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?