Prolative case

The prolative case (abbreviated PROL), also called the vialis case (abbreviated VIA), prosecutive case (abbreviated PROS), traversal case, mediative case, or translative case,[1] is a grammatical case of a noun or pronoun that has the basic meaning of "by way of" or "via".

In Finnish, the prolative case follows an established application in a number of fossilized expressions to indicate "by (medium of transaction)".[2] It can be used in other constructions, but then it does not sound 'natural'.[3] Examples would be "postitse" ("by post"), "puhelimitse" ("by telephone"), "meritse" ("by sea"), "netitse" ("over the Internet"). A number of Finnish grammarians classify the prolative form as an adverb because it does not require agreement with adjectives like other Finnish cases.[4] 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).[5] However, the meaning of this case is unrelated to the one just described above for other languages and alternatively has been called "essive / translative",[6] 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".[7] 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).

This case is also called the prosecutive case in some languages.[1] It is found under this name in Tundra Nenets,[8] in Old Basque and, with spatial nouns, in Mongolian.[9]


  1. 1 2 Haspelmath, Martin. Terminology of Case in Handbook of Case, Oxford University Press, 2006.
  2. Mäkinen, Panu. "Finnish Grammar - Adverbial Cases". University of Jyväskylä. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  3. Länsimäki, Maija. "Kirjeitse annettu määräys. Suomen kielen prolatiiveista". Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  4. Korpela, Jukka. "Finnish Cases". Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  5. 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.
  6. Jon D. Patrick, Ilari Zubiri: A Student Grammar of Euskara (Munich: Lincom Europa, 2001)
  7. Examples (translated from Spanish) given in Luis Baraiazarra's Diccionario 3000 Hiztegia (available online at, under the entry for Spanish "dar" .
  8. Tapani Salminen (2008-10-06). "Tundra Nenets". Department of Finno-Ugrian Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
  9. Sechenbaatar [Sečenbaγatur], Borjigin. 2003. The Chakhar dialect of Mongol: a morphological description. Helsinki: Finno-Ugrian society. ISBN 952-5150-68-2
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