Learn the Na'vi Noun Cases


Na'vi has what is referred to as "limited free word order", which means that in most circumstances the way a sentence is arranged is subject to how the speaker wants it to flow. This is achieved through marking nouns for their role in a sentence via noun case endings, which helps to identify their role in the sentence regardless of placement.

The Core Three

There are three primary noun case endings, the agentive, the patientive, and the dative. More information on these three types can be found below:

Ending (Consonant / Vowel)Example
Agentive-ìl / -loel ngati kameie
Patientive-it / -ti*ngal pukit inan
Dative-ur / -r(u)oe srung si ngaru

Different noun case endings are used depending on whether the verb in the sentence is transitive or intransitive. Each has two variations, depending on whether the noun ends with a consonant or a vowel.

The patientive case has a slight exception, where the -ti ending can always be used. This is due to a rule that exists as a part of word creation.

In simple transitive sentences like oel ngati kame, both the agentive and patientive are used. However, there are some exceptions to this rule where one or both of these may be omitted.

The dative can be used with both intransitive and transitive verbs as necessary.

The Genitive / Possessive

The fourth noun case is called the genitive. In Na'vi, the genitive case is used to create possessive nouns. The genitive case has two endings, which can be found below:

Consonants, -o and -ufì'uä fahew
All other Vowels-yänge tsko

The created possessive noun must come directly before or after the noun that it is possessing. For example, to say "my bow", you could either say tsko oeyä or oeyä tsko and be correct. The possessive case ending can also be roughly translated as "of the", like in the film line luyu Na'viyä hapxì. For pronouns, -yä becomes -eyä and the ending vowel is dropped ie. *ngayä becomes ngeyä.

The Topical

The fifth and final noun case is the topical. The topical will always come at the beginning of a clause, and it deals with the topic of a verb or sentence. The topical has two case endings, which can be found below:

Topical-ìri / -ritìkangkemìri oe ngaru srung si

The topical is used for a variety of things in Na'vi. Primarily it serves to set context for a sentence or "cheat" a direct object into an intransitive verb, like in the sentence tì'eyngìri ngeyä oe pey. This occurs more frequently with intransitive verbs, though it's not impossible to need it for a transitive verb.

The topical can also be used for inalienable possession, which are for things like your txe'lan, or ontu, that for all intents and purposes can never belong to anyone else.