Latin language/Declension

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Latin noun declension features six cases:

  • nominative (subject)
  • genitive (possessive - of which)
  • dative (indirect object - to or for which)
  • accusative (object)
  • ablative (expresses the means or tools by which one accomplishes something)
  • vocative (used for addressing another person in direct speech, usually identical to nominative)

Note: Neuter nouns of all declension classes share two properties:

  • The forms for nominative singular and accusative singular are identical.
  • The same holds for nominative and accusative plural, they usually both end in -a.

Since this behavior tends to obscure the situation, neuter paradigma words were generally avoided (though this isn't always possible).

As in English, there are two numeri (singular and plural). There are five declension classes:

1. a declension

Nouns of this class usually end in -a and are of feminine grammatical gender. Example (paradigma is terra - land, earth):
CaseSingularPlural
nominativeterraterrae
genitiveterraeterrarum
dativeterraeterris
accusativeterramterras
ablativeterraterris
The a declension has no special forms for the vocative; nominative is used instead. The genitive singular originally had the ending -as (preserved in the expression pater familias) and the dative and ablative plural had -abus (preserved in cum dis et deabus).
Greek words ending in -es or -as (like the name Aeneas) are also declined according to this scheme. They, however, do have a vocative form (stem + -a, e.g. Aenea).

2. o declension

Nouns of this class end in -us, -r or -um. Nouns ending in -us and -r are of masculine gender, those ending in -um of neuter gender.
Example I, words ending in -us (paradigma hortus - garden)
CaseSingularPlural
nominativehortushorti
genitivehortihortorum
dativehortohortis
accusativehortumhortos
ablativehortohortis
vocativehortehorti
Example II, words ending in -um (paradigma verbum - word)
CaseSingularPlural
nominativeverbumverba
genitiveverbiverborum
dativeverboverbis
accusativeverbumverba
ablativeverboverbis
Example III, words ending in -r (paradigma ager - field)
CaseSingularPlural
nominativeageragri
genitiveagriagrorum
dativeagroagris
accusativeagrumagros
ablativeagroagris
Note that the e in the nominative singular form is just an insertion to ease pronunciation and is omitted in all other forms. There are however some words, where the e belongs to the stem proper and can't be omitted. These are: gener (son-in-law), socer (father-in-law), puer (boy), vesper (evening) and liberi (children - only occurs in plural forms).
Greek words ending in -eus are declined like regular nouns ending in -us, with the single exception that the voactive singular is formed by appending -u to the "stem" (as in Orpheus - Orpheu)

3. mixed declension

Nouns of this class are divided into two subcategories according to the ending of their stems.
3.1 consonantal stems
This class comprises nouns whose stem ends in a consonant. Some nouns of this class don't have a particular ending for nominative singular. Of these, some use the raw stem instead (as with sol - sun), and some have a special contracted form (like natio - people, tribe). Finally, some consonantal nouns have the nominative singular ending "-s" (like rex - king, which originally was regs). Examples:
CaseSingularPlural
nominativesolsoles
genitivesolissolum
dativesolisolibus
accusativesolemsoles
ablativesolesolibus
CaseSingularPlural
nominativenationationes
genitivenationisnationum
dativenationinationibus
accusativenationemnationes
ablativenationenationibus
CaseSingularPlural
nominativerexreges
genitiveregisregum
dativeregiregibus
accusativeregemreges
ablativeregeregibus
3.2: short -i stems
This class consists of nouns whose stem ends in a short -i. According to their nominative form, one can subdivide them into three groups: Some nouns (like nubes - cloud) have nominative forms consisting of the same number of syllables as the other forms, some have shortened nominative forms (like ars - art) and some have non-standard nominative forms ending in -e, -al or -ar (like animal - animal). Examples:
CaseSingularPlural
nominativenubesnubes
genitivenubisnubium
dativenubinubibus
accusativenubemnubes
ablativenubenubibus
Case:Singular:Plural:
nominativearsartes
genitiveartisartium
dativeartiartibus
accusativeartemartes
ablativearteartibus
Case:Singular:Plural:
nominativeanimalanimalia
genitiveanimalisanimalium
dativeanimalianimalibus
accusativeanimalanimalia
ablativeanimaleanimalibus
A small group of nouns has a declension scheme especially rich in "i"s. They are: febris - fever, puppis - quarterdeck, securis - axe, sitis - thirst, turris - tower, tussis - cough and vis - power. Example:
CaseSingularPlural
nominativefebrisfebres
genitivefebrisfebrium
dativefebrifebribus
accusativefebrimfebres
ablativefebrifebribus

4. u declension

Nouns of this class end in -us or -u. The former ones usually are of masculine gender, the latter ones are always neuter.
Example I, nouns ending in -us (paradigma lacus - lake)
CaseSingularPlural
nominativelacuslacus
genitivelacuslacuum
dativelacuilacibus
accusativelacumlacus
ablativelaculacibus
Originally, dative and ablative plural ended in -ubus.
Example II, nouns ending in -u (paradigma cornu - horn)
CaseSingularPlural
nominativecornucornua
genitivecornuscornuum
dativecornucornibus
accusativecornucornua
ablativecornucornibus

5. e declension

Nouns of this class end in -es. Nearly all of them are of feminine grammatical gender. Example (paradigma dies - day):
CaseSingularPlural
nominativediesdies
genitivedieidierum
dativedieidiebus
accusativediemdies
ablativediediebus