Latin for beginners (1911)/Part II/Lesson III

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LESSON III

FIRST PRINCIPLES (Continued)

32. Declension of Nouns. We learned above (§§19, 20) the difference between the subject and object, and that in English they may be distinguished by the order of the words. Sometimes, however, the order is such that we are left in doubt. For example, the sentence The lady her daughter loves might mean either that the lady loves her daughter, or that the daughter loves the lady.

1. If the sentence were in Latin, no doubt could arise, because the subject and the object are distinguished, not by the order of the words, but by the endings of the words themselves. Compare the following sentences:

Domina fīliam amat The lady loves her daughter
Fīliam domina amat
Amat fīliam domina
Domina amat fīliam
Fīlia dominam amat The daughter loves the lady
Dominam fīlia amat
Amat dominam fīlia
Fīlia amat dominam


a. Observe that in each case the subject of the sentence ends in -a and the object in -am. The form of the noun shows how it is used in the sentence, and the order of the words has no effect on the essential meaning.

2. As stated above (§23), this change of ending is called declension, and each different ending produces what is called a case. When we decline a noun, we give all its different cases, or changes of endings. In English we have three cases, — nominative, possessive, and objective; but, in nouns, the nominative and objective have the same form, and only the possessive case shows a change of ending, by adding ’s or the apostrophe. The interrogative pronoun, however, has the fuller declension, who? whose? whom?

33. The following table shows a comparison between English and Latin declension forms, and should be thoroughly memorized:


English Cases Latin Cases
Declension of who? Name of case and use Declension of domina and translation Name of case and use Singular
  • Who?
  • Whose?
  • Whom?
  • Nominative — case of the subject
  • Possessive — case of the possessor
  • Objective — case of the object
  • do’min-a the lady
  • domin-ae the lady’s, of the lady
  • domin-am the lady
  • Nominative — case of the subject
  • Genitive — case of the possessor
  • Accusative — case of the direct object
  • Who?
  • Whose?
  • Whom?
  • Nominative — case of the subject
  • Possessive — case of the possessor
  • Objective — case of the object
  • domin-ae the ladies
  • domin-ā’rum the ladies’, of the ladies
  • domin-ās the ladies
  • Nominative — case of the subject
  • Genitive — case of the possessor
  • Accusative — case of the direct object

Plural

When the nominative singular of a noun ends in -a, observe that
a. The nominative plural ends in -ae.
b. The genitive singular ends in -ae and the genitive plural in -ārum.
c. The accusative singular ends in -am and the accusative plural in -ās.
d. The genitive singular and the nominative plural have the same ending.

34. EXERCISE Pronounce the following words and give their general meaning. Then give the number and case, and the use of each form. Where the same form stands for more than one case, give all the possible cases and uses.

1. Silva, silvās, silvam.
2. Fugam, fugae, fuga.
3. Terrārum, terrae, terrās.
4. Aquās, causam, lūnās.
5. Fīliae, fortūnae, lūnae.
6. Iniūriās, agricolārum, aquārum.
7. Iniūriārum, agricolae, puellās
8. Nautam, agricolās, nautās.
9. Agricolam, puellam, silvārum.