Learning Latin Lesson 1a: Nominative Case

Soooo, I’m learning Latin. With Charlotte. And it is very hard. I have, rather dubiously, decided to take a Latin GCSE with Charlotte next summer. We paid for her to take a course, and whilst the course was incredibly well thought out, somewhere along the line Charlotte got lost. You kinda have to fully understand something before moving on, but sometimes your understanding is so poor that you don’t actually know you don’t understand… if you see what I mean?

So I decided to teach her myself. Of course, that is not such a hot idea as I don’t actually know any Latin. My mum knows the present tense endings to amo, which she relays to us at even the slightest mention of Latin. But that is all she knows so she’s of no use! This means I have to teach myself. Oh. My. Goodness. I’m surprised I have managed to learn my mother tongue as well as I have. Clearly languages are not my forte. So I’m recording all I am learning for posterity. I’m fairly sure it will be all upside down and inside out, and please do feel free to laugh at me and then correct me at any time. I know nothing. The exam is in eighteen months time. Pray for a miracle. Nothing is too big for God. Not even Claire learning Latin.

Let’s get started…

What is the Nominative Case?

The Nominative case is used for the subject of the sentence or clause.  The name comes from the Latin nomen meaning name.  The nominative, therefore, names the person or thing the sentence will be about.  Typically, it will refer to the person who does the action (verb).

Just remember: Nominative=Noun=subject

Nominative Case

There are many short videos on YouTube explaining this:

The Nominative Case and the Finite Verb

The Nominative case indicates the subject of a finite verb.  What!  There are more than one type of verb?!  Yup!  A finite verb refers to the verb in the sentence which has a tense and an ending which tells you which person is doing the verb.  Finite verbs offer lots of information!

For example: ambulabat which means he or she was walking.  It gives you information about who was walking (he or she singular) and also that it happened repeatedly in the past (imperfect tense)

Infinite verbs give information about the tense but do not tell you who is doing the action.  A good way to remember the difference is that the finite verbs hem you in to a specific person or people whereas the infinite verb is freeeee….

An example of an infinite verb: ambulare which means to walk.  It gives you tense information (in this case present), but does not tell you who or what is doing the action.

For now we will be concentrating on finite verbs

Finding the Nominative Case

The Nominative can be expressed by the noun in the sentence which contains the nominative ending, or within the verb of the sentence.  The nominative noun will almost always be at the beginning of the sentence.  If there is no noun with a nominative ending at the beginning then you look at the verb ending to discover who is doing the action.  Nouns fit into five different declension groups.  For the purpose of this lesson, we will only be using nouns in the first and second declension.  The majority of first declension nouns are feminine, whilst the majority of second declension nouns are masculine.

Finding the Nominative Case within a Verb

Sometimes a nominative case noun is not used in a sentence to give us the information about who is doing the action.  In this case the verb ending is studied to figure out who the subject is.  Of course this will be a simple I, you, he/she, we and they, rather than a named subject.

Vocabulary to Learn

Each lesson I have chosen thirty words which I can use to illustrate all I am teaching in the lesson.  My focus in lesson one are nouns and verbs which show the nominative case in a simple non-confusing way.  I have included ten first declension nouns, ten second declension nouns and ten present tense verbs in a variety of conjugations (I cover the verbs in the second part of this lesson)

Fun Ways to Learn Vocabulary

  1. I say/You say: This is a quick fire game which takes minutes to complete each day. Using the list of vocab, the teacher says ‘shop’ pupil says ‘taberna’; teacher says ‘epistula’ pupil says ‘letter’ and so on and so forth.
  2. Noun Dominoes: I have created some simple dominoes with this lesson’s noun vocab. The aim is to match the Latin to the English. I have the first declensions in red and the second declensions in blue just as a visual reminder
These can be printed off from the download at the end of the lesson

Next time, I shall bring you the present tense, along with a few conjugations and ideas to memorize them. There will even be a free printable which includes all the activities described, should you wish to join us in this madness. In the meantime, if you bump into me in the street don’t expect any intelligent (or indeed intelligible) conversation. My brain has turned to mush in protest to learning Latin. I may never think a coherent thought ever again…


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