Talk:Genitive case

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
WikiProject Linguistics (Rated Start-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject iconThis article is within the scope of WikiProject Linguistics, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of linguistics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.

"Participation in an action"[edit]

"She benefited from her father's love" - "[She benefited from] Janet's husband". These are presented as completely different constructions. Formally, they are identical. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:29, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

Semitic languages[edit]

According to the article, the genitive today is present only in Arabic. I am not a linguist, but I am confused. What is the Hebrew construct סמיכות if not genitive? For example, isha is "woman" or "wife", ish is "man", and eshet ish is "a man's wife". Tzurah is "form", adam is "man[kind]", and tzurat ha-adam is "man's form" or "the form of a man".

The Akkadian example, aššat šarrim ("wife of king" = "king's wife") would in fact be perfectly comprehensible in Modern Hebrew, except that it would perhaps mean the wife of a government official rather than of a king, but the gist (and its grammatical form) would be perfectly comprehensible in Hebrew, even though the phrase is Akkadian!

So how is genitive today present only in Arabic, and not in Hebrew? (And perhaps in other Semitic languages which I don't know personally, such as Aramaic in Kurdistan or Amharic in Ethiopia, etc.?) Sevendust62 (talk) 15:50, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

I know little about grammar of the Semitic languages, but your examples seem strange to me to be examples of the genitive case: if 'eshet' is the inflected form of 'woman' and 'ish' is the uninflected form of man, then the construction is: "woman-his man", and is not an example of genitive but an example of a possessive substantive ending. If it was a genitive then 'man' should be inflected, not 'woman'.

--Jidu Boite (talk) 07:49, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps it's a good idea not to talk about the grammar of a language family you know little about ... Sevendust62 is entirely correct. In this example, it's not "woman-his man" at all, but "woman-of man". That is a genitive form. Moreover, the explicit form "woman of man" [isha shel ish] is an everyday form in Hebrew. In sum, the article needs fixing. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:24, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

(random heading)[edit]

(inserted for readability ... said: Rursus (mbork³) 17:29, 26 October 2009 (UTC))

I'm not a professional or amateur linguist - I am a humanist who uses and has taught langauges (I taught high school Latin for 8 years). None of these case descriptions is general enough to pass muster. The PRIMARY function of words in the genitive case is possession. There are other uses of the genitive. Lots of them.

I recognize that this is just a start. In the long run I think the case entries should be edited by a linguist or philologist - at the very least we need a reasonably complete description of case in Indo European, and that doesn't complete the essay. Then they could be linked from target languages. The description of the cases in specific languages should be in that language entry or (heaven forfend) on a subpage (English/Possession; Old English/Genitive Case). --MichaelTinkler

What is the etymology of english's 's ? FvdP

An adjectival form?[edit]

The article begins "The genitive case is an adjectival form of a noun". Surely this is incorrect - an adjectival form of a noun would be an adjective, no? I presume the point being made is that a noun in the genitive case will often describe another noun, but that does not make it "adjectival". In addition, adjectives and pronouns can also be in the genitive case, so the genitive case (or any other case) is more than a form of the noun.

Unless anyone is able to convince me from a position of knowledge that this is a reasonable description of the genitive then I'm looking to re-write the first para in the near future. Valiantis 23:29, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Is there someone with more liguistic expertise than me who would be willing to re-write the explanation of why we have -'s instead of -es? The definition now makes it sound like it's a spelling change and not a sound change, but I don't know how to rewrite it. --UnDeadGoat == ''Link title''Bold text

Extraneous material[edit]

I don't think it's really necessary to have an explanation of astronomical notation in a linguistics article. The paragraphs about English -'s are very well, but also seem a bit out of place -- they should be a sub-article to English grammar at most. This page also definitely needs attention (examples). --Pablo D. Flores 17:57, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Correct use of genitive with words ending with s and x[edit]

What is correct?

Alex' uniform or Alex's uniform?

Girls' best friend or Girls's best friend?

Thanks, --Abdull 15:22, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

"Alex's uniform" is correct... also,
"(one, a) girl's best friend" and "(more than one) girls' best friend"
Hope this helps.
Thank you very much for your help - now I have another one - words ending on s in singular form, like business (this business's costs or business' costs) and pancreas (this pancreas's cells or this pancreas' cells). Bye, --Abdull 16:50, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Why use the preposition of?[edit]

I am not a linguist or anything like one, but this article seems odd to me. I don't understand the difference between the use of the preposition of in the example "men of Rome" and the form "Roman men". I think the second example expresses the same idea. Is it a matter of the second phrase being in a different case? Similarly for the "wheel of cheese" example wouldn't "cheese wheel" serve to express the same thought? Can someone explain why one is genative and the other isn't and what the difference is between the two? TIA - Vivafelis 03:59, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

Some languages distinguish these two. For example, Finnish origin-indicator "roomalaiset miehet" (men living in Rome) vs. genitive "Rooman miehet" (men that are "owned by" Rome, that is, come from Rome, such as Italian state officials, irrespective of their place of dwelling or origin). Likewise, compound words are different. --Vuo 12:26, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
I don`t think English makes this distinction (I could be wrong). Would that mean that the genetive case is in use in the phrase "Roman Men", or is there some other case at work? Could it be that it is just a dative (or whatever) with "Roman" acting as an adjective? TIA - Vivafelis 17:01, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
I'd like to clarify a few concepts. This article treats case as a synonym for word function. This is a general definition. But a more strict definition says that case is a bound morpheme that attaches to a noun (or adjective), and has several other common features. There's no genitive case in "Roman men" in any reasonable sense; it's just a noun with an attribute shown by an adjective. There may be a genitive relationship in "men of Rome", shown by the preposition of, but there's no genitive case either, in the latter sense (which is what most linguists understand as case). The -'s ending looks like a genitive case mark, but it is not — though it does show a genitive relationship, it's not a case but a clitic.
Another thing... In "cheese wheel" we find a sort of genitive relationship expressed by compounding (English does all kinds of things with compounding). "Wheel of cheese" is the same relationship, shown differently. "Cheese's wheel" is nonsense, but if pressed to interpret it, I'd say it means a wheel that belongs to someone called Cheese... ;) I think the most common way to show a genitive relationship in English is with of, since compounds are idiosyncratic and the possessive -'s is a bit restricted. --Pablo D. Flores (Talk) 19:01, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
Actually, this is a use of the ablative, and languages that have a seperative ablative case will not use the genitive here at all --Alwynvd 16:28, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

"A common misconception"?[edit]

The article seems to have adopted the POV that "linguists" generally reject the notion that English still has a genitive case, and argues that English no longer does since the marker -'s has been cliticized. I question whether this is true: the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage and the Oxford English Grammar both refer to an English genitive case. Moreover, I've tried to expand the several uses to which the particle is put in English, showing that it continues to function as a genitive case. -- Smerdis of Tlön 20:08, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

"Of" marks both possession and many things which genitive cases in languages which have them mark. Does that make "of" a genitive case in English? Not at all: A genitive case is first and foremost a case, and to be one it must be an affix. The English ’s is not an affix, but a clitic, for reasons discussed elsewhere, therefore it is not a marker of a genitive case, but simply a clitic. (It would seem inaccurate though to call ’s a "possessive marker"; perhaps "genitive marker" is more suitable, I'm not sure.) —Felix the Cassowary 00:52, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Collective plurals seem to have a genitive construction: pair of shoes, herd of sheep, set of tableware, flock of birds, pack of cards, school of fish, bunch of grapes, yoke of oxen, etc. etc.

Is this possibly a vestige of an Indo-european feature which has survived at least in several Slavic languages when enumerating things? one takes nominative; two, three or four take genitive singular; five or more take genitive plural? Did Old English have something similar which was largely lost along the way?

It is not OK to remove a section that provides reasonable arguments without providing any explanation on the discussion page. Somebody removed the following section without explanation, and i've reinstated a shorter version that however lacks some of the arguments provided here against the clitic theory:
However, this can also be seen as a misinterpretation that confuses the tool used to notate language, writing, (notoriously deficient in the case of English) with the actual, living language. In speaking, "kingofsparta" is in fact a single word, as is its genitive "kingofspartas". It is a mere convention to write this and most other English words in several parts. This convention can be defended in such cases of long words, but although "king of sparta" is easier to read, it is as clearly a single word as the following cases: Web site / website, tool bar / toolbar, etc. (in which, incidentally, modern usage is moving away from unnecessary segmentation).
--Espoo 18:58, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
A phonological word has nothing to do with a written word. You can write "kingofsparta" without spaces, but it's still three words (or two, if "of" is considered a clitic). "Web site" doesn't sound the same as "website" (in "web site" you can distinguish and emphasize "site". English is of course rather inconsistent when it comes to compounds, but "King of Sparta" is clearly not an example of that. In short, implying that "King of Sparta" is viewed as three words because of the way is written is itself "a misinterpretation that confuses the tool used to notate language with the actual language". That paragraph is going away, because of the above, and because it's rather amateur original research. --Pablo D. Flores (Talk) 19:43, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
It's quite amusing that even professional linguists are often as influenced and even misled by writing conventions as laypeople are. When a native English speaker says "kingəspartə", that is very definitely a single compound word; that's exactly why it can inflect as a single entity. When you say it in three parts as "king ə spartə" or especially clearly "king ov sparta", you are actually saying something else, and this construction cannot take an -s (-z) -- irrespective of whether you call that addition a clitic, suffix, ending, or some other term -- without this meaning something completely different ("the king of Sparta's enemies" = "the king of the enemies of Sparta").
Your fixation on the seeming separateness of "of" in the middle of "king of Sparta" can also be shown to be a spelling fixation not based on the real, living language by such constructions as "these kinD of men". Here, "kind of" is in fact a one-word adjective that could just as well and better be spelled "kindof" or "kinda". Lack of understanding of this has been the "reason" for attempts to ban this and similar constructions by unscientific grammarians and teachers for centuries. "These kinD of men" has been recorded since the 14th century and is correct, living English. I have not seen any studies or any reason to believe that people were not also using constructions like "the woman i saw yesterday's car" in the 14th century and earlier, long before any grammarian or linguist came up with the idea of banning that use and before the period in which English lost its genitive according to some or many linguists. Modern linguists no longer tell people how they should speak and instead describe the actual forms used in the living language, but there is no guarantee that the clitic theory was not a smart way to make oneself and one's publications more interesting and more quoted. I wouldn't be surprised if whoever first came up with it had such non-linguistic motives and was not at all misled by English spelling conventions and would not have made the elementary mistake you made above ("the king of sparta's enemies" ≠ "the kingofsparta's enemies").
The same lack of understanding of basic concepts and processes is the attempt to distinguish between "Web site" and "website", but the other way around. Here the natural development is towards writing as one word as soon as the concept is widely known *because* it is pronounced as one compound word as soon as it becomes widely known, as demonstrated by very many similar examples. Since the term is both very new and ubiquitous, the development is still underway, but it is clear that no dictionary will be spelling it in two parts 20 years from now. Especially since this age-old trend in English spelling to write compounds separately originally but to combine them when used a lot has increased in modern usage, which is moving away from unnecessary segmentation.
It's interesting that you avoided answering the comments about the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage and the Oxford English Grammar. Trying to accuse them of amateurism would show where you in fact stand. --Espoo 14:43, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm not a professional linguist, if that was implied. I didn't "avoid" answering those comments because I didn't read them; I was only replying to your ideas about the contested paragraph. I'm not into the latest findings of linguistics, but I'm pretty sure no linguist considers "King of Sparta" one word. If of is a clitic, then phonologically it's two words. In any case my objection was formal: the paragraph is speculation based on alleged bias or confusion ascribed to prescriptive linguists, and undoubtedly original research, as I said above. If mainstream linguistics comes to consider "King of Sparta" one word, 20 years from now, then let somebody change this article then. Wikipedia is not a crystal ball. --Pablo D. Flores (Talk) 15:45, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

You avoided the uncomfortable information and arguments in my post too. Very many linguists consider "kind of" a single word in the construction "these kinD of men" (which should be spelled "kindof" or "kinda"). This centuries-old fact about the living language has even finally filtered down into general dictionaries. This fact is also very uncomfortable for many professional linguists because it exposes the lack of consistency in claiming that "king of sparta" always consists of three words when in fact this is based on a spelling convention that ignores that the actual, living language distinguishes very clearly between "the king of sparta's enemies" ≠ "the kingofsparta's enemies". I will look for references to professional linguists that have realised that "kingofsparta's" is in fact as much a single word (in the genitive case) as "kind of" is in the sense of "these kindof men". --Espoo 12:21, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

It couldn't possibly be that "king of Sparta" is a noun phrase? I could certainly accept that "kind of" is now one word, because in many cases it patterns as an adjective (as in the example that you gave.) But "king of Sparta" as a single word has a couple of (acupla) problems with it, not least of which is that it can be made plural, and the plural marking goes on king, not Sparta: "kings of Sparta," not *"kingofSpartas." That to me is the smoking gun; if 's is a case marker and attaches to a single word, you'd think a plural marker would too. So the set of dishes would be several sets. - Montréalais 23:01, 11 June 2006 (UTC)
Assuming for the sake of argument that the 's of the English genitive indeed does now function as a clitic, does this in itself mean that the genitive case no longer exists in English? The 's has its origins in one of several possible inflections of the genitive case in Old English, and continues to mark the same sort of grammatical relationships. FWIW, the -s genitive now functions similarly in Swedish, where kungen av Sveriges slott means "the king of Sweden's castle." It used to be that you were supposed to say kungens av Sverige slott, attaching the -s to the king, but this is no longer the way it is done colloquially. Here, too, the case marker is no longer bound to the head noun, but this doesn't mean that the case itself no longer exists. For that matter, the easiest way to understand the Japanese particle no is that it marks the noun phrase it affects as being in the genitive case; once marked, the phrase can move relatively freely within a Japanese sentence. This genitive marker was never a bound noun inflection AFAIK. Smerdis of Tlön 15:48, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

The -'s clearly attaches to the end of a full NP: "The woman wearing the red hat's little dog..." —unsigned entry

The phrase "King of Sparta", when used as in the example in the article, is being used as a conceptual whole as if it were a single word (because it is being used as a title in this case, the only situation where possession in a genitive type phrase can be transferred off of the possessor onto a word that would otherwise be marked in the genitive which is not in that situation the possessor of the possessee), but such uses in English are rabidly avoided by anyone who can moderately speak the language. This is because "King of Sparta" (although not marked for case in English) has genitive relationship in itself and adding an apostrophe-S at the end would make it a doubled-cased noun (in this situation, prepositionally marked membership going toward one noun and clitic marked [or case marked, depd. on perspective] possession toward another). Normally, people automatically avoid this by rephrasing the sentence so that it is in a sequential genitive structure ("The wife of the king of Sparta...") or some other restructuring (such as "The Spartan king's wife..."). However, linguists and philologists will argue both sides, just as they are quite divided on whether apostrophe-S truly marks an English genitive case of possession, or not. (talk) 01:02, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

Her long fingers?[edit]

Her long fingers is given as a case of inalienable possession. Unlike her existence or her height, though, surely fingers can be removed, and thus alienable? - 16:17, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

But if you remove my fingers, you gain no benefit from the fact of having my fingers, only the benefit that I may no longer make use of those fingers. I think. UnDeadGoat 17:09, 13 June 2006 (UTC)
And the finger's are still Janets, even if you have them floating in your jar. The qeustion Who's fingers are those? would still be answered with Janet's, even though she is no longer in possesion of those fingers. +Hexagon1 (t) 01:38, 16 July 2006 (UTC)
And you can also remove her existence (by dropping an atom bomb on her or dissolving her in acid or killing her and letting her decompose, reducing her to chemicals or atomic particles) or you can remove her height (by giving her osteoporosis, or by chopping off part of her legs). So by a reductio ad absurdum, nothing is inalienably possessed, if we use the finger contention (that fingers are not inalienable, because they can be removed).Sevendust62 (talk) 15:55, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

English Genitive Archaisms[edit]

Regardless of the above debate about the viability of the genitive case in English, there is still the remnant found in the pronouns, as discussed at the end of the paragraph discussing that. I, however, have a question about that. Mine, hers, yours, and theirs are listed as being genitive forms of these pronouns, but I believe that their usage in English is more in keeping with the dative case, as seen in usages such as the "dative of possession" and the "dative of reference" (from Latin and ancient Greek and possibly other languages). The only times I believe that those pronouns are used are in phrases such as "the book is mine", which mirrors Latin's dative of possession and "'To which book are you referring?' 'Mine.'", which mirrors both languages dative of reference (ancient Greek is often taught as having a "dative of possession", but actual usage appears more often to resemble the dative of reference). Thoughts? KraDakar 01:55, 13 July 2006 (UTC)


Perhaps the Japanese の could be worked in there somewhere, it seems like a perfect example of a genitive case. PS: That's "no", in case you don't have Jap fonts installed. +Hexagon1 (t) 13:46, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

の is an enclitic postposition, not a morphological case mark. See Talk:Japanese language#Japanese and cases for my answer to the same question. I think it's unwise to give so much emphasis to the English -'s marker in this article, and の falls into the same pattern. It all depends on what you call "case". —Pablo D. Flores (Talk) 14:06, 29 July 2006 (UTC)
I see. +Hexagon1 (t) 04:57, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

Other forms?[edit]

I may be wrong, but I believe there are more remnants of the genitive case from Old English in uses like "Physics class" or "Linguistics book"... The "s" at the end is comparable to the apostrophe-s in English possessive, I believe, and not a plural form. It's not like one studies more than one physic and reads about more than one linguistic.

Hmmmm. Neither physics nor linguistics are really good candidates for Old English survivals, in that both are learned Greco-Latin terms. They are theoretically plural in form, but singular in construction: physics is hard, not *physics are hard. Physic is a perfectly good word, but means something else. Linguistic as a noun seems rarer, but it is possible it has been used in some senses such as Chomsky's linguistic; in this it could resemble dialectic / dialectics. So physics book and so forth are simple attributive uses of ordinary nouns, parallel with astronomy book, not true genitives. Smerdis of Tlön 14:53, 21 July 2006 (UTC)
It's a bit late to answer the question, especially as the article doesn't seem to reflect any confusion about it, but the forms are plural, not possessive. The reason they are plural is that words like physics, mathematics, linguistics and many others were coined on the model of Greek neuter plurals 'ta phusika' etc, things relating to life etc. These are nominative in Greek, and were doubtless intended to be so in English. They also, despite being plural forms, take a singular verb in Greek, and this was and still is reflected in English usage. CIngram99 16:13, 1 November 2007 (UTC)


The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was Keep (No merge). - jc37 19:04, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

I've proposed a merger between Possessive case and genitive case.... but, in Saxon genitive it says, "linguists argue that 's represents a possessive case, not a genitive." -- 22:08, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

Strong Support As long as it remains under the title Genitive case. ɪŋglɪʃnɜː(r)d(Suggestion?|wanna chat?) 11:53, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Strongly Against The genitive case is most certainly not the possessive case. In latin the genitive case is certainly distinct. Expressing possession is one thing you can do with the genitive, and there are other ways to express possession, and other things to do with the genitive. Dont merge. - QuintusMaximus 05:04, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

You've only really established that the genitive case is a distinct concept from possession in general—which wasn't at issue. It is still not clear what criteria would distinguish what should be called a genitive case from what should be called a possessive case. — Gwalla | Talk 06:34, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Against The problem here is that there is a crossover: in some languages the genitive and possessive cases are essentially the same, in others there is a clear distinction and in others they overlap such that they are neither distinct nor identical. (For example, in Russian, possessives can be indicated using the genitive case, but they can also be indicated in other, non-genitive ways; plus the genitive case is used for things other than possession.) Given that fact, it doesn't make sense to merge the two articles since neither case can be considered a subset of the other in a generalized discussion. It makes more sense to keep them separate in Wikipedia and note the crossover in both articles. -- Hux 17:30, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Strongly Against It strikes me that you are under the impression that "Possessive Case" would refer to all cases that are capable of expressing possession. However, this is not so; possessive case is a case unto itself, as is the genitive case. As has been suggested above, it is naïve to presume that the possessive case and genitive case accomplish the same task. While they may be one and the same in Modern English, it is most certainly not the case cross-linguistically. Definitely note the crossover in both articles, but a merge would be extremely Anglo-centric and would make very little sense in some other languages. Of course, the Possessive Case page is pretty barebones, which makes it look like it might be worth merging with something else, or vice versa. I disagree with this idea. 20:14, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

I'd like to know which languages have a distinction between genitive and possessive cases, and how those cases differ in usage. I'm really curious. Also, the aforementioned phrase in Saxon genitive strongly implies that at least some linguists there are objective criteria (beyond traditional or ad hoc naming) for when a linguist should consider a given case to be one or the other. These criteria, and the linguists who support them, are not mentioned here, in Possessive case, or in Possession (linguistics), so we've got a gap in our coverage. — Gwalla | Talk 05:28, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


It is ridiculous to say 'lots of languages have the genitive case' or the like. The gentive case has no existence outside of specific languages. It is not that a particular language has or doesn't have a case, but rather that things in particular languages are labelled 'genitive' in English. This Platonism should be avoided here and in all other articles.Tibetologist 06:28, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

English?! (insert interrobang here)[edit]

I dont think that there is any place for discussing english here as english is an UNDECLINED language it has no bearing on the topic at hand. Discussion of english should be left for an article about english grammar not a discussion about a gramar for that is not even present in english. Not to mention that it would be better to not even be discussing this in enlish but in a declined language because then it might make more sence to all you uni-lingual people out there. Hali.schatz 19:34, 11 February 2007 (UTC)HMS

Not present in english? How do you propose one would say 'wikipedia's article', or the 'this is the article of whom?' both require the use of the genitive case, and although it is true that in recent times people's use of the dative (and even in some cases the accusative!) has become increasingly sloppy, the use of the genitive can hardly drop out of usage! MHDIV ɪŋglɪʃnɜː(r)d(Suggestion?|wanna chat?) 22:10, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
Neither of those involve case. The former uses the possessive enclitic, while the latter involves a prepositional phrase. — Gwalla | Talk 03:28, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
Ok, I will give you the first time, but the second instance is in the gentive. It is 'whom', because the preposition 'of' triggers the genitive. MHDIV ɪŋglɪʃnɜː(r)d(Suggestion?|wanna chat?) 18:08, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
Debatable. "Whom" is the accusative of "who", and prepositions govern the accusative in English. The closest thing to a genitive that English has is the first and second person possessive pronouns. — Gwalla | Talk 06:23, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
The genitive/possessive of "who" is "whose", "whom" is the objective/prepositional/accusative form. It is incompetent to think that because "of" shows possession, what follows is in genitive. Eallik (talk) 02:44, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

s' vs. s's[edit]

Enzedbrit recently made an edit to the article, changing "Confucius' teaching" to "Confucius's teaching", with the comment, Names that add in 's' still require "'s" (though I'm presuming he or she meant names that end in 's'). As far as I'm aware, there is no such hard and fast rule on this and that it is more common for people to use the form, "Confucius' teaching", on the basis that "Confucius's teaching" is unwieldy. In my opinion, it should stay as "Confucius' teaching". Any thoughts? -- Hux 06:26, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

A couple of usages that are not mentioned[edit]

First - should there be a note about the "appositive" use, as in "the city of Chicago"? This seems to be treated in traditional grammars.

Second - what about the "double possessive" in English? As in "this heart of mine". It seems to be rather puzzling.

TomS TDotO 11:43, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

Strange example[edit]

@"de man zijn hand" - to me this sound very odd. Normally you'd say "de hand van de man", but even the very outdated "'s mans hand" sounds more normal somehow. Shinobu 21:25, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

Latin genetive, and terms thereof[edit]

I actually came here in the hope I'd find a link target for genetive of quality. Perhaps you can use this excellent Project Gutenberg text to improve the article. Thanks, Shinobu 21:28, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

Separate article for English -'s ending[edit]

I suggest creating a separate article for 's since it's not a real case ending. Also, other articles refering to 's now point to Saxon genitive, but most of the information is here instead. The information from this article should at least be moved to the so called "main article" - Saxon Genitive. --V111P 10:48, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

King of Sparta's Wife[edit]

I believe that one could just as easily say "Sparta's king's wife" instead of "King of Sparta's wife", so that "wife" doesn't attach to "Sparta", so I don't think that this is good example. --Se Cyning 21:54, April 20 2008 (UTC)

You can, but it's usually frowned upon in formal writing. You can replace "of" with the 's construction in most cases, but that hardly matters here. The point of the example is that the 's is phonologically attached to "Sparta", but grammatically modifies the entire phrase "King of Sparta", therefore it is a clitic. Using "Sparta's King's wife" would not demonstrate this, and would therefore be a poor example in this case. — Gwalla | Talk 19:51, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Proper for multiple nouns?[edit]

Which is proper "Tom, Dick and Harry's eyes were open." or "Tom's, Dick's and Harry's eyes were open."? TheHYPO (talk) 04:07, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

I believe the former. It's an enclitic, so it attaches to the word at the end of the noun phrase. — Gwalla | Talk 15:57, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
The latter is considered correct, since what is intended is "Tom's eyes and Dick's eyes and Harry's eyes were all open" -- that is, there are separate possessions. But if you said "Every Tom, Dick, and Harry's eyes were open", so that "Tom, Dick, and Harry" is a single concept meaning essentially "person", then the 's is attached once to the end of the noun phrase. Duoduoduo (talk) 20:52, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

Double genitive[edit]

1. Who object to the double genitive? It is really necessary to document the fact that a lot of people feel uncomfortable with this? It would strike me as being pedantic to mention Lowth "A Short Introduction to English Grammar" (1762), Lindsley Murray "English Grammar ..." (1795), and some modern language mavens, when we all know that there are people who advise against this usage. Maybe even snide to mention a modern "expert", only to show that he doesn't know what he is talking about? Would it be OK just to reword it to something like "Although the usage is, at first glance, ungrammatical..."? (I got those two references from "Merriam Webster's Dictionary of English Usage", by the way. Not that I'm in the habit of browsing through 18th century English grammars.)

2. Thanks for the additional online reference for the usage. But the example is a duplicate of the "portrait of the king's" example given just prior. One or the other should be deleted. I don't care which, and I'll leave it up to you.

TomS TDotO (talk) 13:33, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

Disgraceful article...[edit]

I think I'm going to change some of this later, when I have time, unless someone can give me reason not to. It seems as though few languages are represented as having a genitive, even though there are many (post all germanic languages keep it, for example.) The setup of the article is really hard to read and when a reader is coming to find information quickly, this article is absolutely useless on that front. I came to look for something regarding finnish genitive vs. partitive, and while reading the first part, I was completely distracted by the "some languages do..." language. This article is not definitive, and if anything misleading. It doesn't give a whole lot of real information that can be further looked into. I like to use Wikipedia as a stepping stone to find some real sources, but this is just not what I expected.

I hope to help with the effort. (talk) 16:23, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

If this article contained information about the genitive/partitive relation in Finnish then presumably it should likewise contain similarly detailed information about every language on earth which has a genitive: how long would the article be? Long enough to fill a fairly large book. In fact I should say that one of the main faults of the article in its present form is that it tries to give detailed accounts for an arbitrary selection of languages. I agree that the article is poor and could do with a significant amount of rewriting, but I think that trying to include a lot more specific information about specific languages would be a mistake. It would be more helpful to recast the article as a general account of what genitive cases tend to do, with just a few illustrations from a range of languages. JamesBWatson (talk) 11:29, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

Possessive adjective/ determiner[edit]

Ajd has replaced "English my is either a separate possessive adjective or an irregular genitive of I" with "English my is either a separate possessive determiner or an irregular genitive of I", giving the edit summary "(determiner, not adjective)". The reason for the introduction of the expression "possessive determiner" was precisely to avoid having to tie oneself down to the adjective or to the genitive interpretation: the whole point of this sentence is to draw attention to the dual interpretation, and so the substitution made here destroys the meaning of the sentence. Hence I have reverted it. JamesBWatson (talk) 16:49, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

Subjective genitive[edit] has given some additional examples supposedly of the subjective genitive. I must admit that I don't understand the explanation given, and I suspect that these are really examples of the appositive use of "of". Could someone clarify this for me? I am tempted to revert this. TomS TDotO (talk) 18:12, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

TomS TDotO is absolutely right: they are not subjective genitives, so I have reverted them. JamesBWatson (talk) 20:41, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

Genitive in "astronomy"[edit]

Bubkes! Astronomy is not a language! Astronomy peruses Latin for the constellation names, so there is no reason to treat astronomy as a language(!). Therefore: there should not be such a loony section as Genitive in astronomy. ... said: Rursus (mbork³) 17:34, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

The Latin genitive is used in astronomy, so it seems to me entirely appropriate to have a section mentioning the fact. I have read the relevant section, and I do not see that it "treats astronomy as a language". Even if you disagree, describing the section as "loony" is not constructive. JamesBWatson (talk) 11:53, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
It's used in anythign that uses Latin. There's nothing particularly special about astronomy in this regard. At best it'd be a paragraph in a section on the Latin genitive. — Gwalla | Talk 18:02, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I agree with that, and I have rewritten the section accordingly. JamesBWatson (talk) 11:15, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

Genitive or Genitive case?[edit]

This article was moved from Genitive case to Genitive because there is no other use of the term "genitive" from which the grammatical case must be disambiguated.

But it seems that the same reasoning would apply to most of the other articles on grammatical cases. What other uses of the terms accusative and dative, for example, are there? For consistency's sake, we must move all the articles for unambiguously named cases. To determine which are unambiguous, we must evaluate all the 63 grammatical case article names that end in case, an awful lot of work.

Unless anyone wants to go to all the work, I think we should abandon the reasoning that led to the move, and stick with the format X case for all grammatical case articles, including Genitive case. — Eru·tuon 20:13, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

Genitive in German language[edit]

As a native German speaker I discovered a real mistake and corrected it immediately: The plural form of any indefinite article's genitive form is omitting the article. Excuse my dirty English, please. Greeting from German WP G.B. -- (talk) 02:26, 24 January 2011 (UTC)

Negation Genitive in Serbo-Croatian[edit]

in the article it is stated that the genitive of negation, while obligatory in many Slavic languages is considered archaic in Czech and Serbo-Croatian. I don't know about Czech, but as a native speaker of Serbo-Croatian (more specifically the Croatian standardization) I know that genitive of negation is everything but archaic in this language. Consider the sentences:

'Nema problema.' ('There is no problem'), problemA is the genitive of problem. 'Nemamo novca(G).' 'we don't have any money(G)' 'Bez oblaka(G) nema kiše(G).' 'Without clouds (G) there is no rain (G)'

I honestly don't know any other meaningful way of building these sentences in SC. The example given in the text for Russian ('Maria is not at home') can be built with or without the use of genitive. I don't know about the other standardizations, but at least in the Croatian version, neither option is archaic. 'MarijE (G) nema doma' ('there is no Marija (G) at home') 'Marija (N) nije doma' ('Marija (N) is not home') —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:00, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

ruim de mais[edit]

esse texto tá mt ruim. tem coisas que nem tem senso!!! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:39, 8 October 2012 (UTC)

Irish genitive[edit]

The section on the Irish genitive as it stands now is not only overly simplistic, but downright wrong in some aspects (it claims that the genitive is “not often seen”, which is about as far from the truth as you can get)—and half the examples are not well-formed within Irish grammar.

It also completely fails to mention that one of the most widespread uses of the genitive in Irish is to mark the object of a verb in a progressive tense (syntactically made up of a copula + preposition + verbal noun + object of verb in the genitive = ‘at the X’ing of Y’).

I don’t have the time to run through it, unfortunately, but someone definitely should! Kokoshneta (talk) 15:49, 5 May 2013 (UTC)

I don't have the expertise to do anything with it either, but I tagged it with a "misleading" template for now. Victor Yus (talk) 07:02, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

Persian a Semitic Language?[edit]

I'm fairly certain Persian (Farsi), despite sharing a writing system with Arabic, is primarily Indo-European, not Semitic in origin. I'd assume any Semitic influence would be in the form of loanwords only, not morphology. Accordingly, why is it in the Semitic category here? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:34, 7 March 2014 (UTC)

Because this is a very poorly written article - just look at some of the comments above. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:38, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just added archive links to 2 external links on Genitive case. Please take a moment to review my edit. If necessary, add {{cbignore}} after the link to keep me from modifying it. Alternatively, you can add {{nobots|deny=InternetArchiveBot}} to keep me off the page altogether. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, please set the checked parameter below to true to let others know.

As of February 2018, "External links modified" talk page sections are no longer generated or monitored by InternetArchiveBot. No special action is required regarding these talk page notices, other than regular verification using the archive tool instructions below. Editors have permission to delete these "External links modified" talk page sections if they want to de-clutter talk pages, but see the RfC before doing mass systematic removals. This message is updated dynamically through the template {{sourcecheck}} (last update: 15 July 2018).

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

Cheers.—cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 09:53, 27 February 2016 (UTC)


My attention was called to the section on Slavic languages by a recent edit. I have only a slight knowledge of Slavic languages, but it seems to me that there should be some work on this. If nothing else, there should be a better example than "Irina has dinner", for, at least in English, this can mean something other than possession: It can mean Irina is eating, or that Irina is having guests for the meal. "U Irini karandash" would ordinarily mean simply "Irina has a pencil", not "At Irina's there is a pencil", so it seems to me. But I am not a Slavic expert, so it would be outrageous for me to attempt a rewrite. TomS TDotO (talk) 17:32, 10 June 2016 (UTC)

Finnish example: spelling[edit]

I saw this section:

"For example, Juhani Virtanen can be also expressed Virtasen Juhani ("Juhani of the Virtanens")."

Is there a spelling error here? Is "Virtanen" the same as "Virtasen"? Any Finnish speakers who can clarify?

“The horse in second place’s chance” is unacceptable[edit]

I’m not a prescriptivist so although I’m willing to consider this claim in the article to be true, as a native English speaker (central Saskatchewan, Canada) this example sounds completely natural and acceptable. In formal writing, it would sound imprecise and rushed, and in conversation it might stand out amongst highly literate audiences, but this is a construction I’ve encountered all my life without a second thought until now. (FWIW) Devvyn (talk) 18:33, 25 August 2019 (UTC)