She faxed her application for a new job.

In this sentence, 'she' and 'application' are in the nominative case and accusative case respectively. But what is the case of 'job'?

  • I'll hazard a guess and say ablative, but I haven't studied cases since I did Latin at school 60 years ago. – WS2 Dec 10 '15 at 17:10
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    Assuming we're not interested in what case it would be if translated into Latin, I'd have thought it would have to be the Objective Case (or Accusative Case or Dative Case). To be honest, I can't see what difference "case" makes in English (unless you want to make an example of the possessive/genitive, which I think is the only case that actually makes a morphological difference). – FumbleFingers Dec 10 '15 at 17:13
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    It makes very little sense to talk about case for anything but pronouns in English. And even for those, there are only three at most, and only two excluding the possessive forms ("genitive"). You can call one "nominative" and the other "accusative" if you like, but it's somewhat misleading terminology.. If you do use that terminology, then we would say that all prepositions in English govern the accusative (we would say "she left for them" and not "she left for they"). – herisson Dec 10 '15 at 17:16
  • Since imaginary cases can be and often are invented ad lib -- especially for languages like English or Chinese that don't have any cases -- one could mark job in this case as being in the Optative case. – John Lawler Dec 11 '15 at 0:51

English has lost cases almost completely. The qualification almost is the clue to how we can check which case it is. Like grammatical gender, cases have survived only in personal pronouns referring to people. To test which case a new job is in, we therefore have to replace it by a person - say, a new husband -, and then substitute that by the appropriate personal pronoun, i.e. he (subject case) or him (object case):

  1. She faxed her application for he (as a new husband).
  2. She faxed her application for him (as a new husband).

Clearly 2 is grammatically correct (though of course semantically weird), and 1 is not. Therefore a new job in the original sentence is also in object case.

  • +1 for a clear explanation. And definitely 'semantically weird': everyone knows that husband applications go by email. – Tim Lymington supports Monica Dec 14 '15 at 22:38

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