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Chapter 2

I. Grammar

A. Important Grammatical Terms

1. Declension. As with the word "conjugation," the word "declension" means both a process and a group.

2. Gender. Latin has three genders (masculine, feminine and neuter), similar to many other Indo-European languages.

3. Number. Latin has two numbers: singular and plural.

4. Cases. Latin has seven cases. Here are the major uses of each:

NOMINATIVE: Subject (the actor/doer in a sentence or clause); predicate nominative (noun/adjective).

GENITIVE: Possession [translation = "of": "X's" (singular), "Xs'" (plural)].

DATIVE: Indirect Object [translation = "to/for", NOT the directional "to/toward"!].

ACCUSATIVE: Direct Object (of the main verb, infinitives and other verb forms); object of certain prepositions (ad, in, post, etc.), often showing "motion towards."

ABLATIVE: Many "adverbial" uses (delimiting or modifying action of a sentence): means/instrument (with the use of what), manner (how), accompaniment (with whom), agent (by whom), separation (from where), and time (when). The ablative has no simple form corresponding to any one thing in English. It is useful to remember the most frequent translations of the ablative: "by, with, from, in, on, at."

VOCATIVE: Direct address, most often identical in form to the nominative.

[LOCATIVE: Place where; used only with specific forms (see Chapter 37).]

5. Articles. There is no article ("the, a") in Latin.

B. The First Declension

Here are the endings for the fiirst declension in Latin:

GENITIVE -ae -arum
DATIVE -ae -is

Only one long mark is mandatory in the first declension, the macron over the ablative singular ending () which distinguishes it from the nominative (and vocative) singular.

C. Nouns and Adjectives

A noun or adjective is formed by adding a DECLENSIONAL ENDING (case) to the end of a NOUN BASE, e.g.:

puell- + -a = girl (subject)
puell- + -â = by/with/from a girl
puell- + -arum = of the girls, the girls'
puell- + -ae = (1)of the girl; (2)to/for the girl; (3)the girls (subject)

[NOTE: The context of particular sentences will limit choices in translation.]

The formation of adjectives follows the pattern of the formation of nouns, BASE + ENDINGS. Latin adjectives agree with their antecedents in NUMBER, GENDER AND CASE.

D. Sentence Structure

Case forms determine the use of a noun in a sentence, unlike in English where word position dictates usage. Given the ending of a noun and a sentence context, any Latin student should be able to answer the question: "What case is X and why?" For instance, if a noun is nominative and serves as the subject of a sentence, the correct answer would be "X is the nominative subject."

NOTE: Genitives tend to follow the noun they go with, like English "of." Also as in English, prepositional phrases also tend to follow what they go with.

E. Handout

Click here for a practice sheet on first-declension nouns and adjectives.

II. Vocabulary

[Latin vocabulary will always include the nominative and genitive forms of all nouns since nominative forms are sometimes irregular and do not exhibit the base of the noun which is used throughout the rest of the declension. Instead, derive noun bases from the genitive singular by dropping the genitive singular ending (here -ae). Most but not all first-declension nouns are feminine in gender. A few are masculine, mostly representing occupations (poeta, nauta, pirata, agricola).]

multa: Because of a peculiarity of English idiom, Latin multa can be translated two ways: "much" (singular) and "many" (plural). Please be aware that English is irregular here, not Latin!

mea: No matter to whom the "my" refers—man, woman or thing, singular or plural—the form of meus must agree in gender (and number and case) with its antecedent, like all Latin adjectives. For example, the mea in mea pecunia ("my money") is feminine, no matter whether "my" refers to a man or a woman, because pecunia is feminine. The same is true of all possessive adjectives, e.g. tua.

III. Homework (if assigned)

Write out a full declension of vita antiqua, and provide at least one correct translation with each form. Also, conjugate fully voco and video in the present tense (include the infinitive and imperative forms), and supply three translations for each indicative form (e.g. "I call, I do call, I am calling") and one translation each for the infinitive and imperatives. This is to be turned in and graded for credit.

IV. Sentences

Sententiae Antiquae. Note the flexibility of Latin word order, especially sentences 4, 6, and 7. Also note that sentence context predicates the proper translation of -ae forms; cf. sentences 3, 8, and 15. You should be prepared to break verbs up into their components and tell what information each components conveys.

English-to-Latin Sentences. When assigned, do English to Latin sentences (#16-19, p.11) to be turned in at the beginning of the next class. Students will be allowed time to ask questions about this homework before turning it in.


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