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Latin for Duolingo: First Declension, Lesson 3

Please note this course is now available on Wikiversity

Salvete omnes!
Welcome back to the weekly installment of Latin, Duo-style. Many people keep expressing a desire to learn Latin; here is a series of lessons I hope you will find helpful – see these links for previous information:

New Grammar
This week, we continue with 1st declension nouns, and we will add the genitive case. You may already have noticed that nouns are listed with the genitive singular (or at least its ending) given as the second part of the listing: terra, ae. All 5 declensions are listed in this way, and the genitive singular form is the marker to help you classify which declension it belongs to. Thus, if you see a noun and its genitive singular ends in “ae,” you know it is in the 1st declension. (There are a few 1st declension nouns that are only used in the plural, so their marker is the genitive plural ending, arum: litterae, litterarum).
Genitive is used to show possession, and in general for modifying uses that would take an “of” phrase in English. In effect, it turns the noun into a possessive noun/adjective. Note that sometimes there is already a possessive adjective that will be used in the same case as its noun, e.g., pecunia mea, my money. But for expressions that would either require an apostrophe or an of, we use the genitive, e.g., pecunia puellae, the girl’s money. As always in Latin, the word order is flexible, but the genitive usually comes after the noun it modifies. We will now add it to the case table:
case name | sing. | pl. | typical use
nominative| -a | -ae | subject or predicate noun
genitive | -ae | -arum | possession, the “of” case
accusative | -am | -as | direct object (also some objects of preps.)
ablative | -ā | -is | objects of prepositions, etc., “in/by/with/from” case
One other thing to note: the gen. s. of the 1st declension is the same as the nom. pl., and their meanings have to be determined by context. I have tried to give some sentences that will give practice to sort out this potential confusion. (It will get worse for a while before it gets better, as we add case endings for different declensions… fair warning!)

New Vocabulary
avia, ae = grandmother
filia, ae = daughter
lingua, ae = language (lingua Latina = the Latin language, Latin)
memoria, ae = memory
tuus, a, um = your, yours (of one person)
vester, vestra, vestrum = your, yours (of more than one person)

New Sentences
Villa nautae in Britanniā est. = The sailor’s house is in Britain.
Villa puellarum magna est. = The girls’ house is big/ The house of the girls is big.
Viae Americae longae sunt. = The roads of America are long.
Culina Paulae est parva. = Paula’s kitchen is small.
Marcus filiam pulchram habet. = Marcus has a beautiful daughter.
Lucia et Gaius epistulam agricolae legunt. = Lucia and Gaius read the farmer’s letter.
Pueri cenam puellarum edunt. = The boys eat the girls’ dinner.
Est mea pecunia! = It is my money!
Est pecunia Luciae! = It is Lucia’s money!
Parva puella est filia Luciae. = The small girl is Lucia’s daughter.
Filiae agricolae parvae sunt. The farmer’s daughters are small.
Puellae cum filiā nautae ambulant. = The girls walk with the sailor’s daughter.
Memoria tua est bona. = Your memory is good.
Memoria agricolae bona est. = The farmer’s memory is good.
Filia feminae valet. = The woman’s daughter is well.
Valetne filia tua? = Is your daughter well?
Nautae multas terras Europae vident. = The sailors see many lands of Europe.
Villae vestrae sunt in Americā. = Your houses are in America.
Villae feminarum sunt in Asiā. = The women’s houses (houses of the women) are in Asia.
Femina cum aviā Paulae laborat. = The woman works with Paula’s grandmother.
Marcus cum aviā Paulae, Luciā, laborat. = Marcus works with Paula’s grandmother, Lucia./ with Lucia, the grandmother of Paula.
Memoria mea linguae Latinae non est bona! = My memory of Latin is not good!

Until next time, then, I hope this last sentence is not true... Utinam bonas memorias linguae Latinae habeatis! May you all have good memories of Latin!

Go to next lesson: 1st Declension, Lesson 4

May 25, 2015



Thanks for putting up these lessons! I'm not learning Latin, but my friend is, and she "teaches" me to help herself learn better, so I'll follow along here so that I won't be such a deer in headlights. :)


I'm learning Latin in school and my teacher taught us that there are 6 cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, vocative and ablative. The endings for these cases are: N -a (sing.), -ae (pl.); G -ae, -arum; D -ae, -is; Ak -am, -as; V -a, -ae; Abl -a, -is I don't want to be mean to you or something but I think that you should write all the cases. (No offence.) I'm glad that you want to make people more familiar with Latin! You have my complete support! P. S. Have you already applied for Latin course?


I'm just introducing one new concept at a time - this week it's the genitive. The next time will be dative so we'll have all five commonly used cases. The vocative is identical to the nominative in the 1st declension. Check the directory of previous lessons if you want to see what you've missed. Duolingo doesn't allow for a lot of formatting in the discussion forum, and I'm really trying not to overwhelm people with too much grammar all at once. Yes, I applied to the incubator course, as have several other Latin teachers, but none of us have heard anything from staff yet. Hope you are enjoying the lessons!


I am! I'm learning Latin in school (it's obligatory for two years to study Latin) and I really like it. When I finish it I'll try to apply to. :) Keep up the good work!


Is there anything you feel people can do to help lean on duo for a latin incubator?


Nothing that hasn't been tried before. Duolingo has its own priorities which don't seem to include Latin at this point. But maybe that will change, you never know!


It appears some people are arriving at this page out of context and therefore not realizing that this is part of a whole study trajectory, with the declensions being introduced one by one in bite-size pieces.


Hi! Are there plans for a Latin Duolingo course?

I think that would be extremely valuable!


Hi ! I do really enjoy your lessons, I hope that latin language will soon be available.


This sentence appears in the lesson. I‘m having trouble memorizing it without grokking the grammar behind it. Any clues? Utinam and habeatis.

Utinam bonas memorias linguae Latinae habeatis!


This was a bonus sentence I threw in just because it used "memoria," but it has more advanced grammar than is appropriate at this level. "Utinam" is a kind of wish sign. It's used with the subjunctive mood to show you wish something may happen. "Habeatis" is 2nd person plural, present active subjunctive of habeo. "May you pl. have."

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