The genitive case, introduced as اضافه (“ezâfe”) in most grammar references, is a grammatical case that marks a relationship between two or more words. The genitive case marks various relationships including most of the relationships that are translated into English with the preposition “of”. For example, in “the color of the sky”, the noun phrase “the sky” is related to the noun phrase “the color” using the genitive case. In more grammatical terms, the prepositional phrase “of the sky” modifies “the color”.

Genitive Case in Persian

In Persian, grammatical cases are indicated with case markers rather than inflection. The genitive cased is marked with “e”. To resolve vowel hiatus, “e” becomes “ye” after vowels. This is similar to English “a” that becomes “an” before vowel sounds. Short vowels including “e”, are not normally written in Persian script. As a result, the genitive marker does not appear in writing unless it is pronounced “ye”.

The genitive case is also used to indicate a possessive relationship.

The genitive marker is by convention, written attached to its preceding word using a hyphen. However, this is not actually correct. “e” is a distinct word with a distinct grammatical role. This is demonstrated when it modifies a group of words rather than a single word. In the following example, the genitive marker functions on the whole phrase (“the father and the mother”) and not just on its preceding word (“mother”). The genitive marker was written as a separate word in Middle Persian.

An adjective is a word that modifies a noun. For example, in “black hat” the adjective “black” modifies the noun “hat”. In Persian, adjectives are related to the noun or noun phrase they modify using the genitive case.

The genitive case can modify a noun phrase that is itself modified by another noun phrase. In the following example, “pedar-e Sârâ” (father of Sarah) modifies “dust” (the friend).

The genitive case can express several relationships in a sentence. In the following example, “bânk-e markazi” (central bank) and “Jomhuri-ye Eslâmi” (Islamic Republic) are attributive relationships that form a possessive relationship with “Irân” (Iran).

Genitive of Pronouns

Personal pronouns have free and bound forms. Bound personal pronouns are used as they are in the genitive case.

Singular Plural
1st Person ــَـ م
ــِـ مان
2nd Person ــَـ ت
ــِـ تان
3rd Person ــَـ ش
ــِـ شان

The genitive marker is added to free personal pronouns and creates their genitive form.

Singular Plural
1st Person ــِـ من
-e man
(of mine)
ــِـ ما
-e mâ
(of ours)
2nd Person ــِـ تو
-e to
(of you)
ــِـ شما
-e shomâ
(of you)
3rd Person ــِـ او
-e u
(of him/her)
ــِـ آن
-e ân
(of it)
ــِـ آنها
-e ânhâ
(of them)

They are used to express possession and function as possessive adjectives. The free forms are strong and denote more emphasis.

Genitive of Prepositions

The genitive case governs certain prepositions including the following prepositions.