Just like in English, nouns in Latin are very important too. Unlike verbs, nouns don't come in person. Instead, they come in declensions and cases. You can tell what declension and case a noun is by its ending. Lets look at noun cases first
Declensions and Endings
Nouns come in cases. The case tells you what role the noun has in the sentence. We will cover 4 of the cases.
- The Nominative: The nominative case is the subject of the sentence. For example: "David eats the pizza". The subject of this sentence is David because he is the one doing the verb/action (eating). Remember, David could be replaced with any noun (ie: the man/the woman/the boy, etc).
- The Vocative: The vocative case is for calling/commanding someone. For example: "David! Eat the Pizza!"
- The Accusative: The accusative case is the direct object of the sentence. For example: "David eats the pizza". The direct object of this sentence is pizza because it is directly having the verb done to it. Remember, pizza could be replaced with any noun (ie: dog, castle, wheel, etc).
- The Dative: The dative case is the indirect object of the sentence. For example: "David gave the pizza to the cat". The indirect object of the sentence is the cat because it it is indirectly having the verb done to it. You can recognise the dative in an English sentence if the noun has a "to" or "for" in front of it.
- The Genitive: The genitive case is the possessive noun. For example: "David's pizza has cheese on it". The possessive noun of the sentence is David again, but this time because David has possession of the pizza.
- The Ablative: The ablative case expresses by, with or from the noun. For example: "The pizza was eaten by David" The ablative has a preposition with it.
Nouns also come in declensions. There are 5 noun declensions, but we are only going to meet the first 3. These first 3 declensions are referred to as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd declensions. You can think of a declension as a group, which each noun must be part of and can tell what declension a noun is by its ending. A noun's declension never changes (unlike its case). Lets take a look at the first 3 noun declensions. Below is a table on declension endings and case endings. Take a look:
- The first declension has -a as the ending for its singular, nominative/vocative form. Examples are puella (girl) or fabula (story). Notice that in the table we only include the feminine form. This is because in Latin the large majority of nouns that end in a are feminine, the exception being men's jobs.
- The second declension has -us or -er as the ending for its singular, nominative/vocative form. Examples are amicus (friend) or puer (boy).
- The third declension has everything else as the ending for its singular, nominative/vocative form. Examples are rex (king) or canis (dog).