Using the Russian Genitive Case for Attribution and Possession

  • July 19, 2017

In this post we'll discuss one of the most common uses of the genitive case in Russian: expressing attribution or possession. In English this use of the genitive case typically translates as of or using an 's after a noun. Let's look at a few examples:

Это собака моего брата.

This is my brother's dog.

In this sentence "my brother" is the owner of the dog so instead of the nominative мой брат we use the genitive "моего брата".


Word order is typically fairly flexible in Russian, but when we talk about possession we typically want the thing that is possessed (owned) before the thing or person who possesses it (owner)

Это собака моего брата.

Let's take a look at another example of using the genitive to express attribution: 

Вот фотография Москвы.

Here is a photograph of Moscow.

The regular nominative form of Moscow in Russian is Москва. Here change Москва into the genitive form Москвы to show the photograph is of Moscow

If you haven't learned about genitive endings you can check out our post on it. 


The genitive case is commonly used to show possession or attribution. Remember the thing being possessed comes before the person or thing who is possessing it. Once you get that, this use of the genitive is pretty easy!

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