and Why We Learn What We Learn About Nouns
Every noun has the following attributes:
case: choices are
More on this on a separate explanation sheet.
number: choices are
gender: not to be confused with
"sex", gender choices are masculine
(not "male"), feminine
(not "female"), and neuter.
In only very few cases can you guess the gender of a noun based on the
sexuality of the occupation or role it describes: rex, regis (m) =
king; femina, feminae (f) = woman.
noun also belongs to one of five family groups, called "declensions".
nouns are listed in the dictionary:
-ae, f., homeland
is it so important to know the genitive singular form?
declension has its own set of endings for each of the six cases (cases
are another way of referring to the function a word serves in its sentence).
In fact, some declensions have more than one set of endings (e.g., there are two sets of endings for the 2nd declension, m and
if the words in a declension are of different genders, and therefore have
endings that may slightly differ from each other (neuters are the worst
culprit), all the words in the same declension have one thing in
common...the ending on the genitive singular (which is why you learn the
ending when you learn a new vocabulary word!):
to access index cards featuring the full set of endings for each declension.
entries always provide us with the nominative singular of the word, but
often give only the ending for the genitive singular form. Why? Because this
tells us that the root (or stem) of the noun is the same throughout the
entire declension of the noun. When we see
meant to understand this:
is important to note the occasions upon which we are given an entire
genitive singular form written out, since this signals a change in root from
genitive singular form is also important because it provides us with the
root of each noun, which is used throughout the declension (even if the
nominative singular is different).
is it so important to know which declension a noun belongs to?
need to know which declension a noun belongs to so we know which index card
to look at to interpret the ending on it, since we recall that each
declension has its own set of endings:
Patria viri est in periculo. The
homeland of the man is in danger.
Genitive: Viri patriae periculum non intellegere possunt. The
men of the country cannot understand the danger.
Dative: Vir amorem patriae dat. The
man gives his love to his country.
Accusative: Vir patriam amat. The
man loves his country.
Ablative: Viri ab patria pericula prohibuerunt. The
men kept dangers away from their country.
is it so important to know the gender of a noun?
has a gender that never changes (most declensions include nouns of
different genders, so you just have to memorize the gender of every noun you
learn). This is why the gender is listed in the dictionary entry for each
need to know the gender of a noun so that you can tell if an adjective is
modifying it - adjectives and nouns agree in case, number and gender. You
must learn this rule of grammar so you don't EVER guess which noun an
adjective is modifying. Sometimes, you may think you can just "figure
it out by sense", but you would most often be wrong and this is a bad
practice all around.
periculum non intellegere possunt.
above sentence, you know for sure that magnae is modifying patriae
because both words are genitive,
singular, and feminine.
magnae could not be modifying any other noun in that sentence, not periculum
(even though "great danger" would make sense) or Viri (even
though "great men" would also make sense). Learn this simple rule
and you will never have to guess.
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send comments to: Janice Siegel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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