home edit page issue tracker

This page pertains to UD version 2.

case: case marking

The case relation is used for any case-marking element which is treated as a separate syntactic word (including prepositions, postpositions, and clitic case markers). Case-marking elements are treated as dependents of the noun they attach to or introduce. (Thus, contrary to SD, UD abandons treating a preposition as a mediator between a modified word and its object.) The case relation aims at providing a more uniform analysis of nominal elements, prepositions and case in morphologically rich languages: a nominal in an oblique case will receive the same dependency structure as a nominal introduced by an adposition.

the Chair 's office
det(Chair-2, the-1)
nmod(office-4, Chair-2)
case(Chair-2, 's-3)
the office of the Chair
det(office-2, the-1)
nmod(office-2, Chair-5)
case(Chair-5, of-3)
det(Chair-5, the-4)


le bureau du président \n the office of the_Chair
det(bureau, le)
nmod(bureau, président)
case(président, du)


hwa/PRON rah/VERB at/PART[Case=Acc] h/DET klb/NOUN \n he saw ACC the dog  
obj(rah-2, klb-5)
case(klb-5, at-3)

When case markers are morphemes, they are not divided off the noun as a separate case dependent, but the noun as a whole is analyzed as obl (if dependent on a predicate) or nmod (if dependent on noun). To overtly mark case, POS tags and features are included in the representation as shown below on a Russian example (put your mouse pointer over the words to see additional morphosyntactic features).

# I wrote the letter with a quill.
1   Я         ja         PRON   _   Case=Nom|Number=Sing|Person=1|PronType=Prs        2   nsubj   _   I
2   написал   napisat'   VERB   _   Gender=Masc|Number=Sing|VerbForm=Part|Voice=Act   0   root    _   wrote
3   письмо    pis'mo     NOUN   _   Case=Acc|Gender=Neut|Number=Sing                  2   obj    _   the-letter
4   пером     pero       NOUN   _   Case=Ins|Gender=Neut|Number=Sing                  2   obl    _   with-a-quill

This treatment provides parallelism between different constructions across and within languages. A good result is that we now have greater parallelism between prepositional phrases and subordinate clauses, which are often introduced by a preposition in some languages (but note that the relation should be mark in those cases):

Sue left after the rehearsal
nsubj(left-2, Sue-1)
obl(left-2, rehearsal-5)
det(rehearsal-5, the-4)
case(rehearsal-5, after-3)
Sue left after we did
nsubj(left-2, Sue-1)
advcl(left-2, did-5)
mark(did-5, after-3)
nsubj(did-5, we-4)

We also obtain parallel constructions for

the Chair 's office
det(Chair-2, the-1)
nmod(office-4, Chair-2)
case(Chair-2, 's-3)
the office of the Chair
det(office-2, the-1)
nmod(office-2, Chair-5)
case(Chair-5, of-3)
det(Chair-5, the-4)
etsiä ilman johtolankaa \n to_search without clue.PARTITIVE
obl(etsiä, johtolankaa)
case(johtolankaa, ilman)
etsiä taskulampun kanssa \n to_search torch.GENITIVE with
obl(etsiä, taskulampun)
case(taskulampun, kanssa)
etsiä johtolangatta \n to_search clue.ABESSIVE
obl(etsiä, johtolangatta)
give the children the toys
obj(give, toys)
iobj(give, children)
give the toys to the children
obj(give, toys)
obl(give, children)
case(children, to)
# give the toys to the children
1     donner    donner   VERB   _   VerbForm=Inf               0   root   _   give
2     les       le       DET    _   Definite=Def|Number=Plur   3   det    _   the
3     jouets    jouet    NOUN   _   Gender=Masc|Number=Plur    1   obj   _   toys
4-5   aux       _        _      _   _                          _   _      _   _
4     à         à        ADP    _   _                          6   case   _   to
5     les       le       DET    _   Definite=Def|Number=Plur   6   det    _   the
6     enfants   enfant   NOUN   _   Gender=Masc|Number=Plur    1   obl   _   children

Another advantage of this new analysis is that it provides a treatment of prepositional phrases that are predicative complements of “be” that is consistent with the treatment of nominal predicative complements:

Sue is in shape
nsubj(shape-4, Sue-1)
cop(shape-4, is-2)
case(shape-4, in-3)

When prepositions are stacked (that is, there is a sequence of prepositions), there are two possible analyses. If the sequence is a frozen combination with a specific meaning, then the best analysis is as fixed. An English example of this is out of:

Out of all this , something good will come .
case(this-4, Out-1)
fixed(Out-1, of-2)
det(this-4, all-3)
obl(come, this-4)

However, if various combinations of prepositions can be used to express different meaning combinations or nuances, then each preposition is independently analyzed as a case dependent. Examples of this in English include up beside (which can alternate with down beside or up near) or except during which can alternate with as during or except after:

The cafe up beside the lookout
det(cafe-2, The-1)
case(lookout-6, up-3)
case(lookout-6, beside-4)
det(lookout-6, the-5)
nmod(cafe-2, lookout-6)

case in other languages: [am] [ar] [bg] [bxr] [ca] [ckb] [cop] [cs] [cu] [da] [de] [el] [en] [es] [et] [eu] [fa] [fi] [fo] [fr] [ga] [gl] [got] [grc] [he] [hi] [hr] [hu] [id] [it] [ja] [kk] [kmr] [ko] [la] [lv] [mr] [nl] [no] [pl] [pt] [ro] [ru] [sa] [sk] [sla] [sl] [so] [sr] [sv] [swl] [ta] [tr] [u] [ug] [uk] [ur] [urj] [vi] [yue] [zh]