In forms like Claudio's house or Claudio's dogs, are there languages in which the Claudio's would change depending on gender and number of the houses or dogs?

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    There are possessive adjectives, which fulfil the same function as personal pronouns in the genitive and have gender/number/case markings in many languages.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 13:59
  • It isn't quite what you're looking for but Korean has a notion of "inalienable possessives". So your hat is still your hat even if you aren't wearing it but your hand is [arguably] no longer YOUR hand if it gets chopped off. Hand is an example of an inalienable possession. The interesting part is that in Korean inalienable possessions received the same honourifics as their owner. "Halmeni-uy moca-ga yeybbe-yo" (Grandmother-GEN hat-SUB beautiful) v. "Halmeni-uy son-i yeybbu-sye-yo" (Grandother-GEN hand-SUB beautiful-HON)
    – acattle
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 9:52
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    @Cerberus not sure if it's what the questioner is looking for, but I think your comment deserves to be an answer given that many languages have possessive pronouns/adjectives that agree with the possessed object. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 14:35
  • Thanks to everyone. I am going to accept user1138's answer, being the most upvoted, but all your contributions have been incredibly useful. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 20:49
  • 2
    And you can read about Suffixaufnahme in its Wikipedia article for starters (-: Commented Jun 28, 2012 at 7:44

7 Answers 7


In Romani, the genitive case marker looks something like -kVrV or -gVrV, where V depends on the gender (and I believe number) of the object. So for instance, you have

me phral-es-kere         kher-es-koro     vudar
my brother-OBL-GEN.NEUT  house-OBL-GEN.M  door
'The door of my brother's house'

where kher is neuter and vudar is masculine.

  • 1
    Where did you take your example (glosses) from? Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2000 argues that Romani genitive involves three markers, a marker of the oblique stem ('es' for M.SG, 'a' for F.SG etc.), a genitive marker itself (-k-/-g-), and a marker of gender/case/number agreement with the head (e.g. 'o' for M.SG.NOM).
    – Alex B.
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 0:08
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    The examples are from a Romani grammar outline by Victor Friedman which I used in a class by him seelrc.org:8080/grammar/pdf/romani_bookmarked.pdf As for the glosses, I did them myself based on the glossing standard we used in that class, so they're probably not how other Romani linguistics would gloss them. Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 2:03

In Hindi and Urdu, the genitive particle is ka (masc), ki (fem), agreeing with the possessed.

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    It's not a coincidence that both languages given so far are both Indic; both ka and -kVrV come from the participle of Sanskrit kr, meaning to make or do: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%83 Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 0:54
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    Also, "ka"‌ and "ki" are masculine singular and feminine singular; a plural possessed(?) would have "ke". ("us ka ladka" = "his/her boy", "us ki ladki" = "his/her girl", "us ke ladke (ladkiya) = "his/her boys (girls)". So the particle agrees in both gender and number with the possessed. (BTW, although the above comment mentions Sanskrit, note that Sanskrit does not have this feature; in Sanskrit a word in genitive case changes according to the possessor, not the possessed.) Commented Mar 17, 2013 at 11:01

In most Grassfields Bantu languages of Cameroon, there is an associative morpheme which agrees with the possessed noun in a genitive construction. In the most minimal type of agreement, the associative marker is a floating low tone for noun classes 1 and 9, and a floating high tone otherwise. Noni, a Beboid language, has eighteen different genitive markers, depending on the noun class of the possessed noun (Hyman 1981: 19).

A mixed case is Nkwen, of the Ngemba group of Grassfields, which has a segmental genitive marker for classes 2, 5, 6 and 19 (agreeing with the possessed), a floating low tone genitive marker for classes 1 and 9, and a floating high tone marker for other classes. (Ncheafor 2002)

  • In Swahili, ‘of’ has the form of an adjective agreeing with the head noun. Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 6:03

Your question doesn't specify whether you are interested just in nouns or also in pronouns or adjectives.

In Spanish these forms of the possessive/genitive adjectives/pronouns (terminology depends on analysis/tradition) are inflected for number, and some also for gender, to agree with the possessed rather than with the possessor:

  • 1s: mi / mis
  • 2s: tu / tus
  • 3s/p: su / sus
  • 1p: nuestro / nuestra / nuestros / nuestras
  • 2p: vuestro / vuestra / vuestros / vuestras

This is common among Romance languages.


Most Slavic languages have such inflection form. It applies both nouns and pronouns and both possessor and possessed inflect in agreement.

My samples would be in Ukrainian.


Pron. 1st: Я
Son (noun, masc.): син
Daughter (noun, fem.): донька

"My son" (nominative/genitive/dative, other cases skipped):
мій син / мого сина / моєму сину or моєму синові

"My daughter" (nom./gen./dat.):
моя донька / моєї доньки / моїй доньці

Plural form: "my sons and daughters":
мої сини та доньки / моїх синів та доньок / моїм синам та донькам


Nouns (possessor) are inflected in a similar way:
Ivan (prop.noun): Іван

"Ivan's son" and "Ivan's sons" (nom./gen./dat.):
Іванів син / Іванового сина / Івановому сину
Іванові сини / Іванових синів / Івановим синам

"Ivan's daughter" (nom./gen./dat.):
Іванова донька / Іванової доньки / Івановій доньці

There's yet another way of forming possessive by placing the possessor at the end. This way, only possessed inflect while the possessor remains in genitive case only:

син Івана / сина Івана / сину Івана


Folks have listed examples of genitive constructions that agree with the gender or number of the possessum, and have mentioned Suffixaufnahme in the comments.

I can think of one non-suffixaufnahme example of genitive constructions agreeing with the possessum in case.

In Tsez, there are two genitive cases, chosen on the basis of the case of the possessum, -(e)s for absolutive possessa and -(e)z for all others


One could imagine that genitives agreeing with both object and subject represent a transition stage from genitive (as a case only agreeing with subject) to adjective. Cf. German Grimm’sch, alternative spelling grimmsch, where Grimms Bruder/Schwester only agrees with Grimm, but Grimm’scher Bruder is also congruent with obj., different from Grimm’sche Schwester and * grimmischer Bruder would only agree with the object of the genitive relation. The difference between these forms would be if one would like to focus more on the subject or the object, grimmisch making Grimm more abstract than "Grimms..."

  • As hippietrail and Cerberus have pointed out, possessive adj agree in their stem with the possessor and in their ending with the possessed in many languages inflecting nouns, e.g. Ger. seine Kuh vs. ihr Schaf
    – Abas
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 10:54

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