An important problem in knowledge discovery from text is the automatic extraction of semantic relations. This paper addresses the automatic classification of the semantic relations expressed by English genitives. A learning model is introduced based on the statistical analysis of the distribution of genitives' semantic relations in a corpus. The semantic and contextual features of the genitive's noun phrase constituents play a key role in the identification of the semantic relation. The algorithm was trained and tested on a corpus of approximately 20,000 sentences and achieved an f-measure of 79.80 per cent for of-genitives, far better than the 40.60 per cent obtained using a Decision Trees algorithm, the 50.55 per cent obtained using a Naive Bayes algorithm, or the 72.13 per cent obtained using a Support Vector Machines algorithm on the same corpus using the same features. The results were similar for s-genitives: 78.45 per cent using Semantic Scattering, 47.00 per cent using Decision Trees, 43.70 per cent using Naive Bayes, and 70.32 per cent using a Support Vector Machines algorithm. The results demonstrate the importance of word sense disambiguation and semantic generalization/specialization for this task. They also demonstrate that different patterns (in our case the two types of genitive constructions) encode different semantic information and should be treated differently in the sense that different models should be built for different patterns.