Case genitive


In Koiné Greek, the genitive case ending serves a wide variety of functions. Most commonly, it expresses possession, meaning that the term containing the genitive case ending possesses (in some way) the word it describes. However, it can also express other meanings as well.


In Koiné Greek, the genitive case ending has potential to express the widest range of meanings of all the various case endings. The genitive case ending can express possession, description, kinship, apposition, separation, the subject of a verbal idea, the object of a verbal idea, and others. Often, a specific word with a genitive case ending may seem to fit into more than one category. In these cases, the final determination of the meaning must be based upon context.

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 formed by adding the Genitive case ending to the stem of a word (often with a connecting vowel). Usually, 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.


A word with a possession genitive case ending owns or possesses (in some way) the object that is being described. This kind of genitive is often translated into English using the word “of.”

need example here

However, the most common way a speaker/writer expresses possession is by using a personal pronoun in the genitive case. In these cases, the personal pronoun is translated into English using English possessive pronouns (“my,” “your,” “their,” etc.).

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.”

Sometimes a possessive pronoun is used to express possession. Some common possessive pronouns in Koiné Greek include ἐμός (“my”), σός (“your”), ἡμέτερος (“our”), ὑμέτερος (“your”), or ἵδιος (“his”) are sometimes used In these cases, the possessive pronouns will look like any other adjective and will agree with the noun they are describing in case and gender.


A word with an attributive genitive case ending functions very much like a typical adjective. The word with the genitive case ending expresses some general attribute (or description) of the word it is describing. This kind of genitive is often translated into English using the word “of.”

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.              


A word with a material genitive case ending indicates either (1) the substance of which an object is made or (2) something which an object contains. In both cases, the “object” is the word being described by the term containing the genitive case ending. This kind of genitive is often translated into English using the words “of,” “with,” or “by.”

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


A word with a kinship genitive case ending describes some kind of kinship relationship. In most cases, this kind of genitive refers someone who is the physical descendent (son or daughter) of another person. However, it can refer to someone who is a descendant several generations later, or even someone who is a descendant in a relational sense and not a physical sense. For example, in Luke 13:16 the woman is called a “daughter of Abraham” even though many centuries had passed since Abraham died. The woman was still considered to be a daughter of Abraham. This kind of genitive is often translated into English using the word “of.”

Matthew 4:21        
Ἰάκωβον τὸν   τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου
Iakōbon ton   tou Zebedaiou
James the (son) of Zebedee
James the son of Zebedee        
Luke 24:10        
καὶ Μαρία   Ἰακώβου
kai Maria   Iakōbou
and Mary the (mother of) James
and Mary the mother of James        


A word with an apposition genitive case ending describes in some way the preceding word (which also has a genitive case ending). It functions very much like an adjective, except it is usually not an adjective, but a noun instead. Apposition is the term used when a noun describes (or gives more information about) another noun. This kind of genitive can be translated into English a variety of different ways, depending on the specific context. Some common ways of translation an apposition genitive into English include “who is,” “which is,” “namely,” a simple comma, or sometimes not translated at all. In the example below, the noun “mother” is in genitive case and is in apposition to the noun “Mary.” The apposition genitive indicates that Mary is the mother of the child specified in the sentence.

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.              

Separation/Source (or Ablative)

A word with a separation/source genitive case ending indicates some kind of separation from, movement away from, or the source of some object. Some grammars call this specific kind of genitive case ending the “ablative” case ending. However, there is no difference in form between the “genitive” case ending and the “ablative” case ending. They appear exactly the same. As might be expected, the prepositions έκ (“out of”) and ἀπό (“from”) require their object to have the genitive case ending. This kind of genitive can also be used to express a comparison between two objects (as a function of a “separation” of the two objects in view).

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.


A word with a subject/object genitive case ending indicates either the subject or object of a verbal idea. In the example below, the word παρουσία (“coming”) refers to a verbal idea. The subject of this verbal idea is τοῦ Υἱοῦ (“the Son”). The genitive case ending for the term τοῦ Υἱοῦ indicates that “the Son” is the one who is “coming.”

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 the example below, the term τὸ μαρτύριον refers to the verbal idea of “testifying.” The object of this verbal idea is τοῦ Χριστοῦ (“the Christ”). The genitive case ending for the term indicates the “the Christ” is the one about whom someone is “testifying.”

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              

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]