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Discovering Ancient Greek and Latin
Discovering Ancient Greek and Latin

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3.4 The first declension

The endings of Latin nouns are predictable. Each noun belongs to one of five patterns, called declensions. If you know the declension to which a noun belongs – in other words if you know its pattern – you can determine its possible endings.

The first declension

Table 6 below shows the genitive, dative and ablative case endings of the first declension, using the noun puella (‘girl’) as an example. Almost all nouns whose dictionary entry ends in -a belong to the first declension, i.e. they form endings in the same way as puella. This group includes most names of Roman women, such as Iūlia (‘Julia’) and Octāvia (Octavia).

Note that the ablative ending is a long ‘-ā’, not a short ‘-a’.

Table 6 First declension nouns
caseendingpuella
singular
genitive-aepuellae
dative-aepuellae
ablativepuellā

Activity 17

a) The name Octāvia is a first declension noun. What case is Octāviā?

a. 

genitive


b. 

dative


c. 

ablative


d. 

none of the above


The correct answer is c.

b) The name Iūlia is a first declension noun. What case is Iūliae?

a. 

genitive


b. 

dative


c. 

ablative


d. 

either genitive or dative


e. 

none of the above


The correct answer is d.

d. 

The context would help you determine whether the noun was in the genitive or dative case.


c) What is the dative singular of the first declension noun Cleopatra?

a. 

Cleopatra


b. 

Cleopatrae


c. 

Cleopatrā


The correct answer is b.