Declining Latin nouns
Latin nouns decline (as do adjectives).
This means that their endings change depending on the meaning. Going through the possible endings of a noun is to decline it.
There are five declensions and any given noun belongs to one of them. Each declension declines in a different way. A regular noun declines according to the declension that it belongs to. So, you can learn five different models or patterns, one for each declension, and decline all nouns. Can't you?
The devious thing about nouns is that some are irregular, and so even though they belong to a declension, they are declined slightly (or very) differently to how you think they ought to be ...
Never fear, you can read a lot of Latin without a complete knowledge of Latin grammar - especially pithy expressions such as carpe diem or de minimus curat lex.
For those who don't want to go into too much detail, the Quick Latin pages attempt to outline the barest minimum approach to declining nouns and adjectives.
How can I tell which declension a noun belongs to You need to know the nominative and genitive case of the noun (more on this later), and it is according to these endings that a noun is placed into its declension. This is the reason that when learning Latin vocabulary, you learn both these cases. More on this later. Why do nouns decline in Latin?
OK. So nouns decline or change their ending. But why? What is the point of this extra level of complexity (and tedious rules to learn)?
Latin nouns decline depending on the meaning required. They need to do this because latin word order is flexible.
A noun is declined case by case, with each case having a different meaning, and being used in different circumstances.
There are six widely used cases in the Latin language, and these are as follows:
Nominative, Vocative, Accusative, Genitive, Dative and Ablative.There is a seventh case called the Locative but it is infrequently used.
Here is an example using Mensa (table). Mensa in the nominative means table. Mensae in the nominative plural has the meaning of tables. Mensarum means of the tables.
Learning to decline Latin nouns
There are five declensions of nouns and each is declined differently. Annoying, but that's the way it is. So here goes (remember that to read Latin, you don't need to know these inside-out and backwards).
Declining first declension nouns
Declining second declension nouns
Declining third declension nouns (i-stems)
Declining third declension nouns (consonant-stems)
Declining fourth declension nouns