So I just learned about adjectives needing to agree with their nouns in gender. If I understood correctly, an adjective that is considered to be feminine will be known because of the kind of declination that is has, right? That's how someone will guess at its gender?

Can somebody clarify this to me?

  • 1
    Just to clarify, nouns have inherent gender, adjectives don't--an adjective takes the gender of the noun it's modifying. So an adjective modifying a feminine noun will take a feminine form, and an adjective modifying a masculine noun will take a masculine form. Is this what you're asking about? Or do you mean how to figure out whether a given form is masculine or feminine just by looking at it (which is sometimes easy, sometimes impossible)?
    – Draconis
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 7:05
  • I'm asking spec. about what is considered a feminine form. (or a masculine one) Is it the declension that indicates it ?
    – copper
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 7:08
  • 2
    I don't think you understand what Draconis is saying - adjectives can have different endings in masculine, feminine and neuter regardless of declension, and the gender that matches the gender of the noun is used. Adjectives have seperate endings for these genders, cases and numbers, and you can derive these endings from noun endings. If you're wondering how to do that, edit your question
    – Copper
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 9:31
  • 1
    For example, 1/2 declension adjective (group 1) would have feminine endings equivalent to noun 1st declension, masculine endings to second declension nouns, neuter endings to second declension neuter nouns
    – Copper
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 9:33

1 Answer 1


Adjetives declines pretty similarly to typical nouns (with a few notable exceptions in consonant stem declensions).

The noun declension principles are generally this:

a-stems: in vast majority of cases, these are feminines; there are however few exceptions, where an a-stem noun is a masculine (poeta, agricola, etc.) - some of these exceptions come from Greek, some are native.

o-stems - -us ending: in overwhelmingly vast majority of cases, these are masculines, with few exceptions that are feminines (hodus, methodus) - I am not aware of any that do not come from Greek (also do not confuse with u-stems ending with -us, these can be both M/F but decline very differently)

o-stems - -um ending: these are always neuters (unless they are masculines in accusative case that you interpret incorrectly, hahaha).

Adjectives follow these principles during declension, they just do not have any exceptions. Also take note that an adjective can (and in most cases does) have the 3 different forms for the three genders (-a, -us, -um) because they do not have intrinsic gender.

M: servus bonus, agricola bonus, iudex bonus

F: femina bona, methodus bona, arx bona

Considering that adjectives do not have exceptional cases and they have to agree with the gender of the noun (for feminine noun, regardless of its declension type, the adjective will always assume its feminine form), when you read a text that contains noun + adjective, you can often determine the gender of the noun based on the adjective (again, unless it is in a case whose ending does not distinguish this fully, like dative/ablative plural).

Of course, then you have also consonant stem adjectives that decline like third declension nouns and here, you will typically not be able to distinguish the gender except for specific cases and specific adjectives, but that is more advanced stuff when you learn Latin.

  • 5
    There are several 2nd decl. feminines in -us not from Greek, e.g. humus, alvus, domus (partly 4th decl.), and many tree names (fagus etc.).
    – TKR
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 18:29
  • OMG, domus... how could I have forgotten.
    – Eleshar
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 20:29

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