Vocative is the case used when addressing (speaking directly to) someone.
|Lord||if||willing||you are able||me||to make clean|
Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean
- The vocative case is the case of direct address.
- However, a noun in the vocative case preceded by the particle ὦ is used to add emphasis or to express emotion.
- Caution: Do not confuse ὦ (the particle) with ᾧ -the dative case relative pronoun, or with ὦ - the first person singular subjunctive form of εἰμί (which is identical to the particle ὦ in form).
Only 2.1% of the 28,599 nouns in the New Testament are in the vocative case.
- Often it is easy to identify nouns in the vocative case by the context.
- The vocative case is identical to the nominative case in the plural.
- The vocative case is identical to the nominative case in the first declension (singular and plural).
- The vocative case of the singular second declension usually ends in an epsilon.
- The vocative case of the singular third declension is usually the bare stem of the word. However, the stem vowel may shorten, lengthen, or drop out entirely. This is known as ablaut.
Vocative – Direct Address¶
The vocative of direct address is the most frequent use of the vocative case.
|not||everyone||who||says||to me||Lord||Lord||he will enter||into||the||kingdom||of||heaven|
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter into the kingdom of heaven
|Lord||if||you are willing||you are able||me||to (make) clean|
“Lord”, if you are willing, you can make me clean.
Vocative – Emphasis/Emotion¶
The vocative case can also be used to express emotion or emphasis. The particle ὦ is used when the vocative case is used to add additional emphasis or emotion to the basic function of direct address. ὦ followed by a word in the vocative case only occurs 14 times in the New Testament.
Example of ὦ + vocative to add an emotional emphasis.
|to them||he says||Oh||generation||unbelieving||until||when||with||you||will I be?|
and he said to them, “You unbelieving generation! How long will I be with you?”
Note: The emotional emphasis can be difficult to reflect in a translation. The exclaimation mark is used in this example to reflect the emotion.
Example of ὦ + vocative to add emphasis.
|I Timothy 6:11|
|you||but||o||man||of God||these things||you flee||you pursue||but (instead)||righteousness|
But you, man of God, flee from these things. Instead, pursue righteousness…
Note: The emphasis is lost in the English text.