Ancient Greek/Basic Nouns/First Declension

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The first declension consists primarily of feminine nouns, with a few masculines. It is characterized by the recurrence of the letter alpha, and for this reason it is often referred to as the alpha declension, although the alpha was often changed to eta in the Attic dialect.

Accentuation[edit | edit source]

Nouns of the first declension have persistent accents. This means that, in general, when these nouns are declined, the accent does not move, although it does move if not doing so would violate one of the rules of accentuation, and it changes from an acute to a circumflex or vice versa if required by those rules. (This can happen when the final syllable goes from being short to long or vice versa; note that the terminal αι in the nominative plural is considered short.) In addition, when the accent in the nominative falls on the last syllable, it changes to a circumflex in the genitive and dative singular and plural.

The accent on the genitive plural of a first declension noun always falls on the last syllable.

Feminine nouns[edit | edit source]

Feminine nouns of the first declension may be further subdivided on the basis of α/η and ᾱ/ᾰ distinctions in the singular. However, in the plural, all nouns of the first declension have the same endings, which consistently have alpha instead of eta. The nominative singular and vocative singular are always identical, as are the nominative plural and vocative plural.

Nouns in eta[edit | edit source]

In Attic Greek, most feminine nouns of the first declension have eta throughout the singular, because long alpha was usually changed to eta in this dialect, except after epsilon, iota, or rho.

ἡδονή, ἡδονῆς, (hedoné, hedonês) "pleasure"

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative ἡδονή ἡδονᾱ́ ἡδοναί
Genitive ἡδονῆς ἡδοναῖν ἡδονῶν
Dative ἡδονῇ ἡδοναῖν ἡδοναῖς
Accusative ἡδονήν ἡδονᾱ́ ἡδονᾱ́ς
Vocative ἡδονή ἡδονᾱ́ ἡδοναί

νίκη, νίκης, (níkē, níkēs) "victory"

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative νῑ́κη νῑ́κᾱ νῖκαι
Genitive νῑ́κης νῑ́καιν νῑκῶν
Dative νῑ́κῃ νῑ́καιν νῑ́καις
Accusative νῑ́κην νῑ́κᾱ νῑ́κᾱς
Vocative νῑ́κη νῑ́κᾱ νῖκαι

Note: There is nothing irregular about the accentuation of νῑ́κη. In the nominative and vocative plural, the last syllable becomes short, which forces the acute to change to a circumflex, per the rules of accentuation.

Nouns in long alpha[edit | edit source]

After epsilon, iota, or rho, the long alpha is retained:

θεᾱ́, θεᾶς, (theá, theâs) "goddess"

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative θεᾱ́ θεᾱ́ θεαί
Genitive θεᾶς θεαῖν θεῶν
Dative θεᾷ θεαῖν θεαῖς
Accusative θεᾱ́ν θεᾱ́ θεᾱ́ς
Vocative θεᾱ́ θεᾱ́ θεαί

χώρᾱ, χώρᾱς (khórā, khórās) "land, country"

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative χώρᾱ χώρᾱ χῶραι
Genitive χώρᾱς χώραιν χωρῶν
Dative χώρᾳ χώραιν χώραις
Accusative χώρᾱν χώρᾱ χώρᾱς
Vocative χώρᾱ χώρᾱ χῶραι

δημοκρατίᾱ, δημοκρατίᾱς, (dēmokratíā, dēmokratíās) "democracy"

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative δημοκρατίᾱ δημοκρατίᾱ δημοκρατίαι
Genitive δημοκρατίᾱς δημοκρατίαιν δημοκρατιῶν
Dative δημοκρατίᾳ δημοκρατίαιν δημοκρατίαις
Accusative δημοκρατίᾱν δημοκρατίᾱ δημοκρατίᾱς
Vocative δημοκρατίᾱ δημοκρατίᾱ δημοκρατίαι

Nouns in short alpha[edit | edit source]

Like the more common nouns in long alpha, these have stems ending in epsilon, iota, or rho. The short alpha appears in the nominative, accusative, and vocative singular:

ὑγίειᾰ, ὑγιείᾱς (hygíeia, hygieíās) "health"

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative ὑγίειᾰ ὑγιείᾱ ὑγίειαι
Genitive ὑγιείᾱς ὑγιείαιν ὑγιειῶν
Dative ὑγιείᾳ ὑγιείαιν ὑγιείαις
Accusative ὑγίειᾰν ὑγιείᾱ ὑγιείᾱς
Vocative ὑγίειᾰ ὑγιείᾱ ὑγίειαι

Note the shift in accent resulting from the lengthening of the ending.

Nouns in short alpha and eta[edit | edit source]

These nouns generally had stems ending in -σσ-, which was changed in Attic to -ττ-. They have short alpha in the nominative, accusative, and vocative singular, and eta in the genitive and dative singular.

θάλαττᾰ, θαλάττης, (thálatta, thaláttēs) "sea"

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative θάλαττᾰ θᾰλᾰ́ττᾱ θάλατται
Genitive θαλάττης θᾰλᾰ́τταιν θαλαττῶν
Dative θαλάττῃ θᾰλᾰ́τταιν θαλάτταις
Accusative θάλαττᾰν θᾰλᾰ́ττᾱ θαλάττᾱς
Vocative θάλαττᾰ θᾰλᾰ́ττᾱ θάλατται

Masculine nouns[edit | edit source]

Masculine nouns of the first declension end in -ης or -ᾱς, with the -ου ending characteristic of the second declension in the genitive singular. Other than that their case endings are the same as those of feminine nouns of the first declension, although the ending of the vocative singular is inconsistent (and may be -ᾱ, -ᾰ, or -η). Note that the vocative plural, however, still matches the nominative plural.

νεᾱνίᾱς, νεᾱνίου, (neāníās, neāníou) "young man"

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative νεᾱνίᾱς νεᾱνῐ́ᾱ νεᾱνίαι
Genitive νεᾱνίου νεᾱνῐ́αιν νεᾱνιῶν
Dative νεᾱνίᾳ νεᾱνῐ́αιν νεᾱνίαις
Accusative νεᾱνίᾱν νεᾱνῐ́ᾱ νεᾱνίᾱς
Vocative νεᾱνίᾱ νεᾱνῐ́ᾱ νεᾱνίαι

πολῑ́της, πολῑ́του, (polítēs, polítou) "citizen"

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative πολῑ́της πολῑ́τᾱ πολῖται
Genitive πολῑ́του πολῑ́ταιν πολῑτῶν
Dative πολῑ́τῃ πολῑ́ταιν πολῑ́ταις
Accusative πολῑ́την πολῑ́τᾱ πολῑ́τᾱς
Vocative πολῖτᾰ πολῑ́τᾱ πολῖται