Don't learn cases

…at least not until later. Interesting advice here from Fedor. What do you think?

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I agree, when I started to learn German the biggest stumbling block was the cases for me. I won’t go into details but the fact that I stressed about the cases and obsessively tried to read up on them only soured my relationship with German. I was so sick of cases that even something so simple as accusative case is the one affected by the action and dative is sort of the equivalent for “to/for” in English caused me a headache.

When I finally started to learn German again (maybe 2016), I made a choice to ignore the cases until a while. Just learn the words and focus on the grammatical things that I liked to begin with. I have made it quite far in German in terms of words and most grammatical aspect.

Even if I hadn’t studied other languages I feel that the way I should go about it is to learn one case at a time or learn small aspects related to them at first, such as prepositions in German. As a general rule I also think that it’s best to tackle the grammatical things that causes you the most problem bit by bit every once in a while what ever that may be.


You don’t learn cases, the cases learn you. :slight_smile: My native language (Serbian) has 7 cases and it’s only in elementary school that I became aware I had been been using cases properly for years. Cases were invented by cranky grammaticians in order to annoy little children in school, or anyone else learning a foreign language. :slight_smile: So yeah, I agree with the guy in the video.

You know when you should MAYBE bother with cases? I know a Dutch guy who speaks fluent Serbian, I can talk to him as if he’s a native speaker even using slang, word play, even mumbling, even very fast, about any topic, he understands everything. So regarding the cases, there are rare occasions when he interrupts me with something like “Sorry, wait a second, can you repeat that other word?”, I repeat…, “Aha! So it’s dative! Ok nevermind sorry, continue…”

Don’t bother with cases unless you’re very advanced in the language, and when you’re at that point there’s a big chance you won’t even need to, it’s just something that crawls into your brain on it’s own, more easily than verb tenses for example.


There are special difficulties in every language.
For example, in German or Russian they are cases. That’s why early or later you have to learn cases by studying these languages.
And in English, the most difficult point is the verb tenses. And also early or later we have to learn the main English tenses if we want to speak English well.
However, learning grammar is not your main goal. You have to enrich gradually your vocabulary in everyday topics, but meantime, by very little steps you have to familiarize yourself with the most important grammar patterns.
In any case, don’t be in a hurry by that!


thanks bro

I disagree in cases being made to annoy kids in school, i do agree that education taking a grammar approach is annoying.
Grammar is important for those that don’t learn a language from a very young age, and grammar lets you reduce one big language into small digestible bits. I would say grammar should be only looked at when one wants to start expressing themselves when they are at a more advanced level, be it through either text or voice.

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I was just kidding :slight_smile:

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‘At least not until later’, exactly that, you will become curious yourself and find the time and effort to learn them later on.

I’m not convinced. In general, I’m very sceptical of this kind of blanket pieces of advice. It’s true that obsessing about grammar will hold you back and that mastery of cases is not all that important for communication. On the other hand, ignoring them will probably result in you never using them correctly and even considering that it’s an impossible task (which is not at all). Even Steve seems to have given up on ever mastering them, as it transpires in one of his last videos.
The best approach, at least for me, is to become aware of them early on without trying to memorize them. Pay attention to them as you read/listen and try to incorporate them to your own speech little by little, without obsessing about getting them all right immediately.

I’m glad to hear your opinion, as I know you’ve learned several languages, some of them very well. Have you learned a highly inflected language, such as Russian, on your own completely from scratch? I tend to agree with you here, but because I started Russian in school in a grammar-focused manner, I can’t opine on other approaches from personal experience. I did learn the grammar fairly well in school, but it was of limited use until I got onto Lingq and really increased my vocabulary. But I’m happy that now I have both vocabulary and grammar.

Edit: For reasons that I don’t remember (masochism?) I started both Russian and Latin in 9th grade. While we were learning the alphabet in Russian we dove right into the grammar in Latin. So I was over the shock that there could even be something like 5-6 cases in a language by the time we got to the grammar in Russian. I think that gave me a minor advantage over my peers in Russian class. :slight_smile:


I have a similar experience: I studied Latin and some ancient Greek at school so I did understand the notion of cases before I started learning other inflected languages. The next one was German, which started to learn in classes, at the Goethe Institut. Their system doesn’t particularly stress grammar but it doesn’t skip it either. In contrast to some of the commentaries above, I don’t find German inflection hard at all: it’s really minimal in comparison to most other noun-inflecting languages.
To answer your question: I have been learning Russian totally on my own and from scratch for the last few years