Workbook of Latin Grammar

Alternate and peculiar forms in nouns and adjectives

Latin contains a variety of alternate and peculiar forms of nouns and adjectives. This section will offer a brief overview of many alternate and original forms which are commonly found while reading Latin.

2nd declension nouns ending in -ius or -ium in the nominative often have the ending -ī not -iī in the genitive singular only. These include the forms: fīlī (from fīlius), cōnsilī (from cōnsilium), Claudī (from Claudius), etc.

Minae Clōdī modicē mē tangunt. “Clodius’ threats affect me little.”

Tam eram rudis, tam ignārus rērum, tam expers cōnsilī aut ingenī?

“Was I so foolish, so ignorant of affairs, so devoid of judgment or intellect?”

Additionally, proper names ending in -ius and also the noun fīlius have the regular vocative singular ending -ī not -ie. These vocative singular forms include: fīlī, Lucilī, Hortensī, Memmī, etc.

Voluī, fīlī, satisne scīrēs cōnsulem tē esse.

“I wanted to know, son, if you were quite aware that you are consul.”

Likewise, the possessive adjective meus declines as mī in the vocative masculine singular (see also Assignment 16).

The genitive plural ending -ōrum sometimes has the alternate ending -um, especially in poetry. This alternate genitive plural ending is identical to the accusative singular, and so correct identification depends on context. Common examples of this form include the genitive plural forms: virum (in place of virōrum), superum (in place of superōrum), deum (in place of deōrum), dīvum (in place of dīvōrum), līberum (in place of līberōrum), equum (in place of equōrum) and socium (in place of sociōrum).

Sēcutus deum praecepta hinc vēnī.

“I, after following the commands of the gods, have arrived at this place.”

Multī in iūdicandō peccāta līberum parentum misericordiae concessērunt.

“Many have forgiven the sins of children in casting judgment out of pity for their parents.”

Additionally, the noun deus has several peculiar forms. In the singular, deus does not appear in the vocative singular. In the plural, the nominative and vocative plural may appear as deī, dī or diī, the genitive plural may be deōrum or deum (as noted above), the dative and ablative plural may be deīs, diīs, or dīs.

Agite dīs immortālibus grātiās! “Give thanks to the immortal gods!”

Hōc meruī; magnī deī sīc voluērunt. “I have earned this; the great gods have will it so.”

Many 3rd declension nouns (those classed as i-stems and those classed as mixed i-stems) and most 3rd declension adjectives may be found with the ending -īs in place of -ēs in the accusative plural.

Nōnne vīdērunt moenia Troiae cōnsīdere in ignīs?

“Did they not see the walls of Troy descend into flames?”

Vester honōs mē intentīs oculīs omnīs reī pūblicae partīs intuērī iubet.

“Your honor bids me to watch over every part of the Republic with attentive eyes.”

Some 3rd declension nouns (those classed as i-stems) may have either -ī or -e in the ablative singular.

Sīgēa frēta lāta ignī relūcent. “The broad Sigean straights gleamed with fire.”

Althaea flagrantem rāmum ab igne ēripuit.

“Althaea snatched the burning branch from out of the fire.”

3r declension adjectives usually have -ī (but a few may have -e) in the ablative singular.

Haud tālī honōre mē dignor. “In no way do I deem myself worthy of so great an honor.”

Some third declension nouns (those classed as i-stems) may have the ending -im instead of -em in the accusative singular. For a number of nouns, the accusative singular ending in -im is the sole extant form, including: sitim, tussim, Tiberim. Other such nouns may be found ending in either em or im, including: nāvem/nāvim, securem/secūrim, turrem/turrim, febrem/febrim.

Vīnō cūrāsque sitimque levant. “They lighten their cares and thirst with wine”

Cōgitō interdum trāns Tiberim hortōs aliquōs parāre.

“I occasionally consider obtaining some gardens across the Tiber.”

The i-stem noun vīs is found regularly only in three forms in the singular: nominative (vīs), ablative (vī), and accusative (vim). It is common in all cases in the plural, and the plural forms are all declined based upon the stem vīr-. The forms vīrēs and vīrīs are both found in the accusative plural.

In both the singular and plural, this noun can mean “force”, “strength”, “power”, “vigor”, etc..

Thrēicius rēx Polydōrum obtruncat et aurō potītur.

“The Thracian king kills Polydorus and takes possession of his gold by force.”

Cape hunc equum, dum tibi vīrium aliquid superest.

“Take this horse, while some amount of vigor remains for you.”

Certain fourth declension nouns have both the endings -ibus and -ubus in the dative and ablative plural, including specus (specibus or specubus), portus (portibus or portubus). The ending is -ubus is regular in select nouns, including: tribus, sūs, and artus.

Scythiae gentēs in defossīs specubus sub altā terrā otia agunt.

“The people of Scythia spend their leisure in hollowed out caves under the deep earth.”

The phrase pater familiās (literally, “father of the family”), which is sometimes printed as paterfamiliās, contains the archaic genitive form familiās. This term is usually left simply as “pater familias” when translating into English. Even when printed as a compound, pater declines while familiās is fixed in the genitive. Sometimes the form pater familae is used instead and the plural is may appear as either patrēs familiās or patrēs familiārum.

Pater familiās, ubi ad vīllam venit, fundum circumeat, sī potest.

The pater familias, when he visits his villa, should go all around his estate, if he is able.”

The terms māter/fīlius/fīlia familiās are also used.

Some additional notes

For individual overviews of i-stem endings, consult the following references: -im in the accusative (see Allen and Greenough §75), -ī in the ablative (see Allen and Greenough §68 & §76), -īs in the nominative (see Allen and Greenough §77), -um instead of -ium in the genitive (see Allen and Greenough §78).

For the use of ablative singular endings -ī and -e in participles, see Assignments 1 & 2.

The genitive plural ending in -um in place of -ōrum the 2nd declension is also common in many terms of measure and money (see Allen and Greenough §49d).

Nerō bīna nummum mīlia virītim manipulāribus dīvīsit.

“Nero handed out two-thousand sesterces a man to the soldiers.”

“(literally, “Nero handed out two-thousand of sesterces a man to the soldiers.”)

3rd declension nouns ending in -or have the original ending -ōs which is still found in some texts and authors. Hence we sometimes find the forms honōs (rather than honor), arbōs (rather than arbor), labōs (rather than labor), etc.

Tē iam ferre Herculī labōs est. “It is already a Herculean labor to put up with you.”

In many 2nd declension nouns and adjectives in which then stem ends in -u or -v (ie. servus, equus, antīquus, novus, tuus, etc.), the ending -os is sometimes found in place of -us and -om in place of -um (in both the masculine and neuter). These include the forms servos (in addition to servus), antīquom (in addition to antīquum), etc.

Tibi ego an tu mihi servos es? “Am I your slave or are you mine?”

Antīquom poētam audīvī scrīpsisse mulierēs duās peiōrēs esse quam ūnam.

“I have heard that an ancient poet wrote that two women are worse than one.”

In the same class of words (nouns and adjectives with a stem ending in -u or -v), the genitive plural ending -um sometimes appears as -om.

Ārdor fulminis dīvōm simulacra perēmit.

“The blaze of thunderbolt destroys the statues of the gods.”

3rd declension nouns ending in -or have the original ending -ōs which is still found in some texts and authors. Hence we sometimes find the forms honōs (rather than honor), arbōs (rather than arbor), labōs (rather than labor), etc.

Tē iam ferre Herculī labōs est. “It is already a Herculean labor to put up with you.”

The ablative and dative plural forms for fīlia and dea are regularly fīliābus and deābus, distinguishing these forms from their masculine counterparts. This same ending is also found in the declension of duo (duābus).

Hēraclīa ad penātēs cōnfūgit cum duābus fīliābus virginibus.

“Heraclia fled to the household gods with her two unwed daughters.”

The noun bōs has forms based upon the stem bov- (ie. bovis, bovem, bovēs, etc.) but the v in the stem has been lost in the forms: bōs, boum, and bōbus. Bōs also has both bōbus and būbus in the dative and ablative plural.

Ūna boum vōcem reddidit vastōque sub antrō mūgīvit.

“One of the cows answered and bellowed below the vast cavern.”

Activity 1

Translate each of the underlined words or phrases into Latin using the supplied vocabulary. Provide all possible correct forms.

Sample: What should I do, Hortensius? (Hortēnsius)

Answer: Hortēnsī

Sample: Pentheus, a despiser of the gods, spurned the prophetic words of the old man. (superus)

Answer: superōrum, superum

Sample: Nations now know and fear the Tiber. (Tiberis)

Answer: Tiberim

Sample: I make you, gods, witnesses. (deus)

Answer: deī, diī, dī

Sample: Neither a sea devoid of ports nor distant travels were able to destroy me. (portus)

Answer: portibus, portubus

Augustus dedicated an everlasting prayer to the Italian gods. (deus)

In this war, the virtue and fortune of Servius Tullius shone forth. (Tullius)

A blazing lightning bolt was cast against the ship of Ajax. (nāvis)

Juno, since she was not able to withstand the power of sleep further, departed. (vīs)

We need the help of the gods, Marcus Valerius. (Valerius)

Father of gods and humans, ward off the enemy from this place! (deus)

The savage lioness checked her thirst with the much water. (sitis)

Let the cities and fields of the enemy be ravaged by sword and by fire! (ignis)

The name of Troy has perhaps reached your ears. (auris)

At the outset of speaking, I turn pale and tremble in all my limbs. (artus)

Verres demanded payment from parents for the burial of their sons. (līber)

Anchises stood on the tall stern and called upon the gods. (puppis)

Cotta’s style of speaking was adapted to the feebleness of his vigor. (vīs)

They fetch water below the walls of the secure city and attempt short excursions (m). (brevis)

Has any man from the thirty-five tribes fled over to Hannibal? (tribus)

Activity 2

Identify the case of the underlined noun or adjective in each sentence.

Sample: Omnis sūdor per labōrem exeat.   Answer: nominative

Sample: In vinclīs cīvīs Rōmānōs necātōs esse arguō.   Answer: accusative

Sample: Sīc fātus sē noctī ātrae immiscuit.   Answer: dative

Sample: Ūniversī ex nāvī dēsiluērunt.   Answer: ablative

Sample: Nūllī ad nocendum nōn satis vīrium est.   Answer: genitive

Viam per mediōs ignīs invēnērunt.

Diem noctis expectātiōne perdunt, noctem lūcis metū.

In mūtō animālī nōn est beāta vīta.

Mē dēdō mortī.

Omnis arbor tibi serviet.

Valeant cīvēs meī; sint incolumēs, sint flōrentēs, sint beātī!

Fortīs fortūna adiuvat.

Magnam cōpiam nāvium ad trānsportandum exercitum pollicēbantur.

Ō quotiēns Ēchō voluit blandīs dictīs accēdere et adhibēre mollīs precēs!

Mīlitēs summā trānscendere in nāvēs hostium contendēbant.

Vīs dīvīna istō dēscendit.

Saepe carmen factum modo tuās ad aurīs vēnit.

Lucius Domitius in montem refugiēns, cum vīrēs eum lassitūdine dēfēcissent, est interfectus.

Caelius mōns urbī additur.

Cum rēx tōtus intentus in eum sē āverteret, alter elatam secūrim in caput dēiēcit.

cīvis Rōmānus sit ex plēbe, praecīsa cōnsulātūs spēs erit?

Ille sibi nōn vīvit, sed ventrī somnōque et libīdinī.

Rēx mundī compescuit ignibus ignēs.

Reī pūblicae tam gravī tempore dēfuī.

Tū nimis fortūnae commūnis oblītus es.

Simple Sentences

Translate the following sentences using grammar from this assignment.

Dī quoque oculōs habent.

Nāvīs ex portū ēdūcunt.

Ille deum vītam accipiet.

Armātus in Tiberim dēsiluit.

Caelum ārdēre ignī vīsum est.

Faciam tē cōnsilī meī certiōrem.

Carmina mea nōn magnās vīrēs habent.

Memoria sacrōrum morte patris familiās nōn occidet.

Hīc Hecuba et nātae amplexae simulācra dīvum sedēbant.

Nox erat et sopor altus animālia fessa per omnīs terrās habēbat.

Examples in Context

Translate the following modified examples.

n) Context for the sentence(s)

Modified example sentence(s)

[grammatical and contextual notes, if any]

1) Cicero sends a letter to his wife Terentia after he has learned that she is unwell.

Mihi nūntiātum est tē in febrim subitō incidisse.

2) Seneca reminds us that awaits us all.

Mors per omnīs it.

[per... it, eō + per can have the sense, as it does here, “handle one at a time”]

3) Caesar derides a speech delivered by the Republican cause in the Senate.

Haec Scīpiōnis ōrātiō ex ōre ipsīus Pompeī mittī vidēbātur.

4) A storm breaks out, bringing destruction upon Aeneas’s fleet along the coast of Sicily.

Īnsequitur clāmorque virum strīdorque rudentum.

[Īnsequitur, the verb is singular in agreement with its closest subject; rudentum, “rigging”]

5) Ship-wrecked, Aeneas looks for the remains of his fleet, but finds an unexpected opportunity to secure food for himself and his men.

Aenēās nūllam nāvem in cōnspectū prōspicit, sed trīs cervōs errantīs in lītore.

6) Ovid complains that few people travel to the land of his exile with news from Rome.

Rārus in haec lītora portubus orba venit.

[Rārus, perhaps best translated “Rarely does a man...”]

7) Seneca promises immortal fame to Lucilius.

Hoc tibi prōmittō, Lūcīlī: habēbō grātiam apud posterōs et possum mēcum dūrātūra nōmina ēdūcere.

[grātiam, here perhaps “esteem”; posterōs, we might say “posterity”; dūrātūra, “which will endure” future tense adjectival participle (see Assignment 1)]

8) Pyramus and Thisbe apologize to the wall after chastising it for prohibiting their embrace.

Fatēmur nōs tibi dēbēre, quod trānsitus verbīs ad amīcās aurīs datus est.

[tibi, the wall; dēbēre, here “in debt”; quod, here “because”]

9) The Massilians, under siege by Caesar’s forces led by Trebonius, charge out of the town and attempt to burn the siege tower.

Maiōre cum fiduciā ad turrim pugnāvērunt multumque ignem intulērunt.

[Maiōre cum fiduciā. abl. manner]

10) Aeneas likens the fatal cries of Laocoon to the sounds you might hear accompanying a failed sacrifice.

Tālis est mūgītus, cum taurus saucius fūgit āram et incertam secūrim cervīce excussit.

[cum, here “when” or “as when” ; incertam, perhaps “not firmly fixed”]

11) Medea, still in Colchis, imagines her boundless potential after a marriage to Jason.

Illō coniuge fēlīx et dīs cāra ferar et vertice sīdera tangam.

[Illō coniuge, “With him as my spouse”, an abl. absolute with an implied form of sum (see Assignment 2); ferar, “be said to be”; vertice, here “the top of my head”, an abl. expressing means]

12) Rome has invited it’s neighbors to visit the newborn city as part of the scheme to kidnap their daughters to be taken as wives.

Cum situm moeniaque et frequentem tēctīs urbem vīdissent, mīrantur tam brevī rem Rōmānam crēvisse.

[situm, “the site (of the city)”; brevī, supply tempore, abl. time; rem Rōmānam, “the Roman state”]

13) Servius Tullius tries to prevent enmity with the sons of former king Tarquinius Priscus by marrying his daughters to them.

Servius duās fīliās iuvenibus rēgiīs iungit nē animus līberum Tarquinī adversus sē esset.

[iungit, “joined X in marriage to Y” where X is accusative and Y is dative; animus, perhaps, “disposition”; adversus, preposition + acc. “against” or “hostile towards”]

14) Venus enables Aeneas to see the gods destroying the city of Troy.

Appārent dīrae faciēs deum et magna nūmina inimīca Troiae. Tum vērō omne mihi vīsum est cōnsīdēre in ignīs.

[nūmina, nom. plur. here perhaps “power”; Troiae, dative with the adj. inimīca (see Assignment 3)]

15) Verres has arranged through letters to have a seal ring stolen from Lucius Titius.

Litterīs istīus ānulus dē digitō dētractus est patrī familiās, Lūciō Titiō, cīvī Rōmānō.

[Litterīs, abl. means; istīus, Verres; dē, here “off of”; patrī, dative object of the compound verb dētractus est, best translated as “from”]