Currently, exactly two questions are tagged with the tag, compared with many that are tagged with the tag. Furthermore, has no tag wiki, whereas does.

I propose that one of two different things be done: either ❶ merge into and make it a tag synonym, or else ❷ arrive at some reasonable description for that makes it distinct from , and to have this description writ into its tag wiki.

I favor the merge-and-synonymize solution myself, because I do not believe that there is an English “genitive” that differs in any meaningful way from a possessive. I may be wrong, though, and I would be glad to be shown that the second solution would therefore be preferable.

Even when discussing pronouns instead of nouns or noun phrases, which is the only place where something of the Old English case system is preserved, I do not see where it makes any sense to use one word over the other.

I am thinking that in all these cases, one could call it a possessive without losing any nuance that might be had by calling it a genitive:

  • possessive noun phrase: the King of Spain’s hat
  • possessive noun: Billy’s hat
  • possessive determiner: my hat
  • possessive pronoun: mine
  • “double”-possessive: a friend of Bill’s, a friend of mine

Perhaps “genitive” might arise when contrasting the “Norman genitive” (the king of Spain) with the “Saxon genitive” (Spain’s king), but I don’t see any strong advantage to keeping separate tags.

Plus even if we somehow come up with a nuanced distinction between the two terms genitive and possessive, I don’t believe most users of the site would recognize that distinction, and so doing so would be counter-productive.

  • 2
    I concur. Any nuance lost can be introduced to postings when needed. And it's my understanding that the Roman grammarians who invented genitivus misunderstood the Greek term they were translating. Commented Oct 14, 2012 at 23:01

2 Answers 2


Concur - thie is English SE, and in English as you point out this is mostly a distinction without a difference.

Also, as an added benefit, merging the tags might help people understand that possessive and genitive are (essentially) the same in English.


To take action on this, go to the following page and vote for making "genitive" a synonym of "possessive":


  • 1
    Woo-hoo! It actually allowed me to vote! (I'd still like it better the other way around, but a wrong-direction synonym is better than no synonym.)
    – Marthaª
    Commented Oct 18, 2012 at 22:44
  • I’m marking this complete because it’s been synonymized some time ago, and no merges are pending.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 15:57

Any chance we could do this the other way around, i.e. make genitive the official tag and possessive a synonym? After all, a possessive is unarguably a type of genitive, but even in English, the genitive is not a type of possessive.

  • 3
    In the abstract I'm not fond of any of the Latinate terms; but I think we should be looking for the term which the largest number of visitors will have been exposed to, and I think that's possessive. Commented Oct 15, 2012 at 19:27
  • 5
    @StoneyB, that's true; but on the other hand, this is supposed to be a site for experts, or at least people who play them on TV. Also, the way tag synonyms work, people who only know "possessive" will type that, and it'll be replaced with "genitive" pretty much silently.
    – Marthaª
    Commented Oct 15, 2012 at 19:43
  • 3
    Fersher; but the practical definition of "experts" is "people who can't agree on terminology". Commented Oct 15, 2012 at 19:45
  • LOL! I like that definition. :)
    – Marthaª
    Commented Oct 15, 2012 at 19:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .