Genitive Case (Chaṭṭhī)
Usage of Cases
Genitive Case (Chaṭṭhī)
The genitive case is used to indicate relation or possession. It is translated as ‘of’.
Please remember the genetive forms of the noun ‘buddha’ :
(of the Buddha)
(of the Buddhas)
Let us translate a few Pali phrases and sentences into English.
- ācariyassa putto = the son of the teacher / the teacher’s son
- vāṇijassa assā = the horses of the merchant / the merchant’s horses
- bhūpālassa pāsādo = the king’s palace
- kumārānaṃ mittā = the friends of the boys / the boys’ friends
- buddhassa sāvakā = the disciples of the Buddha
- Kumārānaṃ mittā maggena dhāvanti.
The friends of the boys run along the road.
- Ācariyo bhūpālassa pāsādaṃ gacchati.
The teacher goes to the king’s palace.
- Upāsakā buddhassa sāvake vandanti.
The lay devotees honour / pay respect to the disciples of the Buddha.
- Brāhmaṇo ācariyassa puttena saddhiṃ bhāsati.
The brahmin speaks with the teacher’s son.
- Yācako ācariyassa puttamhā bhattaṃ yācati.
The beggar asks for food from the teacher’s son.
Please note that the genitive case is used to show relation between two nouns (E.g. teacher – son, king – palace, boys – friends etc.) and is not affected by the other nouns or verb in the sentence.
Please consider the sentences No. 9 & 10.
In sentence No. 9, the brahmin speaks ‘with’ the teacher’s son, hence the word ‘putta’ takes up instrumental case. And in sentence No. 10, the beggar asks for food ‘from’ the teacher’s son, hence the word ‘putta’ takes up ablative case. However in both the sentences the word ‘ācariya’ takes up genitive case as it shows relation : ācariyassa putto – the teacher’s son.
Another important point to note about the genitive case is the order of the words. We have seen that the order of the words is not important in a Pali sentence and sentences can be translated correctly irrespective of the word order. But when a genitive case is used to show relation between two nouns, these two words normally come one after the other in a sentence. If these two nouns are placed apart, the meaning of the sentence may change.
Let us understand this concept with the help of some examples.
Please consider the Pali sentences :
1. Naro kakacena kassakassa rukkhe chindati.
2. Vāṇijo ācariyassa puttena saddhiṃ rathena vihāraṃ gacchati.
The above sentences will be translated as :
1. The man cuts the farmer’s trees with a saw.
2. The merchant, along with the teacher’s son, goes to the monastery by (in) a chariot.
If we rearrange the words and make the sentences as :
1. Naro kassakassa kakacena rukkhe chindati.
2. Vāṇijo puttena saddhiṃ ācariyassa rathena vihāraṃ gacchati.
Now that the combination of genitive case and the following noun has changed, the sentences will be translated as :
1. The man cuts the trees with the farmer’s saw.
2. The merchant, along with (his) son, goes to the monastery by (in) the teacher’s chariot.
Thus, when there are multiple nouns in a sentence and some relation is shown between two or more nouns, it is important to pay attention to the word order / placement of these nouns in the sentence.
Let us revise these three cases – Dative, Ablative and Genitive case.