The genitive case is predominantly used for showing possession. With nouns, it is usually created by adding 's to the word or by preceding it with of.
Most people will encounter the term genitive case when studying a language other than English. In English, you will often hear the term possessive case in place of genitive case, but be aware that the genitive case is not always about possession (more below).
Examples of the Genitive Case
Here are some examples of the genitive case:
There are several other ways of forming the genitive case using an apostrophe:
- Carl's haircut
- The edge of the table
- Dog's bone
- The bone of the dog
|singular noun ending s
||Chris' hat or Chris's hat
|plural nouns not ending s
Read more about using an apostrophe to show possession.
Possessive Case or Genitive Case?
The genitive case is also called the possessive case. The two terms are interchangeable, but possessive case is more common in English study. However, as this case does not always show possession, some grammarians like to make a distinction between the genitive case and the possessive case. For example:
It is worth reiterating that the two terms are interchangeable. However, you might also encounter writers who make a more marked distinction between the two. For example:
- Dan's bike
(No one would argue this is the genitive case and the possessive case. It is the bike of Dan. It is about possession.)
- Children's songs
(This is not about possession. It's about songs for children. For this reason, some argue this is the genitive case and not the possessive case.)
- Constable's paintings
(This is not about possession. It's about paintings by Constable. Some would argue this is the genitive case and not the possessive case.)
This gives us a logic problem, however. Look at these examples (genitive case shaded):
- Childrens Minister
(Sometimes, the title Childrens Minister is written without an apostrophe to make it clear it is a minister for children.)
- Children's Minister
(We judge this to be the correct version. It's just the genitive case. It's not always about possession.)
There are no issues with the two examples above. However, look at this pairing:
- The dog's dinner
- The dinner of the dog
- Picasso's painting
- Painting by Picasso
(The phrase by Picasso is not the genitive case, even though it is an expansion of something which is. Oh well, never mind.)
Genitive Adjectives and Pronouns
Possessive adjectives and possessive
personal pronouns are also forms of the genitive case. Examples:
- our carpet
(our - a genitive form of we)
- Can I use yours?
(yours - a genitive form of you)
What is the dative case?
What is the accusative case?
What is the subjective case?
What is the objective case?
What is the vocative case?
What are nouns?
Using apostrophes to show possession
What are possessive adjectives?
What are possessive
Glossary of grammatical terms