Latin I Tutorial: Grammar & Vocabulary


written by Brandon


1.  Alphabet and Pronunciation

 

The Latin alphabet, which is the proper name for the alphabet we use for English, French, German, etc., has changed slightly since the days of the Romans.  However, the vast majority of the Latin alphabet has remained the same.  All in all, the only letters that the Romans didn't have were /w/, /u/ and /j/.  The letter /w/ has never been used in Latin nor is it used in modern representations of Latin.  The letter /j/, on the other hand, wasn't originally used in the language but has come to use to signify the [j] sound (i.e. the sound as in the /y/ in “year”).  Originally, this consonantal sound and the vocal sound [i] were both represented by the letter /i/.  Also, the letter /u/ has almost been universally introduced into modern Latin where it was originally written /v/.

Secondly, as Latin is not often used as a language of spoken communication, it is not 100% necessary to pronounce the language as I have instructed here.  Pronunciation varies rather greatly and is mainly used to aid learners in remembering words, conjugations, etc.  However, I do strongly suggest that you decide on pronunciation and stick with it as it will help you develop a sense of the natural flow of the language.


Vowels

ā

long [aː] as in 'father'

a

short [a] as the first vowel in 'aha'

ē

[ɛː] in 'they'

e

[ɛ] in 'pet'

ī

[iː] in 'machine'

i

[i] or [ɪ] in 'bit'

ō

[oː] in 'boat'

o

similar to that of 'boat' but shorter

ū

[uː] in 'boot'

u

as in 'foot'


Diphthongs

ae

as the /ai/ in 'aisle'

au

as the /ou/ in 'out'

ei

as the /ei/ in 'eight'

oe

as the /oi/ in 'toil'

ui

either as sound like 'we' or a distinct [u] then [i].


Consonants

All consonants have the same pronunciation as in English except for the following:

 

c

always [k], never [s] as in 'cent'

g

always as in 'gun', never as in 'gem'

j

like /y/ in 'yes'

t

always /t/ as in native

v

as in English /w/

ch, ph, th

like English /c/, /p/, and /t/ respectively

 

A note on macrons (the lines above long vowels).  The Romans never used macrons—quite frankly, they didn't even use spaces between words!  These macrons were added much later by scholars and they are, in many circumstances, arbitrary.  I will, however, use them in a few cases where they help distinguish words from one another. 

 


 

2. Nouns and Cases

 

As with German, Russian, Greek, etc., there are three genders in Latin, masculine, feminine, and neuter

There are five cases in Latin and they are as follows:

Nominative

indicates the subject

The man ate the apple.

Genitive

indicates ownership or relationship

The book of the girl.
The dog's tail.

Dative

indirect object

We talk to the guide.
I gave my mom a gift.

Accusative

direct object

We see the mountain.
I bought a gift.

Ablative

used with the prepositions with/by/from/at/in/on

The hunter hunted with an arrow.

 

There are other uses of the cases that will be noted in the future.

There is also technically a vocative case.  This will be dealt with in time.

There are no words for “the” or “a” in Latin.  Context is the only necessary indicator. 

Finally, when nouns are presented, they are often given showing their “principle parts.”  This is a series of four things that tells you how to decline the noun, of what gender the noun is and its meaning.  The are usually in the order nominative singular, genitive singular (often abbreviated), gender, meaning.  For example:

puella, -ae, f., girl

This tells us that that the word is “puella” in the nominative singular, “puellae” in the genitive singular, it is feminine and it means “girl.”

Note that some words are mainly used in the plural even if they have singular meanings.  This will be noted in the principle parts.

 


 

3. Personal (Subject) Pronouns

 

ego

I

nos

we

tu

you (singular)

vos

you (plural)

is, ea, id

he, she, it

ei, eae, ea

they (m., f., n.)

 

The subject pronouns are rarely used in Latin because, as we will soon see, the verb indicates the person and number, therefore making subject pronouns usually redundant.  For this reason, I will not include the pronouns in the conjugations.

 


 

4. Verbs

 

Just like nouns, verbs have principle parts. For verbs they are as follows: the first person singular of the present active indicative, the present active infinitive, the first person singular of the present perfect indicative, and the supine or perfect passive participle which are almost always identical (note that with intransitive verbs, the 4th part is often the future active participle).  These will be explained in more detail as they arise.

There are 4 basic conjugations in Latin.  They are separated as those whose second principle part end in -are, -ēre, -ere, and -ire.  Of course, there are many irregular verbs.

 


 

5. To be (present, imperfect, and future)

 

sum, esse, fui, futurus to be

 

Present:

sum

I am

sumus

we are

es

you are

estis

you (pl.) are

est

he, she, it is

sunt

they are

 

Imperfect:

eram

I was

eramus

we were

eras

you were

eratis

you were

erat

he, she, it was

erant

they were

 

Future:

ero

I will be

erimus

we will be

eris

you will be

eritis

you will be

erit

he, she, it will be

erunt

they will be

 

Compounds that include esse

 

absum

to be absent

adsum

to be present

desum

to fail at (+ dat.)

insum

to be in

intersum

to be among (+ dat.)

obsum

to be against (+ dat.)

praesum

to be in charge of (+ dat.)

prosum, prodesse, profui, profuturus

to be useful for, be good for  (+ dat.)

subsum

to be near (+ dat.)

supersum

to survive (+ dat.)

 


 

6. The First Declension

The first declension ends in the nominative in -a and in the genitive in -ae.  The vast majority of the words are feminine however there are several masculine words which tend to be those that have to do with occupations of males.

 

 

aqua, -ae, f. water

agricola, -ae, m. farmer

 

Singular

Plural

Singular

Plural

Nom.

aqua

-a

aquae

-ae

agricola

-a

agricolae

-ae

Gen.

aquae

-ae

aquarum

-arum

agricolae

-ae

agricolarum

-arum

Dat.

aquae

-ae

aquis

-is

agricolae

-ae

agricolis

-is

Acc.

aquam

-am

aquas

-as

agricolam

-am

agricolas

-as

Abl.

aquā

aquis

-is

agricolā

agricolis

-is

 


 

7. Common First Declension Nouns

(Keep in mind that because you are not speaking or reading about daily topics in Latin, the vocabulary will seem a little odd at first.  However, I will be adding more modern vocabulary and vocabulary such as colors, dates, weather, etc. that you wouldn't ofter, if ever, see in genuine Latin)

 

Feminine Nouns

barba, -ae, f.

beard

fossa, -ae, f.

ditch

braccae, -arum, f.pl.

pants, trousers

fuga, -ae, f.

flight

casa, -ae, f.

cottage, hut

gloria, -ae, f.

fame, glory

causa, -ae, f.

cause, reason

hora, -ae, f.

hour

*dea, -ae, f.

goddess

ira, -ae, f.

anger, wrath

femina, -ae, f.

woman

lingua, -ae, f.

tongue, language

fenestra, -ae, f.

window

poena, -ae, f.

punishment

*filia, -ae, f.

daughter

puella, -ae, f.

girl

formula, -ae, f.

nice shape, beauty, equation, identity

tuba, -ae, f.

trumpet

fortuna, -ae, f.

fortune, luck

 

 

 

Feminine Abstract Nouns (-ia)

amicitia, -ae, f.

friendship

injuria, -ae, f.

wrong, injustice

audacia, -ae, f.

boldness

inopia, -ae, f.

lack

elegantia, -ae, f.

elegance, refinement

prudentia, -ae, f.

discretion

copia, -ae, f.

supply

scientia, -ae, f.

knowledge

gratia, -ae, f.

favor

 

 

 

Feminine Abstract Nouns Denoting Fields of Study

alchimia, -ae, f.

alchemy

medicina, -ae, f.

medicine

chemia, -ae, f.

chemistry

physicae, -arum, f.pl.

phyics

mathematica, -ae, f.

mathematics

 

 

 

Masculine Nouns

agricola, -ae, m.

farmer

pirata, -ae, m.

pirate

incola, -ae, m.

inhabitant

poeta, -ae, m.

poet

nauta, -ae, m.

sailor

 

 

 

*the dative and ablative plural of dea and filia are deabus and filiabus, respectively.

 


 

8. The Second Declension

The second declension is marked as masculine nouns (and very few feminine nouns) whose nominative end in either -(i)us, -er, or -ir and whose genitive singular ends in -i.  As well, neuter nouns ending in -(i)um in the nominative singular and -i in the genitive singular.

 

 

somnus, -i, m. sleep

amicus, -i, m. friend

 

Singular

Plural

Singular

Plural

Nom.

somnus

-us

somni

-i

amicus

-us

amici

-i

Gen.

somni

-i

somnorum

-orum

amici

-i

amicorum

-orum

Dat.

somno

-o

somnis

-is

amico

-o

amicis

-is

Acc.

somnum

-um

somnos

-os

amicum

-um

amicos

-os

Abl.

somno

-o

somnis

-is

amico

-o

amicis

-is

 

 

gladius, -i, m. sword (-ius ending)

 

Singular

Plural

Nom.

gladius

-us

gladii

-i

Gen.

gladi

-i

gladiorum

-orum

Dat.

gladio

-o

gladiis

-is

Acc.

gladium

-um

gladios

-os

Abl.

gladio

-o

gladiis

-is

 

 

vir, -i, m. man (strong endings)

ager, agri, m. field (weak endings)

 

Singular

Plural

Singular

Plural

Nom.

vir

-us

viri

-i

ager

-us

agri

-i

Gen.

viri

-i

virorum

-orum

agri

-i

agrorum

-orum

Dat.

viro

-o

viris

-is

agro

-o

agris

-is

Acc.

virum

-um

viros

-os

agrum

-um

agros

-os

Abl.

viro

-o

viris

-is

agro

-o

agris

-is

 

 

bellum, -i, n. war

 

Singular

Plural

Nom.

bellum

-um

bella

-a

Gen.

belli

-i

bellorum

-orum

Dat.

bello

-o

bellis

-is

Acc.

bellum

-um

bella

-a

Abl.

bello

-o

bellis

-is

 

Note that all neuter nouns in all declensions will have matching endings in the nominative and accusative singular and in the nominative and accusative plural.

 


 

9. Common Second Declension Nouns

 

Masculine Nouns Ending in -us

amicus, -i, m.

friend

locus, -i, m.

place

animus, -i, m.

mind, spirit

modus, -i, m.

manner, means

campus, -i, m.

plain, field

mundus, -i, m.

world

cervus, -i, m.

deer

oculus, -i, m.

eye

cibus, -i, m.

food

servus, -i, m.

servant

deus, -i, m.

god

somnus, -i, m.

sleep

equus, -i, m.

horse

ventus, -i, m.

wind

 

Masculine Nouns Ending in -ius

filius, -i, m.

son

socius, -i, m.

ally

gladius, -i, m.

sword

 

 

 

Masculine Nouns with Strong -er/-ir Endings

adulter, -i, m.

adulterer

vesper, -i, m.

evening

miser, -i, m.

wretch

vir, -i, m.

man

puer, -i, m.

boy

 

 

 

Masculine Nouns with Weak -er Endings

ager, agri, m.

field

liber, libri, m.

book

cancer, cancri, m.

crab

magister, magistri, m.

teacher

 

Neuter Nouns Ending in -um

bellum, -i, n.

war

oppidum, -i, n.

town

castrum, -i, n.

fort; (plural) camp

simulacrum, -i, n.

image

hiberna, -orum, n.pl.

winter quarters

venenum, -i, n.

poison

 

Neuter Nouns Ending in -ium

auxilium, -i, n.

help

sacrificium, -i, n.

sacrifice

concilium, -i, n.

assembly

servitium, -i, n.

slavery

 


 

10. The Third Declension

 

The third declension is probably the most common declension.  It is characterized by a consonantal stem, -is ending in the genitive singular and may be of any gender

 

 

rex, regis, m. king

uxor, uxoris, f. wife

 

Singular

Plural

Singular

Plural

Nom.

rex

reges

-es

uxor

uxores

-es

Gen.

regis

-is

regum

-um

uxoris

-is

uxorum

-um

Dat.

regi

-i

regibus

-ibus

uxori

-i

uxoribus

-ibus

Acc.

regem

-em

reges

-es

uxorem

-em

uxores

-es

Abl.

rege

-e

regibus

-ibus

uxore

-e

uxoribus

-ibus

 

The neuter declension is the same except for the nominative singular and the nominative and accusative plural.

 

 

opus, operis, n. work

 

Singular

Plural

Nom.

opus

opera

-a

Gen.

operis

-is

operum

-um

Dat.

operi

-i

operibus

-ibus

Acc.

opus

– (same as nom.)

opera

-a

Abl.

opere

-e

operibus

-ibus

 

“i-stem”

These differ from other third declension nouns in that they take the ending -ium in the genitive plural. They may sometimes also take the endings -im, -i, -is instead of the endings -em, -e, -es in the accusative singular, ablative singular, and the accusative plural, respectively.

 

 

hostis, hostis, m. enemy

animal, animalis, n. animal

 

Singular

Plural

Singular

Plural

Nom.

hostis

hostes, hostis

-es, -is

animal

animalia

-ia

Gen.

hostis

-is

hostium

-ium

animalis

-is

animalium

-um

Dat.

hosti

-i

hostibus

-ibus

animali

-i

animalibus

-ibus

Acc.

hostem, hostim

-em, -im

hostes, hostis

-es, -is

animal

– (same as nom.)

animalia

-ia

Abl.

hoste, hosti

-e, -i

hostibus

-ibus

animale, animali

-e, -i

animalibus

-ibus

 


 

11. Common Third Declension Nouns

 

Masculine and Feminine Nouns

canis, canis, m.

dog

mons, montis, m.

mountain

cervix, cervicis, f.

neck

nox, noctis, f.

night

custos, cutodis, m.

guard

ops, opis, f.

power, help

feles, felis, f.

cat

pars, partis, f.

part

frater, fratris, m.

brother

pater, patris, m.

father

leo, leonis, m.

lion

rex, regis, m.

king

mater, matris, f.

mother

soror, sororis, f.

sister

miles, milites, m.

soldier

uxor, uxoris, f.

wife

mulier, mulieris, f.

woman

vigil, vigilis, m.

fireman

 

Masculine Nouns of Agency Ending in -or, -oris

doctor, -oris, m.

teacher

monitor, -oris, m.

advisor

gladiator, -oris, m.

gladiator

vector, -oris, m.

rider, passenger

imperator, -oris, m.

general, emperor

 

 

 

Feminine Abstract Nouns Ending in -tas, -tatis

aequalitas, -tatis, f.

equality

majestas, -tatis, f.

majesty

fraternitas, -tatis, f.

brotherhood

majoritas, -tatis, f.

majority

libertas, -tatis, f.

freedom

 

 

 

Neuter Nouns

caput, capitis, n.

head

lemma, lemmatis, n.

theme

cor, cordis, n.

heart

limen, liminis, n.

threshold, doorway

crimen, criminis, n.

accusation, crime, guilt

nomen, nominis, n.

name, noun

flumen, fluminis, n.

flow, river, stream

opus, operis, n.

work

genus, generis, n.

gender

stamen, staminis, n.

thread

iter, itineris, n.

road

 

 

 


 

12. The Fourth Declension

 

The fourth declension can be either masculine, feminine, or neuter.  However the masculine/feminine declension is slightly different than that of neuter nouns.  The masculine/feminine declension is characterized by -us in the nominative singular and -ūs in the genitive singular.  The neuter is characterized by -u in the nominative singular and -ūs in the genitive singular.

 

 

manus, manūs, f. hand

genu, genūs, n. knee

 

Singular

Plural

Singular

Plural

Nom.

manus

-us

manūs

-ūs

genu

-u

genua

-ua

Gen.

manūs

-ūs

manuum

-uum

genūs

-ūs

genuum

-uum

Dat.

manui

-ui

manibus

-ibus

genu

-u

genibus

-ibus

Acc.

manum

-um

manūs

-ūs

genu

-u

genua

-ua

Abl.

manu

-u

manibus

-ibus

genu

-u

genibus

-ibus

 


 

13. Common Fourth Declension Nouns

 

Masculine and Feminine Nouns

acus, -ūs, f.

needle

gradus, -ūs, m.

step, pace

aestus, -ūs, m.

heat

Idūs, -uum, f. pl.

Ides (Cf. Ides of March)

arcus, -ūs, m.

bow

lacus, -ūs, m.

lake

cantus, -ūs, m.

song

manus, -ūs, f.

hand

condus, -ūs, m.

shopkeeper

metus, -ūs, f.

fear, dread

cultus, -ūs, m.

civilization

portus, -ūs, m.

harbor

*domus, -ūs, f.

house, home

senatus, -ūs, m.

senate

exericitus, -ūs, m.

army

tonsus, -ūs, m.

haircut

fructus, -ūs, m.

enjoyment, profit, fruit

tribus, -ūs, f.

tribe

 

Masculine Abstract Nouns

adventus, -ūs, m.

approach, arrival

motus, -ūs, m.

motion

casus, -ūs, m.

chance, case

prospectus, -ūs, m.

view, prospect

census, -ūs, m.

census

reditus, -ūs, m.

return

cruciatus, -ūs, m.

torture

sensus, -ūs, m.

feeling, sensation

flatus, -ūs, m.

wind

sonitus, -ūs, m.

sound, noise

fletus, -ūs, m.

weeping

spiritus, -ūs, m.

breath, soul, enthusiasm

 

Neuter Nouns

cornu, -ūs, n.

horn

genu, -ūs, n.

knee

 

*Sometimes domus, -i, f. of the second declension.

 


 

14. The Fifth Declension

 

The fifth declension has -es in the nominative singular and -ei in the genitive singular and are usually feminine.

 

 

res, rei, f. thing

dies, diei (die), m./f., day

 

Singular

Plural

Singular

Plural

Nom.

res

-es

res

-es

dies

-es

dies

-es

Gen.

rei

-ei

rerum

-erum

diei, die

-ei

dierum

-erum

Dat.

rei

-ei

rebus

-ebus

diei, die

-ei

diebus

-ebus

Acc.

rem

-em

res

-es

diem

-em

dies

-es

Abl.

re

-e

rebus

-ebus

die

-e

diebus

-ebus

 


 

15. Common Fifth Declension Nouns

 

dies, diei, m./f.

day

plebes, plebei, f.

commoners

effigies, effigiei, f.

effigy, likeness, statue

spes, spei, f.

hope

fides, fidei, f.

faith

species, speciei, f.

appearance

res, rei, f.

thing

 

 

 


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