Lesson 3: Second Declension

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

 

Singular                                   Plural

Nominative                 -us                                           -ī

Genitive                      -ī                                              -ōrum

Dative                         -ō                                             -īs

Accusative                  -um                                          -ōs

Ablative                      -ō                                             -īs

Vocative                      -e                                             -ī

 

Neuter Second Declension Endings

 

Singular                                   Plural

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-

 

Singular

 

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!

 

 

Plural

 

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-

 

Singular

 

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!

 

 

Plural

 

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-

 

Singular

 

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!

 

 

Plural

 

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).

 

 

 

 

Adjectives

 

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.

 

 

Vocabulary

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

 

Exercises

  1. Decline the following words:
    1. periculum, -ī (n.)
    2. vir, -ī (m.)
    3. filius, -ī (m.)

 

  1. Translate; give gender, number, case
    1. Bellōrum
    2. Servōs
    3. Verbīs
    4. Puerōs
    5. Periculī
    6. Ager
    7. Virō
    8. Gladiī
    9. Puerī sunt parvī.

10.  Equīs

 

  1. Latin to English: translate the following into English
    1. Magnus equus deōrum est dōnum virīs.
    2. Verba malī nautae sunt periculum.
    3. Bellum est malum. Gladius est servus bellī.

 

  1. English to Latin: translate the following into Latin
    1. The danger is small.
    2. The dangers of war
    3. The slave is a farmer.
    4. For small boys
    5. A good friend is a gift.

 

 

Answer Key

 

A.        Decline the following words:

1.         periculum, -ī (n.)

Singular                                   Plural

Nominative                 periculum                                pericula

Genitive                      periculī                                    periculōrum

Dative                         periculō                                   periculīs

Accusative                  periculum                                pericula

Ablative                      periculō                                   periculīs

Vocative                      periculum                                pericula

 

 

2.         vir, -ī (m.)

Singular                                   Plural

Nominative                 vir                                            virī

Genitive                      virī                                           virōrum

Dative                         virō                                          virīs

Accusative                  virum                                       virōs

Ablative                      virō                                          virīs

Vocative                      vir                                            virī

 

3.         filius, -ī (m.)

Singular                                   Plural

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.

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2 Responses to Lesson 3: Second Declension

  1. Teresa Story says:

    Where can I access the lessons on third declension as well as conjugations for all six tenses? This site is an excellent review!! Thanks.

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