Noun Cases & Their Uses

This week in Latin I, students began to memorize the vocabulary from Chapter I of Latin for the New Millennium, and were quizzed on this material on Friday.

Most of our class time was spent learning about the properties of nouns in Latin: number, gender and case. We learned that each Latin noun has inherent gender; for instance, the word mensa (table) is inherently feminine, whereas the word clamor (shout) is masculine. As in English, words look different in the singular and plural, but unlike in English, nouns also change appearance depending on their function in the sentence. We started to work with nouns of the first declension, or noun family, which look similar to one another. All words of the first declension have the same case endings. For instance, if a first declension noun is the subject in a sentence, it will always end in “A.” Words like puella (girl) and agricola (farmer) follow this pattern.

The subject of a sentence appears in the nominative case, but there are four other cases that dictate the noun’s function in the sentence: the genitive, the dative, the accusative and the ablative. Students began to work with the uses of these cases as they would appear in English and also began to learn the endings of the first declension.

Next week, we will continue to learn about the first declension and how to approach translation, both Latin-to-English and English-to-Latin. They will be quizzed on the first declension endings and case uses on Thursday.