The comitative case (abbreviated COM) is a grammatical case that denotes accompaniment.:17–23 In English, the preposition "with," in the sense of "in company with" or "together with," plays a substantially similar role (other uses of "with," like in the meaning of "using" or "by means of" (I cut bread with a knife), correspond to the instrumental case or related cases).
Comitative case encodes a relationship of "accompaniment" between two participants in an event, called the "accompanier" and the "companion." In addition, there is a "relator" (which can be of multiple lexical categories, but is most commonly an affix or adposition).:17–18 Use of Comitative case gives prominence to the accompanier.:602 This Italian sentence is an example:
- [il professore]accompanier entra nell'aula [con]relator [i suoi studenti]companion
- 'the professor enters the lecture-hall (together) with his students'.:602
In this case, il professore is the accompanier, i suoi studenti is the companion, and con is the relator. As the accompanier, il professore is the most prominent.
Animacy also plays a major role in most languages with a comitative case. One group of languages requires both the accompanier and the companion to be either human or animate. Another group requires both to be in the same category: both human or both animate. A third group requires an animate accompanier and an inanimate companion. Other languages have no restrictions based on animacy.:603–604
Comparison to similar cases
The comitative relates to an accompanier and a companion, and the instrumental relates to an agent, an object, and a patient.:593 Enrique Palancar defines the role of Instrumental case as 'the role played by the object the Agent manipulates to achieve a change of state of the Patient.' Even though the difference is straightforward, because the instrumental and the comitative are expressed the same way in many languages, including English, it is often difficult to separate them.
Russian is one of many languages that differentiate morphologically between instrumental and comitative:
Я пойду в кино с мамой I go in cinema with mom.INSTR
- 'I'll go to the cinema with my mom.'
The comitative case is often confused with the associative case. Before the term Comitative was applied to the accompanier-companion relationship, the relationship was often called associative case, a term still used by some linguists.
Expressions of comitative semantic relation
Grammatical case is a category of inflectional morphology. The comitative case is an expression of the comitative semantic relation through inflectional affixation, by prefixes, suffixes and circumfixes. Although all three major types of affixes are used in at least a few languages, suffixes are the most common expression. Languages which use affixation to express the comitative include Hungarian, which uses suffixes; Totonac, which uses prefixes; and Chuckchi, which uses circumfixes.:602
Comitative relations are also commonly expressed by using adpositions: prepositions, postpositions and circumpositions. Examples of languages that use adpositional constructions to express comitative relations are French, which uses prepositions; Wayãpi, which uses postpositions; and Bambara, which uses circumpositions.:603
Adverbial constructions can also mark comitative relations, but they act very similarly to adpositions. One language that uses adverbs to mark the comitative case is Latvian.:603
The final way in which comitative relations can be expressed is by serial-verb constructions. In these languages, the comitative marker is usually a verb whose basic meaning is "to follow." A language which marks comitative relations with serial-verb constructions is Chinese.:603
French uses prepositions to express the Comitative semantic relation.
In this case, the preposition “avec” is used to express the comitative semantic relation. The preposition “avec” is the standard comitative marker in French; however, French has a special case, the ornative case, a variety of comitative for bodily property or clothes. The French ornative marker is “à”.:603
In Latvian, both Instrumental and Comitative are expressed with the preposition ar:102 However, it is used only when the companion is in accusative and singular or when it is in dative and plural. Otherwise the co-ordinating conjunction un is used.:21
un Nelda ar Rudolfu ļoti nozīmīgi paskatījās uz Ernestīni and Nelda.NOM COM Rudolf.ACC very significantly PREV.look.PRET.REFL.3 on Ernestine.ACC
- 'And Nelda and Rudolf looked very knowingly at Ernestine.':21
In the example above, ar is used because Rudolf, the companion, is in accusative and singular. Below, it is used in the other case that it is allowed, with a dative plural companion.
jo ne-bija ne-kāda prieka dzīvot zem sveša because NEG-be.PAST.3 NEG-some.GEN fun.GEN live.INF under foreign.GEN
In Finnish, the comitative case (komitatiivi) has the suffix -ne with adjectives and -ne- + a mandatory possessive suffix with the main noun. There is no singular-plural distinction; only the plural of the comitative is used in both singular and plural senses, thus it appears always as -ine-. For instance, "with their big ships" is
- suuri·ne laivo·i·ne·en
- big-COM ship(oblique)-PL-COM-POS.3.PL
while "with his/her big ships" is
- suuri·ne laivo·i·ne·nsa
- big-COM ship(oblique)-PL-COM-POS.3.SG
It is rarely used and is mainly a feature of the formal literary language, appearing very rarely in everyday speech.
The regular "with" is expressed with the postposition kanssa, thus this form is used in most cases, e.g. suurien laivojensa kanssa "with their big ships". The two forms may contrast, however, since the comitative always comes with the possessive suffix, and thus can be only used when the agent has possession of some sort over the main noun. For instance, Ulkoministeri jatkaa kollegoineen neuvotteluja sissien kanssa, "The foreign minister, with [assistance from] his colleagues, continues the negotiations with the guerrillas", has kollegoineen "with his colleagues" contrasted with sissien kanssa "with the guerrillas", the former "possessed", the latter not.
Colloquial Finnish also has the postposition kaa, developed after kanssa and cognate to the Estonian -ga. With pronouns, it is used as a case, -kaa.
- 'with me'
- mun kavereitten kaa
- 1sg-GEN friend-ABE-PL with
- 'with my friends'
As there are many Sami languages there are variations between them. In the largest Sami language, Northern Sami, the comitative case means either communion, fellowship, connection - or instrument, tool. It can be used either as an object or as an adverbial.
It is expressed through the suffix -in in Northern Sami, and is the same in both singular and plural.
An example of the object use in Northern Sami is "Dat láve álo riidalit isidiin", meaning "She always argues with her husband". An example of the adverbial use is "Mun čálán bleahkain", meaning "I write with ink".
ruhá-stul és cipő-stül feküd-t-em az ágy-ban clothes-COM and shoe-COM lie-PAST-INDEF.1.SG the bed-INE
- 'I was lying in bed with my clothes and shoes on.'
Chukchi uses a circumfix to express Comitative case.
In the example, the circumfix га-ма is attached to the root мэлгар “gun” to express Comitative.
(tàare) dà yâara-n-shì fa, yaa zoo nannìyà (together) with children-of-3.SG.M indeed 3.SG.M.PFV come here
- 'With his children indeed, he came here.'
(tàare) dà Bàlaa née na jee kàasuwaa (together) with Bala COP 1.SG.RP go market
- 'It is with Bala that I went to the market.'
In Hausa it is ungrammatical to do the same with coordinating conjunctions. For example, if the companions were “dog and cat,” it would be ungrammatical to move either “dog” or “cat” to the front of the sentence for emphasis, while it is grammatical to do so when there is a Comitative marker rather than a conjunction.
- Stolz, Thomas; Stroh, Cornelia; Urdze, Aina (2006). On Comitatives and Related Categories: A Typological Study with Special Focus on the Languages of Europe. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co.
- Stolz, Thomas; Stroh, Cornelia; Urdze, Aina (2009). "Varieties of Comitative". In Andrej Malchukov and Andrew Spencer. The Oxford Handbook of Case. New York: Oxford University Press Inc. pp. 593–600.
- Narrog, Heiko (2009). "Varieties of Instrumental". In Andrej Malchukov and Andrew Spencer. The Oxford Handbook of Case. New York: Oxford University Press Inc. pp. 593–600.
- Palancar, E. L. (1999). "Instrumental Prefixes in Amerindian Languages: An Overview to their Meanings, Origin, and Functions". Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung. 52: 151–166.
- Heine, Bernd; Kuteva, Tania (2006). The Changing Languages of Europe. New York: Oxford University Press Inc. p. 188.
- Haspelmath, Martin (2009). "Terminology of Case". In Andrej Malchukov and Andrew Spencer. The Oxford Handbook of Case. New York: Oxford University Press Inc. p. 514.
- Nickel, Klaus Peter (1994). Samisk Grammatikk [no. Sami Grammar] (2nd ed.). Karasjok, Norway: Davvi Girji. p. 399.
- Kenesei, István; Vago, Robert M.; Fenyvesi, Anna (1998). Hungarian. New York: Routledge. pp. 212–3.
- Kämpfe, Hans-Rainer; Volodin, Alexander P. (1995). Abriß der Tschuktschischen Grammatik auf der Basis der Schriftsprache. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 53–4.
- Moyse-Faurie, Claire; Lynch, John (2004). "Coordination in Oceanic languages and Proto Oceanic". In Martin Haspelmath. Coordinating Constructions. Amsterdam; Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Co. p. 453.
- Abdoulaye, Mahamane L. (2004). "Comitative, coordinating, and inclusory constructions in Hausa". In Martin Haspelmath. Coordinating Constructions. Amsterdam; Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishinc Co. p. 180.