Latin declension

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Latin is an inflected language, and as such its nouns, pronouns, and adjectives must be declined (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 the five declensions, but some irregular nouns have exceptions.

Contents

Grammatical cases[edit]

A complete Latin noun declension consists of up to seven grammatical cases: nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative, ablative and locative. However, the locative is limited to names of cities, small islands and a few other words.

They are often abbreviated to the first three letters.

The Latin cases have usually been given in the order Nom–Voc–Acc–Gen–Dat–Abl in Britain and many Commonwealth countries since the publication of Hall Kennedy's Latin Primer (1866). This order reflects the tendencies of different cases to share similar endings (see below). For a discussion of other sequences taught elsewhere, see Instruction in Latin.

However, some didactic approaches or schools teach it in the order Nom–Gen–Dat–Acc–Voc–Abl or Nom–Gen–Dat–Acc–Abl–Voc, the order also used before the Latin Primer by Benjamin Hall Kennedy. This order is used in The School and University Eton Latin Grammar (1861),[1] with the ablative case always cited last, and a similar one is used in grammars of Ancient Greek (except without the ablative case, which does not occur in Greek), and has been retained by some modern didactic approaches to allow comparison of Latin and Greek.[2]

Meanings and functions of the various cases[edit]

  • 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 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 accusative case marks the direct object of a verb. It also has various other functions, e.g. it is governed by some prepositions. It can be used to express motion towards something, with or without a preposition.
  • 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 if addressed).
  • 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", mīlitiamīlitiae "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]

  • For pure Latin neuter nouns, the nominative singular, vocative singular, and accusative singular are identical; and the nominative plural, vocative plural, and accusative plural all end in -a. (Both of these features are inherited from Proto-Indo-European, so are not true syncretism as the case endings were never separate in the first place.)

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 genitive singular is the same as the nominative plural in first, second, and fourth declension masculine and feminine pure Latin nouns.
  • The dative singular is the same as the genitive singular in first and fifth declension pure Latin 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, ablative, and locative are identical in the plural.
  • The locative is identical to the ablative in the fourth and fifth declensions.[citation needed]

History of cases[edit]

Old Latin had essentially two patterns of endings. One pattern was shared by the first and second declensions, which derived from the Proto-Indo-European thematic declension. The other pattern was used by the third, fourth and fifth declensions, and derived from the athematic PIE declension.

Nouns[edit]

There are five declensions for Latin nouns:

First declension (a stems)[edit]

Nouns of this declension usually end in –a in the nominative singular and are mostly feminine, e.g. 'road' (via, viae f.) and 'water' (aqua, aquae fem.). There is a small class of masculine exceptions generally referring to occupations, e.g. 'poet' (poēta, poētae m.) 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.
poēta, –ae
poet m.
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative aqua –a aquae –ae poēta –a poētae –ae
Vocative
Accusative aquam –am aquās –ās poētam –am poētās –ās
Genitive aquae[3] –ae aquārum –ārum poētae –ae poētārum –ārum
Dative aquīs –īs poētīs –īs
Ablative aquā –ā poētā –ā

The locative endings for the first declension are –ae (singular) and –īs (plural), similar to the genitive singular and ablative plural, as in mīlitiae "in war" and Athēnīs "at Athens".[4]

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 stems)[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
Accusative dominum –um dominōs –ōs
Genitive dominī –ī dominōrum –ōrum
Dative dominō –ō dominīs –īs
Ablative
Neuter
bellum, –ī
war n.
Singular Plural
Nominative bellum –um bella –a
Vocative
Accusative
Genitive bellī –ī bellōrum –ōrum
Dative bellō –ō bellīs –īs
Ablative
Locative bellī –ī

The locative singular ending for the second-declension was , like the genitive singular, as in Corinthī "at Corinth". The locative plural ending for the second-declension was -īs, like the ablative plural, as in Philippīs "at Philippi".[5]

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.[6]

There is no contraction of –iī(s) in plural forms and in locative.[7]

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
Accusative fīlium –ium fīliōs –iōs
Genitive fīliī
(earlier) fīlī
–iī
(earlier) –ī
fīliōrum –iōrum auxiliī
(earlier) auxilī
–iī
(earlier) –ī
auxiliōrum –iōrum
Dative fīliō –iō fīliīs –iīs auxiliō –iō auxiliīs –iīs
Ablative

In the older language, nouns ending with –vus, –quus and –vum take o rather than u in the nominative and accusative singular. For example, servus, –ī ("slave") could be servos, accusative servom.

Second declension –r nouns[edit]

Some masculine nouns of the second declension end in –er or –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, such as triumvir, 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 –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.

Irregular forms[edit]

The plural of deus (god, deity) is irregular, cf. Wiktionary: deus.
The vocative singular of deus is not attested in Classical Latin. In Ecclesiastical Latin the vocative of Deus (God) is Deus.

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

Third declension (i and consonant stems)[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 –or (amor). Many feminine nouns end in –īx (phoenīx), and many neuter nouns end in –us (onus, tempus) with an r stem in the oblique cases (gen. oneris, temporis).

dux, ducis
leader m.
virtūs, virtūtis
virtue f.
nōmen, nōminis
name n.
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative dux –s1 ducēs –ēs virtūs –s1 virtūtēs –ēs nōmen 1, 2 nōmina –a
Vocative
Accusative ducem –em virtūtem –em
Genitive ducis –is ducum –um virtūtis –is virtūtum –um nōminis –is nōminum –um
Dative ducī –ī ducibus –ibus virtūtī –ī virtūtibus –ibus nōminī –ī nōminibus –ibus
Ablative duce –e virtūte –e nōmine –e

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.

The locative endings for the third declension were or -e (singular) and -ibus (plural), as in rūrī "in the country" and Trallibus "at Tralles".[8]

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 and 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
Accusative amnem –em
(–im)
–ēs
(–īs)
partem –em
(–im)
–ēs
(–īs)
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)
parte –e

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 f.
force, power
sūs, suis c.
swine, pig, hog
bōs, bovis c.
ox, bullock
Iuppiter, Iovis m.
Jupiter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular
Nominative vīs vīrēs sūs suēs bōs[9] bovēs Iuppiter[9]
Vocative
Accusative vim vīrēs,
vīrīs
suem bovem Iovem
Genitive (rare: vīs) vīrium suis suum bovis boum Iovis
Dative (rare: vī) vīribus suī suibus,
sū̆bus
bovī bōbus,
būbus[9]
Iovī
Ablative sue bove Iove

Fourth declension (u stems)[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, but the declension is otherwise very similar to the third.

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
Accusative portum –um
Genitive portūs –ūs portuum –uum cornūs –ūs
(–ū)
cornuum –uum
Dative portuī –uī portibus –ibus cornū –ū
(–uī)
cornibus –ibus
Ablative portū –ū –ū

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

The declension of domus is irregular, cf. Wiktionary: domus.

Fifth declension (e stems)[edit]

The fifth declension is a small group of nouns consisting of mostly feminine nouns 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.

diēs, –ēī
day m., f.
rēs, –eī
thing f.
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative diēs –ēs diēs –ēs rēs –ēs rēs –ēs
Vocative
Accusative diem –em rem –em
Genitive diēī –ēī diērum –ērum reī –eī rērum –ērum
Dative diēbus –ēbus rēbus –ēbus
Ablative diē –ē –ē

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.

The locative ending of the fifth declension was (singular only), identical to the ablative singular, as in hodiē "today".

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 characterize the "pronominal" declension, and a few special adjectives are also declined according to this pattern. The vocative, where applicable, is the same as the nominative for all pronouns.[10]

Personal pronouns[edit]

The first and second persons are irregular, and both pronouns are indeclinable for gender.

First Person Second Person
ego, meī
I
nōs, nostri
we
tū, tuī
thou
vōs, vestri
ye
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative ego (egō) nōs vōs
Accusative
Genitive meī nostrī,
nostrum
tuī vestrī,
vestrum
Dative mihi, mihī nōbīs tibi, tibī vōbīs
Ablative

Usually, to show the ablative of accompaniment, cum would be added to the ablative form. However, with personal pronouns (1st and 2nd person), the reflexive and the interrogative, cum is added onto the end of the ablative form. That is: mēcum, nōbīscum, tēcum, vōbīscum, sēcum and quōcum (sometimes quīcum).

Third person
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
Accusative eum eōs eam eās
Genitive eius eōrum eius eārum eius eōrum
Dative eīs, iīs eīs, iīs eīs, iīs
Ablative

The third person reflexive pronoun always refers back to the subject, regardless of whether it be singular or plural:

—, suī
himself, herself
itself, oneself, themselves
Nominative
Accusative sē, sēsē
Genitive suī
Dative sibi
Ablative sē, sēsē

The genitive forms meī, tuī, nostrī, vestrī, suī are used as complements in certain grammatical constructions, whereas nostrum, vestrum are used in the partitive meaning. To express possession, the possessive pronouns (essentially adjectives) meus, tuus, noster, vester, suus are used, declined in the 1st and 2nd declensions to agree in number and case with the thing possessed. The vocative singular masculine of meus is .

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
Accusative hunc hōs hanc hās illum illōs illam illās istum istōs istam istās
Genitive huius[11] 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 hāc hōc illō illā illō istō istā istō

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
Accusative ipsum ipsōs ipsam ipsās
Genitive ipsīus ipsōrum ipsīus ipsārum ipsīus ipsōrum
Dative ipsī ipsīs ipsī ipsīs ipsī ipsīs
Ablative ipsō ipsā ipsō

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
Accusative quem
Genitive cuius
Dative cuī
Ablative quō

Relative pronouns[edit]

quī, quae, quod
who, which, that
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative quī quae quod quae
Accusative quem quōs quam quās
Genitive cuius [11] quōrum cuius quārum cuius quōrum
Dative cui quibus cui quibus cui quibus
Ablative quō quā quō

Correlatives[edit]

Correlatives are the corresponding demonstrative, relative, interrogative, and indefinite forms of pronouns, pronominal adjectives, and adverbs. These are shown below:[12]

Demonstrative Relative Interrogative Indefinite relative Indefinite
vowel
or t–[13]
qu–, c–, u– reduplicated
or –cumque
ali–
basic is quī quis quisquis aliquis
number tantus quantus quantuscumque aliquantus
type tālis quālis quāliscumque
place where ibi ubi ubiubi alicubi
place to, whither quō quōquō aliquō
manner quā quāquā aliquā
place from, whence inde unde undecumque alicunde
time tum cum quandō quandōcumque aliquandō
counting tot quot quotquot aliquot
repetition totiēns quotiēns quotiēnscumque aliquotiēns

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
Accusative altum –um altōs –ōs altam –am altās –ās
Genitive altī –ī altōrum –ōrum altae –ae altārum –ārum altī –ī altōrum –ōrum
Dative altō –ō altīs –īs altīs –īs altō –ō altīs –īs
Ablative altā –ā

First and second declension –r adjectives[edit]

Some first and second declension adjectives' masculine form end in –er. As with second declension –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
Accusative miserum –um miserōs –ōs miseram –am miserās –ās
Genitive miserī –ī miserōrum –ōrum miserae –ae miserārum –ārum miserī –ī miserōrum –ōrum
Dative miserō –ō miserīs –īs miserīs –īs miserō –ō miserīs –īs
Ablative miserā –ā
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
Accusative sacrum –um sacrōs –ōs sacram –am sacrās –ās
Genitive sacrī –ī sacrōrum –ōrum sacrae –ae sacrārum –ārum sacrī –ī sacrōrum –ōrum
Dative sacrō –ō sacrīs –īs sacrīs –īs sacrō –ō sacrīs –īs
Ablative sacrā –ā

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, often replaced by alterīus; 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
Accusative ūllum –um ūllōs –ōs ūllam –am ūllās –ās
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 ūllā –ā ūllō –ō

Third declension adjectives[edit]

Third declension adjectives are normally declined like third declension i-stem nouns, except for the fact they always have –ī rather than –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 –e in the ablative singular (all genders), –um in the genitive plural (all genders), and –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
Accusative atrōcem –em –ēs1
Genitive atrōcis –is atrōcium –ium atrōcis –is atrōcium –ium
Dative atrōcī –ī atrōcibus –ibus atrōcī –ī atrōcibus –ibus
Ablative –ī2 –ī2

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 –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
Accusative agilem –em –ēs1
Genitive agilis –is agilium –ium agilis –is agilium –ium
Dative agilī –ī agilibus –ibus agilī –ī agilibus –ibus
Ablative

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 –er. The feminine ends in –ris, and the neuter ends in –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
Accusative celerem –em –ēs1 celerem –em –ēs1
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
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
Accusative alacrem –em –ēs1 alacrem –em –ēs1
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

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 –ior for the masculine and feminine, and –ius for the neuter to the base. The genitive for both are formed by adding –iōris. Therefore, they are declined like the third declension. However, they are not declined as i-stems are. Superlatives formed by adding –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 –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
celeber, –bris, –bre (celebrated, famous) celebrior, –ius celeberrimus, –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 postrēmus (postumus), –a, –um
superus, –a, –um (above, upper) superior, –ius suprēmus (summus), –a, –um
exterus, –a, –um (outer, outward) exterior, –ius extrēmus (extimus), –a, –um
īnferus, –a, –um (below, lower) īnferior, –ius īnfimus (īmus), –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. In the plural used as an adjective: plūrēs, plūra, genitive plūrium
  • 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 assimilated.

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
Accusative eundem eōsdem eandem eāsdem
Genitive eiusdem eōrundem eiusdem eārundem eiusdem eōrundem
Dative eīdem eīsdem,
iīsdem
eīdem eīsdem,
iīsdem
eīdem eīsdem,
iīsdem
Ablative eōdem eādem eōdem

Declension of numerals[edit]

See also: Roman numerals

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), hundreds from 100 - 900 (like ducentī, tricentī, quadrigentī, etc.) mīlia (thousand, sing. mīlle) are indeclinable adjectives. Ūnus, ūna, ūnum is declined like a first and second declension adjective with –īus in the genitive, and –ī in the dative. Duo is declined irregularly, and tria is declined like a third declension plural adjective.

The existence of plural declensions for ūnus could seem useless, however, they're useful on pluralia tantum nouns, e. g. ūna castra (one [military] camp), ūnae lātrīnae (one toilet)

ūnus, -a, -um
one
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative ūnus ūnī ūna ūnae ūnum ūna
Vocative ūne
Accusative ūnum ūnōs ūnam ūnās
Genitive ūnīus ūnōrum ūnīus ūnārum ūnīus ūnōrum
Dative ūnī ūnīs ūnī ūnīs ūnī ūnīs
Ablative ūnō ūnā ūnō

It should be noted that ambō, "both", is declined as duo is, though its o is long. Both declensions derive from the Indo-European dual number, otherwise defunct in Latin, rather than the plural.

duo, -ae, -o
two
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Plural
Nominative duo duae duo
Vocative
Accusative duōs, duo duās
Genitive duōrum,
duum
duārum duōrum
Dative duōbus duābus duōbus
Ablative
trēs, -ia
three
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Plural
Nominative trēs tria
Vocative
Accusative trēs, trīs
Genitive trium
Dative tribus
Ablative

Declinable hundreds[edit]

200 ducentī; two hundred
300 trecentī; three hundred
400 quadringentī; four hundred
500 quīngentī; five hundred
600 sescenti; six hundred
700 septingentī; seven hundred
800 octingentī; eight hundred
900 nōngentī; nine hundred

-centī (-gentī), -ae, -a
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Plural
Nominative -ae -a
Vocative
Accusative -ōs -ās
Genitive -ōrum -ārum -ōrum
Dative
Ablative
ducentī, -ae, -a
two hundred
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Plural
Nominative ducentī ducentae ducenta
Vocative
Accusative ducentōs ducentās
Genitive ducentōrum ducentārum ducentōrum
Dative ducentī
Ablative

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

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

  • prīmus first
  • secundus second
  • tertius third
  • vicensimus/vicēsimus 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, e.g. annō post Christum nātum centēsimō for 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. Bīnī means "two by two". A classical example would be uxōrēs habent dēnī duo dēnīqui inter sē commūnēs "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, and so on.

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 –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 –iter onto their bases. However, most third declension adjectives with one ending simply add –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 –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 (singulare tantum) such as:

  • Materials such as aurum (gold) and aes (copper)
  • Abstract nouns such as celeritās (speed) and scientia (knowledge)
  • Proper names such as Iūlius (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 nouns which only have one form in all cases (of the singular).

  • fās — fate, divine law
  • īnstar — likeness
  • māne — morning
  • nefās — sin, abomination
  • nihil / nil — nothing, none
  • secus – sex

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]

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
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 (of the alphabet) 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.[14] help opēs, –ium resources, wealth
pars, partis f. part, piece partēs, –ium office, function

Order of the declined grammatical cases in various curricula[edit]

In modern Latin instruction, there is no single international standard for the sequence of cases within each declension paradigm.

Nom–(Voc)–Acc–Gen–Dat–Abl–(Loc)[edit]

This order reflects the syncretic trends of different cases to share similar endings. Usually the vocative and locative cases are omitted because they appear in the paradigm of only a few word classes and are dealt with separately. This makes the paradigm appear normally in the format Nom–Acc–Gen–Dat–Abl, which is also roughly the order of how frequently the cases appear in Latin text, meaning that the cases are introduced in teaching in this order. This paradigm has been the usual order in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth countries since the publication of Hall Kennedy's Latin Primer (1866). It is the only method nowadays used in Hungary and Finland. It is also usual in France, Spain, and Portugal.

Nom–Gen–Dat–Acc–(Voc)-Abl–(Loc)[edit]

This alternate sequence arose from Byzantine grammarians who were originally writing about Greek. It is standard in the United States, although modern texts increasingly move the vocative at the end to minimize disruption to the declensions in which it is identical to the nominative; some introductory texts such as Wheelock's Latin almost entirely ignore the vocative and locative except for a few brief notes, giving the format Nom–Gen–Dat–Acc–Abl-(Voc). This paradigm is also used in Poland, as it closely corresponds to the conventional case order in the Polish language, except for the latter's use of an instrumental case instead of an ablative. The same sequence is predominant in the Netherlands, although the modern Dutch language has largely lost its case system; instead, the rationale is that this general order is convenient for the consistent teaching of three different commonly studied declensive languages: Latin, Ancient Greek, and modern German. The order Nom–Gen–Dat–Acc–(Voc)–Abl is also used in Germany itself to echo the conventional order of German cases (Nom–Gen–Dat–Acc), and also in Lithuania because the conventional order of Lithuanian noun cases is the same. The locative is dealt with separately as it is seldom used in Latin and might be considered to be on the verge of extinction in Classical Latin.

The order Nom–Gen–Dat–Acc–Voc–Abl is the standard order used in Greece (both for the teaching of Ancient and Modern Greek as well as Latin) and Italy (with the vocative case before the ablative). Here again, the locative is dealt with separately in the courses.

Others[edit]

Brazilian grammarian Napoleão Mendes used the unusual sequence Nom–Voc–Gen–Dat–Abl–Acc. The Latinum podcast uses Nom–Voc–Acc–Abl–Dat–Gen, as this facilitates memorisation. Latinum deals with the locative separately.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Mongan, James Roscoe (1861). The School and University Eton Latin Grammar, Explanatory and Critical. London 1861.
  2. ^ Lowe, Cheryl (2003). Latina Christiana: Introduction to Christian Latin. USA: Memoria Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-930953-01-7. 
  3. ^ The archaic genitive aquai occurs frequently in Virgil, Cicero, Lucretius and others, to evoke the style of older writers.
  4. ^ Allen and Greenough. §43 c.
  5. ^ Allen and Greenough. §49 a.
  6. ^ Gildersleeve & Lodge §15, Allen & Greenough §12, §49c
  7. ^ http://avitus.alcuinus.net/schola_latina/declinatio_en.php
  8. ^ Allen and Greenough. §80.
  9. ^ a b c 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 from the etymological form Iūs-piter. i is weakened from a in pater (Allen and Greenough, sect. 79 b).
  10. ^ In practice only the second person pronouns are regularly used in the vocative.
  11. ^ a b Huius and cuius are sometimes spelled hūius/hūjus and cūius/cūjus. Here, the macron indicates that the syllable is long or heavy, because the consonantal i between vowels is pronounced double, like *huiius, and the doubled consonant makes the first syllable heavy.[citation needed]
  12. ^ Allen and Greenough. §152: correlatives.
  13. ^ Gibbs, Laura (Spring 2003). "Medieval Latin Online: Correlatives". ONLINE TEXTBOOK for Medieval Latin (online textbook). University of Oklahoma. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  14. ^ (gen.; nom. and dat. do not occur) the goddess Ops (pers.)

References[edit]