Latin declension

From Academic Kids

fr:Déclinaisons latines la:declinatio Latin is an inflected language, and as such its nouns, pronouns, and adjectives must be declined in order to serve a grammatical function. A set of declined forms of the same word pattern is called a declension. There are five declensions, which are numbered and grouped by ending and grammatical gender.

Contents

Grammatical cases

A complete declension consists of seven grammatical cases:

  • The nominative case, which is used to express the subject of a statement. It is also used with copulative verbs.
  • The vocative case, which is used to address someone or something in direct speech.
  • The genitive case, which expresses possession, measurement, or source. In English, the preposition of is used to denote this case.
  • The dative case, which expresses the recipient of an action, the indirect object of a verb. In English, the prepositions to and for most commonly denote this case.
  • The accusative case, which expresses the direct object of a verb.
  • The ablative case, which expresses separation, indirection, or the means by which an action is performed. In English, the prepositions by, with, and from most commonly denote this case.
  • The locative case, which is used to express the place in or on which, or the time at which, an action is performed. Its use is marginal and uncommon.

Syncretic trends

Syncretism, where one form in a paradigm shares the ending of another form in the paradigm, is common in Latin. The following are the most notable patterns of syncretism:

  • The accusative is always identical to the nominative in the neuter (both singular and plural, across all declensions). In addition, the accusative is the same as the nominative in the plural of the third, fourth and fifth declensions (but note the alternative –īs accusative plural ending for i-stem nominals, different from nominative –ēs).
  • The vocative is always identical to the nominative in the plural, and also in the singular except in the second declension and a few Greek nouns of the third declsion.
  • The dative is always the same as the ablative in the plural, and in the singular in the second declension, the third-declension full i-stems i.e. neuter i-stems, adjectives), and fourth-declension neuters.
  • The genitive singular is the same as the nominative plural in first- and second-declension nouns.
  • The dative singular is the same as the genitive singular in first- and fifth-declension nouns.
  • Plural neuter nominative/accusative always ends in -a (with a few exceptions: demonstrative hic and related istic and illic, relative/interrogative quī and friends; in all of them, the neuter plural takes the same form as feminine singular nominative).
  • The accusative singular ends in short vowel plus -m, except for a few neuters with unusual base forms.
  • The accusative plural ends in a long vowel plus -s; so does the nominative plural of the third, fourth and fifth declensions.

Noun declensions

There are five declensions of nouns in Latin.

First declension (a)

Nouns of this declension usually end in –a and are typically feminine. The predominant letter in the ending forms of this declension is a.

Note that Latin does not have articles and as such there is no grammatical distinction between a girl and the girl; the same word, puella, represents both.

puella (feminine), girl
Case Ending Declined Form English
Singular
Nominative –a puella (a, the) girl
Vocative –a Puella! (The) Girl!
Genitive –ae puellae of (a, the) girl
Dative –ae puellae to, for (a, the) girl
Accusative –am puellam (a, the) girl
Ablative –ā puellā by, with, from (a, the) girl
Plural
Nominative –ae puellae (the) girls
Vocative –ae Puellae! (The) Girls!
Genitive –ārum puellārum of (the) girls
Dative –īs puellīs to, for (the) girls
Accusative –ās puellās (the) girls
Ablative –īs puellīs by, with, from (the) girls

Second declension (o)

Nouns of this declension usually end in –us, –um, or –r and are typically masculine or neuter. The predominant letter in the ending forms of this declension is o.

hortus (masculine), garden
Case Ending Declined Form English
Singular
Nominative –us hortus (a, the) garden
Vocative –e Horte! (The) Garden!
Genitive –ī hortī of (a, the) garden
Dative –ō hortō to, for (a, the) garden
Accusative –um hortum (a, the) garden
Ablative –ō hortō by, with, from (a, the) garden
Plural
Nominative –ī hortī (the) gardens
Vocative –ī Hortī! (The) Gardens!
Genitive –ōrum hortōrum of (the) gardens
Dative –īs hortīs to, for (the) gardens
Accusative –ōs hortōs (the) gardens
Ablative –īs hortīs by, with, from (the) gardens


verbum (neuter), word
Case Ending Declined Form English
Singular
Nominative –um verbum (a, the) word
Vocative –e Verbe! (The) Word!
Genitive –ī verbī of (a, the) word
Dative –ō verbō to, for (a, the) word
Accusative –um verbum (a, the) word
Ablative –ō verbō by, with, from (a, the) word
Plural
Nominative –a verba (the) words
Vocative –ī Verbī! (The) Words!
Genitive –ōrum verbōrum of (the) words
Dative –īs verbīs to, for (the) words
Accusative –a verba (the) words
Ablative –īs verbīs by, with, from (the) words


ager (m.), field
Case Ending Declined Form English
Singular
Nominative ager[1] (a, the) field
Vocative –e Agre! (The) Field!
Genitive –ī agrī of (a, the) field
Dative –ō agrō to, for (a, the) field
Accusative –um agrum (a, the) field
Ablative –ō agrō by, with, for (a, the) field
Plural
Nominative –ī agrī (the) fields
Vocative –ī Agrī! (The) Fields!
Genitive –ōrum agrōrum of (the) fields
Dative –īs agrīs to, for (the) fields
Accusative –ōs agrōs (the) fields
Ablative –īs agrīs by, with, from (the) fields

[1]—Note that the e in the nominative singular form was inserted to ease pronunciation and is omitted in the other cases. There are some words for which the e is part of the stem proper; for these words, the letter cannot be omitted. These include gener (m.), son-in-law; socer (m), father-in-law; puer (m.), boy; vesper (m.), evening; and līberī (m. pl.), children.

Third declension (mixed)

Nouns of this declension end in a consonant; there are feminine, masculine, and neuter nouns.

        Example I, words with no particular ending for nominative singular (paradigma masculine rex - king)

Latin Noun Case: Third Declension
Singular
CaseSuffixEnglish prep.SampleTranslation
Nominative--rexking
Vocative--rexking!
Genitiveis-ofrēgisof the king
Dativeī-to, -forrēgīto the king
Accusativeem-rēgemthe king
Ablativee-with, -byrēgewith the king
Plural
CaseSuffixEnglish prep.SampleTranslation
Nominativeēs-rēgēskings
Vocativeēs-rēgēskings!
Genitiveum-ofregumof the kings
Dativeibus-to, -forrēgibusto the kings
Accusativeēs-regēsthe kings
Ablativeibus-with, -byregibuswith the kings

        Example II, words with no particular ending for nominative singular (paradigma neuter nomen - name)

Latin Noun Case: Third Declension
Singular
CaseSuffixEnglish prep.SampleTranslation
Nominative--nōmenname
Vocative--nōmenname!
Genitiveis-ofnōminisof the name
Dativeī-to, -fornōminīto the name
Accusative--nōmenthe name
Ablativee-with, -bynōminewith the name
Plural
CaseSuffixEnglish prep.SampleTranslation
Nominativea-nōminanames
Vocativea-nōminanames!
Genitiveum-ofnōminumof the names
Dativeibus-to, -fornōminibusto the names
Accusativea-nōminathe names
Ablativeibus-with, -bynōminibuswith the names

        Example III, i-stem nouns (paradigma masculine hostis - enemy)

Latin Noun Case: Third Declension
Singular
CaseSuffixEnglish prep.SampleTranslation
Nominativeis-hostisenemy
Vocative--hostisenemy!
Genitiveis-ofhostisof the enemy
Dativeī-to, -forhostīto the enemy
Accusativeem/im-hostem/hostimthe enemy
Ablativee/ī-with, -byhoste/hostīwith the enemy
Plural
CaseSuffixEnglish prep.SampleTranslation
Nominativeēs-hostēsenemies
Vocativeēs-hostēsenemies!
Genitiveium-ofhostiumof the enemies
Dativeibus-to, -forhostibusto the enemies
Accusativeēs/īs-hostēs/hostīsthe enemies
Ablativeibus-with, -byhostibuswith the enemies

Fourth declension (u)

Nouns of this declension end in –us, which are usually masculine, or –u, which are always neuter. The predominant letter in the ending forms of this declension is u.

        Example I, nouns ending in -us(paradigma lacus -lake)

Latin Noun Case: Fourth Declension Masculine
Singular
CaseSuffixEnglish prep.SampleTranslation
Nominativeus-lacusthe lake
Vocativeus-lacus!lake!
Genitiveūs-oflacūsof the lake
Dative-to, -forlacuīto the lake
Accusativeum-lacumthe lake
Ablativeū-with, -bylacūwith the lake
Plural
CaseSuffixEnglish prep.SampleTranslation
Nominativeūs-lacūsof the lakes
Vocativeūs-lacūslakes!
Genitiveuum-oflacuumof the lakes
Dativeibus-to, -forlacuibusto the lakes
Accusativeūs-lacūsthe lakes
Ablativeibus-with, -bylacuibuswith the lakes

        Example II, neuter nouns ending in -u (paradigma cornu - horn)

Latin Noun Case: Fourth Declension Neuter
Singular
CaseSuffixEnglish prep.SampleTranslation
Nominativeū-cornūthe horn
Vocativeū-cornū!horn!
Genitiveūs-ofcornūsof the horn
Dativeū-to, -forcornūto the horn
Accusativeū-cornūthe horn
Ablativeū-with, -bycornūwith the horn
Plural
CaseSuffixEnglish prep.SampleTranslation
Nominativeua-cornuaof the horns
Vocativeua-cornuahorns!
Genitiveuum-ofcornuumof the horns
Dativeibus-to, -forcornibusto the horns
Accusativeua-cornuathe horns
Ablativeibus-with, -bycornibuswith the horns

Fifth declension (e)

Nouns of this declension end in –es and are almost always feminine. The most notable exception is dies, which is masculine.

        Example I (paradigma rēs - thing)

Latin Noun Case: Fifth Declension Feminine
Singular
CaseSuffixEnglish prep.SampleTranslation
Nominativeēs-rēsthe thing
Vocativeēs-rēs!thing!
Genitive-ofreīof the thing
Dative-to, -forreīto the thing
Accusativeem-remthe thing
Ablativeē-with, -bywith the thing
Plural
CaseSuffixEnglish prep.SampleTranslation
Nominativeēs-rēsof the things
Vocativeēs-rēsthings!
Genitiveērum-ofrērumof the things
Dativeēbus-to, -forrēbusto the things
Accusativeēs-rēsthe things
Ablativeēbus-with, -byrēbuswith the things

         Example II (paradigma diēs - day )

Latin Noun Case: Fifth Declension Masculine
Singular
CaseSuffixEnglish prep. SampleTranslation
Nominativeēs-diēsthe day
Vocativeēs-diēs!day!
Genitiveēī-ofdiēīof the day
Dativeēī-to, -fordiēīto the day
Accusativeem-diemthe day
Ablativeē-with, -bydiēwith the day
Plural
CaseSuffixEnglish prep.SampleTranslation
Nominativeēs-diēsof the days
Vocativeēs-diēsdays!
Genitiveērum-ofdiērumof the days
Dativeēbus-to, -fordiēbusto the days
Accusativeēs-diēsthe days
Ablativeēbus-with, -bydiēbuswith the days

            This declension class is the last to develop in Latin; the only nouns that have the full declension are diēs and fidēs.

            From rēs, we get rēs pūblica, or republic: thing of the people.

Adjective declensions

Adjectives are divided into two declension classes. The first (called the "first and second declension") combines the a and o declensions of nouns, with the a endings added when the adjective is feminine, and the o forms for masculines. Neuter adjectives of this class follow the pattern for o class neuter nouns.

The other class for adjectives (called the "third declension") is similar to the third class for nouns, with the important difference that nearly all these adjectives form the ablative singular in -ī, not in -e. The nominative singular of these adjectives is also often marked for gender in various ways.

A small class of adjectives follows the "pronominal declension", described below.

Pronoun declensions

Relative and demonstrative pronouns are generally declined like first and second declension adjectives, with the following differences:

  • the nominatives are often irregular
  • the dative singular ends in -i: rather than -ae or -o:
  • the genitive singular ends in -i:us rather than -ae or -i:.

These differences identify the "pronominal" declension, and a few adjectives also follow this pattern.

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative Pronoun: is/ea/id
CaseSingularPlural
MasculineFeminineNeuter MasculineFeminineNeuter
Nominativeiseaideaeea
Genitiveeiuseiuseiuseōrumeārumeōrum
Dativeeīseīseīs
Accusativeeumeamideōseāsea
Ablativeeīseīseīs


Demonstrative Pronoun: ille/illa/illud
CaseSingularPlural
MasculineFeminineNeuter MasculineFeminineNeuter
Nominativeilleillailludillīillaeilla
Genitiveillīusillīusillīusillōrumillārumillōrum
Dativeillīillīillīillīsillīsillīs
Accusativeillumillamilludillōsillāsilla
Ablativeillōillāillōillīsillīsillīs


Demonstrative Pronoun: hic/haec/hoc
CaseSingularPlural
MasculineFeminineNeuter MasculineFeminineNeuter
Nominativehichaechochaehaec
Genitivehuiushuiushuiushōrumhārumhōrum
Dativehuichuichuichīshīshīs
Accusativehunchanchochōshāshaec
Ablativehōchāchōchīshīshīs


Relative Pronoun: qui/quae/quod
CaseSingularPlural
MasculineFeminineNeuter MasculineFeminineNeuter
Nominativequīquaequodquīquaequae
Genitivecuiuscuiuscuiusquōrumquārumquōrum
Dativecuicuicuiquibusquibusquibus
Accusativequemquamquodquōsquāsquae
Ablativequōquāquōquibusquibusquibus


Personal Pronouns

1st Personal Pronoun Declension
Singular
CaseEnglish prep. SampleTranslation
Nominative-egoI
Genitive-ofmeīmy
Dative-to, -formihito me
Accusative-me
Ablative-with, -bywith me
Plural
CaseEnglish prep. SampleTranslation
Nominative-nōswe
Genitive-ofnostrī/umour
Dative-to, -fornōbisto us
Accusative-nōsus
Ablative-with, -bynōbiswith us


2nd Personal Pronoun Declension
Singular
CaseEnglish prep. SampleTranslation
Nominative-you
Genitive-oftuīyour
Dative-to, -fortibito you
Accusative-you
Ablative-with, -bywith you
Plural
CaseEnglish prep. SampleTranslation
Nominative-vōsyou
Genitive-ofvestrī/umyour
Dative-to, -forvōbisto you
Accusative-vōsyou
Ablative-with, -byvōbiswith you


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