Lesson 8 – Prepositions, possession


A preposition is a word that goes in front of a noun. The preposition does not decline, but it changes the case of the noun that follows it.

Most prepositions are followed by a noun in the accusative or the ablative case.

Some can be followed by a noun in either case, depending on their meaning.

Concentrate on learning words marked with an asterisk* first.

Prepositions + accusative case

ad* towards, to, for, at
ante* before
apud* at, by, near, to, towards
inter* among, between
iuxta* next to, near, according to
per* by, through, during
post* after

Prepositions + ablative case

a (before a consonant) /ab (before a vowel) by, from
coram in the presence of, before
cum* with
de* from, concerning, of, for
e (before a consonant)/ex (before a vowel) from, out of
pre* before
pro* for, during, as far as, in accordance with, in return for
sine without

Prepositions + either accusative or ablative case

in* + accusative into, onto + ablative in, on
super* + accusative over + ablative upon

Prepositions which can take both cases

  • use the accusative to describe movement towards something
  • use the ablative to describe the position of something which is static
finis inter Mariam et Simonem de terris iuxta ecclesiam apud Westmonasterium Fine between Mary and Simon concerning the lands next to the church at Westminster finis,is (m.) fine
domina tenet manerium de Westmonasterio cum pertinenciis de rege pro servicio de uno milite The lady holds the manor of Westminster with appurtenances of the king for the service of one knight pertinentia , –e (f.) appurtenance

servicium , –ii (n.) service

To show possession

To indicate who something belongs to, we use:

Latin Means Declines like
meus, mea, meum my novus, -a, -um
tuus, tua, tuum your, yours (one person) novus, -a, -um
suus, sua, suum his, her, its, their (own) novus , –a, –um
noster, nostra, nostrum our, ours pulcher, pulchra, pulchrum
vester , vestra, vestrum your, yours (two or more people) pulcher, pulchra, pulchrum

These decline like the adjectives novus and pulcher, so you will be familiar with the endings. They are fully declined for you in our grammar resource.

They agree with whatever is owned in

For example anima mea, my soul

The Latin word for soul is anima, -e (f.). A soul is feminine, regardless of whether it belongs to a woman or a man.

In our example, ‘soul’ is feminine, nominative, singular and therefore ‘my’ is too.

pater noster our father nominative, masculine, singular
testamentum suum his/her will nominative, neuter, singular
abbas terras cum pertinenciis militibus dat pro serviciis suis. The abbot gives lands with appurtenances to the knights for their services.
solvit sex solidos de fine suo. Et quietus est. He pays six shillings of his fine. And he is quit. solidus , –i (m.) shilling
condo testamentum meum in hunc modum lego totam terram meam uxori mee. I make my will in this manner: I leave all my land to my wife. modus , –i (m.) manner, method

condere to make a will

ordino Henricum et Agnetem meos veros executores. I appoint Henry and Agnes my true executors. verus, -a, -um true
ordinare to appoint
juratores dicunt super sacramentum suum quod Jacobus est heres Johannis The jurors state on their oath that James is the heir of John. sacramentum , –i (n.) oath
Jacobus , -i (m.) James
jurator, juratoris (m.) juror

Latin document points

The king or queen often referred to himself or herself as ‘we’ (nos) and to his or her possessions as ‘our’ (noster).

in curia nostra – in our court (phrase used by king/queen for the royal court)

You will also find eius used for ‘of him, of her, of it’ and eorum, earum, eorum (masculine, feminine and neuter plural respectively) used for ‘of them, theirs’.

Edwardus et uxor eius finem de duobus solidis debent Edward and his wife owe a fine of two shillings.


Are you confident with

  • which two cases follow prepositions?
  • when in is followed by the accusative? When by the ablative?
  • the words for ‘my’, ‘our’ and ‘his’?
  • how a man or a woman would say ‘my soul’ in Latin?

What next?