar] (2nd ed.). Karasjok, Norway: Davvi
to mark Comitative. Which of the prepositions is used
Girji. p. 399.
is determined by the classes of the accompanee and
companion.[10] [8] Kenesei, Istvn; Vago, Robert M.; Fenyvesi, Anna (1998).
Hungarian. New York: Routledge. pp. 2123.
'He goes with me.'[10] [9] Kmpfe, Hans-Rainer; Volodin, Alexander P. (1995).
Abri der Tschuktschischen Grammatik auf der Basis der
'I met (with) the girl.'[10] Schriftsprache. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz Ver-
lag. pp. 534.

[10] Moyse-Faurie, Claire; Lynch, John (2004). Coordina-

4.5 Hausa tion in Oceanic languages and Proto Oceanic. In Mar-
tin Haspelmath. Coordinating Constructions. Amsterdam;
The Comitative marker in Hausa is the preposition d. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Co. p. 453.
In Hausa, a prepositional phrase marked for Comitative
[11] Abdoulaye, Mahamane L. (2004). Comitative, coordi-
can be moved to the front of the sentence for emphasis, nating, and inclusory constructions in Hausa. In Mar-
as shown in the examples below. tin Haspelmath. Coordinating Constructions. Amsterdam;
Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishinc Co. p. 180.
'With his children indeed, he came here.'

'It is with Bala that I went to the market.'[11]

In Hausa it is ungrammatical to do the same with coor-

dinating conjunctions. For example, if the companions
were dog and cat, it would be ungrammatical to move
either dog or cat to the front of the sentence for em-
phasis, while it is grammatical to do so when there is a
Comitative marker rather than a conjunction.[11]

5 References
[1] Stolz, Thomas; Stroh, Cornelia; Urdze, Aina (2006). On
Comitatives and Related Categories: A Typological Study
with Special Focus on the Languages of Europe. Berlin:
Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co.

[2] Stolz, Thomas; Stroh, Cornelia; Urdze, Aina (2009). Va-

rieties of Comitative. In Andrej Malchukov and Andrew
Spencer. The Oxford Handbook of Case. New York: Ox-
ford University Press Inc. pp. 593600.

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