Learning the case endings of the five Latin noun declensions is extremely important. Here you will find Latin noun endings presented in a clear, accessible format!
Latin has cases, which means that a noun’s endings change based on its role in the sentence. You, as a Latin learner, should memorize these endings (or most of them, at the very least). If you don’t, it will be extremely difficult, or even impossible, for you to understand Latin.
Fortunately you don’t have to learn the endings of each noun individually. Instead, Latin nouns are divided into five groups called declensions. A noun’s declension determines which sets of case endings you add to it.
This post presents charts with all the Latin noun endings. The charts list the main five cases in the order traditionally used in the United States: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, and ablative.
As is customary, the vocative and the locative do not appear in the charts. The vocative is always identical to the nominative, except in second declension (to be discussed more below). The locative only exists for certain declensions, so I mention it where it is relevant.
You can scroll through all five declensions, or jump to whichever one interests you. This post also includes my best tips for memorizing Latin noun endings. Happy reading!
First Declension Noun Endings
First declension is the simplest of the five Latin declensions. There is only one set of endings for all first declension nouns (regardless of gender). Most first declension nouns are feminine, but there are a few exceptions.
You will notice the vowel a popping up in almost all of the case endings.
Note that the only thing that distinguishes the nominative –a from the ablative –ā is vowel length (indicated by the macron). Memorizing macrons is always helpful, but this is arguably the most important macron in the entire Latin language.
Locative: The locative singular is equal to the genitive singular, while the locative plural is equal to the ablative plural.
The following chart shows the endings in action, attached to the noun puella, ae “girl”. The stem is puell-, and the endings are indicated in bold.
Second Declension Noun Endings
Second declension nouns fall into two main categories: masculine nouns and neuter nouns. There are two different, but related, sets of endings. The few feminine nouns of the second declension take masculine endings.
Second Declension Masculine
First we will look at the masculine case endings.
|Nominative||us / er||ī|
Notice that there are two options in the nominative singular. Most second declension nouns have a nominative in –us, but some have a nominative in –er or even –ir.
Vocative: Masculine –us nouns of the second declension are the only nouns in Latin that have a vocative that is distinct from the nominative. The vocative ending for the singular is –e, or (occasionally) –ī. In the plural, the vocative is the same as the nominative. (For more about vocative endings, read my post all about the vocative.)
Locative: The locative singular is equivalent to the genitive singular. The locative plural is equivalent to the ablative plural.
The following two charts show the declension of mūrus, ī (an –us noun with the stem mūr-) and ager, agrī (an –er noun with the stem agr-).
Second Declension Neuter
Second declension neuter nouns have slightly different case endings than second declension masculine nouns. To begin with, the nominative singular ends in –um. In addition, the nominative and accusative plural ending is –a.
Locative: As with masculine nouns, the locative singular is equivalent to the genitive singular. The locative plural is equivalent to the ablative plural.
The following chart shows the endings attached to oppidum, ī “town”. The stem is oppid-.
Third Declension Noun Endings
Third declension is by far the most confusing of the five Latin declensions. Third declension nouns can be masculine, feminine, or neuter. Furthermore, in addition to the complications of gender, third declension nouns can be consonant-stem or i-stem.
The good news is that masculine and feminine nouns use the same set of endings. So we have to worry about 4 sets of endings:
- masculine/feminine consonant-stem
- masculine/feminine i-stem
- neuter consonant-stem
- neuter i-stem
The nominative singular of third declension nouns is highly unpredictable (and so is listed as —). It typically does not include the stem, which is why you should pay extra attention to the genitive singular. (Read all about how to determine a Latin noun’s stem here.)
Locative: The locative is always the same as the ablative.
Third Declension Masculine & Feminine
The following chart presents the masculine and feminine consonant-stem endings.
Here are the endings attached to a noun: dux, ducis “leader”. The stem is duc-.
Now it is time to talk about i-stem nouns. Most of the time, the endings are very similar to those of consonant-stems. The one consistently different ending is the genitive plural, where we find –ium instead of –um.
However, it is also possible to have variant ablative singular, accusative plural, and even accusative singular endings. These are rarer, and so I have put them in parentheses after the primary ending.
|Accusative||em (im)||ēs (īs)|
The next chart shows these endings added to a classic i-stem: pars, partis “part”. The stem is part-.
|Accusative||partem (partim)||partēs (partīs)|
If you are wondering how you tell whether a noun is consonant-stem or i-stem, then I have a whole post coming about that soon.
Third Declension Neuter
Third declension neuter endings are very similar to third declension masculine and feminine endings. Differences appear in the accusative singular and in the nominative and accusative plural.
The accusative singular is always equal to the nominative singular, which is why there is no standard case ending for the accusative. The nominative and accusative plural end in –a.
Now let’s look at these endings attached to a noun: lūmen, lūminis “light”. The stem is lūmin-.
Neuter i-stem nouns have more changes in their case endings. Note that i‘s pop up in the ablative singular and in the nominative, genitive, and accusative plural.
The next chart shows these endings in action on the noun mare, maris “sea”. The stem is mar-.
Fourth Declension Noun Endings
Most fourth declension nouns are masculine and have a nominative singular ending in –us. There are a few neuter nouns of the fourth declension, however, with their nominative singular in –ū.
Locative: The locative has virtually disappeared in the fourth declension. The one surviving locative is domī, the locative singular form of the irregular noun domus, ūs.
Fourth Declension Masculine
Here are the endings for fourth declension masculine nouns. (The few fourth declension feminine nouns also take these endings.)
Now let’s look at the endings on impetus, ūs “attack”. The stem is impet-.
Fourth Declension Neuter
There are very few fourth declension neuter nouns. The two most common are cornū, ūs “horn” and genū, ūs “knee”.
Now let’s see the endings on genū, genūs. The stem is gen-.
Fifth Declension Noun Endings
Nouns of the fifth declension are overwhelmingly feminine. There is only one set of endings, although the length of the e in the genitive and dative singular varies.
The genitive singular ending is –eī. If there is a consonant before the e, it is short (no macron). If there is a vowel before the e, it is long (with a macron).
Here are the case endings of the fifth declension.
|Genitive||eī / ēī||ērum|
|Dative||eī / ēī||ēbus|
Locative: The locative only appears in the singular for a few words. It is identical to the ablative.
In the following chart, you can see the endings on diēs, diēī “day.” The stem is di-.
Tips for Memorizing Latin Noun Endings
There are a lot of different Latin case endings to memorize. So, you may ask, how do you learn them all? In this section, I will give you some tips and advice.
1. Look for patterns in the case endings
First, let’s talk about the Latin noun endings themselves. We can observe general patterns across declensions. Noticing these patterns will make it easier to keep things organized in your head.
- For all nouns, regardless of declension and gender, the dative plural and the ablative plural are equal to one another.
- The accusative singular of masculine and feminine nouns always ends in m, no matter which declension they belong to, and the accusative plural always ends in s.
- For neuter nouns, the nominative and accusative are always equal to one another (in both singular and plural).
- For neuter nouns, the nominative plural and the accusative plural always end in a (regardless of declension).
- If you compare first and second declension, you will notice that most of the endings are identical – first declension just uses a where second declension uses o.
Here are the masculine and feminine endings of the 1st through 5th declensions presented side by side for comparison.
|Gen Sing||ae||ī||is||ūs||eī / ēī|
|Dat Sing||ae||ō||ī||uī||eī / ēī|
|Gen Pl||ārum||ōrum||um / ium||uum||ērum|
Now here is a chart comparing the endings of neuter nouns of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th declensions.
|Case & Number||2nd||3rd||4th|
|Abl Sing||ō||e / ī||ū|
|Nom Pl||a||a / ia||ua|
|Gen Pl||ōrum||um / ium||uum|
|Acc Pl||a||a / ia||ua|
These observations will help you to make sense of the Latin noun endings themselves. And now we shall turn to general study strategies.
2. Say the endings out loud and write them out
It can be tempting to simply stare at the declension chart and hope that the case endings will sink in. But this will only lead to frustration.
I always start memorizing new forms by saying them out loud. This engages two of your senses: sight and hearing. You will be surprised how much this will help your retention of new material.
You can even invent you own chant for each declension. When I first learned Latin noun endings, I was 7. I remember running around singing the endings to myself. And hey, it worked . . . I still remember them to this day.
You can also search for “Latin declension songs” on YouTube. There are quite a few amusing and helpful tunes. For instance, take a look at the video embedded below!
In addition to saying the endings out loud, I recommend that you practice by writing them out. This engages another sense: that of touch. When I was first learning Latin, I would practice my case endings by writing out the declensions of several different nouns every day.
To summarize: try to activate as many senses as possible!
Final Thoughts on Latin Noun Endings
As you have seen by now, there are a lot of Latin noun endings to grapple with. But I promise that it gets easier with time.
Focus on learning endings declension by declension, and you will be an expert before you know it.
But Latin isn’t just about memorizing declensions. Check out these other useful posts about Latin nouns!