Cases in the Albanian Language (Shqip)

Last week, we had an in-service language training, which was very useful. I got to learn more about the Albanian language (Shqip, pronounced “Ship”).

One concept I previously had a hard time understanding was that of “cases” in the Albanian language. I am going to explain cases as best as I can, based on my understanding of what they are. Cases show the grammatical function of the word in a sentence.

In Shqip, the word endings of nouns change to show their function in a sentence. Let’s use my name, “April,” as an example. The word April is actually considered a masculine word in Shqip, because it ends in a consonant (feminine words end in a vowel). Here are the ways my name would change, depending on its function in a sentence:

  • Kyo eshte Aprili. (This is April.) My name gets an “i” at the end, because I am the direct object.
  • Lapsi eshte Aprilit. (The pencil is April’s.) My name gets a “it” at the end, because I am the owner of the pencil.
  • Dje e pashe Aprilin. (Yesterday I saw April.) My name gets an “in” at the end, because I am the receiver of an action.

Now consider the following sentence:

The postman brought the parcel. The order of the words gives us information about the sentence. If we changed the word order to “The parcel brought the postman,” the meaning of the sentence would change.

Let’s look at that same sentence in Shqip. It translates to “Postieri ([the] postman) e solli (brought) pakten ([the] parcel).” Because the words “postman” and “paketen” change endings to tell us what their functions are in the sentence, we can use the words in any order.

  • Paketen e solli postieri.
  • E solli postieri pakon.
  • E solli pakon postieri.
  • Postieri pakon e solli.
  • Pakon postieri e solli.

All of these sentences have the same meaning, and all of these sentences are grammatically correct.

This fact blew my mind!

So when I return from having lived in Kosovo for two years, and you ask me, “April, why aren’t you fluent in Albanian?” My answer will be, “Because of the cases.” 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this mini lesson on the Albanian language.

4 thoughts on “Cases in the Albanian Language (Shqip)”

  1. Being an inflected language makes it harder to learn, but it enables us to say more while speaking less:
    hidhe – throw it
    hidhi – throw them
    hidhma: throw it towards me
    hidhmi: throw them towards me
    hidhme: throw me

    Because of inflection we don’t have to use “I” or “It” nearly as frequently as in English:
    I thik that it is happening
    une mendoj se ajo po ndodh (word for word)
    mendoj se po ndodh (how we would say it)

    dua – I want
    desha – I wanted
    kam dashur – I have wanted
    me dashje – with intention / intentionally
    pa dashje – unintentionally
    dashuri – love
    deshire – desire

    As you can see, intentionally (dash-je), love (dash-uri), desire (desh-ire) are all derivations of want, because to do something intentionally means that you wanted to, as opposed to doing it accidentally, and to love or desire smth or someone means to want smth or someone.

    Just by converting sh to s and Albanian deshire becomes English desire.


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