Possessive formation in Sargaĺk utilizes two cases - the pegative as well as the absolutive. There are certain syntactical restrictions on both.
First, the default possessive case when the possessum is oblique is the pegative. Thus
met's -at trokə(m) -rne fish pegative gill(s) -lat fish 's gill(s) into
However, if there are adjectives pertaining to the possessum to the left of the possessor, the pegative is blocked:
vart'k' -ə met's trokə -rne red -obl fish gill(s) -lat red fish's gill(s) into
There are certain reasons why an adjective would be to the left of the possessor:
- Whenever the possessor rather signifies the kind of possessor, than an individuated possessor, or even the kind of the possessum (e.g. fish guts) rather than an individuated possessum, the possessor and possessum are syntactically closer together than the possessum and its adjectives are.
- Whenever the adjective distinguishes an individuated possessum among a potential multitude of possessum's owned by the same possessor (e.g. 'John's red hat (as opposed to his blue hat)')
Whenever the possessum is in one of the core cases, viz. pegative or absolutive, the same rule with regards to adjectives surrounding a possessor holds. Another rule that holds for core case NPs is that the case of the possessor is partially influenced by the transitivity of the verb, and the possessor may be dislocated from its possessum. The basic rule for possessors is: the more transitive the verb is, the more likely for a possessum to be pegative, and the higher up the hierarchy ditransitive subject > indirect object > transitive subject > direct object > intransitive subject, the more likely the possessor is to be in the pegative case.
It is not uncommon for a possessor of core cases to become a "pretend-subject"; this pretend-subject doesn't trigger any ditransitive marking or anything such on the verb, though. The pretend-subject can be marked for pegative even if the situation isn't "pretend-ditransitive". Since subjects usually go sentence-initially, this means the possessor can be offset from its possessum. It is generally speaking not possible to decide which noun is the possessum from any syntactical or morphological cues – contextual knowledge and a sort of noun hierarchy are relevant parsing cues.