Case genitive


Genitive is a case which has many uses. It expresses a relationship with the substantive it modifies by indicating a description, kinship, possession, apposition, a part of a whole, separation from the substantive it modifies, or the subject (or object) of a verbal idea implied by the noun.

John 1:19            
καὶ αὕτη ἐστὶν μαρτυρία τοῦ Ἰωάννου
kai hautē estin martyria tou Iōannou
and this it is the testimony of the John

This is the testimony of John; or This is John’s testimony

In this example, the relationship expressed is that of possession and/or source.


The Genitive case is primarily the case of description.

  1. The Genitive case may be used to attribute

  2. The Genitive case may also express a relationship to the subject noun (or substantive-a substantive is a noun or any word or group of words functioning like a noun)

  3. A word in the genitive case may also serve as the subject or object of the head noun. [see Genitive_Subject/Object]

The translator may observe that sometimes a specific word in the Genitive case may seem to fit into more than one of the above categories. There is often no clear single category and the final determination by the translator must be based upon context.


The Genitive case is formed by adding the Genitive case ending to the stem of a word (often with a connecting vowel). The word in the Genitive case usually follows the word that it is modifying. When the word in the Genitive case occurs before the word it is modifying, the word in the Genitive case is being given more attention by the author.

Genitive Case Ending
First and Second Declension Third Declencion
Masculine Feminine Neuter Masculine/Feminine Neuter
Genitive υ ς υ ος ος
Genitive ων ων ων ων ων

See NounParadigm for a complete listing of the noun paradigms and AdjectiveParadigm for the adjective paradigms.

Genitive – Attributive

The Genitive case restricts (or limits) the head noun (or substantive) by describing the head noun. The limitation is generally as to “kind” and not to “extent or result.” The effect of the description is that it separates the head noun from other similar items that do not possess the described attribute. For example if I were to say a “book of the law;” the phrase “of the law” describes the book. The phrase also separates this book from all the other books which are not law books.

The Genitive-attributive functions like an adjective and gives a general attribute (or description) of the head noun. If none of the other categories for the Genitive case make sense, then this overall “Basic Attributive” serves to describe the overall function for the Genitive case.

The keyword “of” is often included in the translation.

Mark 1:4                
ἐγένετο Ἰωάννης κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν
egeneto Iōannēs kēryssōn baptisma metanoias eis aphesin hamartiōn
he came John   preaching a baptism of repentance into/for forgiveness of sin

John came, … preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Genitive – of Material

The Genitive of Material describes an object that is “made from, consisting of, or containing” something. The Genitive of Material may be used to:

  1. describe an object “made from a certain material or thing”, or
  2. may be used to describe something the object “contains”.

In this instance the item (or thing) that is used to create the object or that the object contains will be in the Genitive case.

Acts 2:4        
καὶ ἐπλήσθησαν πάντες Πνεύματος Ἁγίου
kai eplēsthēsan pantes Pneumatos Hagiou
and they were filled all with Spirit Holy

They were all filled with the Holy Spirit

Note: The preposition with is used because it better conveys the concept of the “content an object contains.” If the translator interpreted this passage as a Genitive of separation they would use the preposition “from” or if they interpreted it as a Genitive of source, they would use the preposition “by”. These determinations are being made based on context in order to accurately convey the concept intended by the text.

Genitive – of Kinship

The Genitive Case may be used to describe a kinship relationship. In most cases The Genitive of Kinship is used to describe someone who is the physical descendent (son or daughter) of someone. However, it can be used to refer to anyone who is a descendent in a “spiritual sense” or someone who is a descendent several generations later in time. Therefore in Luke 13:16 the woman is called a daughter of Abraham even though over a thousand years had passed. The woman is still considered to be a daughter of Abraham. The Genitive of Kinship may also be used to describe the parent of someone or a relationship by marriage to someone.

Note: Some grammars make a distinction between when the noun describing the kinship relationship (“Son”) is present and when it is absent. In this grammar we are not making that fine of a distinction. When the noun that describes the kinship relationship is absent, the “kinship relationship” is implied by the Genitive of Kinship. The definite article may (or may not) be present. This implied relationship is then included in the translation.

The key word “of” may be used in the translation.

Matthew 4:21        
Ἰάκωβον τὸν   τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου
Iakōbon ton   tou Zebedaiou
James the (son) of Zebedee

James the son of Zebedee

In the following example the “kinship relationship” (mother of) is implied by the Genitive of Kinship.

Luke 24:10        
καὶ Μαρία   Ἰακώβου
kai Maria   Iakōbou
and Mary the (mother of) James

and Mary the mother of James

Genitive – of Possession

The Genitive of Possession is used to indicate ownership or possession of the object that it is modifying. The ownership may be an indication of a legal right to ownership or physical possession of an item.

It may also refer to an emotional attachment to the object. When referring to an emotional attachment the ownership is like that of a child to his father, a dog to his master, or a person to his church. This is my father. This is my master. This is my church. In each of these cases an emotional attachment is being expressed.

Possessive pronouns such as ἐμός (my), σός (your), ἡμέτερος (our), ὑμέτερος (your), or ἵδιος (his) are sometimes used instead of the Genitive-of-Possession. When this occurs the possessive pronouns will decline like any other adjective and will agree with the noun they are modifying in case and gender. In Biblical Greek the most common way a speaker/writer shows possession is by using a personal pronoun in the genitive Case.

John 20:28                      
ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Κύριός μου καὶ Θεός μου!
apekrithē Thōmas kai eipen autō ho Kyrios mou kai ho Theos mou!
he answered Thomas and he said to him the Lord my and the God my

Thomas answered and said to him,My Lord and my God.”

Genitive of Apposition

Apposition means “next to” or “beside.” Sometimes a second noun is placed next to a noun to add additional information (to further describe the head noun). The noun in apposition may be in the nominative case (Nominative of Apposition) or may be in the Genitive case (Genitive of Apposition). A word is probably standing in apposition to another noun if the translator could use the phrase “who is,” or the phrase “which is,” or the phrase “namely” followed by the noun in apposition. In the example below, “his mother” is in apposition to Mary. The phrase could be translated “They saw the young child with Mary (who is his mother).

Matthew 2:11              
εἶδον τὸ παιδίον μετὰ Μαρίας τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ
eidon to paidion meta Marias tēs mētros autou
they saw the child with Mary the mother of him.

They saw the young child with Mary his mother.

Genitive – Separation (or Source)

The Genitive Case may be used to indicate separation from or the source of an object. Therefore, the prepositions έκ and ἀπό naturally take their object in the Genitive case.

Some grammars describe eight cases and refer to this usage as “Ablative case.” There is no difference in form for a word in the Genitive Case and a word in the Ablative Case. Both terms ( the Genitive – Separation and Ablative) case refer to the same function indicating separation, or source. The Genitive Case may also be used for comparison, because a comparison of two objects indicates a separation of the two objects.

2 Corinthians 3:3      
ὅτι ἐστὲ ἐπιστολὴ Χριστοῦ
hoti este epistolē Christou
because you are a letter from Christ

that you are a letter from Christ

Matthew 2:1          
μάγοι ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν παρεγένοντο εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα
magoi apo anatolōn paregenonto eis Hierosolyma
Magi from (the) east they came into Jerusalem

learned men from the east arrived in Jerusalem

Luke 19:8                
τὰ ἡμίσιά μου τῶν ὑπαρχόντων Κύριε τοῖς πτωχοῖς δίδωμι
ta hēmisia mou tōn hyparchontōn Kyrie tois ptōchois didōmi
the half of my of possessions/goods Lord to the poor I give

Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor

Note: In this example “of goods” is a Genitive of Source. “My” is a Genitive of possession.

John 13:16            
οὐκ ἔστιν δοῦλος μείζων τοῦ κυρίου αὐτοῦ
ouk estin doulos meizōn tou kyriou autou
not he is a slave greater than lord his

a servant is not greater than his master Note: In this example we see the comparative function for the Genitive of Separation.

Genitive – Subject/Object

A word in the genitive case may also serve as the subject or object of the head noun. This can occur when the head noun contains a verbal idea such as witness, love, or hope.

Some verbs that involve the senses (ἀκούω), feelings (ἐπιύμέω), memory (μνημονεὐω), and verbs prefixed with ἀπό, ἐκ, or κατά will take their object in the Genitive case.

Matthew 24:27              
οὕτως ἔσται παρουσία τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ Ἀνθρώπου
houtōs estai parousia tou Huiou tou Anthrōpou
thus it will be the coming of the Son of Man

so will be the coming of the Son of Man

[In this example, the word παρουσία (or coming) contains a verbal idea. The subject of this verbal idea is τοῦ Υἱοῦ. It is referring to the Son’s coming. The writer could have said, “The son will come just like..”]

1 Corinthians 1:6              
καθὼς τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐβεβαιώθη ἐν ὑμῖν
kathōs to martyrion tou Christou ebebaiōthē en hymin
just as the testimony of Christ has been confirmed in you

just as the testimony about Christ has been confirmed [as true] among you

Note: In this case “Christ” is the recipient of the testimony. Therefore the smooth translation uses the term “about Christ.”
We have placed the words “as true” in brackets because these words are not in the Greek text, but they are implied by ἐβεβαιώθη.