The German language has cases, but for many words some or all cases are identical. However, interrogatives are distinct for each case. Therefore native speakers often identify the case of a word in context by rephrasing the context to a question asking for the word in question. I presume that this technique exists in other languages featuring cases as well.
- What case is Anna in “Er sah Anna.”?
- Wen sah er? Anna.
- Wen is in the accusative case and hence Anna in the first sentence also is.
- What case is Anna in “He saw Anna.”?
- Whom did he see? Anna.
- Whom is in the oblique case and hence Anna in the first sentence also is.
(Of course this doesn’t work so well in English, since cases are so invisible that people find it difficult to use whom correctly.)
Here I claimed that the above technique only works for native speakers who intuitively use the grammatical cases correctly and thus automatically use the correct interrogatives. By contrast, language learners (unless very advanced) know the correct interrogative as much as they know which case to use – either they know both or none. Hence this technique is not useful to them.
Am I correct about this or did I miss anything?