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Latin for Duolingo: First Declension, Lesson 4

Please note this course is now available on Wikiversity

Salvete omnes! Welcome to any of you who are checking out my Duo-style Latin lessons for the first time. Please feel free to see them in sequential order from when I started a few months ago:

New Grammar
This week we are ready to introduce the dative case for 1st declension nouns (and adjectives). There are 5 cases in common use in Latin, and now we will know all 5, but just for this declension – there are still 4 more declensions to learn! The dative case is used for indirect objects, and for the objects of a few specific verbs. This is a complicated concept for some English speakers, so take a look at this sentence: “The boy gives the girl a gift.” (It could also be expressed with the same meaning using a prepositional phrase, “The boy gives a gift to the girl”, but in Latin there is no distinction). In this sentence, “the girl” is the indirect object, “a gift” is the direct object. The indirect object receives whatever is named in the direct object, and must be put in the dative case in Latin. Often the dative case is remembered as the case expressing “to/for”, but you need to be careful. It is NOT the case that we use to say “We go to Rome” or “I am voting for you.” If you remember that “dative” comes from the Latin word for “give” it may help.
case name| sing. | pl. | typical use
nominative| -a | -ae | subject or predicate noun
genitive | -ae | -arum| possession, the “of” case
dative | -ae | -is | indirect object, the “to/for” case
accusative | -am | -as | direct object (also some objects of preps.)
ablative | -ā | -is | objects of prepositions, etc. etc. etc. “in/by/with/from” case

Since the easiest use of the dative case is with the verb “to give,” let’s learn its conjugation in present tense:
do = I give | damus = we give
das = you give | datis = you (pl.) give
dat = he, she, it gives | dant = they give

New Vocabulary
do, dare, dedi, datus = give
arca, ae = box, chest
corona, ae = crown
gemma, ae = jewel, gem
magistra, ae = teacher (female)
nauta, ae (m.) = sailor
poeta, ae = poet (usually masculine)
regina, ae = queen
rosa, ae = rose
schola, ae = school

New Sentences
Puer puellae rosam dat. = The boy gives a rose to the girl/ The boy gives the girl a rose.
Puer puellae rosas dat. = The boy gives roses to the girl.
Malum magistrae das. = You give the teacher an apple.
Mala magistris das. = You give apples to the teachers.
Magistris non multam pecuniam datis. = You do not give much money to the teachers.
Paula arcam nautae dat. = Paula gives the sailor a box.
Est gemma in arcā. = There is a jewel in the box.
Sunt gemmae in arcā. = There are jewels in the box.
Nauta gemmam puellae dat. = The sailor gives a jewel to the girl.
Nauta gemmas puellis dat. = The sailor gives jewels to the girls.
Lucia agricolae pecuniam non dat. = Lucia does not give money to the farmer.
Nautae feminis rosas dant. = The sailors give the women roses.
Nauta feminae rosas dat. = The sailor gives the woman roses.
Aviae et puellae pecuniam damus. = We give money to the grandmother and the girl. n.b. here “aviae” and “puellae” are both in the dative case, a compound indirect object.
Aviae puellae pecuniam damus. = We give money to the girl’s grandmother. n.b. both “aviae” and “puellae” have the same ending, but the first is dative and the second is genitive; they are not performing the same function in the sentence! The only sure way to determine this is context but remember that the genitive usually follows the noun it is modifying.
Puellis parvis rosas do. = I give roses to the little girls.
Reginae coronam dat. = He gives a crown to the queen.
Regina et puellae poetae coronam dant. = The queen and the girls give a crown to the poet. n.b. here “puellae” is nom. pl., part of a compound subject, “poetae” is dat. s.
Puellae et nautae poetae coronam reginae dant. = The girls and the sailors give the queen’s crown to the poet. n.b. “puellae and nautae” are both nom. pl., “poetae” is dat. s., “coronam” acc.s., and “reginae” is gen. s.

This will be our last lesson specifically dealing with the 1st declension for now. Next time we’ll start exploring the 2nd declension, home of masculine and neuter nouns. We’ll go slowly through it just like we did through the 1st. It may be slightly longer than a week until I post the next lesson since I have a large number of family obligations coming up. I hope you all are enjoying these Latin lessons as much as I enjoy writing them!

Go to next lesson: 2nd Declension, Lesson 1

June 2, 2015



Let me see if I get this.
Aviae puellae pecuniam damus could mean either
We give money to the girl’s grandmother.
We give money to the grandmother's girl.

Pecuniam poetae das could mean either:
You give the poet money
You give the poet's money



Yes, just one example of the delightful/infuriating complexities of Latin! In fact, first sentence could also be "We grandmothers give money to the girl/ We girls give money to the grandmother/ We grandmothers give the girl's money." But I will try not to give too many ambiguous sentences like these.


Yikes! Or even, I suppose, "We girls give the grandmother's money." This definitely seems disconcerting... hopefully Caesar, Cicero, and Augustine are also kind enough to avoid ambiguities like this!


From my knowledge, this is definitely right. The dative and genitive cases can be confusing, but the more experience that you have with Latin, the easier you begin to understand examples like this.


Does the word dative come from dat?


From the verb "do, dare, dedi, datus = give."


No, I meant like is the origin of the word dative from dat?


Is the order of the sentence important in the following example? ''Ego puellae rosas do'' and ''Ego rosas puellae do''? I mean, the dative must come always come before the accusative?


No, the Latin word order is very free. Either is correct; the important element is the noun ending that communicates the case.


Ok, I get it. Thank you!

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