Section 1: Intro
Unlike English, Latin is a fully inflected language. What does this mean exactly? In English to change the tense or the person (first, second, third) of a verb, for example, you have to add different words around the main verb - "I ran", "She ran", "they ran", "I am running", "She is running", etc. - but the verb itself usually remains the same. In an inflected language, all of the information about tense, mood, and person are encoded in the verb itself. e.g.: amo (I love) amat (she/he/it loves), amabam (I was loving).
In English, word order is very important in figuring out the meaning of a sentence: 'The man kicks the dog' and 'the dog kicks the man' mean two very different things. In Inflected languages, word order is not so important because, again, much of the information we gain from word order is encoded into the noun itself.
The way a verb changes to show different mood, person and tense is called conjugation
. The way a noun changes in order to show its function within a sentence is called declension
Section 2: Nouns
Number simply reference to whether a noun is singular (referring to one thing) or plural (referring to two or more things). Even English has this property. The standard difference between a singular and a plural in English is an addition of an 's' in the plural: The Table, The tables. In Latin it is a little more complicated because of the cases.
In the declensions of Latin nouns, there are six cases
, which means that for each noun, there are a maximum of 12 possible permutations (six singular, six plural). The case indicates the syntax of a noun - the function it serves in a sentence. We will cover this in more detail momentarily.
The second quality of nouns that's important right now is gender. The idea that nouns have a gender is often fairly confusing to those who aren't familiar with such a notion, but even in English, there is a certain minute amount of gendering that still happens - ships and cars, for instance, tend to be referred to as "she". Latin has three
genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. It's useful to remember the gender of a noun when learning vocabulary, because the different genders decline in different ways.
The following are Jetpunk quizzes created by [SilverFire] to help students of Latin revise noun declensions, verb conjugations and general vocabulary:
100 most common Latin words (Latin to English): http://www.jetpunk.com/user-quizzes/100028/100-most-common-latin-words-110-latin-to-english
First declension noun endings: http://www.jetpunk.com/user-quizzes/100028/latin-1st-declension
First Conjugation present tense active verb endings: http://www.jetpunk.com/user-quizzes/100028/latin-1st-conjugation-present-tense
Full conjugation (all moods and tenses) for the verb 'to be': http://www.jetpunk.com/user-quizzes/100028/latin-conjugate-esse-to-be-all-tenses-all-moods
Back to Languages, the Elftown Academy,
or have a look at the Ancient Greek Classroom