(E2) Lesson 1.1 Singular and Plural Nominative Nouns

A noun is a person, place, thing or idea.

A Latin noun has four features. Gender, declension, case, and number.

Each noun has a grammatical gender: masculine, feminine or neuter.

Each noun also belongs to a group called a declension. These groups tell us the patterns that the nouns will follow and the endings that they will have when the number or case changes.

The gender and declension of a noun will never change, but the case and number will change depending on how the noun is used in a sentence!

A case is the grammatical “job” of a word in a sentence – for example, subjects or direct objects. We will learn more about this category in later units. For now, we will focus on nouns in the nominative case, which is used when they are the subject of a sentence.

Finally, a noun has a number: singular or plural. It can name one thing or many.

Features of Nouns
Does NOT changeGender
masculine, feminine, neuter
Does NOT changeDeclension
depending on use
nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, ablative, vocative
depending on use
singular or plural

Let’s look closer at how nouns change when their number changes. In English when a noun becomes plural, we usually change the endings of the noun, but not always in the same exact way. Review the English words below and how they change between their singular and plural forms.

farmer -> farmers
baby -> babies
child -> children
goose -> geese
fish -> fish

In Latin, nouns will also change their ending to show whether they are singular or plural. However, just as there are different plural endings in English, there are also different patterns in Latin. A declension is a group of nouns that follow the same pattern of endings when the noun changes number or case. There are five declensions in Latin, and different sub-groups within those declensions, but we will focus on endings from the 1st-3rd for now.

1st Declension: Words in this declension are often feminine, with a few exceptions. The nominative, singular ending for these words is “a.”

2nd Declension: Words in this declension are masculine or neuter. The neuter words have a slightly different pattern than the masculine words. Most masculine, nominative singular words end in “us” but there are a few commonly used exceptions, such as vir, puer, or ager.

3rd Declension: Words in 3rd declension can be any gender, but the neuter forms will have a few different endings. The nominative singular forms vary greatly, but the other forms follow a consistent pattern.

Review the chart below of singular and plural endings and Latin examples for nominative (subject) nouns.

Singular -> Plural
amīca -> amīcae
rēgīna -> rēgīnae
2nd Masculine-us
(or varies)

amīcus -> amīcī
puer -> puerī
2nd Neuter-um-a
templum -> templa
3rd Masculine and Feminine(varies)-ēs
soror -> sorōrēs
mīles -> mīlitēs
3rd Neuter(varies)-a
nōmen -> nōmina
arōma -> arōmata