Latin for Duolingo: 2nd Declension, Lesson 1
Please note this course is now available on Wikiversity
Salvete! This lesson continues with the informal, unofficial Latin lessons in the style of Duolingo. It has been going on for a few months now and you might want to check out previous lessons and vocabulary if you’ve missed them:
- Directory of Lessons
- Classified Vocabulary List
- Memrise course for vocabulary
- Memrise course with sentences
- Previous lesson: 1st Declension, Lesson 4
Latin nouns are divided into 5 basic classes, called declensions. Within each declension, there are singular and plural endings for each of the 5 cases (really there are 7 but the main 5 are enough to start with!) All of the noun, pronoun and adjective functions are covered by these cases. The key to mastering nouns is to recognize what declension it belongs to, and apply the appropriate endings within that declension for its function in the sentence.
We’ve covered the 1st declension nouns in the previous series of lessons; they are mostly feminine (with some masculine exceptions) and follow the pattern of a, ae for their nom. and gen. endings. Now let’s add the 2nd declension. These nouns divide into either masculine or neuter. Masculine nouns follow the pattern of either
us, i or
r, i for their nom. and gen. s. (Of the ones ending in –r, some drop the preceding vowel for the genitive -- which, just as a reminder, also forms the stem-- but some do not; e.g. ager, agri; liber, libri; but vir, viri and puer, pueri). Neuter nouns follow the pattern of
Several nouns can have interchangeable masculine 2nd declension endings or feminine 1st declension endings to indicate gender of a person or animal: ursus/ursa, lupus/lupa, servus/serva, amicus/amica.
For now, let’s focus on just two cases of the 2nd declension, nominative and accusative. You’ll notice that it is only in these two cases that there is any difference between the two genders. Also, neuter nouns have the same endings in nominative and accusative. This is true for all neuter nouns regardless of declension. And you’ll probably notice the potential confusion between neuter nom./acc. pl. endings of the 2nd declension and the nom./abl. s. endings of the 1st declension: both are “-a.” The best remedy for this is being very careful to classify your nouns as to declension right when you learn them, and review them frequently, along with the declension endings, until they enter long-term memory.
case name | sing. | pl. | typical use
nominative (m.) | -us/-r | -i | subject or predicate noun
nominative (n.) | -um | -a | “
genitive | -i | -orum | possession, the “of” case
dative | -o | -is | indirect object, the “to/for” case
accusative (m.) | -um | -os | direct object (also some objects of preps.)
accusative (n.) | -um | -a | “
ablative | -o | -is | objects of prepositions, etc. “by/with/from” case
ager, agri = field
amicus, i = friend cibus, i = food
equus, i = horse
liber, libri = book
medicus, i = doctor
sucus, i = juice
bellum, i = war
donum, i = gift
oppidum, i = town
periculum, i = danger
vinum, i = wine
Gaius Marcum videt. = Gaius sees Marcus.
Vir puerum videt. = The man sees the boy.
Nauta est amicus Paulae. = The sailor is Paula’s friend.
Amicum meum video. = I see my friend.
Pueri viros vident. = The boys see the men.
Agricolae multos equos habent. = The farmers have many horses.
Agricola agrum videt. = The farmer sees the field.
Amicus agricolae agros videt. = The farmer’s friend sees the fields. (Or, The friend sees the farmer’s fields).
Multi pueri sucum bibunt. = Many boys drink juice.
Multi pueri multum sucum bibunt. = Many boys drink much juice.
Cibus est bonus. = The food is good.
Viri cibum edunt. = The men eat the food.
Est periculum! = There is danger!
Est bellum in Galliā. = There is war in Gaul.
Bellum in Galliā est. = The war is in Gaul. (subtle difference but worth pointing out)
Medicus vinum non bibit. = The doctor does not drink wine.
Oppidum tuum est magnum. = Your town is large.
Oppidum vestrum videmus. = We see your town.
Sunt multa oppida in Italiā. = There are many towns in Italy.
Medicus donum puellae dat. = The doctor gives a gift to the girl.
Paula et Lucia dona puellis dant. = Paula and Lucia give gifts to the girls.
A note on the lessons: As I introduce the noun declensions and cases systematically, I’m diverging from just copying the standard Duolingo tree format so we can focus on learning one grammatical concept at a time. But once we have the first three declensions down it might be easier to do some of the simpler topical skills like “food” or “animals” or “family.” I’m introducing some of those vocabulary words as they are applicable so we will have a base to build on. I recommend going through the lessons sequentially because each new lesson will incorporate some review vocabulary and concepts. I honestly don’t know if this is the best or most effective method of learning Latin but I’m having fun and giving it my best effort. I hope it helps you even a little as it exists now. Just think of the potential when this or something like it is fully interactive!
Next lesson: more 2nd declension nouns and the ablative case. Valete!
In the memrise for this lesson, why is it “multae feminae magnas insulas vident”? I keep getting that wrong because i type insulas magnas instead, as it seems to me that adjective after noun has been the convention till now ( yep i get that it is infinitely flexible and how much work that would be to plug into memrise all the variatons thus my wondering why the variation now)
It's not a hard rule, but adjectives of quantity (how large? how many?) usually precede the nouns, that's why I tried to be consistent in the memrise course and in case of the sentences containing 'multus' and 'magnus/parvus' prefer solutions with these adjectives before the nouns they belong to.