In this lesson we will cover nouns and adjectives of the second declension. As in the last lesson, you will find a vocabulary list, exercises and an answer key at the end.
Nouns of the second declension
In the last lesson, we covered first declension nouns; in this lesson we cover the second of the five declensions. The second declension follows the same principles as the first but uses different endings. The second declension also differs from the first in that its nouns are exclusively masculine or neuter. Furthermore, masculine and neuter words of the second declension have different endings in the nominative, vocative and accusative cases. This makes recognition of the different genders much easier.
Second declension endings are slightly more varied than the first declension. The principal ending, however, is –us for masculine words and –um for neuter words. Here is each set of endings:
Masculine Second Declension Endings
Nominative -us -ī
Genitive -ī -ōrum
Dative -ō -īs
Accusative -um -ōs
Ablative -ō -īs
Vocative -e -ī
Neuter Second Declension Endings
Nominative -um -a
Genitive -ī -ōrum
Dative -ō -īs
Accusative -um -a
Ablative -ō -īs
Vocative -um -a
Note that the vocative masculine singular ending differs from the nominative ending. This is different from other declensions where the two are usually the same.
Now let’s decline a masculine noun to become familiar with this declension. Here is the declension of the word amicus, –ī, which means friend:
Amīcus, –ī (m): friend —- stem: amīc–
Nominative amīc- us a friend (subject of verb)
Genitive amīc- ī of a friend
Dative amīc- ō to or for a friend
Accusative amīc- um a friend (object of verb)
Ablative amīc- ō by or with a friend
Vocative amīc- e O friend!
Nominative amīc- ī friends (subject of verb)
Genitive amīc- ōrum of friends
Dative amīc- īs to or for friends
Accusative amīc- ōs friends (object of verb)
Ablative amīc- īs by or with friends
Vocative amīc- ī O friends!
There are also a few masculine second declension nouns that have a different nominative and vocative ending, but are the same in every other respect. They end in –r rather than –us and since this exception comprises some fairly important words, it is worth looking over an example here.
Here is the declension of the masculine second declension word ager, –ī, which means field:
Ager, –ī (m): field —- stem: agr–
Nominative ag- er a field (subject of verb)
Genitive agr- ī of a field
Dative agr- ō to or for a field
Accusative agr- um a field (object of verb)
Ablative agr- ō by or with a field
Vocative ag- er O field!
Nominative agr- ī fields (subject of verb)
Genitive agr- ōrum of fields
Dative agr- īs to or for fields
Accusative agr- ōs fields (object of verb)
Ablative agr- īs by or with fields
Vocative agr- ī O fields!
Here there are a couple things to note.
The first is that the nominative is ager but the stem is agr-. This may seem odd at first, but early on in Latin the stem would have been ager- and the endings would have been added to the end of that; for example, the nominative plural would have been agerī. However, with time the ‘E’ dropped out, since the word would have been spoken quickly in everyday conversation. If you say ageri fast a few times, you will see what happens for yourself. Thus for many words in which a consonant precedes –er, the stem will drop the ‘E’. It is best to learn the stem, but if you ever are guessing, follow these principles and you will likely get the proper stem.
The second is that the only difference between this word and normal masculine second declension words is the nominative and vocative singular endings, which end in –r. Aside from that, nothing is different.
Now that we have seen masculine words, let’s take a look at neuter endings. Let’s decline the neuter word bellum, –ī, which means ‘war’.
Bellum, –ī (n): war —- stem: bell–
Nominative bell- um a war (subject of verb)
Genitive bell- ī of a war
Dative bell- ō to or for a war
Accusative bell- um a war (object of verb)
Ablative bell- ō by or with a war
Vocative bell- um O war!
Nominative bell- a wars (subject of verb)
Genitive bell- ōrum of wars
Dative bell- īs to or for wars
Accusative bell- a wars (object of verb)
Ablative bell- īs by or with wars
Vocative bell- a O wars!
Note that the neuter endings only change in the nominative, accusative and vocative cases. The rest remains the same (which is why it is all grouped into one declension).
Now that we have covered the second declension, we can fully use the first group of adjectives (those that end in –us, –a, –um). Remember adjectives must agree in gender, number and case with the noun they modify.
Adjectives in Latin can also be used substantively. This means that the adjective is used as a noun, it is used on its own. For example, when referring to a small man in Latin, one would simply write parvus, the adjective for small. It is as though the noun (man) were implied when the adjective is used that way. So if you see an adjective standing on its own, do not be alarmed – it is undoubtedly a substantive adjective.
Here are some new words to add to the vocabulary we learned in the last lesson:
ager, –ī (m.) field
amicus, –ī (m.) friend
bellum, –ī (n.) war
deus, –ī (m.) god
dōnum, –ī (n.) gift
equus, –ī (m.) horse
filius, –ī (m.) son
gladius, –ī (m.) sword
malus, -a, -um evil, bad
parvus, -a, -um small
periculum, –ī (n.) danger
puer, –ī (m.) boy
regnum, –ī (n.) kingdom
servus, –ī (m.) slave
verbum, –ī (n.) word
vir, –ī (m.) boy
- Decline the following words:
- periculum, -ī (n.)
- vir, -ī (m.)
- filius, -ī (m.)
- Translate; give gender, number, case
- Puerī sunt parvī.
- Latin to English: translate the following into English
- Magnus equus deōrum est dōnum virīs.
- Verba malī nautae sunt periculum.
- Bellum est malum. Gladius est servus bellī.
- English to Latin: translate the following into Latin
- The danger is small.
- The dangers of war
- The slave is a farmer.
- For small boys
- A good friend is a gift.
A. Decline the following words:
1. periculum, -ī (n.)
Nominative periculum pericula
Genitive periculī periculōrum
Dative periculō periculīs
Accusative periculum pericula
Ablative periculō periculīs
Vocative periculum pericula
2. vir, -ī (m.)
Nominative vir virī
Genitive virī virōrum
Dative virō virīs
Accusative virum virōs
Ablative virō virīs
Vocative vir virī
3. filius, -ī (m.)
Nominative filius filiī
Genitive filiī filiōrum
Dative filiō filiīs
Accusative filium filiōs
Ablative filiō filiīs
Vocative fili filiī
B. Translate; give gender, number, case
1. Bellōrum – of the wars: neuter, plural, genitive
2. Servōs – slaves (object of verb): masculine, plural, accusative
3. Verbīs – by/with or for/to words: neuter, plural, ablative or dative
4. Puerōs – boys (object of verb): masculine, plural, accusative
5. Periculī – of a danger, neuter; singular, genitive
6. Ager – field (subject of verb): masculine, singular, nominative
7. Virō – by/with or to/for a man: masculine, singular, ablative or dative
8. Gladiī – of a sword, swords (subject of verb): masculine, singular, genitive; plural, nominative
9. Puerī sunt parvī. – The boys are small. (masculine, plural, nominative)
10. Equīs – by/with or to/for the horses: masculine, plural, ablative or dative
C. Latin to English: translate the following into English
1. The great horse of the gods is a gift for men.
2. The words of the evil sailor are a danger.
3. War is evil. The sword is the slave of war.
D. English to Latin: translate the following into Latin
1. Periculum est parvum.
2. Pericula bellī
3. Servus est agricola.
4. Parvīs puerīs
5. Amīcus bonus est dōnum.