Lesson 5 – First and second declension adjectives, ‘ego’ and ‘nos’


Concentrate on learning words marked with an asterisk* first.

An adjective  is a word used to describe a noun.

For example:

magna carta the great charter
novum testamentum the new will
bonus dominus a good lord
predicta regina Isabella the aforesaid Queen Isabella
sancta Maria Saint Mary

An adjective

  • is normally in front of the noun it describes; sometimes it is behind
  • agrees with the noun in
    • gender (masculine, feminine or neuter)
    • number (singular or plural)
    • case (nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative or ablative)
  • belongs to one of two groups depending on whether it declines
    • like first and second declension nouns
    • like third declension nouns

This lesson covers adjectives that decline like first and second declension nouns.

Look at our example of novus, –a, –um, ‘new’

Case Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative novus nova novum
Vocative nove nova novum
Accusative novum novam novum
Genitive novi nove novi
Dative novo nove novo
Ablative novo nova novo
Masculine Feminine Neuter
novi nove nova
novi nove nova
novos novas nova
novorum novarum novorum
novis novis novis
novis novis novis

Most first and second declension adjectives take these endings.

novam ecclesiam video I see the new church.

Noun and adjective are feminine accusative singular.

parsona pueros novos vocat The parson calls the new boys.

Noun and adjective are masculine accusative plural.

Don’t assume that the ending of the noun and the adjective are always exactly the same. Sometimes they are different, for example

novus agricola est He is the new farmer.

This noun and adjective are both masculine nominative singular.

In our Latin word list, first and second declension adjectives are written ‘novus, -a, -um’

This shows the three nominative singular forms:

  • novus is masculine and declines like dominus from the second declension
  • nova is feminine and declines like carta from the first declension
  • novum is neuter and declines like testamentum from the second declension

When you see an adjective written like this, you will know that it is first or second declension. You will be able to decline it using the same endings as novus.

antiquus , –a, –um old
bonus , –a, –um good
dimidius , –a, –um half
dominicus , –a, –um demesne
magnus , –a, –um great, big
predictus , –a, –um aforesaid
quietus , –a, –um free, quiet
sanctus , –a, –um Saint, holy
ecclesia sancte Marie church of Saint Mary
ecclesia sancti Edwardi church of Saint Edward Edwardus, -i
(m.) Edward
ego dimidium manerium filiabus predictis domini do I give a half manor to the aforesaid daughters of the lord.
predicta domina tenet dimidium mercatum nova carta The aforesaid lady holds half a market by a new charter.
dominice terre domini sunt They are the demesne lands of the lord.
dimidiam marcam predicto agricole damus We give half a mark to the aforesaid farmer.

Look out for adjectives that end ‘-er’ in the masculine nominative singular.

Most lose the ‘e’ when declined, for example pulcher, pulchra, pulchrum, ‘beautiful’.

A few keep the ‘e’, for example liber, -era, -erum, ‘free’.

These are fully declined in our Latin grammar resource.

Irregular adjectives

There are nine irregular adjectives. These decline like novus, -a, -um but

  • Genitive singular ends ‘-ius’
  • Dative singular ends ‘-i’ for all genders

You are most likely to find unus, totus and alius, so remember these three.

alius , alia, aliud the other [genitive singular is sometimes alterius]*
alter , altera, alterum the other (of two things)
neuter , neutra, neutrum neither (of two things)
nullus , –a, –um no, none
solus , –a, –um alone, only
totus , –a, –um all, whole*
ullus , –a, –um any
unus , –a, –um one*
uter , utra, utrum which (of two things)
et debent unam marcam alii domino And they owe one mark to the other lord.
totum manerium dimidium mercatum terras alias et octo marcas filiis Henrici do I give the whole manor, half the market, other lands and eight marks to the sons of Henry.


Numbers two and three also decline. Obviously, they only have plural forms.

You will learn the endings with practice.

duo two
Case Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative duo due duo
Accusative duo(s) duas duo
Genitive duorum duarum duorum
Dative duobus duabus duobus
Ablative duobus duabus duobus
totam terram duabus filiabus Gregorii legamus We leave all the land to the two daughters of Gregory.
duo maneria et duas marcas Willelmo filio Edwardi carta do et confirmo I give and confirm by charter to William son of Edward two manors and two marks.
tres three
Case Masculine and Feminine Neuter
Nominative tres tria
Accusative tres tria
Genitive trium trium
Dative tribus tribus
Ablative tribus tribus
parsone trium parochiarum sunt They are the parsons of three parishes.

Handy hints – patterns in word endings

Keep looking for these. For example, when you read through tres, note that

  • genitive plural ends in ‘–um’
  • dative and ablative plurals are the same

What other patterns can you see?

ego and nos

Usually, Latin verbs do not need separate words for ‘I’, ‘you’, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘we’ or ‘they’. However, they are sometimes used to add emphasis, particularly at the beginning of grants.

Ego and nos are called personal pronouns since they stand in the place of a person.

Latin document points        

The only personal pronouns you are only likely to come across are ego ‘I’ and nos ‘we’.

ego Maria regina predictum manerium ecclesie sancti Gregorii do et confirmo I, Queen Mary, give and confirm the aforesaid manor to the church of saint Gregory.
nos Willelmus et Isabella terras et maneria filiis et filiabus Henrici damus et confirmamus We, William and Isabella, give and confirm the lands and manors to the sons and daughters of Henry.
ego Stephanus terras totas Deo et ecclesie sancte Marie lego I, Stephen, leave all the lands to God and to the church of Saint Mary

Note that ego or nos will be at the opposite end of the sentence from the verb.


Are you confident with

  • the three ways that an adjective agrees with a noun?
  • what predictus, -a, -um tells you?
  • the connection between unus, totus and alius?
  • where you might see ego or nos in a document?

What next?