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In grammar, the vocative case (abbreviated VOC) is a grammatical case which is used for a noun that identifies a person (animal, object, etc.) being addressed, or occasionally for the determiners of that noun. A vocative expression is an expression of direct address by which the identity of the party spoken to is set forth expressly within a sentence. For example, in the sentence "I don't know, John," John is a vocative expression that indicates the party being addressed, as opposed to the sentence "I don't know John" in which "John" is the direct object of the verb "know".

Historically, the vocative case was an element of the Indo-European case system and existed in Latin, Sanskrit and Classical Greek. Many modern Indo-European languages (English, Spanish, etc.) have lost the vocative case, but others retain it, including the Baltic languages, some Celtic languages and most Slavic languages. Some linguists, such as Albert Thumb,(de) argue that the vocative form is not a case but a special form of nouns not belonging to any case, as vocative expressions are not related syntactically to other words in sentences.[1]

Indo-European languages


Distinct vocative forms are assumed to have existed in all early Indo-European languages and survive in some. Here is, for example, the Indo-European word for "wolf" in various languages:

Language Nominative Vocative
Proto-Indo-European *wl?k?-o-s *wl?k?-e
Sanskrit ? (vk-a-?) (vk-a)
Classical Greek -?-? (lúk-o-s) -? (lúk-e)
Latin lup-u-s lup-e
Lithuanian vilk-a-s vilk-e
Old Church Slavonic ?-? (vl?k-?) ?-? (vl-e)

The elements separated with hyphens denote the stem, the so-called thematic vowel of the case and the actual suffix. In Latin, for example, the nominative case is lupus and the vocative case is lupe, but the accusative case is lupum. The asterisks before the Proto-Indo-European words means that they are theoretical reconstructions and are not attested in a written source. The symbol (vertical line below) indicates a consonant serving as a vowel (it should appear directly below the "l" or "r" in these examples but may appear after them on some systems from issues of font display). All final consonants were lost in Proto-Slavic, so both the nominative and vocative Old Church Slavonic forms do not have true endings, only reflexes of the old thematic vowels.

The vocative ending changes the stem consonant in Old Church Slavonic because of the so-called First Palatalization. Most modern Slavic languages that retain the vocative case have altered the ending to avoid the change: Bulgarian occurs far more frequently than .

Baltic languages


The vocative is distinct in singular and identical to the nominative in the plural, for all inflected nouns. Nouns with a nominative singular ending in -a have a vocative singular usually identically written but distinct in accentuation.

In Lithuanian, the form that a given noun takes depends on its declension class and, sometimes, on its gender. There have been several changes in history, the last being the -ai ending formed between the 18th and 19th centuries. The older forms are listed under "other forms".

Masculine nouns Nominative Vocative Translation Feminine nouns Nominative Vocative Translation
Current standard Other forms Current standard Other forms
o-stems vilkas vilke! wolf a-stems tautà [sg.] ta?ta! people
jo-stems v?jas v?jau! Old. Lith. v?je! wind e-stems kat? kate! cat
ijo-stems gaidys gaidy! rooster i-stems avis avie! sheep
a-stems vir?ilà vir?ìla! sergeant-major r-stems dukt? dukterie! dukter! daughter
e-stems d?d? d?de! uncle irregular marti marti/mar?ia! daughter-in-law
i-stems vagis vagie! thief proper names Dalià Dãlia!
u-stems s?nus s?nau! son diminutives sesut? sesut(e)! little sister
n-stems vanduo vandenie! vanden! water
proper names Jonas Jonai! Old Lith. Jone! John
diminutives s?nelis s?neli! little son

Some nouns of the e- and a- stems declensions (both proper ones and not) are stressed differently: "aik?t?": "aik?te!" (square); "tauta": "tauta!". In addition, nouns of e-stems have an ablaut of long vowel ? in nominative and short vowel e /?/ in vocative. In pronunciation, ? is close-mid vowel , and e is open-mid vowel /?/.

The vocative of diminutive nouns with the suffix -(i)ukas most frequently has no ending: broliùk "brother!", etc. A less frequent alternative is the ending -ai, which is also slightly dialectal: broliùkai, etc.

Colloquially, some personal names with a masculine -(i)(j)o stem and diminutives with the suffixes -elis, -?lis have an alternative vocative singular form characterized by a zero ending (i.e. the stem alone acts as the voc. sg.): Adõm "Adam!" in addition to Adõmai, Mýkol "Michael!" in addition to Mýkolai, vaik?l "kid!" in addition to vaik?li, etc.

Celtic languages

Goidelic languages


The vocative case in Irish operates in a similar fashion to Scottish Gaelic. The principal marker is the vocative particle a, which causes lenition of the initial letter.

In the singular there is no special form, except for first declension nouns. These are masculine nouns that end in a broad (non-palatal) consonant, which is made slender (palatal) to build the singular vocative (as well as the singular genitive and plural nominative). Adjectives are also lenited. In many cases this means that (in the singular) masculine vocative expressions resemble the genitive and feminine vocative expressions resemble the nominative.

The vocative plural is usually the same as the nominative plural except, again, for first declension nouns. In the standard language first declension nouns show the vocative plural by adding -a. In the spoken dialects the vocative plural is often has the same form as the nominative plural (as with the nouns of other declensions) or the dative plural (e.g. a fhearaibh! = Men!)

Gender Masculine Feminine
Sg. Nominative an fear mór an buachaill mór Seán an bhean mhór an deirfiúr mhór Máire
Genitive an fhir mhóir an bhuachalla mhóir Sheáin na mná móire na deirféar móire Mháire
Vocative a fhir mhóir a bhuachaill mhóir a Sheáin a bhean mhór a dheirfiúr mhór a Mháire
Pl. Nominative na fir móra na buachaillí móra na mná móra na deirfiúracha móra
Genitive na bhfear mór na mbuachaillí móra na mban mór na ndeirfiúracha móra
Vocative a fheara móra a bhuachaillí móra a mhná móra a dheirfiúracha móra
English the big man the big boy John the big woman the big sister Mary
Scottish Gaelic

The vocative case in Scottish Gaelic follows the same basic pattern as Irish. The vocative case causes lenition of the initial consonant of nouns. Lenition changes the initial sound of the word (or name).

In addition, masculine nouns are slenderized if possible (that is, in writing, an 'i' is inserted before the final consonant) This also changes the pronunciation of the word.

Also, the particle a is placed before the noun unless it begins with a vowel (or f followed immediately by a vowel, which becomes silent when lenited). Examples of the use of the vocative personal names (as in Irish):

Nominative case Vocative case
Caitrìona a Chaitrìona
Dòmhnall a Dhòmhnaill
Màiri a Mhàiri
Seumas a Sheumais
Ùna Ùna
a choin
bean a bhean
duine a dhuine

The name "Hamish" is just the English spelling of "Sheumais" (the vocative of "Seumas" and pronounced "Hamish"), and thus is actually a Gaelic vocative. Likewise, the name "Vairi" is an English spelling of "Mhàiri," the vocative for Màiri.


The basic pattern is similar to Irish and Scottish. The vocative is confined to personal names, in which it is common. Foreign names (not of Manx origin) are not used in the vocative. The vocative case causes lenition of the initial consonant of names. It can be used with the particle "y".

Nominative case Vocative case
Juan y Yuan
Donal y Ghonal
Moirrey y Voirrey
Catreeney y Chatreeney
John John

The name "Voirrey" is actually the Manx vocative of "Moirrey" (Mary).

Brythonic languages

Sign at Aberystwyth University in Welsh displaying use of the vocative case - 'myfyrwyr (students) mutated to 'fyfyrwyr'

Welsh lacks case declension but marks vocative constructions by lenition of the initial consonant of the word, with no obligatory particle. Despite its use being less common, it is still used in formal address: the common phrase foneddigion a boneddigesau means "gentlemen and ladies", with the initial consonant of boneddigion undergoing a soft mutation; the same is true of gyfeillion ("[dear] friends") in which cyfeillion has been lenited. It is often used to draw attention to at public notices orally and written - teachers will say "Blant" (mutation of "children") and signage such as one right show mutation of "myfyrwyr" (students) to draw attention to the importance of the notice.

Germanic languages


Modern English lacks a vocative case. English commonly uses the objective case for vocative expressions but sets them off from the rest of the sentences with pauses as interjections, rendered in writing as commas. Two common examples of vocative expressions in English are the phrases "Mr. President" and "Madam Chairwoman".

Some traditional texts use Jesu, the Latin vocative form of Jesus. One of the best-known examples is Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.

Historically, and in poetic or rhetorical speech, vocative phrases in English were prefaced by the word O, as is often seen in the King James Version of the Bible: "O ye of little faith" (in Matthew 8:26). Another example is the recurrent use of the phrase "O (my) Best Beloved" by Rudyard Kipling in his Just So Stories. The use of O may be considered a form of clitic and should not be confused with the interjection oh.[2] However, as the Oxford English Dictionary points out, "O" and "oh" were originally used interchangeably. With the advent of "oh" as a written interjection, however, "O" is the preferred modern spelling in vocative phrases.[]

See also Apostrophe (figure of speech).

German dialects

In some German dialects, like the Ripuarian dialect of Cologne, it is common to use the (gender-appropriate) article before a person's name. In the vocative phrase then the article is, as in Venetian, omitted. Thus, the determiner precedes nouns in all cases except the vocative. Any noun not preceded by an article or other determiner is in the vocative case. It is most often used to address someone or some group of living beings, usually in conjunction with an imperative construct. It can also be used to address dead matter as if the matter could react or to tell something astonishing or just happening such as "Your nose is dripping."

Colognian examples:

Do es der Päul -- Päul, kumm ens erövver! There is Paul. Paul, come over [please]!
Och do leeven Kaffepott, do bes jo am dröppe! O [my] dear coffee pot, you are dripping!
"Pääde, jooht loufe!" Un di Pääde jonn loufe. "Horses, run away!" And the horses are running away.


The vocative case generally does not appear in Icelandic, but a few words retain an archaic vocative declension from Latin, such as the word Jesús, which is Jesú in the vocative. That comes from Latin, as the Latin for Jesus in the nominative is Jesus and its vocative is Jesu. That is also the case in traditional English (without the accent) (see above):

Nominative Jesús elskar þig. Jesus loves you.
Vocative Ó Jesú, frelsari okkar. O Jesus, our saviour.

The native words sonur ("son") and vinur ("friend") also sometimes appear in the shortened forms son and vin in vocative phrases. Additionally, adjectives in vocative phrases are always weakly declined, but elsewhere with proper nouns, they would usually be declined strongly:

Kær vinur er gulli betri. A dear friend is better than gold. strong adjective, full noun
Kæri vin, segðu mér nú sögu. Dear friend, tell me a story. weak adjective, shortened noun


Nouns in Norwegian are not inflected for the vocative case, but adjectives qualifying those nouns are; adjectives qualifying vocative nouns are inflected for the definite singular (see: Norwegian language#Adjectives).[3] This phenomenon can be more easily observed with adjectives that inflect for plural and definite differently, e.g. liten being lille when definite, but små when plural.

Nominative Vocative English translation
kjær venn kjære venn dear friend
vis mann vise mann wise man
liten katt lille katt little cat

This can also be shown in interjections with adjectives, especially profanities, like svarte helvete. Note that despite helvete not being inflected or preceded by a definite article, the qualifying adjective, svart, is still inflected as if qualifying a definite noun.

In several Norwegian dialects, proper nouns referring to persons are commonly preceded by a personal pronoun he (han/hainn/'n) or she (hun/hu/ho/'a) in nominative, but not in vocative. This is similar to the use and drop of the definite article in the dialects of e.g. Cologne and Venezia, as described above.

Trøndersk examples:

Dær e 'n Paul. Paul, kom hit! There is (he) Paul. Paul, come over here!
Dær e ho Maria. Maria, kom hit! There is (she) Maria. Maria, come over here!


In Ancient Greek, the vocative case is usually identical to the nominative case, with the exception of masculine second-declension nouns (ending in -) and third-declension nouns.

Second-declension masculine nouns have a regular vocative ending in -?. Third-declension nouns with one syllable ending in -? have a vocative that is identical to the nominative (, night); otherwise, the stem (with necessary alterations, such as dropping final consonants) serves as the vocative (nom. , voc. ?; nom. ?, gen. ?, voc. ?). Irregular vocatives exist as well, such as nom. , voc. .

In Modern Greek, second-declension masculine nouns still have a vocative ending in -?; however, the accusative case is often used as a vocative in informal speech for a limited number of nouns: " , " "Come here, Christos" instead of "...". Other nominal declensions use the same form in the vocative as the accusative in formal or informal speech, with the exception of learned Katharevousa forms that are inherited from Ancient Greek (Demotic ?, "Greek man"), which have the same nominative and vocative forms instead.[4]

Indo-Iranian languages


Kurdish has a vocative case. For instance, in the dialect of Kurmanji, it is created by adding the suffix -o at the end of masculine words and the suffix at the end of feminine ones. In the Jafi dialect of Sorani it is created by adding the suffix of -i at the end of names.

Kurmanji Jafi
Name Vocative Name Vocative
Sedat (m) Sedo Bêstûn Bêsi
Wedat (m) Wedo Re?îd Re?i
Murat (m) Muro Sûret Sûri
Baran (m) Baro Fatime Fati
Gulistan (f) Gulê Firset Firsi
Berfîn (f) Berfê Nesret Nesi

Instead of the vocative case, forms of address may be created by using the grammatical particles (feminine) and lo (masculine):

Name Vocative
Azad (m) Lo Azad!
Diyar (m) Lo Diyar!


In Sanskrit, the vocative (? ? sambodhana vibhakti) has the same form as the nominative except in the singular. In vowel-stem nouns, if there is a -? in the nominative, it is omitted and the stem vowel may be altered: -? and -? become -e, -? becomes -o, -? and -? become short and -? becomes -ar. Consonant-stem nouns have no ending in the vocative:

Noun Singular Dual Plural
(b?la, masc., 'boy') he b?la ? he b?lau he b?l
(lat?, fem., 'creeper') he late he late ? he lat
? (phalam, neut., 'fruit') ? he phalam he phale he phal?ni

The vocative form is the same as the nominative except in the masculine and feminine singular.

Slavic languages


Unlike other Slavic languages except Macedonian, Bulgarian has lost case marking for nouns. However, Bulgarian preserves vocative forms. Traditional male names usually have a vocative ending.

Nominative Vocative
Petar ?? Petre
Todor ? Todore
? Ivan ?? Ivane

More-recent names and foreign names may have a vocative form but it is rarely used (?, instead of simply Richard, sounds unusual to native speakers).

Vocative phrases like (Mr. Minister) have been almost completely replaced by nominative forms, especially in official writing. Proper nouns usually also have vocative forms, but they are used less frequently. Here are some proper nouns that are frequently used in vocative:

English word Nominative Vocative
God Bog ? Bozhe
Lord Gospod ? Gospodi
Jesus Christ ? ? Isus Hristos ?? ? Isuse Hriste
comrade drugar ? drugaryu
priest pop ? pope
frog ? zhaba ? zhabo
fool glupak ? glupako

Vocative case forms also normally exist for female given names:

Nominative Vocative
Elena ?? Eleno
? Pena ? Peno
Elitsa ?? Elitse
Radka ?? Radke

Except for forms that end in -?, they are considered rude and are normally avoided. For female kinship terms, the vocative is always used:

English word Nominative Vocative
Grandmother ? Baba ? Babo
Mom Mayka
? Mama
?? Mayko
? Mamo
Aunt ? Lelya Lelyo
Sister Sestra ? Sestro


In Czech, the vocative (vokativ, or 5. pád - "the fifth case") usually differs from the nominative in masculine and feminine nouns in the singular.

Nominative case Vocative case
paní Eva (Ms Eve) paní Evo!
kní?ka (little book) kní?ko!
Marie (Mary) Marie!
nová píse? (new song) nová písni!
pan profesor (Mr Professor) pane profesore!
Je?í? (Jesus) Je?í?i!
Marek (Mark) Marku!
p?edseda (chairman) p?edsedo!
pan ?alobce (Mr complainant) pane ?alobce!
blbec (dunce) blb?e!
Ji?í (George) Ji?í!
pan Dobrý (Mr Good) pane Dobrý!
moje rodné m?sto (my native city) moje rodné m?sto!
jit?ní mo?e (morning sea) jit?ní mo?e!
otcovo obydlí (father's dwelling) otcovo obydlí!

In older common Czech (19th century), vocative form was sometimes replaced by nominative form in case of female names ("Lojzka, dej pokoj!") and in case of male nouns past a title ("pane u?itel!", "pane továrník!", "pane Novák!"). This phenomenon was caused mainly by the German influence,[5] and almost disappeared from the modern Czech. It can be felt as rude, discourteous or uncultivated, or as familiar, and is associated also with Slovakian influence (from the Czechoslovak Army) or Russian.[6] In informal speech, it is common (but grammatically incorrect[7]) to use the male surname (see also Czech name) in the nominative to address men: pane Novák! instead of pane Nováku! (Female surnames are adjectives, and their nominative and vocative have the same form: see Czech declension.) Using the vocative is strongly recommended in official and written styles.


In Polish, the vocative (wo?acz) is formed with feminine nouns usually taking -o except those that end in -sia, -cia, -nia, and -dzia, which take -u, and those that end in -, which take -i. Masculine nouns generally follow the complex pattern of the locative case, with the exception of a handful of words such as Bóg -> Bo?e ("God"), ojciec -> ojcze ("father") and ch?opiec -> ch?opcze ("boy"). Neuter nouns and all plural nouns have the same form in the nominative and the vocative:

Nominative case Vocative case
Pani Ewa (Mrs. Eve) Pani Ewo! (Mrs. Eve!)
Ewusia (diminutive form of Ewa) Ewusiu!
ciemno (darkness) ciemno?ci!
ksika (book) ksiko!
Pan profesor (Mr. Professor) Panie profesorze! (Mr. Professor!)
Krzysztof (Christopher) Krzysztofie! (Christopher!)
Krzy? (Chris) Krzysiu! (Chris!)
wilk (wolf) wilku!
cz?owiek (human) cz?owieku! / cz?owiecze! (poet.)

The latter form of the vocative of cz?owiek (human) is now considered poetical.

The nominative is increasingly used instead of the vocative to address people with their proper names. In other contexts the vocative remains prevalent. It is used:

  • To address an individual with the function, title, other attribute, family role
    • Panie doktorze (Doctor!), Panie prezesie! (Chairman!)
    • Przybywasz za pó?no, p?ywaku (You arrive too late, swimmer)
    • synu (son), mamo (mum), tato (dad)
  • After adjectives, demonstrative pronouns and possessive pronouns
    • Nie rozumiesz mnie, moja droga Basiu! (You don't understand me, my dear Basia!)
  • To address an individual in an offensive or condescending manner:
    • Zamknij si?, pajacu! ("Shut up, you buffoon!")
    • Co si? gapisz, idioto? ("What are you staring at, idiot!")
    • Nie znasz si?, baranie, to nie pisz! ("Stop writing, idiot, you don't know what you're talking about!")
    • Spadaj, wie?niaku! ("Get lost, peasant!")
  • After "Ty" (second person singular pronoun)
    • Ty k?amczuchu! (You liar!)
  • Set expressions:
    • (O) Matko!, (O) Bo?e!, ch?opie

The vocative is also often employed in affectionate and endearing contexts such as Kocham Ci?, Krzysiu! ("I love you, Chris!") or T?skni? za Tob?, moja ?ono ("I miss you, my wife."). In addition, the vocative form sometimes takes the place of the nominative in informal conversations: Józiu przyszed? instead of "Józio przyszed?" ("Joey's arrived"). When referring to someone by their first name, the nominative commonly takes the place of the vocative as well: Ania, chod? tu! instead of Aniu, chod? tu! ("Anne, come here!").


Historic vocative

The historic Slavic vocative has been lost in Russian and is now used only in archaic expressions. Several of them, mostly of religious origin, are common in colloquial Russian: "?!" (Bo?e, vocative of "" Bog, "God") and "? !" (Bo?e moj, "My God!"), and "?!" (Gospodi, vocative of "?" Gospodj, "Lord"), which can also be expressed as "? !" (Gospodi Iisuse!, Iisuse vocative of "" Iisus, "Jesus"). The vocative is also used in prayers: "? !" (Ot?e na?, "Our Father!"). Such expressions are used to express strong emotions (much like English "O my God!"), and are often combined ("?, ? "). More examples of the historic vocative can be found in other Biblical quotes that are sometimes used as proverbs: ", " (Vra?u, iscelisia sam, "Physician, heal thyself", nom. "?", vra?). Vocative forms are also used in modern Church Slavonic. The patriarch and bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church are addressed as "?" (vladyko, hegemon, nom. "?", vladyka). In the latter case, the vocative is often also incorrectly used for the nominative to refer to bishops and patriarchs.

New vocative

In modern colloquial Russian, given names and a small family of terms often take a special "shortened" form that some linguists consider to be a re-emerging vocative case.[8] It is used only for given names and nouns that end in -a and -?, which are sometimes dropped in the vocative form: ", " ("Lena, where are you?"). It is basically equivalent to "?, " but suggests a positive personal and emotional bond between the speaker and the person being addressed. Names that end in -? then acquire a soft sign: "!" = "!" ("Olga!"). In addition to given names, the form is often used with words like "?" (mom) and "?" (dad), which would be respectively shortened to "" and "". The plural form is used with words such as "", "" (nom: "", "?" guys, gals).[9]

Such usage differs from the historic vocative, which would be "?" and is not related.


The vocative is widely used in Serbo-Croatian. It is surrounded by commas in a sentence as it is part of an unordered sentence array.[10]:458 According to Hrvatska gramatika, vocative singular masculine is sometimes used instead of nominative for the subject or predicate in oral epic poetry.[10]:426 When translating direct speech to indirect speech, vocative has to become a different case, usually nominative or accusative.[10]:527, 529

Ma?a, f. - Ma?o

Nouns t?tka, ûjna and strîna have vocative equal to nominative when referring to a family member, and the suffix -o in vocative otherwise. Proper masculine nouns ending in -a always have vocative equal to nominative. General masculine nouns and polysyllabic feminine proper names ending in -a can have either. General nouns ending in -ica can have in vocative either -ice or -ico. Proper nouns ending in -ica always have -ice in vocative.[10]:154

The everyday use of vocative endings for personal proper names varies among native speakers. People in the Zagreb area often use nominative forms as vocative, while others are more likely to apply traditional vocative forms.[11]

Some examples of the vocative case are:

Nominative Vocative Translation Nominative Vocative Translation
Milo? m. Milo?e (Personal name) kralj m. kralju king
ugao m. ugle corner gospodar m. gospodaru lord
?ovek or ?ovjek m. ?ove?e or ?ovje?e human Kinez m. Kinezu Chinese
sabor m. sabore parliament Pariz m. Pari?e Paris
ribar m. ribare or ribaru fisherman

For the proper name Marija, the traditional vocative is more common in religious contexts:

Nominative Vocative Translation
Marija f. Marija (Personal name)
Marija f. Marijo Mary (mother of Jesus)


Until the end of the 1980s, the existence of a distinct vocative case in Slovak was recognised and taught at schools. Today, the case is no longer considered to exist except for a few archaic examples of the original vocative remaining in religious, literary or ironic contexts:

Nominative Vocative Translation Nominative Vocative Translation Nominative Vocative Translation
Boh m. Bo?e God Je?i? m. Je?i?u Jesus mama f. mamo mother
Kristus m. Kriste Christ priate? m. priate?u friend ?ena f. ?eno woman
pán m. pane lord brat m. bratu, bratku brother
otec m. ot?e father syn m. synu, synku son
?lovek m. ?love?e man, human
chlap m. chlape man
chlapec m. chlap?e boy

In everyday use, the Czech vocative is sometimes retrofitted to certain words:

Nominative Vocative Translation
majster m. majstre maestro
?éf m. ?éfe boss
?vagor m. ?vagre brother-in-law

Another stamp of vernacular vocative is emerging, presumably under the influence of Hungarian for certain family members or proper names:

Nominative Vocative Translation
otec m. oci father
mama f. mami mother
babka f. babi grandmother, old woman
Pa?o m. Pali Paul, domestic form
Zuza f. Zuzi Susan, domestic form


Ukrainian has retained the vocative case mostly as it was in Proto-Slavic:[12]

Masculine nouns Feminine nouns
Nominative Vocative Translation Nominative Vocative Translation
boh ? bo?e god matusja matusju minnie
? druh dru?e friend ? nenja ? nene nanny
? brat brate brother babcja babcju granny
? ?olovik ?olovi?e man ?inka ?inko woman
? chlopec' chlop?e boy ? dru?yna ? dru?yno wife
svjatyj otec' ? svjatyj ot?e Holy Father ? div?yna ? div?yno girl
pan ? pane sir, Mr. sestra sestro sister
pryjatel' pryjatelju fellow ljudyna ljudyno human
bat'ko bat'ku father
syn ? synu son

There are some exceptions:

Nominative Vocative Translation
? maty f. ? mamo mother
? bo?a matir f. ? matir bo?a God's Mother

It is used even for loanwords and foreign names:

Nominative Vocative Translation
? D?on m. D?one John
pan presydent m. ? ? pane presydente Mr. President

It is obligatory for all native names:

Masculine Feminine
Nominative Vocative Nominative Vocative
Volodymyr ? Volodymyre Myroslava Myroslavo
Svjatoslav ? Svjatoslave Hanna Hanno

It is used for patronymics:

Nominative Vocative
? Andrij Vasylovy? m. Andriju Vasyliovy?u
? Iryna Bohdanivna f. ? Iryno Bohdanivno


In Latin, the form of the vocative case of a noun is often the same as the nominative. Exceptions include singular second-declension nouns that end in -us in the nominative case. An example would be the famous line from Shakespeare, "Et tu, Brute?" (commonly translated as "And you, Brutus?"): Brute is the vocative case and Brutus would be the nominative.

Nouns that end in -ius end with -? instead of the expected -ie. Thus, Julius becomes Jul? and filius becomes fil?. The shortening does not shift the accent so the vocative of Vergilius is Vergil?, with accent on the second syllable even though it is short. Nouns that end in -aius and -eius have vocatives that end in -a? or -e? even though the i in the nominative is consonantal.

First-declension and second-declension adjectives also have distinct vocative forms in the masculine singular if the nominative ends in -us, with the ending -e. Adjectives that end in -ius have vocatives in -ie so the vocative of eximius is eximie.

Nouns and adjectives that end in -eus do not follow the rules above. Meus forms the vocative irregularly as m? or meus, while Christian Deus does not have a distinct vocative and retains the form Deus. "My God!" in Latin is thus m? Deus!, but Jerome's Vulgate consistently used Deus meus as a vocative. Classical Latin did not use a vocative of deus either (in reference to pagan gods, the Romans used the suppletive form dive).

Romance languages

West Iberian languages

Portuguese drops the article to form the vocative. The vocative is always between commas and, like in many other languages, a particle Ó is commonly used:

Ó Jesus, ajude-nos! O Jesus, help us!
Menino, vem cá! Boy, come here!
Foi ela, Rita, quem me contou. It was her, Rita, who told me.
Não faças isso, amigo. Don't do that, [my] friend.

In Extremaduran and Fala, some post-tonical vowels open in vocative forms of nouns, a new development that is unrelated to the Latin vocative case.


Catalan drops the article to form the vocative.


Like English, French sometimes uses (or historically used) a particle Ô to mark vocative phrases rather than by change to the form of the noun. A famous example is the title and first line of the Canadian national anthem, O Canada (French title: Ô Canada), a vocative phrase addressing Canada.


The vocative case in Romanian is partly inherited, occasionally causing other morphophonemic changes (see also the article on Romanian nouns):

  • singular masculine/neuter: "-e" as in
    • "om": "omule!" (man, human being),
    • "b?iat": "b?iete!" or "b?iatule!" (boy),
    • "v?r": "vere!" (cousin),
    • "Ion": "Ioane!" (John);
  • singular feminine: "-o" as in
    • "sor?": "soro!" (sister),
    • "nebun?": "nebuno!" (mad woman),
    • "de?teapt?": "de?teapto!" (smart one (f), often used sarcastically),
    • "Ileana": "Ileano!" (Helen);

Since there is no -o vocative in Latin, it must have been borrowed from Slavic: compare the corresponding Bulgarian forms (sestro), (otkachalko), (Eleno).

  • plural, all genders: "-lor" as in
    • "fra?i": "fra?ilor!" (brothers),
    • "boi": "boilor!" (oxen, used toward people as an invective),
    • "doamne ?i domni": "doamnelor ?i domnilor!" (ladies and gentlemen).

In formal speech, the vocative often simply copies the nominative/accusative form even when it does have its own form. That is because the vocative is often perceived as very direct and so can seem rude.


Venetian has lost all case endings, like most other Romance languages. However, with feminine proper names the role of the vocative is played by the absence of the determiner: the personal article ?a / l' usually precedes feminine names in other situations, even in predicates. Masculine names and other nouns lack articles and so rely on prosody to mark forms of address:

Case Fem. proper name Masc. proper name and other nouns
Nom./Acc. ?a Marìa ?a vien qua / varda ?a Marìa!
Mary comes here / look at Mary!
Marco el vien qua / varda Marco!
Mark comes here / look at Mark!
Vocative Marìa vien qua! / varda, Marìa!
Mary come here! / look, Mary!
Marco vien qua! / varda, Marco!
Mark come here! / look, Mark!

Predictive constructions:

Case Fem. proper name Masc. proper name and other nouns
Pred. so' mi ?a Marìa
I am Mary.
so' mi Marco / so' tornà maestra
I am Mark. / I am a teacher again.
Vocative so' mi Marìa!
It's me, Mary!
so' mi, Marco! / so' tornà, maestra!
It's me, Mark! / I am back, teacher!


Properly speaking, Arabic has only three cases: nominative, accusative and genitive. However, a meaning similar to that conveyed by the vocative case in other languages is indicated by the use of the particle y? (Arabic: ‎) placed before a noun inflected in the nominative case (or accusative if the noun is in construct form). In English translations, it is often translated literally as O instead of being omitted.[13][14] A longer form used in Classical Arabic is ayyuh? (masculine), ayyatuh? (feminine), sometimes combined with y?. The particle y? was also used in old Castilian language, because of Arabic influence via Mozarabic immigrations[].


Mandarin uses and needs no special inflected forms for address. However, special forms and morphemes (that are not inflections) exist for addressing.

Mandarin has several particles that can be attached to the word of address to mark certain special vocative forces, where appropriate. A common one is ? a, attached to the end of the address word. For example, rìjì "diary" becomes rìjì'a.

Certain specialized vocative morphemes also exist, albeit with limited applicabilities. For instance, the Beijing dialect of Mandarin Chinese, to express strong feelings (especially negative ones) to someone, a neutral tone suffix -ei may be attached to certain address words. It is most commonly applied to the word (s?nzi, "grandson"), to form s?nzei, meaning approximately "Hey you nasty one!". Another example is (xi?ozi, lit. "kid; young one"), resulting in xi?ozei "Hey kiddo!".


In Georgian, the vocative case is used to address the second-person singular and plural. For word roots that end with a consonant, the vocative case suffix is -o, and for the words that end with a vowel, it is -v like in Old Georgian, but for some words, it is considered archaic. For example, kats- is the root for the word "man". If one addresses someone with the word, it becomes katso.

Adjectives are also declined in the vocative case. Just like nouns, consonant final stem adjectives take the suffix -o in the vocative case, and the vowel final stems are not changed:

lamazi kali "beautiful woman" (nominative case)
lamazo kalo! "beautiful woman!" (vocative case)

In the second phrase, both the adjective and the noun are declined. The personal pronouns are also used in the vocative case. Shen "you" (singular) and tkven "you" (plural) in the vocative case become she! and tkve, without the -n. Therefore, one could, for instance, say, with the declension of all of the elements:

She lamazo kalo! "you beautiful woman!"


The vocative case in Korean is commonly used with first names in casual situations by using the vocative case marker( ) ? (a) if the name ends in a consonant and ? (ya) if the name ends with a vowel:[15]

(Mijini jibe ga?) (Is Mijin going home?)

?, (Mijina, jibe ga?) (Mijin, are you going home?)

? (Dongbae mwo hae?) (What is Dongbae doing?)

?, ? (Dongbaeya, mwo hae?) (Dongbae, what are you doing?)

In formal Korean, the marker ? (yeo) or (iyeo) is used, the latter if the root ends with a consonant. Thus, a quotation of William S. Clark would be translated as follows:

, . (sonyeoniyeo, yamangeul gajyeora.) (Boys, be ambitious.)

The honorific infix ? (si) is inserted in between the ? (i) and ? (yeo).

????, . (sinisiyeo, budi jeodeureul yongseohasoseo.) (Oh god, please forgive them.)

In Middle Korean, there were three honorific classes of the vocative case:[16]

Form ? ?/? ?/
Honorific High Plain Low with added nuance of exclamation


  1. ^ ?. ?. ? / . ?. ?. . -- ?.: . 1998. ?. 488. ISBN 5-7567-0202-4 (in Russian)
  2. ^ The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003), ISBN 0-226-10403-6, s. 5.197.
  3. ^ Halmøy, Madeleine (2016). The Norwegian Nominal System: a Neo-Saussurean Perspective. Language Arts & Disciplines. Walter de Gruyter GmbH, pp. 298-300. ISBN 978-3-11-033963-5
  4. ^ Holton, David, Irene Philippaki-Warburton, and Peter A. Mackridge, Greek: A Comprehensive Grammar of the Modern Language (Routledge, London and New York:1997), pp. 49-50 ISBN 0415100011
  5. ^ Vilém Mathesius: Nominativ místo vokativu v hovorové ?e?tin?, Na?e ?e?, volume 7 (1923), issue 5, p. 138-140
  6. ^ Tereza Filinová: Pátý pád: jde to z kopce?, Radio Prague International, 9 September 2007
  7. ^ ?Ro: Oslovování v ?e?tin?
  8. ^ Lillian A. Parrott, Université Paris 8. Vocatives and other direct address forms: a contrastive study. A. Grønn & I. Marijanovic (eds.) Russian in Contrast, Oslo Studies in Language 2(1), 2010. 211-229. (ISSN 1890-9639)
  9. ^ Andersen, Henning. The new Russian vocative. Synchrony, diachrony, typology. Scando-Slavica 58.1 (2012), 122-167.
  10. ^ a b c d Bari?, Eugenija; Lon?ari?, Mijo; Mali?, Dragica; Pave?i?, Slavko; Peti, Mirko; Ze?evi?, Vesna; Znika, Marija (1997). Hrvatska gramatika. ?kolska knjiga. ISBN 953-0-40010-1.
  11. ^ Alen Orli? (2011). "Vokativ osobnih imena u hrvatskom jeziku" (in Croatian). University of Osijek. Retrieved 2018.
  12. ^ Methodical instructions for learning vocative case in Ukrainian professional speech
  13. ^ Jiyad, Mohammed. "A Hundred and One Rules! A Short Reference to Arabic Syntactic, Morphological & Phonological Rules for Novice & Intermediate Levels of Proficiency" (DOC). Welcome to Arabic. Retrieved .
  14. ^ "Lesson 5". Madinah Arabic. Retrieved .
  15. ^ , ? (May 2005). "''? ". / .
  16. ^ (2009-12-01). "? ". . 17. ISSN 1226-4822.

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