What is the Genitive Case and the Possessive?

In English, if we wanted to mark a noun as the possessor (the owner) of another noun, we do it by adding “-‘s” to the possessor noun (the first noun) and that would be enough. If you want to show possession in Turkish, we need to add a Genitive Case suffix to the possessor and the possessive marker to the possessed noun:

 

The Possessor (Genitive Case)The Possessed (Possessive Marker)
BenimMyarabamcar
Ayşe‘ninAyşe’skalemipencil

 

Please look at the chart to see how possessive adjectives are made:

Personal PronounsPersonal Adjectives
BenIBenimMy
SenYouSeninYour
OHe/She/ItOnunHis/Her/Its
BizWeBizimOur
SizYouSizinYour
OnlarTheyOnlarınTheir

 

The possesed markers that come after the possessive adjectives change according to the possessor adjectives and the Vowel Harmony of the noun:

Possessive AdjectivesMarkers after a consonantMarkers after a vowel
Benim-im / -ım / -um / -üm-m
Senin-in / -ın / -un / -ün-n
Onun-i / -ı / -u / -ü-si / -sı / -su / -sü
Bizim-imiz / -ımız / -umuz / -ümüz-miz / -mız / -muz / -müz
Sizin-iniz / -ınız / -unuz / -ünüz-niz / -nız / -nuz / -nüz
Onların-i / -ı / -u / -ü  or -leri / -ları-si / -sı / -sü  or  -leri / -ları

 

To make more sense of this chart, let’s see some sentence examples:

  • Benim arabam – My car
  • Senin bisikletin – Your bicycle
  • Onların okulu – Their school
  • Bizim evimiz – Our home
  • Onun  adı – His name
  • Sizin arkadaşınız – Your friend
  • Senin ablan – Your sister
  • Benim hayatım – My life

 

We don’t always have to use possessive adjectives in front of a possessed noun, because the case markers after the possessed, already indicate who it belongs to:

  • Arabam – My car
  • Bisikletin – Your bicycle

 

Apart from personal adjectives, the Genitive Case can also be used with proper nouns:

  • Ahmetin arabası – Ahmet’s car.
  • Burakın annesi – Burak’s mother.
  • Ayşenin evi – Ayşe’s home
  • Leylanın arkadaşı – Leyla’s friend

 

When we’re using the genitive case marker with special names, an apostrophe needs to be used between the marker and the noun. If you also noticed the last two examples, if the possessor ends in a vowel, then a buffer letter “-n” is added between the noun and the marker to create a harmony.

 

Consonant Assimilation and the Possessive Marker

Another point you need to be careful with is when you add the Possessive marker to a word ending with a consonant, be aware of Consonant Assimilation. If you remember from the “Vowel Harmony & Consonant Assimilation” topic, you need to change the sounds “p,t,ç,k” to “b,d,c,ğ” whenever you add a suffix to it:

  • Ayşe’nin kitabı (kitap) – Ayşe’s book
  • Arabanın rengi (renk) – The car’s color
  • Arkadaşımın çocuğu (çocuk) – My friends’ child
  • Zeynep’in sözlüğü (sözlük) – Zeynep’s dictionary

 

Possessive Marker and The Existential “var/yok”

In order to indicate that you have or don’t have a possession of something, you can use the existential words “var” meaning “have” and “yok” meaning “don’t have”.

  • Ayşe’nin kitabı var – Ayşe has a book
  • Arkadaşımın çocuğu yok – My friend doesn’t have a child
  • Zeynep’in sözlüğü var – Zeynep has a dictionary
  • Benim kedim yok – I don’t have a cat.
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