Are there languages that grammatically distinguish between objective and subjective genitives?

1 Answer 1


English has two main types of genitive construction, the "Saxon genitive" (John's) and the "prepositional genitive" (of John). When they're used together, the Saxon genitive is always the subjective, and the prepositional genitive is always the objective: "John's love of Matt" is always John loving Matt, not the other way around.

Note that this only applies when both are used together. The prepositional genitive can also be subjective when it's on its own, as seen in the linked question.

  • 1
    I think it would be better to say that the genitive in English is a type of case marked by an apostrophe on a noun. The of construction does not therefore qualify as genitive case, but simply as head + of complement. I've never heard of subjective/objective genitives.
    – BillJ
    Sep 25, 2022 at 8:50
  • 2
    @BillJ As mentioned in the linked question, it's a term from classical grammar (i.e. older analyses of Latin and Greek).
    – Draconis
    Sep 25, 2022 at 15:44

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