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  First steps in Latin Grammar  

1. Nouns and verbs

2. Subjects and objects

3. Word order

4. Practice

5. Declensions and cases

6. Nominative and

accusative cases

7. Genitive case

8. Dative case

9. Gender

10. Ablative case

11. Final practice

ANSWERS

 

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7 - The genitive case

A noun in the genitive case can almost always be translated into English with the preposition ‘of’ in front of it:

              

One very common meaning of the genitive is the possessive. In all three examples above, the noun in the genitive owns the other noun. To translate the possessive genitive into English we often use the apostrophe (the farmer’s bull, the master’s slave, the woman’s villa). This possessive apostrophe is what is left of the Old English genitive.

The Latin genitive, the ‘of’ case, can have other meanings too. Possession is only a part of the story – and there’s a clue: ‘a part of the story’. The genitive case can express the whole of which something is a part, the ‘partitive’ genitive, as in ‘half of the cake’, ‘some of the soldiers’, ‘most of the wine’, etc.

It is still the ‘of’ case, whether possessive or partitive. Broadly speaking the genitive is the ‘belonged-to’ case, the source or origin or owner, and it usually appears with another word which does the belonging.

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