I was under the impression that you would use mostly Ablative to say something like in the hall and Accusative to say into the hall




But now I've read that you could use Genitive like in

MEDUS TUSCULI NON EST, NEQUE ROMAE EST MEDUS ~ Medus is not in Tusculum nor in Rome?

From first impressions I thought it meant Medus is not from Tusculum nor Rome but I saw this explanation:


Am I missing something?


This isn't a genitive, it's a locative.

For certain types of nouns, a bare ablative means "from", a bare accusative means "to", and a bare locative means "at". The locative is extremely rare and only used for this one specific construction, so it's easily confused with other cases. But it is still its own case, which looks different between the declensions:

  • First declension: -ae in the singular (Rōmae), -īs in the plural (Athēnīs).
  • Second declension: in the singular (Corinthī), -īs in the plural (Delphīs).
  • Third declension: -e or in the singular (rure, rurī), -ibus in the plural (rare, but there are a few cities named Alpēs, hence Alpibus).
  • Fourth declension: -uī or (domuī, senātī), but these are extremely rare and archaic—senātus has no locative in the Classical period, and domus takes a second-declension form (domī). I am not aware of any place names in the fourth declension that take locatives.
  • Fifth declension: (hodiē), or in one weird irregular instance (diū), but this is only found in some old fossilized expressions. I am not aware of any place names in the fifth declension that take locatives.

We know the locative is somewhat its own case, because in a few specific instances it triggers agreement: diē quartī "on the fourth day". However, this agreement was already starting to disappear in the Classical period, and was considered somewhat archaic. In some instances, people used the agreement for whatever case the locative happened to look like (diē looks ablative, so diē quartō). But Gellius (X.24) indicates that in the second century CE, learned speakers still tried to treat the locative as its own case and use the appropriate agreement for it.


IN + accusative indicates ENTRANCE to a place: insulae incolae in silvam veniunt (the inhabitants of the island arrive in the woods).

AD + accusative indicates APPROACH to a place: ferae ad silvas currunt (the beasts run towards the wood).

IN + ablative indicates STAY IN PLACE: belvae in silvis vivunt (the wild beasts live in the woods).

With the names of cities or small islands the following place complements are expressed without praeposition:

The accusative is used to express motion to place: legati Romam / Athenas perveniebant (the ambassadors arrived in Rome / Athens); Romans Carthaginem legatos miserant (the Romans had sent ambassadors to Carthage).

The ablative is used to express motion from place: legati Romā / Athenis veniebant (the ambassadors came from Rome / Athens); Carthagine legati venerant (ambassadors had come from Carthage).

For the first and second declension, the locative (an ancient case whose termination morphologically coincides with that of the genitive) is used to express stay in place with singular nouns: Romae / Corinthi manebimus (we will stay in Rome / Corinth); the ablative is used to express stay in place with plural nouns: Athenis / Argis manebimus (we will stay in Athens / Argos).

For the third declension, the ablative is used to express stay in place: multos annos Lacedaemone vixi (I lived for many years in Sparta).

  • 4
    I think the last two paragraphs are a bit misleading, implying that the locative is the same thing as the genitive; the usual way of describing this is that the locative is its own case and is used in all such nouns, but is identical in form to the genitive in 1-2 decl. sg. and to the ablative otherwise.
    – TKR
    Aug 7 '21 at 21:23
  • You're right: I wanted to write a quick answer and I trivialized the part about the locative. I changed my answer: thanks for pointing this out. However, for the third declension the termination of the ablative does not absolutely coincide with the locative! There are forms of stay in place of the third declension expressed in locative, such as ruri and domi, but, as I wrote, stay in place for city and small island names is expressed in ABLATIVE.
    – qwertxyz
    Aug 8 '21 at 9:35
  • probably worth emphasising that the locative is only taken with certain nouns (particularly the names of cities, "small" islands, and a handful of other words). It can't be used with arbitrary nouns
    – Tristan
    Aug 8 '21 at 12:55
  • 3
    Is there a reason to call Athēnīs an ablative rather than a locative? To use an analogy, I wouldn't say "the recipient is expressed by the dative in the first declension singular and the ablative in the first plural and second singular and plural"—I'd say "the recipient is expressed by the dative, which is still a separate case even if it always looks like the ablative in the plural".
    – Draconis
    Aug 8 '21 at 14:22
  • You're right that in the 3rd decl. locative and ablative aren't always the same. But that's a reason not to say that "stay in place for city and small island names is expressed in ABLATIVE": e.g. the locative of Carthago can be Carthagine or Carthagini, but the ablative (I think) is always Carthagine.
    – TKR
    Aug 8 '21 at 18:21

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