Personal Possession in Romanian: Part 1


In Romanian there are several ways to indicate the possessive. One of them follows some rather lengthy but logical rules and we’ll get into that one at a later time.

Today we’re going to talk about people’s possessions when you USE THEIR NAME. What follows is only for when using a person’s actual name.

In English it’s quite simple – if it is a car and it is John’s “possession” then we say “John’s car”. Spanish/Italian are also quite simple, just “coche/maquina/carro de Juan”.

Romanian is a little more complicated (gee, who’d a thunk it? :P).

If the person is a male, you just add “lui” in front of the guy’s name.

Masina lui Bogdan – Bogdan’s car.
Casa lui John – John’s house

For women, it’s a little trickier. Many Romanian female names end in the letter “a”. In this case, the name switches to the dative or the “of the” form used in declining nouns.

Example:

Maria are o casa – Maria has a house
Este casa Mariei – It is Maria’s house.

This includes foreign names as well! So if your name is Lisa, it would be “este casa Lisei” to indicate possession.

However some Romanian names end in “ca”, including the extremely popular one “Anca”. This one is a little different.

Anca are o casa – Anca has a house.
Este casa Ancăi – It is Anca’s house.

However if you have a female name that doesn’t end in the letter “a”, whether it’s Romanian or not, you just use the same form as the masculine:

Carmen are o casa – Carmen has a house.
Este casa lui Carmen – It is Carmen’s house

It’s also important to understand what to do if you want to say it belongs to someone when you’re using their last (or family) name.

Ionescu are o casa – Ionescu has a house
E casa lui Ionescu – It’s Ionescu’s house.

However if you want to say “Mister/Miss” before the last name, that has to be declined normally.

Domnul Ionescu are o casa – Mr. Ionescu has a house
Este casa domnului Ionescu – It’s Mr. Ionescu’s house.

Doamna Ionescu are o casa – Mrs. Ionescu has a house.
Este casa doamnei Ionescu – It’s Mrs. Ionescu’s house.

If you’ve ever seen the movie The Death of Mr. Lazarescu you might remember it is called in Romanian Moartea domnului Lazarescu. Now you know why!

Likewise if the person has any kind of “title” before their name (first OR last), the title gets declined while the name does not.

Elevul Bogdan are o casa – The student Bogdan has a house
Este casa elevului Bogdan – It is Bogdan the student’s house

Eleva Elena are o casa – The student Elena has a house
Este casa elevei Elena – It is Elena the student’s house

Wow! See? That wasn’t so hard.

AND NOW YOU KNOW!

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Magda says:

    I understand what you are trying to say, though I would have never thought of translating

    “Este casa elevului Bogdan” as “It is Bogdan the student’s house”

    It sounds as if I’d translate “Este casa presedintelui Obama” prin “It is Obama the president’s home”.

    Seems as if I scratch my right ear with my left hand. Then again, if you would translate it different, you’d defeat your own purpose .

    Like

  2. Person says:

    While the formation of both cases is the same in Romanian, possessive declinations are in the genitive, rather than the dative case. Dative is used for indirect objects, when you are doing something ‘to’ or ‘for’ something or someone.

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    1. Person says:

      Declension! Not declination.

      Like

  3. schumitza says:

    ha, wish my friend Gianluca would have had this blog back when he was trying to learn romanian grammar. because I couldn’t be of any help whatsoever ’cause even though I knew the rules I couldn’t explain them to him…that’s quite silly actually. he would ask us to decline words or to “conjuga verbe” but it was like we had never studied that before. oh well, you made some mistakes, believe other foreigners have problems with articles, especialy “articolul hotarat” like let’s say :

    substantiv (noun) Nearticulat(without article) Articol hotărât Articol nehotărât

    pat (bed) pat patul (the bed) un pat (a bed)
    lingură (spoon) lingură lingura (the spoon) o lingură (a spoon)
    cafea(coffe) cafea cafeaua ( the coffe) o cafea ( a coffe)

    Pat is obviously “gen masculin”
    Lingură and cafea is “gen feminin) but have different ending “vocală” therefore the article is different. Hope it helps hehe

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  4. Daniel says:

    Oh, and sorry, i’m doing my own mistakes while correcting yours :)) I’m in a quite awkwark situation right now: speaking 3 different languages at the same time. I can barely speak correct romanian anymore :))

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  5. Daniel says:

    Also, in this case:

    “Este cafeaUA elevului Bogdan – It is Bogdan the student’s coffee”
    The translation in english would sound more like “It’s the coffee of the student Bogdan”

    Like

    1. Sam R. says:

      Ahh quite right! I’ll correct this immediately.

      Like

  6. Daniel (altul) says:

    You keep saying “cafea” where it should be “cafeaUA”

    “Cafea lui John” -> “CafeaUA lui John”
    “Este cafea elevului Bogdan” -> Este cafeaUA elevului Bogdan”
    “Este cafea elevei Elena” -> “Este cafeaUA elevei Elena”

    Like

  7. Daniel says:

    Valliant effort my dear gentleman! Rather heroic!
    ***a few little mistakes here and there, but considering the huge difference between english and romanian grammar, they are totally acceptable. Keep it going! You’ll nail it down in no time :D

    Like

    1. Sam R. says:

      I’m glad to hear it was a vaLLiant effort :P but you mind clarifying my mistakes so other people can get it right? :D

      Like

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