English Grammar – The Possessive Case Versus The Genitive Case

Lots of English students like you have been asking me over the years about possessive case. So, I want to answer one of the main questions I get asked by English students…because it will help you understand the English language better.

See, we just went all out and created a series of lessons about this grammar structure for the latest mini-story module that we just released at EXLenglish.com

It’s really exciting, because we teach you all about the differences between the:

* Possessive Case

* Possessive Pronouns

* Possessive Adjectives

And on top of that…we created a series of mini-stories that focuses on this grammar structures…which means that you don’t just learn the theory behind the lesson…

Because, you also hear these Possessive Case structures being used in the mini-stories so you can assimilate them and learn how they are used in context…which means that you will master them much more quickly and easily.

Now, one of the biggest confusions that most English students seem to face is the difference between the ‘Genitive Case’ and the ‘Possessive Case’.

Many English students often have the mistaken idea that the ‘Genitive’ and ‘Possessive’ cases are synonymous – when in fact they are not because…

The Possessive Case Is A Subset of The Genitive Case

Let me try to explain this for you in plain English…without getting bogged down in too much detail here. So, think of the Genitive Case as a large cake.

Got it? Okay.

So, now imagine cutting out a big piece of that cake and putting it on your plate. That piece of cake represents the Possessive Case.

Does that make sense to you? In other words, the possessive case is a part of the genitive case.

So, if we wanted to define each of these terms just so that you understand them clearly this is what it would look like:

* The Genitive Case suggests the relationships between nouns

* The Possessive Case is used to indicate the relationship of possession between nouns.

Now how is that for some short, sweet, and simple definitions?

But now, I’m sure you want some more examples to help you really understand the difference here.

So, let’s see what we can come up with.

Some Live Examples

Let’s look at some different examples here of the ‘Genitive Case’. We can have a sample sentence that looks like this:

The texture of the sand (the sand’s texture)

This is the possessive case. It refers to the relationship between the sand and its texture. It lets us know that this texture belongs to the sand.

‘The pile of sand’

This is a ‘Genitive Case’ because it describes the relationship between the sand and the pile (composition). However, neither of these nouns possesses or belongs to the other. Therefore, it is not ‘Possessive’

So, if someone calls the ‘Possessive Case’ the ‘Genitive Case’ they are correct. There is nothing wrong with that.

But just realize that even though all ‘Possessives’ are part of the ‘Genitive Case’…not all ‘Genitives’ are automatically ‘Possessive’.

Alright! I hope that help clear up some of the confusion about the differences/similarities between the ‘Possessive Case’ and the ‘Genitive Case’.

If you have any more questions…just contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.

About The Author

English Consulting Expert David A. Bailey, Jr uses powerful Grammar Mini-Story Lessons to help his English students master the Possessive Case implicitly. Now, he is releasing his simple and easy-to-understand English Grammar Mini-Story Lessons at the VIP English Club to help you master the Possessive Case quickly and easily.


  1. I have one question about “Posessive Case”.
    There are some examples:
    “a house of my dream”. Here we can say “a dream house”.
    “the legs of the table”. Here we also can say “table legs”
    “the handle of the door” – “a door handle”
    “the side of the house”. It seems to me that here we cannot say “a side house”. Why?
    Are there any certain phrases that can be used only with preposition “of” and nouns that can be simply combined together without adding ” ‘s “?

  2. surat chauhan says:

    thanks it was a justfy answar to understand the diference of genitive and possessive case.

  3. Richard Covini says:

    Please comment on the use of the apostrophy in exressions like St. Paul’s Church and St. Paul’s School. Many people are dropping the apostrophy, claiming thatt St. Paul doesn’t own the church or the school; therefor the apostrophy should not be used. I’m from the oid school. I think that in these cases the apostrophy does not indicate possession but some other form of the genitive, maybe the genitive of association. But I don’t know what kind of association.. .
    I would appreciation anything you have to say. Thanks.

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