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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’

Stage 1Stage 2

esse - to be

This is an irregularGlossary - opens in a new window verb, both in English and in Latin, as it does not follow the usual patterns of conjugation.

Latin Means in English
sum I am
es you are (singular)
est he/she/it is
sumus we are
estis you are (plural)
sunt they are

esse does not have an object. Words associated with it are in the nominativeGlossary - opens in a new window case. Don’t try to put them into the accusative.

vir sum I am a man    
dominus est He is the lord    
testamentum est It is the will    
Isabella et Maria sumus We are Isabella and Mary    
agricole sumus We are the farmers } nominative plural as there is more than one
vidue sunt They are the widows

Isabella regina est.
Isabella is the queen

Both Isabella and regina must be in the nominative

domine regine sunt
The ladies are queens
Maria et Isabella regine sunt
Mary and Isabella are queens.

In this example, Maria and Isabella are nominative singular, as there is one of each woman. regine is nominative plural as there are two queens.

Latin document points Latin document points: medieval names
Men’s names often include the phrase ‘son of’:
Henricus filius Willelmi    Henry son of William.
Willelmus filius Henrici     William son of Henry.

cartas Willelmo filio Stephani do    I give charters to William son of Stephen.

Willelmo and filio are both in the dative case because the charters are given to him.
Stephani stays in the genitive, because William is the son of Stephen.
Checklist Checklist:
Are you confident with:
How to conjugate 'to be' in Latin?
Whether esse has an object?

Practice sentences