Lesson 10: Possessive

And now for something that should have appeared several lessons ago, we present THE POSSESSIVE! If you are using your Romanian, I'm sure you have needed to say "my car" or "my house" by now.

There are three ways to denote possession. You will like two of them. The third...well, let's not talk about that till we have to.

1. Possessive Adjective
2. The "AL" Construction
3. Dative Genitive

*These terms were mostly created by us just to make us sound like real linguists. Don't be confused!

1. Possessive Adjectives

The easiest and perhaps the most familiar form of possession corresponds to 'my', 'your', 'his', etc.

English Masculine Singular Masculine Plural Feminine Singular Feminine Plural
my meu mei mea mele
your tău tăi ta tale
his/her său săi sa sale
his lui lui lui lui
her ei ei ei ei
our nostru noștri noastră noastre
y'all's vostru voștri voastră voastre
your (formal) dumneavoastră dumneavoastră dumneavoastră dumneavoastră

Remember that words of neutral gender behave like masculine nouns in the singular and like feminine nouns in the plural. Note also that the thing that is owned MUST be in the definite form:
The nominative of "dog" is "cîine". The definite for masculine nouns ending in e is "-le" thus "the dog" would be "cîinele". The word is masculine so you use the masculine singular from the chart above: "meu". The possessive adjective follows the noun: "my dog" = "cîinele meu".

For the definite form of "mașină" (car) you would change the ă into an a: "the car" = "mașina". Then just add the corresponding possessive adjective from the chart above: "mașina mea"(my car). The neuter word Hotel would take the masculine possessive adjective in the singular: "Hotelul meu"(my hotel) and the feminine plural in the plural: "Hotelurile mele". This is of course much simpler for "his", "her", or "their" because "lui", "ei" and "lor" do not change for plural or gender.

Example Sentences:
Ceasul meu e stricat. My watch is broken.
Unde e mașina ta? Where is your car?
Aceștia nu sînt pantalonii mei. These are not my pants.
Dă-mi banii tăi, cheile tale, și portofelul tău! Give me your money, keys and wallet!
Casa noastră e mai mare decît casa voastră. Our house is bigger than your house.

2. The "AL" Construction

If you want to say 'mine', 'yours', or 'his' you must use the AL construction:

Male Female Neutral
singular al a al
plural ai ale ale

GRAMMAR NOTE: Notice that words of neutral gender in the singular behave like masculine words, but they behave like feminine words when in the plural. You will see this pattern often.

Now let me try and make sense of that graph for you! If the object owned is masculine and singular, for example, you would use al instead of the object, followed by the corresponding meu form.

For example:
prietenul meu (my friend) becomes al meu (mine)

This is why you need it: If you don't use it, you will sound like a robot, as has been avoided in the following example sentences:
"My friend isn't here yet"
"Mine isn't either."
"Neither mine nor yours is here."
"Thank you captain obvious!"

In Romanian that would be:

"Prietenul meu încă nu este aici."
"Nici al meu."
"Nici al meu nici al tău nu este aici."
('nici' means 'nor' and is repeated before each noun)

HINT: try to think of al meu as just being the English word 'mine' although it is two words and feels kind of strange.

"A Friend of Mine"
Sometimes, just for the heck of it, you might want to say something like: "A friend of mine". This especially comes in handy since the word prietenă (friend) could mean 'girlfriend' in the right (or wrong!) context. But saying 'a friend of mine' always means "just a friend". The same, of course, is true for prieten meaning 'boyfriend'.

To say this in Romanian, you can say de for 'of' :

A friend of mine.
O prietenă de a mea

An alternate usage is to leave out the "de":

Niste prieteni ai mei Some friends(masculine or mixed) of mine.
Niste prietene ale mele Some friends(feminine) of mine.
Niste scrisori ale lor Some letters of theirs.

You can add the de without change of meaning:

Niște prieteni de ai mei Some friends(masculine or mixed) of mine.
Niște prietene de ale mele Some friends(feminine) of mine.
Niște scrisori de ale lor Some letters of theirs.

3. Dative/Genetive Case

The third method of expressing ownership is to use the Dative/Genetive case. This case, like the definite article, is a suffix.

Gender Singular Plural
masculine - ui -lor
feminine - ei* -lor
*Often this ending is "-ii". We'll cover the important words that take this special ending.

The masculine dative/genetive suffix is added to the singular definite form of any masculine or neuter word in the singular, and the feminine suffix is added to the plural indefinite of feminine words.
The following chart shows three typical feminine words in the singular Dative/Genetive:

Nominative/Accusative Plural Dative/Genetive
fată fete fetei
declerație declerații declerației
casă case casei

The following chart shows three masculine words and one neuter word in the singular Dative/Genetive:

Nominative/Accusative Definite Dative/Genetive
bărtbat bărbatul bărbatului
cîine cîinele cîinelui
om omul omului
hotel* hotelul hotelului

*"Hotel" is neuter but remember that neuter words act masculine in the singular.

For any word in the plural regardless of gender you add "-lor" to the plural indefinite form.

Singular Plural Dative/Genetive
băiat băieți băieților
om oameni oamenilor
familie familii familiilor
fată fete fetelor
hotel hoteluri hotelurilor

And now to cover those pesky "-ii" words. Unfortunately there is no solid rule, you'll just have to learn which words take it. One great help is that ALL words ending in "-tate" change to "-tății", and words ending in "-are" change to "-ării".
stare -> stării (state of being)
facultate -> facultății (university)
omenire -> omenirii (humanity)

Other important words that take the -ii suffix:

mașină -> mașinii (car)
biserică -> bisericii (church)
limbă -> limbii (tongue, language)
țară -> țării

IMPORTANT GRAMMAR NOTE: Adjectives can also take the dative/genitive endings!

Don't forget that objects owned must be definite! And now for some example sentences! (yey!)

Mașina bunului meu prieten. The car of my good friend.
Prințul păcii. The prince of peace.
Cauciucul mașinii albastre*. The blue car's tire.
Păstorul bisericii noastre*. The pastor of our church.
Casa tatălui meu. My father's house.
Toate cuvintele ale limbi Române*. All the words of the Romanian language.
A fost rucsacul soțului meu. That was my husband's backpack.

*REMEMBER that to get the Dative/genetive form of feminine words you must build off of the plural form, even when the word is in the singular. Keeping that in mind, adjectives following singular feminine nouns take plural endings:

Fata frumoasă = The beautiful girl
Fete frumoase = Beautiful girls
Fetei frumoase = of/to the beautiful girl
Fetelor frumoase = of/to the beautiful girls

One last note: When using the Dative/Genetive form of people's names you use the word "lui" (i.e. not the suffix) for men's names and the regular suffix for feminine names:

Casa lui Florin. Florin's house.
Fiul lui Emil. Emil's son.

Casa Magdalenei. Magdalena's house.
Fiul Mariei. Maria's son.

For simplicity's sake, in the spoken language it is very common to hear people use "lui" with female names as well as men's names. This is especially true for foriegn women's names that don't end in an "a" anyways:

Casa lui Ingrid.
Fiul lui Maria.

Lesson 9: Reflexive Verbs Main Page Lesson 11: Go use what you've learned!