First Declension; Nominative; Genitive;
Ablative of Place Where

Fresco of Spring, Stabiae

Fresco of Spring from a villa wall in Stabiae







he sizes and plans of Roman houses varied according to income and taste. They ranged from one-room apartments to elaborate mansions.

Most people lived in large apartment buildings of five or six stories, often covering a whole city block (īnsula); in fact the term īnsula is sometimes used to refer to a large apartment building or tenement. These large buildings were built around a courtyard and sometimes had galleries and balconies. The apartments themselves varied from one to five rooms. The bottom floor of the complex was usually given over to shops (tabernae and officīnae). These shops sometimes had small living quarters attached, but most often the shop itself served for living quarters after closing time, with a sleeping-loft, reached by a ladder, above. Like many modern Italian shops, these were open across the whole front, and closed by a shutter (in which there was a door for the family) at night.

In the less elegant apartment buildings there was a common water supply (a fountain in the courtyard), as well as a communal latrine and laundry. In the more expensive buildings the apartments had running water and their own toilets, and the building itself might have an elaborate set of baths. A better apartment was also likely to have its own stairway to the street, instead of opening off the courtyard gallery, and might have windows and balconies looking both into the courtyard and into the street. Such an apartment was called a horseback house (domus equestris) because it had a leg on each side. Still more elegant were the garden-apartment complexes, smaller buildings, each containing four identical apartments, set in their own grounds. The best examples of all of these apartment houses are found at Ostia, Rome’s ancient port.

The houses of the more well-to-do were usually of two stories. There might be as many as eight or as few as one of these to an īnsula. They had





few external windows but rather looked inward on interior gardens. As in the large apartment buildings, the ground floor was usually edged with shops insulating the house inside from both heat and cold and street noise.

The mansions of the magnates, on the edge of the city, were set in their own grounds and were like small palaces, with other buildings and pavilions on the grounds.

The peristyle and gardens of the House of the Vetii, Pompeii





Latin nouns are grouped together in different declensions. All nouns which use the same case endings belong to the same declension.

Nouns of the first declension may be recognized by the -ae ending of the genitive singular. First declension nouns are declined like puella, girl. The base of the first declension noun is found by dropping the -ae ending of the genitive singular; the endings are then added to this base. The genitive of puella is puellae; its base is puell.







a girl (the girl)
of a girl (the girl)
to/for a girl (the girl)
a girl (the girl)
[from|with|in|by] a girl (the girl)



girls (the girls)
of girls (the girls)
to/for girls (the girls)
girls (the girls)
[from|with|in|by] girls (the girls)
  1. Latin has no articles, no way of expressing a, an, or the; so puella may be translated by girl, a girl, or the girl, according to the context.
  2. Because of its many uses, no standard translation can be given for the ablative [but for the four most common translations just remember the acronym FWIB: from, with, in or by].




Nominative as Subject
The subject of a verb (i.e., the person, place, or thing about which something is said is in the nominative case.

Predicate Nominative
A noun used with a linking verb to define or identify the subject is also in the nominative. Such a noun is called a predicate nominative, or predicate noun, or subjective complement.

 SUB.        PRED. NOM
Asia est prōvincia
    Asia is a province


One of the uses of the genitive case is to show possession.

agricolae vīlla
    the farmer’s farmhouse, the farmhouse of the farmer

agricolārum vīllae
    the farmers’ farmhouses, the farmhouses of the farmers

The English translation of the genitive of posession uses ’s or s ’, or a prepositional phrase with of.


The ablative case is used with certain prepositions to answer the question Where?

agricola est in vīllā.
    The farmer is in the farmhouse.



When you learn a Latin noun you will need to know to which declension it belongs, what its base is, and its gender (masculine, feminine, neuter). Therefore for each noun in the Vocabulary the nominative form, the genitive form, and the gender (m., f., or n.) are included. The fact that the genitive of every noun in this Vocabulary ends in -ae tells us that they all belong to the first declension, and will be declined like puella. You can find the base to which the endings are added by dropping the -ae.

Be sure to learn the long marks (macra, singular macron) when you learn the words because the macron indicates that a vowel is long, and you need to know this for correct pronunciation.


agricola, agricolae, m. farmer
fēmina, fēminae, f. woman
patria, patriae, f. fatherland, native land
prōvinca, prōviniae, f. province
puella, puellae, f. girl
silva, silvae, f. woods, forest
terra, terrae, f. earth, land
via, viae, f. way, road, street
vīlla, vīllae, f. farmhouse, villa

est  is, there is
sunt  are, there are

in (preposition) in, on
Note:     When est and sunt mean there is and there are they precede the subject
   Agricola est in vīllā.
Est agricola in vīllā.
  The farmer is in the farmhouse.
There is a farmer in the farmhouse.



Since proper nouns and adjectives derived from them are the same, or almost the same, in English and Latin, you will not have to spend time memorizing them. For your convenience, however, a glossary is included in the Appendix, so that you will know their declension and (when it is not obvious) their gender.



More than half of our Enlish words come form Latin; so one of the great benefits of studying Latin is the opportunity to develop your English verbal skills. Each vocabulary in the text will be followed by a list of English words derived form the Latin words used in that lesson.

Roman Villa 3D The plan of a basic Roman house: a series of rooms grouped around a small open court, the atrium. One entered via the fauces to find a shallow pool, the impluvium, in the middle of the atrium. Bedrooms, cubicula, occupied the sides of the atrium, while clients waited in the alae (or wings) for the master who worked in his office, the tablinum. A narrow corridor connected the house with the garden, hortus, in the rear so that access was available if the tablinum was occupied.


Roman Villa floor plan




Fill in the blanks with the appropriate English words derived from the Latin words in this Lesson:

1. He is so _____ that he salutes the flag whenever he sees it; his wife is such a _____ that she salutes it only if it’s carried by a woman.   2. Send this letter _____ air mail.   3. Some Europeans think that American culture is backward and _____.   4. The _____ in this part of the country is flat and uninteresting: I want to find a _____ setting when I build my _____, where I can obserbe the wildlife of the forest.


Using a dictionary, check the derivations of the verb inter and the noun invoice. From which words in this lesson are they derived?


Change from singular to plural, keepng the same case:
1. viā   2. vīlla   3. silvam   4. fēminā   5. prōvinciam


Change from plural to singular, keeping the same case:
1. agricolārum   2. puellae   3. viās   4. fēminārum   5. vīllās


Decline the following nouns. When you do this aloud, remember the rules for placing accent.
1.  agricola   2. patria   3. terra


Roman garden apartments, Oastia hspace=''

View of excavations of Roman garden apartments, Oastia


Pronounce, and give the case(s) and number(s):
1. fēminīs   2. Eurōpa   3. puellae   4. patriā   5. silvās   6. vīllārum   7. viam   8. prōvinciā   9. Asia   10. terrae


Give the following forms
1. Eurōpa in the dative singular   2. prōvincia in the nominative plural   3. terra in the accusative plural   4. vīlla in the genitive singular   5. Trōia in the ablative singular   6. puella in the dative plural   7. Trōia in the nominative singular   8. agricola in the accusative singular   9. patria in the genitive plural   10. silva in the ablative plural  


Translate into Latin
1. The woman is in the farmhouse.   2. A woman is in the farmhouse.   3. There is a woman in the farmhouse.   4. The women are in the farmhouse.   5. There are women in the farmhouse.  


1. Fēminae sunt in silvā.   2. Prōvincia est Asia.   3. Puellae in viā sunt.   4. Sunt fēminae in vīllā.   5. In Eurōpā sunt prōvinciae.   6. Viae sunt in puellae patriā.   7. Prōvincia Trōiae sunt in Asiā.   8. Agricolārum vīllae in prōvinciā sunt.   9. Sunt viae in terrīs Europae.   10. In agricolae vīllā sunt silvae.  


Translate into Latin
1. Asia is a province.   2. There is a girl on the road   3. The woman is in the woods.   4. Troy is the girl’s fatherland.   5. There are women in the farmhouse.   6. The woman is in the farmhouse.   7. The road is in the province.   8. There are farmhouses on the farmer’s land.   9. The woman’s farmhouse is in the forest.   10. There are roads in the provinces.  




Trōia est in Asiā. Trōiae prōvinciae in Asiā sunt. In prōvinciīs Trōiae sunt silvae. In Trōiae terrīs sunt agricolae: Trōia est patria agricolārum. In terrīs agricolārum sunt vīllae. Agricolārum fēminae sunt in vīllīs.


1. Where is Troy?   2. Where are Troy’s provinces?   3. Where are the forests?   4. Of whom is Troy the fatherland?   5. What are one the farmrs’ lands?   6. Where are the farmers’ wives?


The ruins of ancient Troy, which flourished from circa 1800 to 1150 B.C.
It was possibly this city that the Greeks destroyed during the Trojan War.