Latin declension

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Latin is an inflected language, and as such its nouns, pronouns, and adjectives must be declined (i.e. their endings alter to show grammatical case). 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. For simple declension paradigms, visit the Wiktionary appendices: First declension, Second declension, Third declension, Fourth declension, Fifth declension. Each noun follows one of these five declensions.

Contents

Grammatical cases[edit]

A complete Latin noun declension consists of up to seven grammatical cases: nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative, ablative and locative.

They are often abbreviated to the first three letters.

The sequence NOM-VOC-ACC-GEN-DAT-ABL has been the usual order taught in Britain and many Commonwealth countries since the publication of Hall Kennedy's Latin Primer (1866). It reflects the tendencies of different cases to share similar endings (see Syncretic trends below). For a discussion of other sequences taught elsewhere, see Instruction in Latin. However, some[which?] schools teach it in the order NOM-GEN-DAT-ACC-ABL-VOC, as first given[by whom?].[1]

Meanings and functions of the various cases[edit]

  • The vocative case is used to address someone or something in direct speech. In English, this function is expressed by intonation or punctuation: "Mary, are you going to the store?" or "Mary!" ("Mary" is vocative).
  • The nominative case marks the subject of a statement and denotes the person or object that performs the action of the verb in the sentence. For example "Mary is going to the store" or "Mary is my sister". It is also used for the predicate: "Mary is my sister". The nominative singular (for adjectives, masculine nominative singular) is used as the reference form of the word.
  • The accusative case marks the direct object of a verb. It also has various other functions, e.g. it is governed by some prepositions.
  • The genitive case expresses possession, measurement, or source. Many of its uses correspond in English to uses of the preposition "of", and in some situations to the English "possessive" case.
  • The dative case marks the recipient of an action, the indirect object of a verb. In English, the prepositions to and for frequently correspond to this case, though there are also many uses of these prepositions which do not correspond to the dative case.
  • The ablative case expresses separation, indirection, or the means by which an action is performed. In English, the prepositions by, with, from, in and on are most commonly used to indicate these meanings.
  • The locative case expresses the place where an action is performed. In early Latin the locative case had extensive use, but in Classical Latin the locative case was very rarely used, applying only to the names of cities and small islands and to a few other isolated words. For this purpose, the Romans considered all Mediterranean islands to be "small" except for Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, Crete, and Cyprus. Much of the case's function had been absorbed into the ablative. In the singular first and second declension, the locative is identical to the genitive singular form, and in the singular third declension, the locative is identical to the dative singular form. For plural nouns of all declensions, the locative is also identical to the ablative form. The few fourth and fifth declension place names would also use the ablative form for the locative case. However, a few nouns use the locative instead of a preposition: domusdomī "at home", rūsrūrī "in the country", humushumī "on the ground", mīlitiamilitiae "in military service", "in the field", focusfocī "at the hearth", "at the center of the community". In archaic times, the locative singular of third declension nouns was interchangeable between ablative and dative forms, but in the Augustan period, the use of the dative form became fixed.

Syncretism[edit]

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:

Gender-specific[edit]

  • In masculines and feminines, the accusative plural ends in a long vowel plus –s; so does the nominative plural in the third, fourth, and fifth declensions.
  • For neuter plural nouns, the nominative, vocative, and accusative all always end in –a (with a few exceptions: demonstrative hic and related istic and illic, relative/interrogative quī, and related words; in all of these, the neuter plural takes the same form as feminine nominative singular).

Case-specific[edit]

  • The vocative form is the same as the nominative in both singular and plural, except for second declension masculine nouns ending in –us and a few nouns of Greek origin. For example, the vocative of Aeneās is Aenea, although Aeneās is first declension.
  • The accusative singular ends in a short vowel plus –m, except for neuters in the third and fourth declensions.
  • The genitive singular is the same as the nominative plural in first, second, and fourth declension masculine and feminine nouns.
  • 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 dative singular is the same as the genitive singular in first and fifth declension nouns.
  • The dative, ablative, and locative are identical in the plural.
  • The locative is identical to the ablative in the fourth and fifth declensions.

History of cases[edit]

Old Latin had essentially two patterns of endings. One pattern was shared by the first and second declensions, with a clear similarity to the first and second declensions of Ancient Greek. The other pattern was used by the third, fourth and fifth declensions, and has similarities with the Greek third declension.

Nouns[edit]

There are five declensions for Latin nouns:

First declension (a)[edit]

Nouns of this declension usually end in –a in the nominative singular and are mostly feminine, e.g. 'road' (via, viae fem.) and 'water' (aqua, aquae fem.). There is a small class of masculine exceptions generally referring to occupations, e.g. 'farmer' (agricola, agricolae masc.) and 'sailor' (nauta, nautae masc.).

The predominant letter in the ending forms of this declension is a. The nominative singular form consists of the stem and the ending –a, and the genitive singular form is the stem plus –ae.

aqua, –ae
water f.
agricola, –ae
farmer m.
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative aqua –a aquae –ae agricola –a agricolae –ae
Vocative aqua –a aquae –ae agricola –a agricolae –ae
Accusative aquam –am aquās –ās agricolam –am agricolās –ās
Genitive aquae[2] –ae aquārum –ārum agricolae –ae agricolārum –ārum
Dative aquae –ae aquīs –īs agricolae –ae agricolīs –īs
Ablative aquā –ā aquīs –īs agricolā –ā agricolīs –īs
Locative aquae –ae aquīs –īs agricolae –ae agricolīs –īs

First declension Greek nouns[edit]

The first declension also includes three types of Greek loanwords, derived from Ancient Greek's Alpha Declension. They are declined irregularly in the singular, but are sometimes treated as if they were native Latin nouns, e.g. nominative athlēta instead of the original athlētēs. Interestingly, archaic (Homeric) first declension Greek nouns and adjectives had been formed in exactly the same way as in Latin: nephelēgeréta Zeus (Zeus the cloud-gatherer) had in classical Greek become nephelēgerétēs.

For full paradigm tables and more detailed information, see the Wiktionary appendix First declension.

Second declension (o)[edit]

The second declension is a large group of nouns consisting of mostly masculine nouns like equus, equī ("horse") and puer, puerī ("boy") and neuter nouns like castellum, castellī ("fort"). There are several small groups of feminine exceptions, including names of gemstones, plants, trees, and some towns and cities.

In the nominative singular, most masculine nouns consist of the stem and the ending –us, although some end in –er, which is not necessarily attached to the complete stem. Neuter nouns generally have a nominative singular consisting of the stem and the ending –um. However, every second-declension noun has the ending –ī attached as a suffix to the root of the noun in the genitive singular form. The predominant letter in the ending forms of this declension is o.

Masculine:

dominus, –ī
master m.
Singular Plural
Nominative dominus –us dominī –ī
Vocative domine –e dominī –ī
Accusative dominum –um dominōs –ōs
Genitive dominī –ī dominōrum –ōrum
Dative dominō –ō dominīs –īs
Ablative dominō –ō dominīs –īs

Neuter:

bellum, –ī
war n.
Singular Plural
Nominative bellum –um bella –a
Vocative bellum –um bella –a
Accusative bellum –um bella –a
Genitive bellī –ī bellōrum –ōrum
Dative bellō –ō bellīs –īs
Ablative bellō –ō bellīs –īs
Locative bellō –ō bellīs –īs

Nouns ending in –ius and –ium have a genitive singular in –ī in earlier Latin, which was regularized to –iī in the later language. Masculine nouns in –ius have a vocative singular in –ī at all stages. These forms in –ī are stressed on the same syllable as the nominative singular, sometimes in violation of the usual Latin stress rule. For example, the genitive and vocative singular Vergilī (from Vergilius) is pronounced [werˈɡiliː], with stress on the penult, even though it is short.[3]

There is no contraction of –iī(s) in plural forms.

fīlius, –ī
son m.
auxilium, –ī
aid, help n.
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative fīlius –ius fīliī –iī auxilium –ium auxilia –ia
Vocative fīlī –ī fīliī –iī auxilium –ium auxilia –ia
Accusative fīlium –ium fīliōs –iōs auxilium –ium auxilia –a
Genitive fīlī
(later) fīliī
–ī
(later) –iī
fīliōrum –iōrum auxilī
(later) auxiliī
–ī
(later) –iī
auxiliōrum –iōrum
Dative fīliō –iō fīliīs –iīs auxiliō –iō auxiliīs –iīs
Ablative fīliō –iō fīliīs –iīs auxiliō –iō auxiliīs –iīs

Second declension R nouns[edit]

Some masculine nouns of the second declension end in an –er or an –ir in the nominative singular. For such nouns, the genitive singular must be learned to see if the E is dropped. For example, socer, –erī keeps its E. However, the noun magister, –trī ("teacher") drops its E in the genitive singular. Nouns with –ir in the nominative singular never drop the I.

The declension of second declension R nouns is identical to that of the regular second declension, with the exception of the vocative singular, which is identical to the nominative rather than ending in an –e.

For declension tables of second declension nouns, see the corresponding Wiktionary appendix.

Second declension Greek nouns[edit]

The second declension contains two types of masculine Greek nouns and one form of neuter Greek noun. These nouns are irregular only in the singular, as are their first declension counterparts. Greek nouns in the second declension are derived from the Omicron Declension.

Some Greek nouns may also be declined as normal Latin nouns. For example, theātron can appear as theātrum.

In the older language, nouns ending with –vus, –quus and –vum take o rather than u in the nominative and accusative singular.

servos, –ī
slave m.
equos, –ī
horse m.
aevom, –ī
eternity, age n.
Singular Singular Singular
Nominative servos –os equos –os aevom –om
Vocative serve –e eque –e aevom –om
Accusative servom –om equom –om aevom –om
Genitive servī –ī equī –ī aevī –ī
Dative servō –ō equō –ō aevō –ō
Ablative servō –ō equō –ō aevō –ō

The plural of deus (god, deity) is irregular.

Nom. dī/diī/deī
Voc.
Acc. deōs
Gen. deōrum/deum
Dat. dīs/diīs/deīs
Abl. dīs/diīs/deīs

The vocative singular of Deus is not attested in Classical Latin. In Ecclesiastical Latin the vocative is Deus.

In poetry, –um may be substituted for –ōrum as the genitive plural ending.

Third declension (i)[edit]

The third declension is the largest group of nouns. The nominative singular of these nouns may end in –a,–e, –ī, –ō, –y, –c, –l, –n, –r, –s, –t, or –x. This group of nouns includes masculine, neuter, and feminine nouns. Examples are flumen, fluminis neut. ("river"), flos, floris masc. ("flower"), and pax, pacis fem. ("peace"). Each noun has the ending –is as a suffix attached to the root of the noun in the genitive singular form. Masculine, feminine and neuter nouns each have their own special nominative singular endings. For instance, many masculine nouns end in an –or (amor). Many feminine nouns end in an –īx (phoenīx), and many neuter nouns end in an –us (onus).

prīnceps, prīncipis
leader, chief, prince m.
phoenīx, phoenīcis
phoenix, fire-bird f.
cōnāmen, cōnāminis
effort, struggle n.
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative prīnceps –s1 prīncipēs –ēs phoenīx –s1 phoenīcēs –ēs cōnāmen 1 cōnāmina –a
Vocative prīnceps –s1 prīncipēs –ēs phoenīx –s1 —— cōnāmen 1 cōnāmina –a
Accusative prīncipem –em prīncipēs –ēs phoenīca[4] –em —— cōnāmen 1,2 cōnāmina –a
Genitive prīncipis –is prīncipum –um phoenīcis –is —— cōnāminis –is ——
Dative prīncipī –ī prīncipibus –ibus phoenīcī –ī —— cōnāminī –ī ——
Ablative prīncipe –e prīncipibus –ibus phoenīce –e —— cōnāmine –e ——
Locative prīncipī –ī prīncipibus –ibus phoenīcī –ī —— cōnāminī –ī ——

1 The nominative singular is formed in one of four ways: with –s, with no ending, or by one of these two with a different stem from the oblique cases. The same is true of other forms that are the same as the nominative singular: the vocative singular and the neuter accusative singular.

2 The nominative and accusative of neuter nouns are always identical. It should not be assumed that –en is always the appropriate ending, as it might appear above.

Third declension i-stem nouns[edit]

The third declension also has a set of nouns that are declined differently. They are called i-stems. I-stems are broken into two subcategories: pure and mixed. Pure i-stems are indicated by the parisyllabic rule or special neuter endings. Mixed i-stems are indicated by the double consonant rule.

  • Masculine & Feminine
    • Parisyllabic Rule: Some masculine and feminine third declension i-stem nouns have the same number of syllables in the genitive as they do in the nominative. For example: amnis, –is. The nominative ends in –is.
    • Double-Consonant Rule: The rest of the masculine and feminine third declension i-stem nouns have two consonants before the –is in the genitive singular. For example: pars, partis
  • Neuter
    • Special Neuter Ending: Neuter third declension i-stems have no rule. However, all of them end in –al, –ar or –e. For example: animal, –ālis. This can be remembered with the help of the mnemonic involving a pirate named Al: "Al, ar' e' going pirating today?"

Pure i-stems may exhibit peculiar endings in both singular and plural. Mixed i-stems employ normal (consonant) 3rd declension endings in the singular but i-stem endings in the plural. Note the alternative i-stem endings indicated in parentheses.

amnis, amnis
stream, torrent m. (Pure)
pars, partis
part, piece f. (Mixed)
animal, animālis
animal, living being n. (Pure)
Parisyllabic Rule Double Consonant Rule Special Neuter Ending
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative amnis –s1 amnēs –ēs pars –s1 partēs –ēs animal 1 animālia –ia
Vocative amnis –s1 amnēs –ēs pars –s1 partēs –ēs animal 1 animālia –ia
Accusative amnem –em (–im) amnēs –ēs (–īs) partem
partim
–em
–im
partēs –ēs
(–īs)
animal 1 animālia –ia
Genitive amnis –is amnium –ium partis –is partium –ium animālis –is animālium –ium
Dative amnī –ī amnibus –ibus partī –ī partibus –ibus animālī –ī animālibus –ibus
Ablative amne
amnī
–e (–ī) amnibus –ibus parte –e partibus –ibus animālī –ī animālibus –ibus

1 The nominative singular is formed in one of four ways: with –s, with no ending, or by one of these two with a different stem from the oblique cases. The same is true of other forms that are the same as the nominative singular: the vocative singular and the neuter accusative singular.

The rules for determining i-stems from non-i-stems and "mixed" i-stems should be thought of more as "guidelines" than "rules": even among the Romans themselves, the categorization of a 3rd declension word as an i-stem or non-i-stem was quite fluid. The result is that many words that should be i-stems according to the parisyllabic and consonant stem rules actually are not, such as canis or iuvenis. By the parisyllabic rule, "canis" should be a masculine i-stem and thus differ from the non-i-stems by having an extra –i– in the plural genitive form: "canium". In reality, the plural genitive of "canis" is "canum", the form of a non-i-stem. This fluidity even in Roman times results in much more uncertainty in Medieval Latin, as scholars were trying to imitate what was fluid to begin with.

Peculiarities[edit]

In the third declension, there are four irregular nouns.

Case vīs
force, power f.
sūs, suis
swine, pig, hog c.
bōs, bovis
ox, bullock c.
Iuppiter, Iovis
Jupiter m.
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular
Nominative vīs vīrēs sūs suēs bōs[5] bovēs Iuppiter[5]
Vocative vīs vīrēs sūs suēs bōs[5] bovēs Iuppiter[5]
Accusative vim vīrēs suem suēs bovem bovēs Iovem
Genitive —— vīrium suis suum bovis boum Iovis
Dative —— vīribus suī subus bovī bōbus
būbus[5]
Iovī
Ablative vīribus sue subus bove bōbus
būbus[5]
Iove

Fourth declension (u)[edit]

The fourth declension is a group of nouns consisting of mostly masculine words such as fluctus, fluctūs (masc.) ("a wave")' and portus, portūs (masc.)("a port") with a few feminine exceptions, including manus, manūs (fem.) ("hand"). The fourth declension also includes several neuter nouns including genu, genūs (neut.) ("knee"). Each noun has the ending –ūs as a suffix attached to the root of the noun in the genitive singular form. The predominant letter in the ending forms of this declension is u.

portus, –ūs
port, haven, harbor m.
cornū, –ūs
horn, strength n.
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative portus –us portūs –ūs cornū –ū cornua –ua
Vocative portus –us portūs –ūs cornū –ū cornua –ua
Accusative portum –um portūs –ūs cornū –ū cornua –ua
Genitive portūs –ūs portuum –uum cornūs –ūs cornuum –uum
Dative portuī –uī portibus –ibus cornū –ū cornibus –ibus
Ablative portū –ū portibus –ibus cornū –ū cornibus –ibus

In the dative and ablative plural, –ibus is sometimes replaced with –ubus. This is so for only a few nouns, such as artus, "the limbs".

The declension of domus is irregular:

domus, –ūs
house, home f.
Singular Plural
Nominative domus –us domūs –ūs
Vocative domus –us ——
Accusative domum –um domōs / domūs –ōs / ūs
Genitive domūs –ūs domōrum / domuum –ōrum / uum
Dative domuī –uī domibus –ibus
Ablative domō –ō domibus –ibus

Fifth declension (e)[edit]

The fifth declension is a small group of nouns consisting of mostly feminine words like 'affair, matter, thing' (rēs, reī fem.) and 'day' (diēs, diēī usually masculine, except on notable days when it is feminine). Each noun has either the ending –ēī or –eī as a suffix attached to the root of the noun in the genitive singular form

effigiēs, –ēī
effigy, ideal f.
spēs, –eī
hope, anticipation f.
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative effigiēs –ēs effigiēs –ēs spēs –ēs spēs –ēs
Vocative effigiēs –ēs effigiēs –ēs spēs –ēs spēs –ēs
Accusative effigiem –em effigiēs –ēs spem –em spēs –ēs
Genitive effigiēī –ēī effigiērum –ērum speī –eī spērum –ērum
Dative effigiēī –ēī effigiēbus –ēbus speī –eī spēbus –ēbus
Ablative effigiē –ē effigiēbus –ēbus spē –ē spēbus –ēbus

Note that nouns ending in iēs have long ēī in the dative and genitive, while nouns ending in a consonant + ēs have short in these cases.

Pronouns[edit]

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

  • the nominatives are often irregular
  • the genitive singular ends in –īus rather than –ae or –ī.
  • the dative singular ends in –ī: rather than –ae or –ō.

These differences identify the "pronominal" declension, and a few adjectives follow this pattern. The vocative, where not shown, is the same as the nominative.

Personal pronouns[edit]

The first and second persons are irregular. They may be only masculine or feminine.

First Person Second Person
ego, meī
I m. and f.
nōs, nostri
we m. and f.
tū, tuī
thou m. and f.
vōs, vestri
ye m. and f.
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative ego nōs vōs
Vocative —— —— vōs
Accusative nōs vōs
Genitive mei1 nostri1 tui1 vestri1
Dative mihi nōbīs tibi vōbīs
Ablative nōbīs vōbīs

1These pronouns are declined in the 1st and 2nd declensions to agree in number and case with the thing possessed.

Usually, to show the ablative of accompaniment, cum would be added to the ablative form. However, with personal pronouns and the interrogative (not with 3rd person), cum is added onto the end of the ablative form. For example: mēcum, nōbīscum, tēcum, vōbīscum and quōcum (sometimes quīcum).

is, eī
he, they m.
ea, eae
she, they f.
id, ea
it, they n.
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative is eī, iī ea eae id ea
Vocative
Accusative eum eōs eam eās id ea
Genitive eius eōrum eius eārum eius eōrum
Dative eīs, iīs eīs, iīs eīs, iīs
Ablative eīs, iīs eīs, iīs eīs, iīs

The third person reflexive pronouns always refer back to the subject, whether it be singular or plural.

—, suus
himself, herself
itself, oneself, themselves
Nominative
Vocative
Accusative sē, sēsē
Genitive suus1
Dative sibi
Ablative sē, sēsē

1This pronoun is declined in the 1st and 2nd declensions to agree in number and case with the thing possessed.

Interrogative pronouns[edit]

The interrogative pronouns are used strictly for asking questions. They are distinct from the relative pronoun and the interrogative adjective (which is declined like the relative pronoun). Interrogative pronouns rarely occur in the plural. The plural interrogative pronouns are the same as the plural relative pronouns.

quis
who? m. and f.
quid
what? n. only
Singular
Nominative quis quid
Vocative
Accusative quem quid
Genitive cuius cuius
Dative cuī cuī
Ablative quō quō

Demonstrative pronouns and adjectives[edit]

hic, haec, hoc
this, this one (proximal)
ille, illa, illud
that, that one (distal)
iste, ista, istud
that of yours (medial)
Masculine Feminine Neuter Masculine Feminine Neuter Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative hic haec hae hoc haec ille illī illa illae illud illa iste istī ista istae istud ista
Vocative
Accusative hunc hōs hanc hās hoc haec illum illōs illam illās illud illa istum istōs istam istās istud ista
Genitive huius hōrum huius hārum huius hōrum illīus illōrum illīus illārum illīus illōrum istīus istōrum istīus istārum istīus istōrum
Dative huic hīs huic hīs huic hīs illī illīs illī illīs illī illīs istī istīs istī istīs istī istīs
Ablative hōc hīs hāc hīs hōc hīs illō illīs illā illīs illō illīs istō istīs istā istīs istō istīs

Intensive pronouns[edit]

ipse, ipsa, ipsum
himself, herself, itself
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative ipse ipsī ipsa ipsae ipsum ipsa
Vocative
Accusative ipsum ipsōs ipsam ipsās ipsum ipsa
Genitive ipsīus ipsōrum ipsīus ipsārum ipsīus ipsōrum
Dative ipsī ipsīs ipsī ipsīs ipsī ipsīs
Ablative ipsō ipsīs ipsā ipsīs ipsō ipsīs

Relative pronouns[edit]

quī, quae, quod
who, which, that
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative quī quī quae quae quod quae
Vocative
Accusative quem quōs quam quās quod quae
Genitive cūius quōrum cūius quārum cūius quōrum
Dative cui quibus cui quibus cui quibus
Ablative quō quibus quā quibus quō quibus

Adjectives[edit]

First and second declension adjectives[edit]

First and second declension are inflected in the masculine, the feminine and the neuter; the masculine form typically ends in –us (although some end in –er, see below), the feminine form ends in –a, and the neuter form ends in –um. Therefore, some adjectives are given like altus, alta, altum .

altus, –a, –um
high, long, tall
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative altus –us altī –ī alta –a altae –ae altum –um alta –a
Vocative alte –e altī –ī alta –a altae –ae altum –um alta –a
Accusative altum –um altōs –ōs altam –am altās –ās altum –um alta –a
Genitive altī –ī altōrum –ōrum altae –ae altārum –ārum altī –ī altōrum –ōrum
Dative altō –ō altīs –īs altae –ae altīs –īs altō –ō altīs –īs
Ablative altō –ō altīs –īs altā –ā altīs –īs altō –ō altīs –īs

First and second declension –r adjectives[edit]

Some first and second declension adjectives' masculine form end in an –er. As with second declension nouns –r nouns, some adjectives retain the e throughout inflection, and some omit it. Sacer, sacra, sacrum omits its e while miser, misera, miserum keeps it.

miser, –era, –erum
sad, poor, unhappy
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative miser –er miserī –ī misera –a miserae –ae miserum –um misera –a
Vocative miser –er miserī –ī misera –a miserae –ae miserum –um misera –a
Accusative miserum –um miserōs –ōs miseram –am miserās –ās miserum –um misera –a
Genitive miserī –ī miserōrum –ōrum miserae –ae miserārum –ārum miserī –ī miserōrum –ōrum
Dative miserō –ō miserīs –īs miserae –ae miserīs –īs miserō –ō miserīs –īs
Ablative miserō –ō miserīs –īs miserā –ā miserīs –īs miserō –ō miserīs –īs
sacer, –cra, –crum
sacred, holy
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative sacer –er sacrī –ī sacra –a sacrae –ae sacrum –um sacra –a
Vocative sacer –er sacrī –ī sacra –a sacrae –ae sacrum –um sacra –a
Accusative sacrum –um sacrōs –ōs sacram –am sacrās –ās sacrum –um sacra –a
Genitive sacrī –ī sacrōrum –ōrum sacrae –ae sacrārum –ārum sacrī –ī sacrōrum –ōrum
Dative sacrō –ō sacrīs –īs sacrae –ae sacrīs –īs sacrō –ō sacrīs –īs
Ablative sacrō –ō sacrīs –īs sacrā –ā sacrīs –īs sacrō –ō sacrīs –īs

First and second –īus genitive adjectives[edit]

Nine first and second declension adjectives are irregular in the genitive and the dative in all genders. They can be remembered by using the mnemonic acronym UNUS NAUTA. They are:

ūllus, –a, –um; any
nūllus, –a, –um; no, none (of any)
uter, –tra, –trum; which (of two)
sōlus, –a, –um; sole, alone
neuter, –tra, –trum; neither (of two)
alius, –a, –ud; (gen. sing. alīus; another)
ūnus, –a, –um; one
tōtus, –a, –um; whole
alter, –era, –erum; the other (of two)

ūllus, –a, –um
any
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative ūllus –us ūllī –ī ūlla –a ūllae –ae ūllum –um ūlla –a
Vocative ūlle –e ūllī –ī ūlla –a ūllae –ae ūllum –um ūlla –a
Accusative ūllum –um ūllōs –ōs ūllam –am ūllās –ās ūllum –um ūlla –a
Genitive ūllīus –īus ūllōrum –ōrum ūllīus –īus ūllārum –ārum ūllīus –īus ūllōrum –ōrum
Dative ūllī –ī ūllīs –īs ūllī –ī ūllīs –īs ūllī –ī ūllīs –īs
Ablative ūllō –ō ūllīs –īs ūllā –ā ūllīs –īs ūllō –ō ūllīs –īs

Third declension adjectives[edit]

Third declension adjectives are normally declined like third declension i-stem nouns, except for the fact they always have a –ī rather than an –e in the ablative singular (unlike i-stem nouns, in which only neuters have –ī). Some adjectives, however, like the one-ending vetus, veteris (old, aged), have an –e in the ablative singular (all genders), a –um in the genitive plural (all genders), and an –a in the nominative and accusative plural (neuter only).

Third declension adjectives with one ending[edit]

These have a single nominative ending for all genders, although as usual the endings for the other cases vary. As with nouns, a genitive is given for the purpose of inflection.

atrōx, –ōcis
terrible, mean, cruel
Masculine & Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative atrōx –ōx atrōcēs –ēs atrōx –ōx atrōcia –ia
Vocative atrōx –ōx atrōcēs –ēs atrōx –ōx atrōcia –ia
Accusative atrōcem –em atrōcēs –ēs1 atrōx –ōx atrōcia –ia
Genitive atrōcis –is atrōcium –ium atrōcis –is atrōcium –ium
Dative atrōcī –ī atrōcibus –ibus atrōcī –ī atrōcibus –ibus
Ablative atrōcī –ī² atrōcibus –ibus atrōcī –ī² atrōcibus –ibus

1—may end in –īs
²—may end in –e

Third declension adjectives with two endings[edit]

Third declension adjectives that have two endings have one form for the masculine and feminine, and a separate form for the neuter. The ending for the masculine and feminine is –is, and the ending for the neuter is –e. Because the sexed form ends in an –is, we find the adjective genitive singular.

agilis, –e
nimble, swift
Masculine & Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative agilis –is agilēs –ēs agile –e agilia –ia
Vocative agilis –is agilēs –ēs agile –e agilia –ia
Accusative agilem –em agilēs –ēs1 agile –e agilia –ia
Genitive agilis –is agilium –ium agilis –is agilium –ium
Dative agilī –ī agilibus –ibus agilī –ī agilibus –ibus
Ablative agilī –ī agilibus –ibus agilī –ī agilibus –ibus

1—may end in –īs

Third declension adjectives with three endings[edit]

Third declension adjectives with three endings have three separate nominative forms for all three genders. Like third and second declension –r nouns, the masculine ends in an –er. The feminine ends in an –ris, and the neuter ends in an –re. With that information, we come upon the genitive singular needed for inflection, the feminine form.

celer, –eris, –ere
swift, rapid, brash
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative celer –er celerēs –ēs celeris –is celerēs –ēs celere –e celeria –ia
Vocative celer –er celerēs –ēs celeris –is celerēs –ēs celere –e celeria –ia
Accusative celerem –em celerēs –ēs1 celerem –em celerēs –ēs1 celere –e celeria –ia
Genitive celeris –is celerium –ium celeris –is celerium –ium celeris –is celerium –ium
Dative celerī –ī celeribus –ibus celerī –ī celeribus –ibus celerī –ī celeribus –ibus
Ablative celerī –ī celeribus –ibus celerī –ī celeribus –ibus celerī –ī celeribus –ibus
alacer, –cris, –cre
lively, jovial, animated
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative alacer –er alacrēs –ēs alacris –is alacrēs –ēs alacre –e alacria –ia
Vocative alacer –er alacrēs –ēs alacris –is alacrēs –ēs alacre –e alacria –ia
Accusative alacrem –em alacrēs –ēs1 alacrem –em alacrēs –ēs1 alacre –e alacria –ia
Genitive alacris –is alacrium –ium alacris –is alacrium –ium alacris –is alacrium –ium
Dative alacrī –ī alacribus –ibus alacrī –ī alacribus –ibus alacrī –ī alacribus –ibus
Ablative alacrī –ī alacribus –ibus alacrī –ī alacribus –ibus alacrī –ī alacribus –ibus

1—may end in –īs

Comparative and superlative forms of adjectives[edit]

As in English, adjectives have superlative and comparative forms. For regular first and second declension and third declension adjectives with one or two endings, the comparative is formed by adding an –ior for the masculine and feminine, and an –ius for the neuter to the base. The genitive for both are formed by adding an –iōris. Therefore, they are declined like the third declension. However, they are not declined as i-stems are. Superlatives formed by adding an –issimus, –a, –um to the base. Now, we find that superlatives are declined like first and second declension adjectives.

Adjective Positive Comparative Superlative
benignus, –a, –um (kind, nice) benignior, –ius benignissimus, –a, –um
frīgidus, –a, –um (cold, chilly) frīgidior, –ius frīgidissimus, –a, –um
calidus, –a, –um (hot, fiery) calidior, –ius calidissimus, –a, –um
pugnāx, –ācis (pugnacious) pugnācior, –ius pugnācissimus, –a, –um
fortis, –e (strong, robust) fortior, –ius fortissimus, –a, –um
aequālis, –e (equal, even) aequālior, –ius aequālissimus, –a, –um

Comparatives and superlatives of –er adjectives[edit]

Adjectives (in the third and first and second declensions) that have masculine nominative singular forms ending in –er have different forms. If the feminine and neuter forms drop the E, use that for the comparative form. The superlative is formed by adding a –rimus onto the masculine form.

Adjective Positive Comparative Superlative
pulcher, –chra, –chrum (pretty, beautiful) pulchrior, –ius pulcherrimus, –a, –um
sacer, –cra, –crum (sacred, holy) sacrior, –ius sacerrimus, –a, –um
tener, –era, –erum (delicate, tender) tenerior, –ius tenerrimus, –a, –um
ācer, –cris, –cre (sharp) ācrior, –ius ācerrimus, –a, –um
celēber, –bris, –bre (celebrated, famous) celēbrior, –ius celēberrimus, –a, –um
celer, –eris, –ere (quick, fast) celerior, –ius celerrimus, –a, –um

Comparatives and superlatives of –lis adjectives[edit]

Some third declension adjectives with two endings in –lis in the sexed nominative singular have irregular superlative forms. The following are the only adjectives that have this unique form.

Adjective Positive Comparative Superlative
facilis, –e (easy) facilior, –ius facillimus, –a, –um
difficilis, –e (hard, difficult) difficilior, –ius difficillimus, –a, –um
similis, –e (similar, like) similior, –ius simillimus, –a, –um
dissimilis, –e (unlike, dissimilar) dissimilior, –ius dissimillimus, –a, –um
gracilis, –e (slender, slim) gracilior, –ius gracillimus, –a, –um
humilis, –e (low, humble) humilior, –ius humillimus, –a, –um

Irregular comparatives and superlatives[edit]

As in most languages, Latin has adjectives that have irregular comparatives and superlatives.

Adjective Positive Comparative Superlative
bonus, –a, –um (good) melior, –ius optimus, –a, –um
malus, –a, –um (bad, evil) peior, –ius pessimus, –a, –um
magnus, –a, –um (great, large) maior, –ius maximus, –a, –um
parvus, –a, –um (small, slight) minor, –us minimus, –a, –um
multus, –a, –um (much, many) plūs1 plurimus, –a, –um
propinquus, –a, –um (near, close) propior, –ius proximus, –a, –um
mātūrus, –a, –um (ripe, mature) mātūrior, –ius mātūrrimus, –a, –um2
nēquam3 (worthless) nēquior, –ius nēquissimus, –a, –um
posterus, –a, –um (next, future) posterior, –ius postremus, –a, –um
superus, –a, –um (above, upper) superior, –ius supremus, –a, –um
exterus, –a, –um (outer, outward) exterior, –ius extremus, –a, –um
novus, –a, –um (new, strange) novior, –ium novissimus, –a, –um
senex, senis (old, aged) senior, –ius ——
iuvenis, –is (young, youthful) iuvenior –ius / iūnior, –ius ——
  • 1: noun used with genitive to express more of something
  • 2: often replaced by the regular form 'maturissimus, –a, –um'
  • 3: indeclinable

Declension of īdem[edit]

The adjective īdem, eadem, idem means 'same.' It is a variant of the third person pronouns that were declined earlier. Generally, they are formed by adding –dem to a declined third person pronouns. However, some forms have been changed to ease pronunciation.

īdem, eadem, idem
the same, same as
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative īdem eīdem,
iīdem
eadem eaedem idem eadem
Vocative īdem eīdem,
iīdem
eadem eaedem idem eadem
Accusative eundem eōsdem eandem eāsdem idem eadem
Genitive eiusdem eōrundem eiusdem eārundem eiusdem eōrundem
Dative eīdem eīsdem,
iīsdem
eīdem eīsdem,
iīsdem
eīdem eīsdem,
iīsdem
Ablative eōdem eīsdem,
iīsdem
eādem eīsdem,
iīsdem
eōdem eīsdem,
iīsdem

Declension of numerals[edit]

See also: Roman numerals for symbology.

There are several different kinds of numeral words in Latin: the two most common are cardinal numerals, and ordinal numerals. There are also several more rare numerals such as distributive numerals and adverbial numerals

Cardinal numerals[edit]

All numerals, except ūnum (one), duo (two), tria (three), centum (one hundred), and mīlia (thousand, sing. mīlle) are indeclinable adjectives. Ūnus, ūna, ūnum is declined like a first and second declension adjective with an –īus in the genitive, and –ī in the dative. Duo is declined irregularly, and tria is declined like a third declension adjective.

duo, duae, duo
two
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Plural
Nominative duo duae duo
Vocative duo duae duo
Accusative duōs / duo duās duo
Genitive duōrum / duum duārum duōrum
Dative duōbus duābus duōbus
Ablative duōbus duābus duōbus

It should be noted that ambō, "both", is declined as duo is, though its o is long.

trēs, tria
Masculine & Feminine Neuter
Plural
Nominative trēs tria
Vocative trēs tria
Accusative trēs, trīs tria
Genitive trium trium
Dative tribus tribus
Ablative tribus tribus

The word mīlle, is singular, an adjective and indeclinable. However, its plural, mīlia, is a plural 3rd declension i-stem neuter noun.

mīlia, mīlium
(a) thousand n.
Plural
Nominative mīlia
Vocative mīlia
Accusative mīlia
Genitive mīlium
Dative mīlibus
Ablative mīlibus
  • Note that to write the phrase "four thousand horses" in Latin, the genitive is used: "quattuor milia equōrum", literally, "four thousands of horses".

As stated before, the rest of the numbers are indeclinable adjectives. They are also indeclinable as substantives.

1 I ūnus, –a, –um 11 XI ūndecim 21 XXI ūnus et vigintī 101 CI centum et ūnus
2 II duo, –ae, –o 12 XII duodecim 22 XXII duō et vigintī 200 CC ducentī, –ae, –a
3 III trēs, –ia 13 XIII trēdecim 30 XXX trīgintā 300 CCC trecentī
4 IV quattuor 14 XIV quattuordecim 40 XL quadrāgintā 400 CD quadringentī
5 V quīnque 15 XV quīndecim 50 L quīnquāgintā 500 D quīngentī
6 VI sex 16 XVI sēdecim 60 LX sexāgintā 600 DC sescentī
7 VII septem 17 XVII septendecim 70 LXX septuāgintā 700 DCC septingentī
8 VIII octō 18 XVIII duodēvigintī 80 LXXX octōgintā 800 DCCC octingentī
9 IX novem 19 XIX ūndēvigintī 90 XC nōnāgintā 900 CM nōngentī
10 X decem 20 XX vigintī 100 C centum 1000 M mīlle

Ordinal numerals[edit]

Ordinal numerals all decline like normal 1st and 2nd declension adjectives. When declining the two-word ordinals (thirteenth through twenty-second, with the exception of twentieth), both words decline to match in gender, number and case.

  • Primus = first
  • Secundus = second
  • Tertius = third
  • Vicensimus = twentieth

Note: "secundus" only means "second" in the sense of "following". The adjective alter, –ra, –rum meaning "the other (of two)" was more frequently used in many instances that English would use "second".

Ordinal numbers, not cardinal numbers, are commonly used to represent dates, because they are in the format of "in the tenth year of Caesar", etc. which also carried over into the Anno Domini system and Christian dating, i.e. "anno post Christum natum centesimo"(also "centensimo") = AD 100.

Distributive numerals[edit]

A rare numeral construction denoting an equal number distributed among several objects, e.g. "How many each?" "Two by two." They decline like normal 1st and 2nd declension adjectives, and are logically always plural. Bis, Bina = "twice two". A classical example would be "Uxores habent deni duo deniqui inter se communes" = "groups of ten or twelve men had wives in common" –Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar

Adverbial numerals[edit]

Adverbial numerals are (as the name states) indeclinable adverbs, but because all of the other numeral constructions are adjectives, they are listed here with them. Adverbial numerals give how many times a thing happened. Semel = once, Bis = twice, Ter = thrice (three times), Quater = four times, etc.

Adverbs and their comparisons and superlatives[edit]

Adverbs are not declined. However, adverbs must be formed if one wants to make an adjective into an adverb.

First and second declension adjectives' adverbs[edit]

First and second declension adjectives' adverbs are formed by adding an –ē onto their bases.

Adjective Adverb
clārus, –a, –um (clear, famous) clārē (clearly, famously)
validus, –a, –um (strong, robust) validē (strongly, robustly)
īnfīrmus, –a, –um (weak) īnfīrmē (weakly)
solidus, –a, –um (complete, firm) solidē (completely, firmly)
integer, –gra, –grum (whole, fresh) integrē (wholly, freshly)
līber, –era, –erum (free) līberē (freely)

Third declension adjectives' adverbs[edit]

Typically, third declension adjectives' adverbs are formed by adding an –iter onto their bases. However, most third declension adjectives with one ending simply add an –er to their bases.

Adjective Adverb
prūdēns, –entis (prudent) prūdenter (prudently)
audāx, –ācis (bold) audāciter (boldly)
virilis, –e (courageous, spirited) viriliter (courageously, spiritedly)
salūbris, –e (wholesome) salūbriter (wholesomely)

Adverbs' comparative and superlative forms[edit]

Adverbs' comparative forms are their neuter adjectives' comparative forms. Adverbs' superlative forms are made in the same way in which first and second declension adjectives' adverbs are made.

First and second declension adjectives' adverbs are formed by adding an –ē onto their bases.

Positive Comparative Superlative
clārē (clearly, famously) clārius clārissimē
solidē (completely, firmly) solidius ——
līberē (freely) līberius ——
prudenter (prudently) prudentius prudentissimē
salūbriter (wholesomely) salūbrius salūbrissimē

Irregular adverbs and their comparative and superlative forms[edit]

As so with adjectives, there are irregular adverbs with peculiar comparative and superlative forms.

Positive Comparative Superlative
bene (well) melius optimē
male (ill, badly) peius pessimē
māgnoperē (greatly) magis maximē
multum (much, a lot) plūs plūrimum
parvum (little) minus minimē
nēquiter (worthlessly) nēquius nēquissimē
saepe (often) saepius saepissimē
mātūrē (seasonably, betimes) mātūrius māturrimē
prope (near) propius proximē
nūper (recently) —— nūperrimē
potis (possible) potius (rather) potissimē (especially)
——— prius (before, previously) prīmum /primo (first)
secus (otherwise) sētius / sequius (less) ——

Peculiarities within declension[edit]

Irregularity in number[edit]

Some nouns are only used in the singular, such as:

  • Materials such as aurum (gold) and aes (copper)
  • Abstract nouns such as celeritās (speed) and scientia (knowledge)
  • Proper names such as Iulius (Julius) and Clāra (Clara)

Some nouns are only used in the plural (plurale tantum) such as:

  • Many festivals, such as Saturnalia
  • Castra (camp) and arma (arms)
  • A few geographical names are plural such as Thēbae (Thebes).

Indeclinable nouns[edit]

Indeclinable nouns are neuter nouns which occur only in the nominative and the accusative singular. There are only six such nouns:

  • fās — fate, divine law
  • īnstar — likeness
  • māne — in the morning (arguably this occurs only in the ablative singular; also arguably it is an adverb rather than a noun)[citation needed] It is notable because it occurs in modern medical prescriptions.
  • nefās — sin, abomination
  • nihil / nil — nothing, none
  • secus – sex, coitus

Heterogeneous nouns[edit]

Heterogeneous nouns are nouns which vary in respect to gender.

  • A few nouns in the second declension occur in both the neuter and masculine. However, their meanings remain the same.
  • Some nouns are one gender in the singular, but become another gender in the plural. They may also change in meaning.
Singular Plural
balneum n. bath balneae f. or balnea n. bath-house
epulum n. feast, banquet epulae f. feasts, banquets
frēnum n. bridle, curb frēnī m. bridle, curb
iocus m. joke, jest ioca n. or ioci m. jokes, jests
locus m. place, location loca n. places, locations; locī region
rāstrum n. hoe, rake rāstrī m. hoes, rakes

Plurals with alternative meanings[edit]

Nouns whose plural meaning is different from the singular meaning are called plūrālia tantum.

Singular Plural
aedēs, –is f. building, temple aedēs, –ium rooms, house
auxilium, –ī n. help, aid auxilia, –ōrum auxiliary troops
carcer, –eris m. prison, cell carcerēs, –um starting-place of a chariot race
castrum, –ī n. fort, castle, fortress castra, –ōrum milit. camp, encampment
cōpia, –ae f. plenty, much, abundance cōpiae, –ārum troops
fīnis, –is m. end, boundary fīnēs, –ium territory
fortūna, –ae f. luck, chance fortūnae –ārum wealth
grātia, –ae f. charm, favor grātiae, –ārum thanks
impedīmentum, –ī m. impediment, hindrance impedīmenta, –ōrum baggage, baggage train
littera, –ae f. letter (as in A, B, C, etc.) litterae, –ārum epistle, scholarship, literature
mōs, mōris m. habit, inclination mōrēs, –um m. morals, character
opera, –ae f. trouble, pains operae, –ārum workmen
opis f.[6] help opēs, –ium resources, wealth
pars, partis f. part, piece partēs, –ium office, function

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lowe, Cheryl (2003). Latina Christiana: Introduction to Christian Latin. USA: Memoria Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-930953-01-7. 
  2. ^ The archaic genitive aquai occurs frequently in Virgil, Cicero, Lucretius and others, to evoke the style of older writers.
  3. ^ Gildersleeve & Lodge §15, Allen & Greenough §12, §49c
  4. ^ Being a Greek word, the accusative form is phoenica (Ovid, Metamorphoses, 15.393 [1]). Greek –a, like Latin –em, comes from the PIE athematic ending –m, which was pronounced as a vowel after consonants.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Here ō or ū come from Old Latin ou. Thus bō-/bū- and Iū- before consonant endings are alternate developments of the bov- and Iov- before vowel endings. — The double pp in the preferred form Iu-ppiter "Father Jove" is an alternate way of marking the length of the u in the etymological form Iū-piter. i is weakened from a in pater (Allen and Greenough, sect. 79 b).
  6. ^ (gen.; nom. and dat. do not occur) the goddess Ops (pers.)

References[edit]