Nominative And Accusative

Now you are comfortable using verbs, by the end of this tutorial, you will be able to use nouns so that you can begin to make full Latin sentences.

Firstly, the following vocab will be useful:

Latin English
bellum war
nomen name
puella girl
rex king
servus slave
urbs city

What is a case?

A noun can be in one of several cases. A case can be seen as a role in the sentence. The first two cases you learn are nominative and accusative:

Case Role in sentence Example in English
Nominative The nominative noun is the subject of the sentence. This is the thing that is doing the action. The cat drinks the milk. The boy is opening the door.
Accusative The accusative noun is the object. It is having the action done to it. The cat drinks the milk. The boy is opening the door.

What is a declension?

Remeber how with verbs, there were different groups called conjugations? Well, with nouns, there are groups called declensions. There are five declensions, but at this stage, only the first three are shown.

To complicate things, each noun is one of three genders: masculine, feminine or neuter. When learning a new word, try to remember the gender as well as the meaning.

Endings

The endings will vary depending on the declension, case, gender and number (i.e. singular or plural):

Number Case Declension 1 (almost always feminine) Declension 2 (if masculine) Declension 2 (if neuter) Declension 3 (if masculine) Declension 3 (if feminine) Declension 3 (if neuter)
Singular Nominative puella servus bellum rex urbs nomen
Singular Accusative puellam servum bellum regem urbem nominem
Plural Nominative puellae servi bella reges urbes nomina
Plural Accusative puellas servos bella reges urbes nomina

For "puella" meaning girl, the singular cases can be translated as "a girl" or "the girl", and the plural cases can be translated as "girls" or "the girls".

It is worth noting that in the third declension, the nominative singular can end in pretty much anything. This is why the ending hasn't been put in bold, as there is no ending. For example, another third declension noun is "mercator", meaning "merchant".

Example sentence

Now, you know the endings, you can begin to construct sentences:

servus puellam amat.

When translating a sentence, you should start by looking for the verb. Usually, it is at the end of the sentence. The verb here is "amat", meaning "he/she/it loves".

Next, you should look for the subject. Here, "servus" is in the nominative singular, since it has the ending "-us". "Puellam" on the other hand, is accusative singular (the object). This means that the slave is doing the action, and the girl is having the action done to her. Therefore, the corrent translation is:

The slave loves the girl.

Different nouns

Some nouns follow a slightly different pattern. One example is the verb "puer", meaning boy. It is a second declension noun and is masculine, so it should follow the pattern of "servus". Its endings are as follows:

Singular Plural
Nominative puer pueri
Accusative puerum pueros

Notice how it has the same endings other than in the nominative singular, where it ends in "-er" rather than "-us".

Test your understanding

Try translating the following sentences. The vocabulary box below may help:

Latin English
habeo, -ere (2) to have
mercator (3 masc.) merchant
pecunia money

mercator pucuniam habet.

Next, translate:

Romanes cenam consumunt.

Once you are comfortable with the examples above, and know the noun tables by heart, try moving on to the next exercise.

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