Genitive case

related topics
{language, word, form}
{woman, child, man}
{math, energy, light}
{water, park, boat}
{build, building, house}

In grammar, genitive (abbreviated gen; also called the possessive case or second case) is the grammatical case that marks a noun as modifying another noun. It often marks a noun as being the possessor of another noun but it can also indicate various relationships other than possession; certain verbs may take arguments in the genitive case; and it may have adverbial uses (see Adverbial genitive). Modern English does not typically mark nouns for a genitive case morphologically – rather, it uses the 's clitic or a preposition (usually of) – but the personal pronouns do have distinct possessive forms. In many Afroasiatic languages the construct state is used to express similar relations between nouns.

Depending on the language, specific varieties of genitive-noun–main-noun relationships may include:

  • possession (see Possessive case):
    • inalienable possession ("Janet’s height", "Janet’s existence", "Janet’s long fingers")
    • alienable possession ("Janet’s jacket", "Janet’s drink")
    • relationship indicated by the noun being modified ("Janet’s husband")
  • composition (see Partitive case):
    • substance ("a wheel of cheese")
    • elements ("a group of men")
    • source ("a portion of the food")
  • participation in an action:
    • as an agent ("She benefited from her father's love") – this is called the subjective genitive (Compare "Her father loved her", where Her father is the subject.)
    • as a patient ("the love of music")  – this is called the objective genitive (Compare "She loves music", where music is the object.)
  • origin ("men of Rome")
  • reference ("the capital of the Republic" or "the Republic's capital")
  • description ("man of honour", "day of reckoning")
  • compounds ("doomsday" ("doom's day"), Scottish Gaelic "ball coise" = "football", where "coise" = gen. of "cas", "foot")

Depending on the language, some of the relationships mentioned above have their own distinct cases different from the genitive.

Possessive pronouns are distinct pronouns, found in Indo-European languages such as English, that function like pronouns inflected in the genitive. They are considered separate pronouns if contrasting to languages where pronouns are regularly inflected in the genitive. For example, English my is either a separate possessive adjective or an irregular genitive of I, while in Finnish, for example, minun is regularly agglutinated from minu- "I" and -n (genitive).

In some languages, nouns in the genitive case also agree in case with the nouns they modify (that is, it is marked for two cases). This phenomenon is called suffixaufnahme.

In some languages, nouns in the genitive case may be found in inclusio – that is, between the main noun’s article and the noun itself.

Full article ▸

related documents
Latin alphabet
Egyptian hieroglyphs
Phoneme
Apostrophe
Hyphen
Loanword
Slovak language
Breton language
Middle English
Grammatical conjugation
Malayalam language
Logogram
Egyptian language
Daoism-Taoism romanization issue
Hiberno-English
Khmer language
Ancient Greek
Tetum
Catalan language
Sindarin
Attic Greek
Hiragana
Dative case
Interlingua
Hindustani language
Dari (Eastern Persian)
Written Chinese
Roman numerals
NATO phonetic alphabet
List of French words and phrases used by English speakers