Latin Grammar I, Lesson 13. The Third Declension of Nouns

In lesson 10, we learned the general precepts of the declensions of Latin nouns. In the last two lessons, we studied the first and second declension of Latin nouns. In this lesson, we will study the third declension. To complete the objectives of this lesson, complete the following tasks:

  1. Read the lesson from beginning to end.
  2. Study each rule with its examples for mastery.
  3. Memorize the rules (if possible).
  4. Complete the lesson assessment.

Lesson

1. Etsi tertiae declinationis quamplurimae sint positiones, genitivus tamen in -IS syllabam exit; qui nominativo modo est aequalis numero syllabarum, ut navis, navis; modo una syllaba longior, ut turbo, turbinis; unedo, unedonis; modo duabus, ut iter, itineris; anceps, ancipitis; biceps, bicipitis; praeceps, praecipitis.

Translation: Though of the third declension very many are (the) terminations, (the) genitive nevertheless with (the syllable) -IS ends; which with the nominative form is equal in (the) number of syllables, as navis, navis (a ship); with the (nominative) form is by one syllable longer, as turbo (2 syllables), turbinis (4 syllables); unedo (3), unedonis (4); with the form by two (syllables), as iter (2 syllables), intinteris (4 syllables); anceps (2), ancipitis (4); biceps (2), bicipitis (4); praeceps (2), praecipitis (4).

In this lesson, we learn that the sign of the third declension is the genitive singular ending in -IS. We learn that the the third declension does not simply change the endings, but often changes the stem when declining. Again, this reminds us of the importance of looking to the genitive singular ending to identify the declension and no other characteritics.

Singular Number

  • Nom. hic serm-o, speech
  • Gen. serm-on-is, of speech
  • Dat. serm-o-ni, to speech
  • Acc. serm-on-em, speech
  • Voc. O serm-o, O speech
  • Abl. a serm-one, from speech

Plural Number

  • Nom. serm-on-es, speeches
  • Gen. serm-on-um, of speeches
  • Dat. serm-on-ibus, to speeches
  • Acc. serm-on-es, speeches
  • Voc. O serm-on-es, O speeches
  • Abl. a serm-on-ibus, from speeches

Note, again, that the general precepts of noun declensions learned in lesson 10 are visible here. First, the forms of the Nominative and Vocative plural forms are the same (sermones, sermones). Second, note that the Dative and Ablative plural forms are the same (sermonibus, sermonibus)

After memorizing the declension above, learn the following phrases. Note that the adjective noun always agrees with the substantive in gender, number and case. When the adjective is declined following the first declension, the endings will be the same for the adjective and the substantive. Here the adjective elegans means elegant.

Singular Number

  • Nom. hic sermo elegans, elegant speech
  • Gen. sermonis elegantis, of elegant speech
  • Dat. sermoni eleganti, to elegant speech
  • Acc. sermonem elegantem, elegant speech
  • Voc. O sermo elegans, O elegant speech
  • Abl. a sermo eleganti, from elegant speech

Plural Number

  • Nom. sermones elegantes, elegant speeches
  • Gen. sermonum elegantium, of elegant speeches
  • Dat. sermonibus elegantibus, to elegant speeches
  • Acc. sermones elegantes, elegant speeches
  • Voc. O sermones elegantes, O elegant speeches
  • Abl. a sermonibus elegantibus, from elegant speeches

Here learn another phrase composed of a third declension substantive and a second declension adjective. The noun panis means “bread”. The adjective quotidianus means daily. Note how panis and quotidianus agree in gender, number and case.

Singular Number

  • Nom. hic panis quotidianus, daily bread
  • Gen. panis quotidiani, of daily bread
  • Dat. pani quotidiano, to daily bread
  • Acc. panem quotidianum, daily bread
  • Voc. O panis quotidiane, O daily bread
  • Abl. a pane quotidiano, from daily bread

Plural Number

  • Nom. panes quotidiani, daily breads
  • Gen. panum quotidianorum, of daily breads
  • Dat. panibus quotidianis, to daily breads
  • Acc. panes quotidianos, the daily breads
  • Voc. O panes quotidiani, O daily breads
  • Abl. a panibus quotidianis, from daily breads

Here learn another phrase composed of a third declension substantive and a first declension adjective. The noun virtus means “virtue”. The adjective admiranda means wonderful. Note how virtus and admiranda agree in gender, number and case.

Singular Number

  • Nom. haec virtus admiranda, wonderful virtue
  • Gen. virtutis admirandae, of wonderful virtue
  • Dat. virtuti admirandae, to wonderful virtue
  • Acc. virtutem admirandam, wonderful virtue
  • Voc. O virtus admiranda, O wonderful virtue
  • Abl. a virtute admiranda, from wonderful virtue

Plural Number

  • Nom. virtutes admirandae, wonderful virtues
  • Gen. virtutum admirandarum, of wonderful virtues
  • Dat. virtutibus admirandis, to wonderful virtues
  • Acc. virtutes admirandas, wonderful virtues
  • Voc. O virtutes admirandae, O wonderful virtues
  • Abl. a virtutibus admirandis, from wonderful virtues

In the phrases below, we see the third declension noun haec oratio, joined with a third declension comparative adjective elegantior, which means “more elegant”. These will agree in gender, number and cased but, since their declensions differ, their endings will differ.

Singular Number

  • Nom. haec oratio elegantior, more elegant speech
  • Gen. orationis elegantioris, of more elegant speech
  • Dat. orationi elegantiori, to more elegant speech
  • Acc. orationem elegantiorem, the more elegant speech
  • Voc. O oratio elegantior, O more elegant speech
  • Abl. ab oratione elegantiore, from more elegant speech

Plural Number

  • Nom. orationes elegantiores, more elegant speeches
  • Gen. orationum elegantiorum, of more elegant speeches
  • Dat. orationibus elegantioribus, to more elegant speeches
  • Acc. orationem elegantiorem, more elegant speeches
  • Voc. O orationes elegantiores, O more elegant speeches
  • Abl. ab orationibus elegantioribus, from more elegant speeches

Neuter Nouns

Above, we have looked at the declension of masculine and feminine nouns of the third declension. Below, we will study the declension of neuter nouns of the third declension. First, remember the general principle of noun declensions, “Neuter nouns have three cases similar: the Nominative, the Accusative and the Vocative, which in the plural number are terminated with the letter -a.” Looking below, we can see that the Nominative, Accusative and Vocative forms are the same for both the singular (tempus) and plural (tempora) numbers. Also, note that the last of the general principles — “The Dative and Ablative cases of the plural number are always the same.” — and note that this is true here with temporibus.

With those general precepts in view, note also the important differences in the neuter declension. The nominative, accusative and vocative end in -us in the singular number, and in -a in the plural number.

Note: Be careful not to confuse hoc tempus (time) with hoc templum (temple).

Singular Number

  • Nom. hoc temp-us, time
  • Gen. temp-or-is, of time
  • Dat. temp-or-i, to time
  • Acc. tempus, time
  • Voc. O tempus, O time
  • Abl. a temp-or-e, from time

Plural Number

  • Nom. temp-or-a, times
  • Gen. temp-or-um, of times
  • Dat. temp-or-ibus, to times
  • Acc. temp-or-a, times
  • Voc. O temp-or-a, O times
  • Abl. a temp-or-ibus, from times

After mastering the declension of neuter nouns of the third declension above, let us study the declension of third declension neuter nouns with adjectives. Remember that adjectives and substantives must always agree in gender, number and case. The third declension neuter substantive munus means “gift” and the second declension adjective pretiosum means “precious”.

Singular Number

  • Nom. hoc munus pretiosum, precious gift
  • Gen. muneris pretiosi, of precious gift
  • Dat. muneri pretioso, to precious gift
  • Acc. munus pretiosum, precious gift
  • Voc. O munus pretioso, O precious gift
  • Abl. a munere pretioso, from precious gift

Plural Number

  • Nom. munera pretiosa, precious gifts
  • Gen. munerum pretiosorum, of precious gifts
  • Dat. muneribus pretiosis, to precious gifts
  • Acc. munera pretiosa, precious gifts
  • Voc. O munera pretiosa, O precious gifts
  • Abl. a muneribus pretiosis, from precious gifts

Below, let us study another third declension noun, hoc flumen (river) and a third declension adjective velox (swift). Note that the adjective velox is an example of an adjective with one form in all three genders.

Singular Number

  • Nom. hoc flumen velox, swift river
  • Gen. fluminis velocis, of swift river
  • Dat. flumini veloci, to swift river
  • Acc. flumen velox, swift river
  • Voc. O flumen velox, O swift river
  • Abl. a flumine veloci, from swift river

Plural Number

  • Nom. flumina velocia, swift rivers
  • Gen. fluminum velocium, of swift rivers
  • Dat. fluminibus velocibus, to swift rivers
  • Acc. flumina velocia, the extraordinary characters
  • Voc. O flumina velocia, O swift rivers
  • Abl. a fluminibus velocibus, from swift rivers

Now, let us study the declension of a third declension neuter substantive noun hoc nomen (name) with a third declension adjective noun celebre (famous). Note that while the endings may differ, these nouns agree in gender, number and case.

Singular Number

  • Nom. hoc nomen celebre, famous name
  • Gen. nominis celebris, of famous name
  • Dat. nomini celebri, to famous name
  • Acc. nomen celebre, famous name
  • Voc. O nomen celebre, O famous name
  • Abl. a nomine celebri, from famous name

Plural Number

  • Nom. nomina celebria, famous names
  • Gen. nominum celebrium, of famous names
  • Dat. nominibus celebribus, to famous names
  • Acc. nomina celebria, famous names
  • Voc. O nomina celebria, O famous names
  • Abl. a nominibus celebribus, from famous names

Singular Number

  • Nom. hoc corpus perspicuum, clear body
  • Gen. corporis perspicui, of clear body
  • Dat. corpori perspicuo, to clear body
  • Acc. corpus perspicuum, clear body
  • Voc. O corpus perspicuum, O clear body
  • Abl. a corpore perspicuo, from clear body

Plural Number

  • Nom. corpora perspicua, clear bodies
  • Gen. corporum perspicuorum, of clear bodies
  • Dat. corporibus perspicuis, to clear bodies
  • Acc. corpora perspicua, clear bodies
  • Voc. O corpora perspicua, O clear bodies
  • Abl. a corporibus perspicuis, from clear bodies

Common of Two Noun

In lesson 03, we learned of nouns that, in gender are said to be “Common of Two”. We read, “The “Common of Two” is that to which are preposed the pronouns hic and haec, as hic and haec parens.” Let us now learn the declension of this noun.

Singular Number

  • Nom. hic & haec parens, parent (male or female, depending on the context)
  • Gen. parentis, of parent
  • Dat. parenti, to parent
  • Acc. parentem, parent
  • Voc. O parens, O parent
  • Abl. a parente, from parent

Plural Number

  • Nom. parentes, parents
  • Gen. parentum, of parents
  • Dat. parentibus, to parents
  • Acc. parentes, parents
  • Voc. O parentes, O parents
  • Abl. a parentibus, from parents

Another example of a common of two noun is hic and haec civis (citizen):

  • Nom. hic & haec civis, citizen (male or female, depending on the context)
  • Gen. civis, of citizen
  • Dat. civi, to citizen
  • Acc. civem, citizen
  • Voc. O civis, O citizen
  • Abl. a civi, from citizen

Plural Number

  • Nom. cives, citizens
  • Gen. civium, of citizens
  • Dat. civibus, to citizens
  • Acc. cives, citizens
  • Voc. O cives, O citizens
  • Abl. a civibus, from citizens

And, lastly, hic and haec hostis (enemy).

  • Nom. hic & haec hostis, enemy (male or female, depending on the context)
  • Gen. hostis, of enemy
  • Dat. hosti, to enemy
  • Acc. hostem, enemy
  • Voc. O hostis, O enemy
  • Abl. a hoste, from enemy

Plural Number

  • Nom. hostes, enemies
  • Gen. hostium, of enemies
  • Dat. hostibus, to enemies
  • Acc. hostes, enemies
  • Voc. O hostes, O enemies
  • Abl. a hostibus, from enemies

Summary

In the previous two lessons, we studied the first and second Latin noun declensions. In this lesson, we have studied the third declension of Latin nouns. In future lessons, we will continue to study the five declensions of Latin nouns in detail.

(c) William C. Michael, 2022. No use outside the Classical Liberal Arts Academy is permitted.

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