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Instrumentalis or Instrumental - dt too. What case - referred to in the linguistics case ( case ) expressing the agent, by means of which an action is executed.


With the help of the instrumental it is expressed that an action of an agent was made possible or promoted through the use of the so-called object. The original meaning of the instrumental is thus the designation of the means or tool with which an action is carried out.


There is the instrumental case in many languages ​​of the world. For example, it was one of probably eight cases of the noun that the Urindo-European knew and some Indo-European languages ​​still know today, such as the Baltic and Slavic languages. In most of today's Indo-European languages , the instrumental has been replaced by a prepositional addition ( with a hammer [Ger.], Avec un marteau [French]). In the Latin language , the instrumental has merged into the ablative .

Example from the Indo-European original language:

Nominativ *kʷékʷlos ‘(ein/das) Rad’
Instrumentalis *kʷékʷloh₁ ‘mit (einem/dem) Rad’

Development in the Germanic languages

In Urgermanic, the instrumental should have looked like this:

case Urgermanic New High German
Instrumental * hwehwlō with a bike
Nominative * hwehwlą a / the wheel

In German , the instrumental, which was still present in Old High German - albeit here also only rudimentary - merged with the dative due to the increasing consistency of its endings , which then also took on the functions of the instrumental. In one word, however, this case lives on in our language to this day: The question word “how” (ahd. (H) wiu ) actually represents the instrumental to “what” (ahd. (H) waz ) and is also used today nor its function.

In “heute” and “this year” there is also a pronoun of this case: Both of the circumstantial words that were hiutu and hiuru in Old High German are compositions of the phrases in the instrumental hiu tagu (“on this day”) and hiu jâru (“in this Years "). The time adverb “heunt”, which is important “today” and still occurs in dialect in Bavarian-Austrian as “heint” , and the high Alemannic common “eingch” with the meaning “tonight”: hîneht ( hiu nehti , since the instrumental only occurs in masculine and rudimentary neuter, is given for this in the feminine dative, in this night ') it was in Old High German.

Development in the Slavic languages

All Slavic languages except Bulgarian and Macedonian have received the instrumentalis as a separate morphologically marked case, which has often developed a variety of other functions, but in many cases nevertheless requires the addition of a preposition .

'Actual' instrumental music

Without a preposition, the instrumental is used to designate a means or tool for an action, i.e. to form an adverbial phrase :

* Bosnisch/Kroatisch/Serbisch: Pišem rukom.
* Polnisch: Piszę ręką.
* Russisch: Pišu rukoj.
* Tschechisch: Píšu rukou.
* Ukrainisch: Pišu rukoju.
„Ich schreibe händisch/von Hand/mit der Hand.“

Agent marking

In some Slavic languages ​​the instrumental is also used in passive constructions to form the agent phrase, i.e. i.e., it expresses by whom an action is carried out:

* Russisch: On byl ubit drugom.
* Slowakisch: Bol zabitý kamarátom.
* Tschechisch: Byl zabit kamarádem.
* Ukrainisch: Vin buv ubytyj drugom.
„Er wurde von einem Freund getötet“.

In Polish, this type of agent marking is only possible with the preposition przez . However, this does not require the instrumental but the accusative :

* Polnisch: Został zabity przez przyjaciela.

In Bosnian / Croatian / Serbian, the agent marking by the instrumental is rare and limited to inanimata :

* Serbokroatisch: Je ubijen automobilom. (nicht: prijateljem)

Predicative instrumental

The predicative instrumental is also typical of the Slavic languages, but its use in today's idioms varies.

* Polnisch: Ja byłem studentem.
* Russisch: Ja byl studentom.
* Slowakisch: Bol som študentom.
* Tschechisch: Byl jsem studentem.
* Ukrainisch: Ja buv studentom.
„Ich war Student gewesen.“

In some Slavic languages, however, the predicative instrumental has been replaced by the predicative nominative:

* Bosnisch/Kroatisch/Serbisch: Bio sam student.
* Slowenisch: Sem bil študent.

Local instrumentalis

In some Slavic languages of the instrumental case in English with an also serves to form adverbial phrases that have local significance and by - prepositional phrase : can be played

* Tschechisch: Jdu lesem. „Ich gehe durch einen Wald.“
* Bosnisch/Kroatisch/Serbisch: Šetam gradom. „Ich spaziere (kreuz und quer) durch die Stadt.“

Temporal instrumentalis

In Bosnian / Croatian / Serbian, the instrumental can also have a temporal meaning:

* Dolazi vikendom. – Er/Sie kommt (regelmäßig) am Wochenende.
* Dolazi radnim danima Er/Sie kommt an Werktagen.

Use with prepositions

A more recent development is the use of the instrumental with prepositions.

Comitative use

In a comitative sense, the instrumental is used by most Slavic languages ​​with the preposition s (Polish: z ), which can be translated into German as "(together) with":

* Polnisch: Przyjechałem z przyjacielem.
* Russisch: Ja prišёl s drugom.
* Serbokroatisch: Došao sam s prijateljem.
* Slowakisch: Prišiel som s kamarátom.
* Slowenisch: Prišel sem s prijateljem.
* Tschechisch: Přišel jsem s kamarádem.
„Ich kam mit einem Freund.“
Use with local prepositions
  • With other prepositions: za 'after' (e.g. striving for something), pod 'under', nad 'over', przed 'before' etc.

Development in the Baltic languages


In Latvia the instrumental case is no longer available as a morphologically distinct case, but in the singular with the accusative and plural with the dating collapsed . This syncretism applies to all noun classes in Latvian . Instrumentalism is also limited in its use to adverbial phrases with the preposition ar .


In Lithuanian, the instrumental is preserved as a morphologically distinct case, as can be seen in the example of "Zahn":

case Singular Plural
Nominative dantis dantys
Instrumental dantimi dantimis

In predictive use, the nominative / instrumental opposition is semantically distinctive: inherent properties of the subject usually require the nominative, while temporary properties require the instrumental.

A secondary meaning of instrumental in Lithuanian (as in some Slavic languages) is the local meaning, e.g. B. Lithuanian eiti mišku ("to go through the forest").

Other languages

There are also instrumental forms outside of the Indo-European language family, for example in the Finno-Ugric languages and in the Turkic languages .

In Hungarian, for example, the suffix -val or -vel is added to a noun according to the rules of vowel harmony :

* egy ló ‘ein Pferd’ – egy lóval ‘mit einem Pferd’
* a bicikli ‘das Fahrrad’ – a biciklivel ‘mit dem Fahrrad’

If the last sound of a noun is a consonant, this is doubled for the instrumental and takes the place of the v.

* egy vonat 'ein Zug' – vonattal utazni ‘mit dem Zug verreisen’
* fiútestvér 'Bruder' – fiútestvérrel beszélek ‘ich spreche mit dem Bruder’

Even the Turkish knows the suffixes -in -in / which are added according to the rules of vowel harmony to the noun. This case is rare these days and was more common in the past.

* gelmek ‘kommen’ – gelmeksizin ‘ohne zu kommen’
* kış ‘Winter’ – kışın ‘im Winter’, ‘winters’
* yapmak ‘machen’ – yapmaksızın ‘ohne zu machen’
* yaz ‘Sommer’ – yazın ‘im Sommer’,' ‘sommers’

Individual evidence

  1. Hinech - In: Retrieved July 31, 2016 .