What Is the Genitive Case? (with Examples)
Genitive CaseThe 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."
Examples of the Genitive CaseHere are some examples of the genitive case:
- Carl's haircut
- The edge of the table
- Dog's bone
- The bone of the dog
|singular noun||dog||dog's dinner|
|plural noun||dogs||dogs' dinner|
|singular noun ending s||Chris||Chris' hat or Chris's hat|
|plural nouns not ending s||Men||Men's room|
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:
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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 PronounsPossessive determiners (called possessive adjectives in traditional grammar) and possessive personal pronouns are also forms of the genitive case. For example:
- our carpet ("Our" is a genitive form of "we.")
- Can I use yours? ("Yours" is a genitive form of "you.")
Prepositions That Take the Genitive CaseIf you're looking up the genitive case here on Grammar Monster, then there's a fair chance you're learning a foreign language (probably either German or Russian). If that's you, then here's a list of prepositions that take the genitive case in German:
- angesichts (in view of)
- anstatt (instead of)
- außerhalb (outside of)
- beiderseits (on both sides of)
- diesseits (this side of)
- innerhalb (inside of)
- jenseits (on the other side of)
- laut (according to)
- statt (instead of)
- trotz (in spite of)
- während (during, in the course of)
- wegen (because of)
The definite article:
|Case \ Gender||Masculine||Feminine||Neutral||Plural|
The indefinite article:
|Case \ Gender||Masculine||Feminine||Neutral|
Nouns in the Genitive CaseIn other languages (again, most obviously German and Russian), nouns in the genitive case change too (i.e., it's not just the adjectives and articles). In German, the genitive case is so important that most German dictionaries show the genitive form as well as the plural form of every entry for a noun. For example:
- der Bruder, -s, -e (brother)
Here are the endings of German nouns in the genitive case.
|Gender||Examples (the word, the genitive, the plural)|
|feminine noun||die Katze, - , -en|
|masculine noun||der Freund, -es, -e|
|neutral noun||das Kind, -es, -er|
Why Should I Care about the Genitive Case?If you're learning a foreign language that features the genitive case, then you must get to grips with it quickly. The genitive case is so important, it is often called the "second case" (after the nominative case).
For those of you not learning a foreign language, here are some links to pages that will help you to combat some common errors that are associated with the genitive case:
- Don't misplace your possessive apostrophe.
- Don't confuse possessive determiners (e.g., "its,""your," "their") with similar looking contractions (e.g., "it's,""you're," "they're").
- Don't put apostrophes in possessive pronouns (e.g., "her's ,""your's ," "their's ").
- With a construction like "A of B" (e.g., "a box of tapes"), treat A as the subject not B.