This sentence corresponds to line 57 from chapter XIII of the 2003 edition of Lingua latina per se illustrata. Familia Romana:

Diēs mēnsis prīmus 'kalendae' nōminātur.

If the adjective primus is singular, diēs should be interpreted as a singular noun. But, if the word kalendae is plural, I cannot understand why diēs primus is singular. Shouldn't it be diēs primi instead?

  • I forgot about the verb in my question that, with a plural subject, should also be in plural (that is, nōmināntur.
    – Charo
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 9:23
  • Here's a related question, but with the numbers switched: latin.stackexchange.com/questions/21034/…
    – cmw
    Commented Oct 3, 2023 at 17:06
  • Yes, @cmw: it's included in the anwser.
    – Charo
    Commented Oct 3, 2023 at 20:30
  • Oops, didn't see that edit at first. I'll delete it then.
    – cmw
    Commented Oct 3, 2023 at 20:44

1 Answer 1


In this sentence, "dies mensis primus" is one noun phrase, serving as the sentence's subject ("the first day of the month"), "nominatur" is the verb, and "kalendae" is what the first day of the month is called. Recurring days of the calendar are plurale tantum in Latin, so the name of the day happens to be plural, but this doesn't really affect the structure of the sentence.

As for why the verb is singular and not plural, even in English you would say "the first day of the month is called 'calends'", not *"the first day of the month are called 'calends'".

There is a related question about something similar going in the other direction for pluralia tantum.

  • 1
    So, the reason why the subject and the verb are singular is that kalendae is a plurale tantum noun? Is this kind of construction usual with other pluralia tantum nouns?
    – Charo
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 9:31
  • 2
    The form of "dies mensis primus [...] nominatur" isn't really affected by what is on the other end of the verb. With that said, I am having a hard time imagining why a plural noun or name would be on the other end of that construction if it's not a plurale tantum, so yes and no to your question.
    – Agnes
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 9:36
  • 1
    The sentence in the other question is indeed a good example for the question in my previous comment.
    – Charo
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 13:35

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