I had trouble understanding a two-part translation exercise. First part:

Cui Galba agricola fabulam novam narrat?
Answer: To whom does Galba, the farmer, tell the new story?

How was I supposed to guess that "Galba" and "the farmer" were supposed to be written the way that they are? I wrote this:

To whom does the farmer Galba tell a new story?

My guess is that the first translation makes the English more ok then the second.

For the second part of sentence :

Filiabus dominae clarae fabulam novam narrat.
Answer: He tells the new story to the daughters of the famous lady.

The part that got me stuck is filiabus I have no idea where the -bus part comes from since I don't remember ever seeing something like this at this point. Any explanation on this part would be helpful.

1 Answer 1


For the first part: the two are equivalent. I like "the farmer Galba" better, but either is correct; it's just a matter of style.

For the second part: this is one of the few really weird things in the first declension.

As you know, the usual dative and ablative plural ending is -īs in the first declension. This would give the form fīliīs. But -īs is also the dative/ablative plural ending in the second declension. So fīliīs could also be a form of fīlius.

So in this one specific circumstance—when a first-declension noun has the same stem as a second-declension noun—the dative and ablative plural ending becomes -ābus instead. So you see fīliābus, deābus, and a very few others that I can't think of right now.

  • On the case ending -abus rather than -ī for first-declension nouns in the dative and ablative plural declensions, see (for example) Hiley, The Elements of Latin Grammar, p. 6, §4. Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 7:37

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