The Genitive Case

Formation of the Genitive Case

The genitive case is formed by modifying the ending of a noun. Although exceptions and special rules exist, these three simple rules are enough to cover how noun endings change in the vast majority of cases.

  1. -а → -и

  2. -o → -а
    -е → -а

  3. [consonant] + a

-а → -и

-o → -а
-е → -а

[consonant] + a

сестра → сестри

дівчина → дівчини

Надя → Надії1

слово → слова

місто → міста

море → моря2
сонце → сонця

брат → брата

читач → читача

лікар → лікаря3

1. We also have the rule я → ї.

2. With certain consonants, we have: e → я

3. With certain consonants we have: [consonant] + я

When to use the Genitive Case

  1. To express origin / possession / ownership.
    комісія - commission
    Звіт комісії - The commission’s report.

    собака - dog
    Батько собаки - The dog’s father

    Олег - Oleg
    Ноутбук Олега - Oleg’s notebook

  2. Where the English word “of” would be used.
    місяць - month
    кінець місяця - end of the month

  3. With the adverbs з (from), до (to), від (away from).
    Київ - Kiev, Львів - Lviv
    з Києва до Львова - from Kiev to Lviv*
    *Note that the vowels in the final syllable of a word can sometimes change in the genitive form.

  1. With the adverbs без (without).
    молоко - milk
    кава без молока

Tip on remembering how to use the genitive case:

So what does the word “genitive” even mean, and why is this one case used for so many different grammatical situations? The common theme behind all the different uses of the genitive case is one of either “origin” (the word genitive comes from the Latin word “genesis”), or of “negation / absence” (as with negative sentences and with the preposition без - “without”).

Genitive as expressing origin:

We can think of possession / belonging as expressing that the owner is the “origin” of an object. The verbs із and від both mean “from”, and indicate “being from” a place, or movement “away from” a place, again having this idea of “coming from” a point of origin. Even location words that use the genitive can be thought of as expressing location of something relative to a point of origin.