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33 Second Declension Nouns

2004.02.0021 (LCT-116)

Marble basin fragment, written in the Attic alphabet, ca. 500 B.C. The rim is inscribed with part of an inscription reading: “of the Bouleuterion.” Athenian Agora Excavations.


Second Declension Nouns

1. Masculine and Feminine

Nouns in this declension are mostly MASCULINE and use endings similar to the masculine definite article. The nominative singular, however, adds –ς. The few FEMININE nouns in this declension use exactly the same endings as the masculine. Only the article marks their feminine gender.

Most NOUN STEMS of the second declension end in –ο. As with the first declension, the vowel stem combines with the SECOND DECLENSION case endings in a stable, consistent way, so you actually learn the stem vowel and the personal ending together as one combined case ending (S 229). Note that the endings for the nominative and accusative singular, as well as the nominative plural, are short. All other endings are long (S 231; GPH p. 5).

Singular Plural
Nominative -ος -οι
Genitive -ου -ων
Dative -ῳ -οις
Accusative -ον -ους

λόγος –ου ὁ word

Singular Plural
Nominative ὁ λόγος οἱ λόγοι
Genitive τοῦ λόγου τῶν λόγων
Dative τῷ λόγῳ τοῖς λόγοις
Accusative τὸν λόγον τοὺς λόγους

νῆσος -ου ἡ island

Singular Plural
Nominative ἡ νῆσος αἱ νῆσοι
Genitive τῆς νήσου τῶν νήσων
Dative τῇ νήσῳ ταῖς νήσοις
Accusative τὴν νῆσον τὰς νήσους

ἀδελφός -οῦ ὁ brother

Singular Plural
Nominative ὁ ἀδελφός οἱ ἀδελφοί
Genitive τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ τῶν ἀδελφῶν
Dative τῷ ἀδελφῷ τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς
Accusative τὸν ἀδελφόν τοὺς ἀδελφούς

κίνδυνος -ου ὁ danger

Singular Plural
Nominative ὁ κίνδυνος οἱ κίνδυνοι
Genitive τοῦ κινδύνου τῶν κινδύνων
Dative τῷ κινδύνῳ τοῖς κινδύνοις
Accusative τὸν κίνδυνον τοὺς κινδύνους

 

2. Accent of Second Declension Nouns

Like some FIRST DECLENSION nouns, e.g. τιμή -ῆς, second declension nouns can have a persistent accent on the ultima of all inflected forms. When this happens, a CIRCUMFLEX is used on the genitive and dative, singular and plural; an ACUTE accent falls on the nominative and accusative, singular and plural.

Unlike the first declension, the accent of the GENITIVE PLURAL of second declension nouns is not inevitably drawn to the ultima.

 

3. Neuter 

Second declension NEUTER nouns follow the NEUTER LAWS that we learned earlier during our study of third declension nouns. Namely:

  1. The NOMINATIVE and ACCUSATIVE SINGULAR must be IDENTICAL.
  2. The NOMINATIVE and ACCUSATIVE PLURAL also must be IDENTICAL, and end in a short –α.
  3. Whenever any NEUTER noun is the subject of a verb, the verb is regularly 3rd PERSON SINGULAR, even if the neuter subject is plural!

ACCENT RULES for neuter nouns follow those of masculine second declension nouns (S 231; GPH p. 5):

Singular Plural
Nominative -ον
Genitive -ου -ων
Dative -ῳ -οις
Accusative -ον  -α

ἔργον -ου τό deed, work

Singular Plural
Nominative τὸ ἔργον τὰ ἔργα
Genitive τοῦ ἔργου τῶν ἔργων
Dative τῷ ἔργῳ τοῖς ἔργοις
Accusative τὸ ἔργον τὰ ἔργα

πρόσωπον -ου τό face, mask, person

Singular Plural
Nominative τὸ πρόσωπον τὰ πρόσωπα
Genitive τοῦ προσώπου τῶν προσώπων
Dative τῷ προσώπῳ τοῖς προσώποις
Accusative τὸ πρόσωπον τὰ πρόσωπα

σημεῖον -ου τό sign

Singular Plural
Nominative τὸ σημεῖον τὰ σημεῖα
Genitive τοῦ σημείου τῶν σημείων
Dative τῷ σημείῳ τοῖς σημείοις
Accusative τὸ σημεῖον τὰ σημεῖα

 

4. ναῦς, νοῦς, and νεώς

In Classical Greek, it is easy to confuse these three nouns:

  • ναῦς, νεώς ἡ ship
  • νοῦς, νοῦ ὁ mind
  • νεώς, νεώ ὁ temple

Let us take a look at how each can be distinguished from the others.

 

1. ναῦς, νεώς ἡ ship

Recall that we have already learned the inflection of this third declension noun. It is the most irregular of the three, due to its long history of sound changes in Attic Greek.

Singular Plural
Nominative ἡ ναῦς αἱ νῆες
Genitive τῆς νεώς τῶν νεῶν
Dative τῇ νηί ταῖς ναυσί
Accusative τὴν ναῦν τὰς ναῦς

 

2. νοῦς, νοῦ ὁ mind

This is a regular second declension noun in MOST DIALECTS, and is inflected as follows in those dialects.

Singular Plural
Nominative νόος νόοι
Genitive νόου νόων
Dative νόῳ νόοις
Accusative νόον νόους

As you may suspect by now, ATTIC GREEK contracts the όο/όω combinations, and accents the results accordingly (S 235; GPH p. 6). Note the circumflexes!

νοῦς, νοῦ ὁ mind (Classical Attic)

Singular Plural
Nominative ὁ νοῦς οἱ νοῖ
Genitive τοῦ νοῦ τῶν νῶν
Dative τῷ νῷ τοῖς νοῖς
Accusative τὸν νοῦν τοὺς νοῦς

 

3. νεώς, νεώ ὁ temple

This noun is one of a handful of second declension nouns with a nominative singular ending in –εως. This noun in other GREEK DIALECTS actually end in –ηος or –ᾱος.

For example, in Homer, the noun uses –η:

Singular Plural
Nominative ὁ νηός οἱ νηοί
Genitive τοῦ νηοῦ τῶν νηῶν
Dative τῷ νηῷ τοῖς νηοῖς
Accusative τὸν νηόν τοὺς νηούς

For Doric and other dialects, including Koine, the noun uses –:

Singular Plural
Nominative ὁ ναός οἱ ναοί
Genitive τοῦ ναοῦ τῶν ναῶν
Dative τῷ ναῷ τοῖς ναοῖς
Accusative τὸν ναόν τοὺς ναούς

 

In ATTIC GREEK, however, TRANSFERENCE OF QUANTITY led to the length of the two adjoining vowels (long η/α and short ο) being switched (short ε and long ω). So while the Athenians would say and write νεώς, almost every other Greek in the Mediterranean would say and write νηός or νᾱός. This change in pronunciation is so peculiar to the Athenians and their Attic dialect that SECOND DECLENSION –εως nouns are called ATTIC DECLENSION NOUNS (S 237-238).

Only two words on our vocabulary list belong to the ATTIC DECLENSION: νεώς, νεώ and λεώς, λεώ. Both inflect the same (S 238; GPH p. 7). While studying their inflection, note the following characteristics:

  • The original noun stem vowel (long η/α) shortens to ε.
  • ο and ου become ω
  • οι becomes
  • The accent of the nominative singular – acute on the ultima – is kept throughout all forms!

νεώς, νεώ ὁ temple (Classical Greek)

Singular Plural
Nominative ὁ νεώς οἱ νεῴ
Genitive τοῦ νεώ τῶν νεών
Dative τῷ νεῴ τοῖς νεῴς
Accusative τὸν νεών τοὺς νεώς

 

– τὸ τέλος –


Key Terms and Concepts

  • SECOND DECLENSION: MASCULINE AND FEMININE
  • ACCENT OF SECOND DECLENSION NOUNS
  • SECOND DECLENSION: NEUTER
  • ναῦςνοῦς, and νεώς
  • ATTIC DECLENSION NOUNS

Vocabulary

Masculine Nouns

ἀδελφός -οῦ ὁ brother

ἄνθρωπος -ου ὁ, ἡ human being

ἀριθμός -οῦ ὁ number

βίος -ου ὁ life

δῆμος -ου ὁ people

δοῦλος -ου ὁ slave

ἵππος -ου ὁ horse

ἥλιος -ου ὁ sun

θάνατος -ου ὁ death

θεός -οῦ ὁ, ἡ god, goddess

θυμός -οῦ ὁ soul, spirit

καιρός -οῦ ὁ the right time

κίνδυνος -ου ὁ danger

κόσμος -ου ὁ order; decoration; world

κύκλος -ου ὁ circle

κύριος -ου ὁ lord, master

λίθος -ου ὁ stone

λόγος -ου ὁ word, speech; thought, reason; account, reckoning

νόμος -ου ὁ custom, tradition, law

νοῦς, νοῦ ὁ mind (other dialects: νόος, νόου)

ξένος -ου ὁ guest/friend/host; foreigner, stranger

οἶκος -ου ὁ house, home, family

οὐρανός -οῦ ὁ sky

ὀφθαλμός -οῦ ὁ eye

πολέμιοι -ων οἱ the enemy

πόλεμος -ου ὁ war

πόνος -ου ὁ work, stress, trouble, pain

ποταμός -οῦ ὁ river

στρατηγός -οῦ ὁ general

σύμμαχοι -ων οἱ allies

τόπος -ου ὁ place, topic

τρόπος -ου ὁ way, turn

υἱός -οῦ ὁ son

φόβος -ου ὁ panic, fear

χρόνος -ου ὁ time

 

Feminine Nouns

ἄνθρωπος -ου ὁ, ἡ human being

θεός -οῦ ὁ, ἡ god, goddess

νῆσος -ου ἡ island

νόσος -ου ἡ disease

ὁδός -οῦ ἡ road

 

Attic Declension Nouns

λεώς, λεώ ὁ the people, folk (other dialects: λαός -οῦ or ληός -οῦ)

νεώς, νεώ ὁ temple (other dialects: ναός -οῦ or νηός -οῦ)

 

Neuter Nouns

ἀργύριον -ου τό money, silver

βιβλίον -ου τό book

ἔργον -ου τό deed, work

ζῷον -ου τό living being, animal

ἱερόν -οῦ τό temple

ὅπλον -ου τό weapon, tool (mostly pl.)

πρόσωπον -ου τό face, mask, person

σημεῖον -ου τό sign

στάδιον -ου τό (pl. στάδια or στάδιοι) stadion or stade (~ 185 meters/202 yards)

τέκνον -ου τό child

χωρίον -ου τό place, spot, district

Exercises

I. Memorize the vocabulary.

II. Decline in full the following nouns:

  1. ὁ θάνατος -ου
  2. ὁ νοῦς, νοῦ
  3. ὁ ποταμός -οῦ
  4. ὁ λεώς, λεώ
  5. τὸ ζῷον -ου

III. For the following noun forms, 1). Give the proper form of its article(s), and 2). Change to its opposite number (singular to plural, plural to singular).

For example: κίνδυνος (answer: ὁ /οἱ κίνδυνοι)

  1. στάδια
  2. νεῴ
  3. ἀνθρώπων
  4. τόπῳ
  5. τέκνον
  6. νόσους
  7. δῆμον
  8. βιβλίου
  9. ἀριθμούς
  10. ἥλιοι

License

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Second Declension Nouns by Wilfred E. Major and Michael Laughy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.