Revision:Latin declensions

In Latin, there are five declensions of nouns which are essential to learn for GCSE. Every noun fits into one of these declensions. Each declension has a different ending for each case, and it is important to learn all of them.

The Cases

The Nominative

The nominative is used for the subject of the sentence.

  • The dog is in the garden.
  • canis in horto est

The Vocative

The vocative is used when somebody is directly speaking to that object/person.

  • "Septimus, where are you?"
  • "Septime, tu es ubi?"

The Accusative

The accusative is used for the object of the sentence, when something is happening directly to it.

  • I see the dog.
  • ego canem vidi

It can also be used to express relative time.

  • We walked for three hours.

The Genitive

The genitive is used to show possession. In English, it translates as "of..."

  • The house of the master.
  • villa domini

It can also show quantity and quality.

  • He is a man of the greatest strength

(or in normal English)

  • He is the strongest man.

The Dative

The dative is used to show something being done to or for something else

  • I give the money to the mistress.
  • ego pecuniam dominae do

The Ablative

The ablative is similar to the accusative, but is used when something is indirectly happening to the object. In English, the noun is normally preceded by "by", "with", "on", "under" and similar words.

  • The dog is in the garden.
  • canis in horto est

The ablative can also show absolute time.

  • On the third hour, we left the forum.

The Locative

The locative is used for places in which something happened. It is only used for cities, islands and a few other nouns.

  • cras iter Athenis faciam
  • Tomorrow, I will make the journey to Athens

The locative case is not prescribed at GCSE greatly as it resembles other cases:genative and/or ablative.

The First Declension

Nouns in the first declension are normally feminine, but there are a few exceptions, for example "nauta" and "agricola". The table shows the 6 main case forms (not locative), the formation for the noun "puella" and the suffixes that you must add to form any case in the first declension

  puella - girl (f)
Singular Plural
Nominative puella –a puellae –ae
Vocative puella –a puellae –ae
Accusative puellam –am puellas –as
Genitive puellae –ae puellarum –arum
Dative puellae –ae puellis –is
Ablative puella –a puellis –is

Revision Tips

  • The first declension can be sung to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It" by going down the list of singular forms and plural forms for the word "puella".

The lyrics are:

puella, puella, puellam

puellae, puellae, puella

puellae, puellae, puellas, puellarum

puellis (clap clap), puellis (clap clap)

The Second Declension

Nouns in the second declension are normally either masculine or neuter. There are two different tables to learn, one for each of the common second declension genders.

  dominus - master (m)
Singular Plural
Nominative dominus –us domini –i
Vocative domine –e domini –i
Accusative dominum –um dominos –os
Genitive domini –i dominorum –orum
Dative domino –o dominis –is
Ablative domino –o dominis –is

 

  templum - temple (n)
Singular Plural
Nominative templum –um templa –a
Vocative templum –um templa –a
Accusative templum –um templa –a
Genitive templi –i templorum –orum
Dative templo –o templis –is
Ablative templo –o templis –is

Revision Tips

  • The second declension can be also sung to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It" by going down the list of singular forms and plural forms for the words "dominus" and "templum" in the same way as the word "puella".

The Third Declension

The third declension contains nouns with strange endings, for example "rex" and "mercator". Consequently, it can contain any gender. However, regardless of gender all the nouns use the same endings.

  rex - king (m)
Singular Plural
Nominative rex no pattern reges –es
Vocative rex as nominative reges –es
Accusative regem –em reges –es
Genitive regis –is regum –um
Dative regi –i regibus –ibus
Ablative rege –e regibus –ibus

Revision Tips

  • Unfortunately, third declension nouns do not easily fit into the tune "If You're Happy and You Know It".

The Fourth Declension

The fourth declension mainly contains masculine nouns.

  manus - hand (f)
Singular Plural
Nominative manus –us manus –us
Vocative manus –us manus –us
Accusative manum –um manus –us
Genitive manus –us manuum –uum
Dative manui –ui manibus –ibus
Ablative manu –u manibus –ibus

The Fifth Declension

The fifth declension does not contain many nouns. Most of the nouns are feminine, but there are exceptions, for example "dies"

  dies - day (m)
Singular Plural
Nominative dies –es dies –es
Vocative dies –es dies –es
Accusative diem –em dies –es
Genitive diei –i dierum –erum
Dative diei –i diebus –ebus
Ablative die –e diebus –ebus