Elements of Latin Lesson 8
Gender; Declension, Agreement, and Position of Adjectives; the Predicate Adjective

Numquam retrorsum — Never turn back
A Latin slogan. Literally, Never backward.

83. Gender. Latin, like English, has three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter.

84. Gender in English is distinction according to sex. Names of males are masculine; of females, feminine; and of things without animal life, neuter. This is called natural gender.

85. The rules for natural gender are applied also in Latin to beings having life: words denoting males are masculine, and words denoting females are feminine. But the gender of words denoting things is generally determined by the termination of the nominative singular. This is called grammatical gender. Hence nouns which in English would be neuter may in Latin be masculine, feminine, or neuter.

Thus, in Latin, sōl, sun, is masculine; lūna, moon, feminine; caelum, sky, neuter.

86. Gender of Nouns of First Declension. Nouns of the first declension are feminine unless they denote males.

Thus, aqua, water, is feminine, but nauta, sailor, is masculine.

87. Adjectives. Examine the following sentence:

Puella parva bonam rēgīnam amat
the little girl likes the good queen

In this sentence parva, little, and bonam, good, are not nouns, but descriptive words expressing quality. Such words are called adjectives and are said to belong to the noun which they describe.

88. Declension of Adjectives. In English the adjective remains unchanged even when the noun changes its form: as, the good man, the good man's, the good men. In other words, in English, adjectives are not declined. In Latin, adjectives have declensions like those of nouns.

89. Feminine adjectives in -a have the same case forms as nouns in -a. Decline nouns and their adjectives together, as follows:

Case Noun & Adjective Translation Terminations
Nom. aqua bona good water -a
Gen. aquae bonae of good water -ae
Dat. aquae bonae to or for good water -ae
Acc. aquam bonam good water -am
Abl. aquā bonā from, with, in, by good water
Nom. aquae bonae good waters -ae
Gen. aquārum bonārum of good waters -ārum
Dat. aquīs bonīs to or for good waters -īs
Acc. aquās bonās good waters -ās
Abl. aquīs bonīs from, with, in, by good waters -īs

90. Agreement of Adjectives. In the phrase aqua bona, we have a feminine noun aqua combined with a feminine adjective bona. When the phrase is declined, a change in the number or the case of the noun is accompanied by a corresponding change in the adjective. This is called agreement.

91. Rule for Agreement of Adjectives. Adjectives agree with their nouns in gender, number, and case.

92. An adjective may either precede or follow its noun.

93. Predicate Adjective. An adjective standing in the predicate, but describing the subject, is called a predicate adjective.

Puellae sunt pulchrae
the girls are pretty

NOTE. In English the predicate adjective is often called the attribute complement or subjective complement.


Print Lesson 8 Exercises


First learn the special vocabulary:

Latin Word Meaning Related Words
bona good, kind bonus, bounty
casa, -ae (f) hut, cottage
et and; even, also
habitat he (she, it) lives, dwells habitation, inhabitant
parva small, little
pulchra pretty, beautiful pulchritude

94. Galba est agricola. Lesbia est fīlia Galbae. Lesbia est pulchra. Galba fīliam pulchram amat. Agricola parvae puellae bonās fābulās nārrat. Galba cum Lesbiā in casā parvā habitat. Galba et Lesbia casam parvam amant. Lesbia Galbam vocat et agricola ad parvam casam properat (see picture).

Galba et Lesbia:

95. 1. The little cottage is beautiful.

2. Galba hastens through the land to the pretty cottage.

3. Galba is with the sailor.

4. The girls hasten into the cottage.

5. Farmers live in small cottages.

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