In such languages, the ergative case is typically marked (most salient), while the absolutive case is unmarked. New work[timeframe?] in case theory has vigorously supported the idea that the ergative case identifies the agent (the intentful performer of an action) of a verb (Woolford 2004).
In Kalaallisut (Greenlandic) for example, the ergative case is used to mark subjects of transitive verbs and possessors of nouns.
Nez Perce has a three-way nominal case system with both ergative (-nim) and accusative (-ne) plus an absolute (unmarked) case for intransitive subjects: hipáayna qíiwn 'the old man arrived'; hipáayna wewúkiye 'the elk arrived'; wewúkiyene péexne qíiwnim 'the old man saw an elk'.
Sahaptin has an ergative noun case (with suffix -n?m) that is limited to transitive constructions only when the direct object is 1st or 2nd person: iwapáatayaa? ?máman?m 'the old woman helped me'; paanáy iwapáataya ?máma 'the old woman helped him/her' (direct); páwapaataya ?mámayin 'the old woman helped him/her' (inverse).
Other languages that use the ergative case are Georgian, Chechen, and other Caucasian languages, Mayan languages, Mixe-Zoque languages, Wagiman and other Australian Aboriginal languages as well as Basque, Burushaski and Tibetan. Among all Indo-European languages only, Yaghnobi, Kurdish language varieties (including Kurmanji, Zazaki and Sorani) and Pashto from Iranian languages and Hindi/Urdu, along with some other Indo-Aryan languages are ergative.