Declining words in Gothic is not difficult, once you know the rules. Although the -nd and -n stems are quite different from other stems, most stems look similar.
The weak declension
We'll start with the singular forms and learn the plural forms later, as the plural forms are pretty similar. In the rest of this course, the Latin transliteration will be used to make the course accessible to everyone.
First you need to know the difference between strong and weak nouns and adjectives. A weak noun/adjective is used for definite words and a strong noun/adjective is used for an undefinite word. Let me demonstrate it with an example:
a strong man - swinþs manna
the strong man - sa swinþa manna
The weak declension always gets accompanied by a definite article. This form is always used after the first occurence of the noun it is applied to or for descriptions of properties. For example:
Hairto þata hraino = the pure heart
Heart is n. N., therefore the neuter declension is used.
A strong man, is a strongly declined noun here, but the strong man is a weakly declined noun. The n-stem is a weak noun declension, this means that knowing the n-stem, enables you to decline basically all adjectives in their weak form.
The weak singular adjective:
You can remember it in this way:
genitive = dative + s accusative = nominative + n, except for the neutral
Now, the n-declension isn't difficult anymore, let's look at the word atta, which means father and is masculine:
Like you can see, both the weak adjective and the n-stem have the same endings.
Now that we know the weak declinations, we can look at the strong declinations.
One of the most prevalent stems is the a-stem. The a-stem can be explained with the word 'dags', meaning 'day'.
The a-stem can be declined by removing -s and replacing it. The nominative stays the same, for the genitive -s is changed in -is, the dative is formed by changing -s in -a and for the accusative the -s is just omitted.
There are some slight changes in the declination of a neutral a-stem, let's take the word 'waurd', which means 'word':
Like you can see, it's almost the same, except for the nominative and accusative being the same. There is no -s, therefore no part of the word is omitted and there are just parts being added, like -is and -a.
The plural of the a-stem, is formed in this way:
Like you can see, the difference between the masculine and neutral words in the plural is the declension of the nominative and the accusative. In the neutral words, -a is used for the nominative and accusative, which is exactly the same as the dative singular.
If you know the plural of the a-stem, the plural of other stems is easier. The dative plural is in line with the stem. Some examples:
(a-stem) dags - dagam
(i-stem) gasts - gastim
(o-stem) giba - gibom
Now that we know the a-stem, it will be easier to learn the i-stem. Most parts of the declination are the same as the a-stem, but the a is replaced with the i (not in the dative singular), let's take the word gasts as an example:
The o-stem is basically the a-stem, but with a different accusative and the places where a is used being replaced by o.
A lot of words in the o-stem are declined in the same way.
The u-declension is different from most other ones.
The singular form is unique while the plural is the same as the one of the u-declension.
This declension is only used for family relations.