Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript


Hi, everybody! Stefania here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Greek questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is “What are the most common uses of the genitive case?”
In everyday life, we see the genitive case being used for female last names, in names of some areas, and in most street names when the latter two are named after someone or something. However, grammatically speaking, the genitive case in speech is used in many ways, some of which are...
• As a direct or indirect object, or as an adverbial determiner completing the meaning of a verb.
• As a nominal determiner completing the meaning of a noun or an adjective.
• After some prepositions and adverbs.
Let's go into more detail. First, let's see the genitive case as a direct and indirect object.
Usually direct objects in Greek are in the accusative case and indirect objects are in the genitive; however, some verbs require a direct object in the genitive. Such verbs are...
• Verbs of expression, like απευθύνομαι (apefthínome, "to address"), γνέφω (gnéfo, "to wave/nod"), εξομολογούμαι (exomologúme, "to confess"), λέω (léo, "to say"), μιλάω (miláo, "to talk"), and χαμογελώ (hamoyeló, "to smile").
• Verbs of sensations, like αρέσω (aréso, "to like"), βρομάω (vromáo, "to stink"), ξινίζω (xinízo, "to be sour"), and μυρίζω (mirízo, "to smell").
• Verbs of ownership, like ανήκω (aníko, "to belong"), and βρίσκομαι (vrískome, "to have” [normally meaning "to be located"]).
• Verbs that denote an association, like αναλογώ (analogó, "to correspond"), μοιάζω (miázo, "to look like"), ταιριάζω (teriázo, "to match").
• Verbs that denote modality, like αξίζω (axízo, "to deserve") and χρειάζομαι (hriázome, "to need").
Another example is Σου μιλάω (Su miláo. "I'm talking to you"). Σου (Su) here is the direct object of the verb in the genitive case.
Now, when an object, direct or indirect, is in the genitive case, it usually answers the question Σε ποιον/ποια(ν)/ποιο; (Se pion/pian/pio? "To whom?") when we refer to the action of the verb. For example,
Η μαμά μού έδωσε το βιβλίο. → Σε ποιον έδωσε το βιβλίο; → Σε εμένα (μου).
(I mamá mú édose to vivlío. → Se pion édose to vivlío? → Se eména (mu).)
"Mom gave me the book." → To whom did she give the book? → To me.
Here are some sample sentences with the genitive case as an object.
Η κοπέλα αυτή της μοιάζει πολύ. (I kopéla aftí tis miázi polí.)
"This girl looks like her a lot."
Μου δίνεις λίγο το μολύβι σου; (Mu dínis lígo to molívi su?)
"Can you give me your pencil for a second?"
Following up, the genitive case can be a nominal or an adverbial determiner.
When a noun in the genitive case defines a different noun or an adjective that is not in the genitive case, then the noun in genitive is what we call a nominal determiner in genitive. Such a determiner might denote a lot of things, such as ownership, location, time, property, reason, matter, content, measurement, purpose, something that is part of a bigger group, family relationship, a creator, a simile, origin, comparison, close relation, volition, who or what does or receives an action, and separation. For example, Πήγα στο σπίτι της Θωμαής (Píga sto spíti tis Thomaís. "I went to Thomais' house"). The house belongs to Thomais so here the genitive expresses ownership.
Next, when a genitive case defines a verb in an adverbial sense, it might indicate things such as time, reason, means, manner, and result. For example, Θα επιστρέψει του χρόνου (Tha epistrépsi tu hrónu. "He will come back next year"). Here we are expressing time.
Some related sample sentences are.
Παρήγγειλα μια σαλάτα λαχανικών. (Paríngila mia saláta lahanikón.)
"I ordered a vegetable salad."
Πεθαίνω της πείνας. (Pethéno tis pínas.)
"I'm starving (lit. "dying of hunger")."
Next, the genitive case can be used after some prepositions and adverbs.
The prepositions that are mostly combined with genitive forming prepositional phrases are some archaic ones, like άνευ (ánef, "without"), διά (diá, "by means of"), εναντίον (enandíon, "against"), εκτός (ektós, "except"), εκ/εξ (ek/ex, "from"), εξαιτίας/λόγω (exetías/lógo, "due to"), μέσω (méso, "through"), μεταξύ (metaxí, "between"), προ (pro, "before"), and υπέρ (ipér, "in favor of"). Be careful as some other words might come between the preposition and the word in genitive. Prepositional phrases define a verb and indicate things such as location, time, reason, opposition, origin, means, exclusion, etc. depending on the meaning of the preposition and the context. For example, Ψηφίζω εναντίον σου (Psifízo enandíon su. "I vote against you"). Here we are expressing opposition.
Finally, sometimes an adverb may come before a word in the genitive case indicating things such as location, time, manner, and separation. For example, Θα είμαι πάντα κοντά σου (Tha íme kondá su. "I will always be near you"). Here we are expressing location.
Some other sample sentences are.
Είσαι εκτός θέματος. (Íse ektós thématos.)
"You're off topic."
Πετάει για Αμερική μέσω Λονδίνου. (Petái ya Amerikí méso Londínu.)
"He flies to America via London."


These were some of the most common uses of the genitive case. For more uses and examples, check out our grammar bank on GreekPod101.com. If you have any questions, leave me a comment.
Γεια χαρά! (Ya hará!)