6

after advancing on German gramatically as my second foreign language, I wanted to pursue my interest in Latin. Grammar seemed to me pretty straightforward, yet so many to memorize. I'm self-teaching and intend to expand my vocabulary, however there is a part that muddles my mind up.

Now, I learnt about 1st, 2nd and 3rd Declensions (I guess there is a fourth and fifth as well but anyway). Taking into consideration that 1st Declension words 'mostly' consist of feminine ones - and for 2nd Declension same applies for masculine - is it the declension group or the gender who alters the adjective attached to the word? If I were to learn a new Latin word, should I write down its gender and declension group together? Summing up the question, which traits of a word should I memorize?

8

Unfortunately, you need to know both.

The declension of a noun determines what forms the noun itself takes. Since poēta "poet" is first declension, the nominative singular is poēta, the accusative singular is poētam, and the nominative plural is poētae.

The gender of a noun, on the other hand, determines what forms adjectives take to agree with it. Even though poēta is first-declension, it's masculine, so a great poet is poēta magnus, and many great poets are poētae magnī.

Sometimes there are shortcuts to remembering: the first declension is generally feminine, the second declension is generally masculine and neuter, and the fifth declension is generally feminine. But these are guidelines rather than rules: there are counterexamples like agricola magnus "great farmer", humus magna "great soil", and dies magnus "great day".

1
  • 1
    To add to complications, dies can also be feminine.
    – egreg
    Jul 30 '18 at 21:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.