non sibi sed toti

Classics Teaching Resources

Remembering Grammar

Remembering Verbs.

If beginners in Latin have not been taught formal English, German or French
grammar first, it is useful for them to learn the order of the persons very early in
their Latin career. I used actions and rhythm in the learning. Point to yourself and
say 'I', to someone else as you say 'you', and use your thumb to point sideways for
'he, she, it.' For the plural, do the same, but use both hands to point to yourself
for 'we', to point to others in the class as 'you', and two thumbs pointing away
for 'they'.

Remembering Nouns.
The cases are usually introduced one by one in the current Latin courses,
with the ablative glossed in phrases (e.g. in silva) without explanation at first. There
comes the time when they have all been introduced, and then it is very reassuring
to the pupils to be able to recite the declensions, however unfashionable that may
be. Try it and see.

The following mnemonics apply to the cases in their traditional 'British' order, i.e.
Nom, Voc, Acc, Gen, Dat, Abl. They do not help learn the American order, and
they do include the Vocative.

Second Declension.
The singular case endings
spell the word '(m)useum'
and the number 100.
You can think of the 'm'
as standing for masculine,
which most 2nd declension words are.
serv - us
serv - e
serv - um
serv - i
serv - o
serv - o

For the plural, strangely enough, it helps pupils to know that
there were World War 2 fighters called 110s,
and to imagine them coming down
in the forum making 2 slicks of grease.
Far-fetched, yes; but it works as a mnemonic.

serv - i
serv - i
serv - os
serv - orum
serv - is
serv - is

Third Declension.
What? What? Em(ma) is i(n) E(gypt).

This makes the point that the 3rd
declension Nom and Voc
are not regular.

reg - em
reg - is
reg - i
reg - e

 (D)es and (L)es
(th)um(b) 1 bus each.

Yes, it omits the Voc Plural;
but you can invent an interesting
tale about Emma and her two boy-friends!

reg - es
reg - es
reg - es
reg - um
reg - ibus
reg - ibus

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