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Beginners' Latin
Chief Justices’ rolls, court of King’s Bench, extract. 1549. Cat ref: KB 27/1150/2

Lesson 2: Introduction to nouns; first declension nouns; cases of nouns

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First declension nouns

Nouns are divided into groups called declensionsGlossary - opens in a new window. Nouns that end in ‘a’ belong to the first declension. They are mostly feminine.

The first part of a noun stays the same, but endings are added to give different meanings:

Singular Meaning Plural
carta charter(s)
Subject of the sentence: A charter costs 2 pounds.
carta Oh charter(s)! carte
cartam charter(s)
Object of the sentence: The king grants the charter.
carte of the charter(s)
The seal of the charter is broken.
carte to or for the charter(s)
They refer to the charters.
carta by, with or from the charter(s)
He claims the land by a charter.

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The ending of a noun is crucial, as it tells you

  • whether the noun is singular or plural
  • what role the noun is playing in the sentence

Read through carta again. Can you see that some endings are the same, but have different meanings?

For example, carte means

  • Charters
  • Of the charter
  • To or for the charter

To decide which meaning is appropriate, read the rest of the sentence.
For example, if part of a sentence is ‘she asked the king’ and the remaining word is carte, the meaning of carte that would make sense is ‘for the charter’.

All first declension nouns take the same endings as carta except

anima soul
filia daughter
  • filiabus means ‘to or for the daughters’ and ‘by, with or from the daughters’
  • animabus means ‘to or for the souls’ and ‘by, with or from the souls’

A few first declension nouns are masculine. You are only likely to come across these three words:

agricola farmer
papa pope
parsona parsonGlossary - opens in a new window

You can see that a noun has six different meanings, each relating to a caseGlossary - opens in a new window.
Each case has a singular and a plural ending.

To declineGlossary - opens in a new window a noun means to list these cases.

Checklist Checklist:
Are you confident with:
How to decline carta?
Why the ending of Latin words is important?


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