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Chapter 3

I. Grammar

1. Second-Declension Nouns. Second declension nouns fall into two groups, those with a nominative singular ending in -us and those with one ending in -er.

Second-Declension Nouns Singular Plural
Nominative -us/-er
Genitive ôrum
Dative -îs
Accusative -um -ôs
Ablative -îs
Vocative = nom. (exception: -us > -e)

Note the following:

a. The cases function in the same way (nominative = subject, etc.) as in first declension.

b. The genitive singular and the nominative plural endings are identical (-î). That means that only in the context of a sentence can one tell whether a second-declension noun ending in -i should be translated as "of X/X's (genitive singular)" or "X-s (nominative plural)."

c. The dative and ablative singular endings are identical (-ô). Again, context distinguishes usage.

d. The vocative singular of second-declension nouns which end -us in the nominative singular differs from the nominative singular (-e versus -us). Nouns with a nominative singular ending -ius lose the -e, e.g. O Vergili!

e. There are no mandatory long marks in this declension, but it is advisable to note that the dative and ablative plural endings have a long î since other declensions have -is endings with a short i.

f. Second-declension nouns which end -er in the nominative singular differ from those ending in -us only in the nominative singular, but it is important to memorize whether an -er noun "contracts" or not, i.e. whether or not it loses the -e- before the -r: puer/pueri (does not contract) vs. ager/agri (does contract). Therefore, the base of a noun must be taken from the genitive singular (minus ending), not the nominative. For that reason, the nominative and the genitive of a noun will always be given in vocabulary. The nominative is the "dictionary" form of the word (the form one looks the word up under), and the genitive provides the "base" form of the word (the form that shows the base to which the proper declensional endings are attached).

2. Apposition. When one noun redefines or renames another, the second of the two nouns is said to be "in apposition" to the first or an "appositive" of the first. In Latin, two such nouns are put in the same case, as logic would dictate.

II. Vocabulary

numerus: This noun means both "number, numeral" and "group, crowd" (as "in the number of my friends").

populus: This noun is collective and takes a singular verb, e.g. populus spectacula amat.

pauci: As a "plural" adjective—how can "few" be singular?—it manifests only plural forms.

de/in: Both prepositions take an object in the ablative case, although in in the sense of "into" requires an accusative object. De has two distinct meanings: (1) literal, "down from" (e.g. a mountain), and (2) figurative, "about, concerning" (a topic, e.g. Cicero's essay entitled De senectute ["About Old Age"]).

III. Special Homework. Decline numerus magnus and translate each form (case and number), to be turned in at the beginning of the next class period.


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