Accusative

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Latin grammar

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The Latin accusative case is the grammatical case used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb, like for example in English "Peter reads a book." In English, except for a small number of words which display a distinct accusative case (e.g., I/me, he/him, we/us, they/them, who/whom), the accusative and nominative cases are identical.

Accusative case is also used for the objects of most of the Latin prepositions.

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

  • If a word ends in "-us", then the accusative ends in "-um". Tullius becomes Tullium.
  • If a word ends in "-a", then the accusative ends in "-am". Livia becomes Liviam.
  • If a word ends in "-o", then the accusative ends in "-onem". Cicero becomes Ciceronem.
  • Many other words change their ending to "-em" whose rules are more difficult and are not detailed here. Here are some just for example:
Audens in accusative becomes Audentem,
Venus in accusative is Venerem,
homo in accusative is hominem,
praetor in accusative is praetorem,
consul in accusative is consulem, and so on.
  • Nouns of the neutral gender which often end in "-um" have no accusative different from nominative, so, for example forum is forum in accusative.

Accusative forms in all declensions

Attention: neuter nouns have no accusative form separate from their nominative. It means that all neuter nouns have accusatives identical to their nominatives, and, additionally, all neuter nouns have a plural nominative-accusative form that ends in -a, regardless to their declension group.

Also note that in the third declension, there are two subcategories: "consonant stem" and "i-stem". They are almost identical, but when it comes to the neuter plural accusative form, nouns of the "consonant stem" get an ending "-a", while "i-stem" nouns get an "-ia" 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 accusative terram –am tribúnum –um auspicium ——
Plural accusative terrás –ás tribúnós –ós auspicia –a
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 accusative légem –em iús —— cívem –em mare —— senátum –um cornú ——
Plural accusative légés –és iúra –a cívés –és maria –ia senátús –ús cornua –ua
Fifth declension
E-Stem
mf
diés, éí, m
day
Singular accusative diem –em
Plural accusative diés –és
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