Languages with a nominative or an oblique case system also contrast with those that have an absolutive or ergative case system. In ergative-absolutive languages, the absolutive case is used for a direct object (the subject will then be in the ergative case); but the absolutive case is also used for the subject of an intransitive verb, where the subject is being passively described, rather than performing an action. Nevertheless, there are ergative-absolutive languages that demonstrate oblique cases; in the Northwest Caucasian languages Adyghe, Kabardian and Ubykh, the oblique case marker serves to mark the ergative case, the dative case, and the object of a verbal applicative.
In analytic Indo-European languages, the oblique case is a relic of the original, more complex system of noun cases from the common Proto-Indo-European language. Oblique cases appear in the English pronoun set; these pronouns are often called objective pronouns. One can observe how the first person pronoun me serves a variety of grammatical functions:
The pronoun me is not inflected differently in any of these uses; it is used for all grammatical relationships except the genitive case of possession and a non-disjunctive nominative case as the subject.
Oblique pronouns tend to become clitics. The Romance languages tend to have even larger varieties of clitics, as in the Spanish expression dámelo, "give it to me," which has two oblique clitics me and lo or the similar French "Donnez-le-moi" with the same meaning; so do a series of the Slavic languages.