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Beginners' Latin
Men ploughing, illustration. 8 September 1877. Cat ref: COPY 1/38 f 283. Copyright, William Joseph Downes

Lesson 3: Second declension nouns; ‘to be’

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Second declension nouns

  • The largest group is masculine and ends in ‘us’, ‘er’ or ‘ir’
  • Some are neuter and end in ‘um’

Masculine ‘us’ ending
These are declined with these endings:

Case Singular Plural
Nominative -us -i
Vocative -e or -i -i
Accusative -um -os
Genitive -i -orum
Dative -o -is
Ablative -o -is

Look at our example of dominus lordGlossary - opens in a new window, sir, the LordGlossary - opens in a new window

Case Singular Plural
Nominative dominus domini
Vocative domine domini
Accusative dominum dominos
Genitive domini dominorum
Dative domino dominis
Ablative domino dominis

More second declension masculine nouns:

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annus year
deus God
filius son

Men’s names often belong to the second declension:

Gregorius Gregory
Henricus Henry
Stephanus Stephen
Willelmus William

Here are some sentences showing you how the new words are used:

dominus terram legat The lord bequeaths land  
terra domini The land of the lord  
Deo et ecclesie lego I leave to God and the Church  
Henrico confirmo I confirm to Henry  
Willelmus terram Gregorii dat William gives the land of Gregory  
dominus et domina terram Deo et ecclesie confirmant The lord and the lady confirm the land to God and the Church  
anno domini in the year of [our] Lord anno is ablative and here means ‘in the year’; domini is genitive
 
Tip Tip
Often abbreviated to AD, anno domini is used in the Christian calendar to express dates after the birth of Jesus.

Vocative singular is the same as the nominative except in second declension nouns

  • Ending ‘us’ – when the vocative ends with an ‘e’
  • Ending ‘ius’ in names like Gregorius – vocative ends with an ‘i’

Masculine ‘er’ ending

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These take the same endings as masculine ‘us’ ending nouns except

  • Nominative singular ends in ‘er’
  • Vocative singular is the same as the nominative

You will only come across these four words. They are declined in the grammar tableGlossary - opens in a new window.

armiger esquireGlossary - opens in a new window
faber smith
magister masterGlossary - opens in a new window, teacher
puer boy

They can be divided into two groups.

First
puer and armiger which always keep their ‘e’ when they are declined.

Second
magister and faber. When they are declined, they only keep the ‘e’ of the ‘er’ in the nominative and vocative singular cases.

For example

faber terras legat
The smith bequeaths lands

In this sentence, faber has an ‘e’ because it is in the nominative case.

cartas magistro Stephano confirmo
I confirm charters to master Stephen

Whereas in this sentence, magister has lost its ‘e’, because it is in the dative case.

Tip Tip
Thinking of related English words may help you remember this: magistrate and fabricate do not have an ‘e’.
'vir'
man, husband

The only second declension noun ending ‘ir’. It is fully declined in the grammar tableGlossary - opens in a new window.

Neuter ‘um’ ending

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These are declined with these endings:

Case Singular Plural
Nominative -um -a
Vocative -um -a
Accusative -um -a
Genitive -i -orum
Dative -o -is
Ablative -o -is

Look at our example of regnum reign

Case Singular Plural
Nominative regnum regna
Vocative regnum regna
Accusative regnum regna
Genitive regni regnorum
Dative regno regnis
Ablative regno regnis

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These are more neuter nouns:

mercatum market
testamentum will, testament
regnum regine Marie the reign of Queen Mary

Some neuter nouns that end in ‘um’ have a stem that ends in ‘i’

escambium exchange
manerium manorGlossary - opens in a new window
Westmonasterium WestminsterGlossary - opens in a new window

They decline in the same way but keep the ‘i’.

dominus manerii The lord of the manor
Stephanus maneria carta confirmat Stephen confirms the manors by charter

 

Handy hints Handy hints
Learn noun endings quickly by looking for patterns:
  1. Nominative and vocative endings are always the same except for second declension nouns ending in ‘us’.
  2. Nominative and accusative cases of neuter nouns are always the same. The plural always ends in ‘a’.
  3. Accusative singular for masculine and feminine nouns always ends in ‘m’; accusative plural for masculine and feminine nouns always ends in ‘s’.
  4. Genitive plural of all declensions ends in ‘um’.
  5. Dative and ablative plurals are always the same. In the first and second declensions, the ending is usually ‘is’.
Checklist Checklist:
Are you confident with:
How to decline a second declension noun like magister?
How to decline a second declension noun like dominus??
How to decline a second declension noun like testamentum?
The handy hints for declining nouns?

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