• The chief use of the genitive case in Latin is to qualify nouns.

  • The word or words which are found in the genitive case DESCRIBE, DEFINE, or CLASSIFY the person or thing which is denoted by the noun which is being qualified.

  • The kinds of connections between the genitive and the noun which it qualifies are quite varied, and their complexity may well derive from the fact that some of the genitive ideas were once separate cases (as they still are in other related languages, like Sanscrit). But there are two basic general kinds of genitive ideas: the adjectival and the adverbial.



  • (1) POSSESSIVE GENITIVE: "belonging to" "owned by" (Wheelock, page 6)
    periculum belli, coniuratio Catilinae (Conspiracy of Catiline)

  • (2) SUBJECTIVE GENITIVE: with a verbal noun (gerund) or a noun implying activity.

    The AUTHOR OF THE ACTIVITY (In some grammars, this is seen as a special subdivision of the possessive genitive, an extension of the literal idea into the realm of responsibility).
    metus hostium (`fear on the part of the enemy' The enemy fear us.) coniuratio Catilinae

  • (3) OBJECTIVE GENITIVE (Wheelock, p. 50, p. 374) denotes the object of the activity implied by a noun or adjective: metus hostium (`fear of the enemy': We fear the enemy)

  • (4) PARTITIVE GENITIVE (Wheelock, pp. 192 ff.) may denote the larger whole, from which something is derived; or of which something forms a part. This is often found with the indefinite noun. pars Galliae, satis sapientiae, nihil horum

  • (5) GENITIVE OF DEFINITION (Genitive of Material) (Wheelock, p. 374) may define a common noun by giving a particular example of things belonging to that class: exemplum iustitiae "the example of justice"

  • (6) GENITIVE OF DESCRIPTION (Genitive of quality) (Wheelock, p. 374) may describe a person or thing, by indicating size or measure (this is sometimes separately called `genitive of measure'); or by indicating some distinctive quality. vir magni ingeni(i) "a very talented man"

  • (7) GENITIVE OF VALUE and of price (though it may be adverbial in fact)


  • (1) With certain verbs: memini, obliviscor `remembering, forgetting, reminding' (e.g.: memento mei)

  • (2) After utor, fruor, fungor, potior, vescor, opus est (Wheelock, p. 164)
    potior, potiri "to gain power over" potitus rerum ["having gained control over public affairs"]

  • (3) After verbs meaning "to fill" (and adjectives of similar meaning, plenus aranearum)

  • (4) With verbs meaning "to pity": taedet me vitae "I am bored with living."

  • (5) With verbs denoting a judicial procedure: "accuse of" (genitive of the crime") "charge someone with" "acquit someone of"



May 24, 2009 6:45 PM

John Paul Adams, CSUN

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional
Valid CSS!