noun in the genitive case is used mainly to restrict the scope of another noun.
In this way, its effect is often much like an adjective.
A noun in the genitive case usually restricts the other noun to which it is
associated (which can be in any case) to a particular person or thing or to
a particular quality or material:
- the coat of the woman
- the coat of leather
- the day of judgment
Other cases (nominative,
relate more clearly to the overall structure or skeleton of a sentence (see
Cases). Genitives relate more directly to another
noun than to the overall structure of the sentence. It is a "spot of colour,"
or qualifier of some sort, on another noun in the sentence rather than on
the basic structure of the sentence itself.
Since nouns in the genitive
case usually merely add a spot of colour to another noun in the sentence,
in a difficult sentences it is best to set genitive case nouns aside until
the basic skeleton of the sentence has been constructed (subject, predicate,
direct object, indirect object).
USES OF THE GENITIVE
- motion from
- kind of time
is the most common use of the genitive case. English shows possession in one
of two ways: by
a prepositional phrase ("of...") or by changing the form of a word by adding
an apostrophe and "s" ('s). Greek simply changes the form of the word that
identifies the possessor to the genitive case. That word may stand before
or after the thing possessed.
MOTION FROM: The
genitive case noun is often used with a preposition to indicate the object
from which another object has moved: He went from the house They came out
of the city. She walked through the village. In these sentences, 'house,'
city,' and 'village' would be in the genitive case in Greek. (See Prepositions
AGENT: If the passive
voice of a verb is used, the subject will not be the one doing the action
(the subject is passive). To indicate the one who does the action, Greek puts
the person or things doing the action in the genitive case within a prepositional
phrase begun with "hypo". [These are the main uses. A variety of other uses
Consider the game Clue. One might conclude: "The murder was done by
Professor Plum in the ballroom with a knife." In Greek, a prepositional
phrase is used also in this context. You could say "Professor Plum committed
the murder in the ballroom with a knife." The scenario would be the same.
In both cases, Professor Plum commits the crime. Whether Professor Plum is
the subject of the sentence is merely the whim of the author.
KIND OF TIME: A
noun expressing time, if in the genitive case, often expresses the kind of
time, as in the expression "He went by night." In Greek,
the expression "by night" would be indicated by simply the Greek
word 'night' in the genitive case. (See TIME