The most common definition of the genitive case is that it shows possession. (The genitive case is used for other constructions, but this is the most common usage.)

In English, we have two options to show possession, either through the addition of an ‘s, s’ or ‘, depending on the ending of the word, or to place an “of the” between the possessed and the possessor, respectively.

In Latvian, the possessor (in the genitive case) always precedes the possessed. All bets are off when it comes to poetry, however.

Unlike in Spanish, where genitive constructions can be literally translated in English as a “[thing] of [person]”, Latvian constructs its genitive basically as English does – “[person’s] [thing]”.

The possessor will be in the genitive case while the object of possession will appear in the case required by the sentence’s structure.  This could be nominative or locative, for example.

Returning to our cat and mouse game, we get:

  • Kaķa pele. The cat’s mouse.
  • Peles kaķis. The mouse’s cat.
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