Genitive-accusative case alternation in Russian: Exploring the role of definiteness and existential commitment



case alternation, Genitive of Negation


In Russian, the direct object of a transitive verb is canonically accusative case-marked. Under sentential negation, the direct object can be accusative or genitive case-marked. There is a long standing debate about whether this case alternation is semantically conditioned. This paper reports on an experiment designed to test whether this case alternation is influenced by definiteness and/or existential commitment. While these predictions were not borne out, this experiment identified three sources of variability in the acceptability of genitive case: i) participant effect; ii) age effect, iii) verb’s effect. These findings provide empirical support for an ongoing language change in Russian, whereby the accusative is becoming the default case under negation. These findings also have implications for further investigations and empirically adequate analyses of Genitive of Negation.




How to Cite

Vaikšnoraitė, E. “Genitive-Accusative Case Alternation in Russian: Exploring the Role of Definiteness and Existential Commitment”. Journal of Slavic Linguistics, vol. 29, no. FASL 28 extra issue, Dec. 2021,