Ablative

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Latin grammar

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The ablative case in Latin is an inflection that applies to nouns, adjectives and participles. The ablative case is sometimes known as the "case of adverbial relation" and the function of the ablative case is sometimes performed in English by prepositional phrases. The ablative can express adverbials of manner and instrument (by, with), time and place (in, on, at; from), cause (for, to) and similar adverbials. Noun phrases in the ablative case are used as the objects of some pronouns. Certain verbs take objects in the ablative as well.

Bennett states that the ablative case represents the merger of three cases and identifies three broad classes of meaning:

  1. "Genuine" uses
  2. Instrumental
  3. Locative (related to place)

The Latin ablative originally marked motion away from something, but later it became a very general adverbial case modifying or limiting nouns by ideas of place, time, manner, cause, instrument, accompaniment etc. Ablative usually, but not always, stands with prepositions (ab, ex, de, cum, in, sub).

Here are the basic and very general rules for making a singular ablative:

  • If a word ends in "-us" then the ablative ends in "-o". Tullius becomes Tullio.
  • If a word ends in "-a", then the ablative ends in long "". Livia becomes Liviá.
  • If a word ends in "-o", then the ablative ends in "-one". Cicero becomes Cicerone.
  • Many other nouns change their ending to "-e" but their rules are more difficult and are not detailed here. Here are some just for example:
Audens in ablative becomes Audente,
Laenas in ablative is Laenate,
homo in ablative is homine,
consul in ablative is consule,
praetor in ablative is praetore, and so on.
  • Some common nouns ending in "-us" change to "-u in ablative, for example:
Senatus in ablative is Senatu,
exercitus" in ablative is exercitu".

Usage in practice

An average Nova Roman citizen uses the ablative case in the consular dating. Learn more about Roman dates.


Forming the ablative in all declensions

Attention: in the third declension, there are two subcategories: "consonant stem" and "i-stem". They are almost identical, but when it comes to the singular ablative form, all words of the "consonant stem" together with the masculine and feminine nouns of the "i-stem" get an ending "-e", while adjectives and neuter nouns of the "i-stem" get an "-i" ending. How to differentiate between "consonant stem" and "i-stem"?

Nouns of "i-stem" are the following:

  1. nouns ending in -is, -es, and having a genitive form with a number of syllables equal to their nominative form. E. g.: civis, civis mf, or collis, collis m;
  2. nouns ending in consonant + s (-rs, -ns, -ps, -bs, -x), but only, and exclusively only, if before their genitive ending -is there are at least two consonants. E. g.: gens, gentis, f ("-nt-" is two consonants before the "-is"), or nox, noctis f ("-ct-" is two consonants before the "-is").
  3. neuter nouns ending in -e, -al, -ar. E. g.: mare, maris; n, animal, -alis, n; nectar, nectaris, n.
  4. almost all adjectives of the third declension

Nouns of "consonant stem" are all nouns of the third declension not matching the requirements listed above.


First declension Second declension
A-Stem O-Stem
mf
terra, -ae, f
land
mf
tribúnus, -í, m
tribune
n
auspicium, -í, n
auspice
Singular Singular Singular
Nominative terra —— tribúnus —— auspicium ——
Accusative terram –am tribúnum –um auspicium ——
Genitive terrae –ae tribúní –í auspicií –í
Dative terrae –ae tribúnó –ó auspició –ó
Ablative terrá –á tribúnó –ó auspició –ó
Plural Plural Plural
Nominative terrae –ae tribúní –í auspicia –a
Accusative terrás –ás tribúnós –ós auspicia –a
Genitive terrárum –árum tribúnórum –órum auspiciórum –órum
Dative-
Ablative
terrís –ís tribúnís –ís auspiciís –ís


Third declension Fourth declension
Consonant Stem I-Stem U-Stem
mf
léx, légis, f
law
n
iús, iúris, n
right
mf
cívis, -is, mf
citizen
n
mare, -is, n
sea
mf
senátus, -ús, m
senate
n
cornú, -ús, n
horn
Singular Singular Singular Singular Singular Singular
Nominative léx —— iús —— cívis —— mare —— senátus —— cornú ——
Accusative légem –em iús —— cívem –em mare —— senátum –um cornú ——
Genitive légis –is iúris –is cívis –is maris –is senátús –ús cornús –ús
Dative légí –í iúrí –í cíví –í marí –í senát –uí cornú –ú
Ablative lége –e iúre –e cíve –e marí –í senátú –ú cornú –ú
Plural Plural Plural Plural Plural Plural
Nominative-
Accusative
légés –és iúra –a cívés –és maria –ia senátús –ús cornua –ua
Genitive légum –um iúrum –um cívium –ium marium –ium senátuum –uum cornuum –uum
Dative-
Ablative
légibus –ibus iúribus –ibus cívibus –ibus maribus –ibus senátibus –ibus cornibus –ibus


Fifth declension
E-Stem
mf
diés, éí, m
day
Singular
Nominative diés ——
Accusative diem –em
Genitive-
Dative
diéí –éí
Ablative dié –é
Plural
Nominative-
Accusative
diés –és
Genitive diérum –érum
Dative-
Ablative
diébus –ébus


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