1. Perhaps this is obvious, but I am self-taught at this point. I want to get some basic understanding before I start paying a teacher. I have started reading Familia Romana.

I am still looking for the noun declensions, but I think I have discovered adjectives.

These words seem to correspond:

  • insulae - magnae
  • oppida - magna
  • fluvii - magni
  • oppidum - magnum

What I think I understand is that these words in the second column are adjectives and they always agree with the suffix on the subject or object they refer to. Is this correct?

I have found several variations of magnus: magna, magnae, magni, etc. I can't see it fitting it into any noun declension, because it's not a noun (just guessing)?

  1. Moreover, what does the following mean?

In capitulo primo Mille vocabula sunt

My attempt is:

In the capital city, 1000 primary languages are (spoken)? Written?

Not really sure what "vocabulary" means in this sentence.

  • 2
    Please provide a meaningful and specific title to your question, so that people, now as well as in a few years’ time, can decide whether them reading it and trying to understand it is valuable to them and to you. Mar 18, 2023 at 11:33
  • 1
    @Philippe-AndréLorin It's now been edited. In cases like this you can well suggest and edit yourself. It doesn't have to be perfect; any improvements to posts are welcome.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Mar 18, 2023 at 20:49
  • 1
    I removed the third question, because it really deserves a question of its own. Feel free to ask a new question about print dictionaries, and you can follow this thread as a guide on how to do so.
    – cmw
    Mar 19, 2023 at 8:05

3 Answers 3


Your guess about the grammar is correct. These are nouns:

insula (feminine)  insulae (plural)
fluvius (masculine)  fluvii (plural)
oppidum (neuter) oppida (plural)

and this is an adjective, which takes a different form to agree with the noun that it modifies:

magna (feminine singular)  magnae (feminine plural)
magnus (masculine singular)  magnī (masculine plural)
magnum (neuter singular)  magna (neuter plural)

(Yes, the feminine singular and the neuter plural really are identical.) The above forms are only for "nominative case". Latin has (basically) six cases, and all have their own singular and plural forms, which you'll eventually pick up. Also, the above words follow the pattern of the "1st and 2nd declensions". Latin has (basically) five noun declensions and the adjective declensions; you'll eventually pick those up, too.


In capitulō prīmō mille vocābula sunt.

the best way to learn from Familia Romana is to infer everything from context, and not to translate it into your native language—except as a last resort. Sometimes you get something wrong for a while, and sometimes you just can't understand something for a while. A little of that is OK, as long as you can proceed. Of course, if you get totally stuck, that's a good time to ask for help.

If you're stuck, here's an English translation:

In the first chapter, there are a thousand words.

Capitulum and vocābulum are neuter nouns. Prīmus is an adjective meaning "first". Its form changes to agree with capitulō, which is in the ablative case. (You've actually been seeing the ablative case since the first page of Familia Romana.) Mille is an adjective, a numeral, with irregular declension.


This is exactly right: adjectives agree with the nouns they modify according to person, number, and case.

Adjectives fall into two main types: 1-2 and 3rd declension. Sometimes the endings will look the same, but not always. Your above examples all have 1st/2nd declension nouns with 1-2 adjectives, and their gender isn't an exception to the declension, so the endings are the same. But if you wanted to say "a great farmer," you would say:

agricola magnus

Here agricola is masculine, nominative, singular, so when you take magnus, -a, -um, you need to find the appropriate case for it, which in this case is magnus.

You can read more about them in Allen and Greenough's grammar:


"In the first chapter there are a thousand words."

Apart from that, you are pretty close. As Cmw ponted out, it is not always the suffixes that agree, but the gender and number. That often means that the suffixes often agree, but not always. Sometimes the noun and its adjective have different declensions, like nauta magnus (great sailor) or gladio acre (with a sharp sword).

You'll learn about the other declensions in later chapters (capitula).

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