Last modified on 11 January 2011, at 22:51

Ancient Greek/Basic Nouns/Second Declension

The second declension, in contrast to the first, consists primarily of masculine and neuter nouns. It is occasionally referred to as the ο-declension, because of the recurrence of the vowel omicron. It is the simplest of the three declensions of Ancient Greek, featuring a bit more than a single set of endings, and regular persistent accentuation throughout.

Masculine and feminine nounsEdit

These can be recognized by their -ος ending, which was transliterated as -us' in Latin and found its way into English (e.g., "Dionysus"). The vast majority of these are masculine.

ἄνθρωπος, ἀνθρώπου, m, "man; human being"

  Singular Plural
Nominative ἄνθρωπος ἄνθρωποι
Genitive ἀνθρώπου ἀνθρώπων
Dative ἀνθρώπῳ ἀνθρώποις
Accusative ἄνθρωπον ἀνθρώπους
Vocative ἄνθρωπε ἄνθρωποι

The nominative and vocative plurals are always identical. Note that the lengthening of the ending causes the accent to shift (as the accent cannot stand on the antepenult if the ultima is long) in several of the cases. Also recall that final -οι is usually short.

νῆσος, νήσου, f, "island"

  Singular Plural
Nominative νῆσος νῆσοι
Genitive νήσου νήσων
Dative νήσῳ νήσοις
Accusative νῆσον νήσους
Vocative νῆσε νῆσοι

Again, note the persistent accent, which changes to an acute before long endings, as expected.

Neuter nounsEdit

These end in -ον and have the nominative, accusative, and vocative identical in both the singular and the plural, which is a feature of all neuter nouns in Ancient Greek:

πτερόν, πτεροῦ, n, "wing"

  Singular Plural
Nominative πτερόν πτερά
Genitive πτεροῦ πτερῶν
Dative πτερῷ πτεροῖς
Accusative πτερόν πτερά
Vocative πτερόν πτερά

Note that, except in the nominative, accusative, and vocative, the endings are identical to those of masculine and feminine nouns of the second declension. Also note that, just as in the first declension, whenever a noun of the second declension is accented on the ultima, the accent changes to a circumflex in the genitive and dative singular and plural.