Last Updated : 05 Feb 2019

The uses of the Genitive or the Possessive

1. The Possessive Genitive

The possessive genitive is generally used to show possession.

e.g

She can borrow her brother’s coat. (Her brother has a coat).

2. The Specifying Genitive

Often the possesion has the implied meaning of specification, but not always.
This is David's college.

Here, David may not own the college (but it is likely). The normal interpretation will be

This is the collegeto which David goes
in which David studies

3. The Classifying Genitive

Women's fashions change every year. (Fashions that are adopted by women change every year.)
This is a man's world. (This is a world that is dominated by man/men)

4. The Partitive Genitive

We came to our journey’s end.
We came to the end of our journey.

The of-phrase is more commonly used:

We saw a row of books/hundreds of passengers.
All of my children are employed.
Four of the boys were selected for the competition.

The of-phrase is used with uncountable nouns and collective nouns:

There is a pot (full) of tea on the table
We saw a group of people.

The ’s is used in the of-phrase:

He is a friend of my of-phrase:
He is my father’s friend. (Specific; the speaker or writer is not thinking of the other friends)

5. The Adverbial Genitive

It is our New Year’s Day.
We had an hour’s sleep.
It is at a stone’s throw from this point.
They were paid a week’s wages.

More commonly a compound adjective is used before nouns:

It was a two-hour walk
a two-storey building
a two-party system.
a four-door car.

 

Share this page