5 noun “cases” in Latin
So I have read that Latin nouns have five “cases” called nomitive gentitive etc. And this is signified by the ending given to the noun. But those words nomitive genitive etc. don’t mean anything to me. Can anyone explain without using gramatical jargon what is the difference in meaning between these cases? Eg. What is the difference in meaning between “pueri” which is in one case and “puerum” which is in another but both mean “boy”?
I always think a good starting point, for an English speaker (like me), is to look at the pronouns in English.
Imagine a series of sentences about "the boy," and then imagine replacing each use of "boy" with the appropriate pronoun (he/his/him). It turns out that English also has "cases."
The boy runs to the store. HE runs to the store. (subject function: NOMINATIVE case)
We saw the boy last night. We saw HIM last night. (direct object of the verb: ACCUSATIVE case)
Corinna gave the boy a present. Corinna gave HIM a present / gave it TO HIM. (Indirect object of the verb: DATIVE case)
Hey, boy! What are you doing? Hey, YOU. (talking to him = direct address, VOCATIVE case)
Corinna is walking to the town with the boy. .... with HIM. (object of preposition: ABLATIVE case required in Latin by preposition cum, with)
I found the boy's books by the road. I found HIS books (possessive: GENITIVE case)
Notice that I've only shown examples of one noun in the six cases of the singular; there are also the plural forms (THEY, THEIR, THEM).
Compare 1st and 2nd declension, which are similar to each other:
SINGULAR daughter filia . nominative . filius . son of the ... filiae . genitive . filii . of the to/for the . filiae . dative . filio . to/for the (her) . filiam . accusative . filium . (him) by/with . filià ablative filio by/with o daughter! filia vocative fili o son!
PLURAL 1st decl: nom -ae gen -arum dat -is accus -as abl -is 2nd decl: -i -orum -is -os -is
If you look through the comments, you'll find links that others have posted to online information about the endings.
(I'm not good at this: I had it organized like a chart, but that's not how it looks when posted)