Can you suggest example sentences where changing the case of one noun keeps the sentence grammatical but changes meaning? Preferably a noun in the same sentence could be used in all five main cases (or as many as possible). I want to have an illuminating example or two to make the point that case is crucially important in Latin.

I am looking for such examples for a couple of purposes: teaching, fun and talking about Latin to friends. I have given an example answer below to give a better idea of what I want to see.

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    I feel like this is too broad – there are a lot of possibilities, and none are strictly better than any other, aside from maybe "how many cases does it satisfy", and plenty satisfy five. Probably.
    – anon
    Commented Mar 26, 2016 at 23:28
  • @C.M.Weimer Because in programming, there are several objectives, determined by the project – typically, you're going for efficiency and readability, but with a focus on one specific trait. The best of several solutions is the one which meets those criteria the best – so if for example you're looking for readability, the one which matches your project's style best. Therefore, there can be one solution out of many which is, objectively, the best, for every given project.
    – anon
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 15:43
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    @C.M.Weimer And if there are multiple answers which give 7/7? The reason I said "feel like" is because I don't know enough Latin to be sure. That's also why I didn't cast a CV. Are there multiple valid, significantly different sentences which provide all seven cases? If so, this question is too broad, because there's no way to pick between them. If not, it isn't. However, my gut feeling is that there are.
    – anon
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 15:56
  • @C.M.Weimer As an additional note, in programming, the multiple possible solutions always have different levels of various things, and the best is the one which maximizes desired traits. There aren't many such traits in Latin; in fact, I can think of only one: Vocabulary. And that's negated by using a dictionary.
    – anon
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 15:58
  • Thank you for your comments! (I don't know which one of you this will ping.) There may be thousands of valid examples, but I am not looking for all of them. I just wanted a single illuminating example. I think our scope should allow asking for examples of certain kinds of structures. Perhaps I should make a meta question out of this. If I see an answer that matches my needs, I will accept it and consider my curiosity satisfied; it is irrelevant for me if there are still more valid examples out there.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 16:50

2 Answers 2


What if you switch Marcus with domus?

Nom. Domus donum dat.
        "The house gives a gift."
Gen. Domi donum dat.
        "He gives a gift of a house"
Dat. Domo donum dat.
        "He gives a gift to the house."
Acc. Domum donum dat.
        "He gives a house as a gift." // This is nearly the same as the genitive.
Abl. Domo donum dat.
        "He gives a gift by means of a house."
Loc. Domi donum dat.
        "In the house he gives a gift."
  • Locative—fancy! You left out vocative, however, though that's an easy enough fix to make. Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 10:51
  • Nice! The commonest dative ending is I believe -domui.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 16:57

Here is a very simple example that works with four cases (ablative excluded):

  • Nominative: Marcus donum dat. Marcus gives a gift.
  • Accusative: Marcum donum dat. He gives Marcus as a gift.
  • Genitive: Marci donum dat. He gives Marcus' gift.
  • Dative: Marco donum dat. He gives a gift to Marcus.

A variant of this idea replaces dat with do. This would replace "he gives" with "I give" for the last three cases and the first one would become "I give a gift as Marcus".

This sentence does not seem to make sense with ablative. If one adds an adjective to Marcus, then the ablative could be interpreted as absolute ablative: Marco felice donum dat. "He gives a gift because Marcus is happy." The other cases would translate just as above, with "Marcus" replaced with "happy Marcus".

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    Perhaps you could do something with donare, which can take an accusative performing the role of a recipient and an ablative as the theme: Marcum servo dono = "I present Marcus with a slave", but it can also be constructed with a dative + accusative: Marco servum dono = "I give Marcus a slave". Or you could be giving Marcus to the slave...
    – Cerberus
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 16:59

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