Textkit Logo

noun stems

Here you can discuss all things Latin. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get help with a difficult passage of Latin, and more.

noun stems

Postby lonsdale » Tue Mar 30, 2010 7:42 pm

I am confused about noun stems.

I've checked in a couple of textbooks, some online sources, and an article on this website, and I still don't understand.

First declension nouns have stems in "a"? I don't get that. "a" endings, okay, but I don't see an "a" in the stem of puella.

Second declension with stems in "o"? As in "colonus"? What about ager and puer?

Third in consonants? I think I get that. "Rex" ends in a consonant.

Am I just missing the point?

I would love to understand.
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:11 pm

Re: noun stems

Postby modus.irrealis » Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:25 am

Well, historically speaking, first declensions did have a stem in a and second declensions a stem in o, but that got obscured and the final stem vowel and the endings merged so it's hard to see that. People compare Latin with Greek and other Indo-European languages and you can see that in colonus, the original o has become u, in ager (compare Greek agros), the o has just been dropped. So the nominative colonus is stem colono- + ending -s, just like rex is stem reg- + ending -s.

My experience is that some books, especially older ones, take this historical approach, but others will say that the stem of puella is puell- and -a is the ending. I find the latter analysis easier for learning, but the former is important too if you become interested in the history of the language and its connections with other languages.
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1093
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:08 am
Location: Toronto

Return to Learning Latin

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: hlawson38 and 147 guests