Open main menu

Wikibooks β

Ancient Greek/Basic Nouns/First Declension

< Ancient Greek‎ | Basic Nouns

The first declension consists primarily of feminine nouns, with a few masculines. It is characterized by the recurrence of the letter alpha, and for this reason it is often referred to as the alpha declension, although the alpha was often changed to eta in the Attic dialect.



Nouns of the first declension have persistent accents. This means that, in general, when these nouns are declined, the accent does not move, although it does move if not doing so would violate one of the rules of accentuation, and it changes from an acute to a circumflex or vice versa if required by those rules. (This can happen when the final syllable goes from being short to long or vice versa; note that the terminal αι in the nominative plural is considered short.) In addition, when the accent in the nominative falls on the last syllable, it changes to a circumflex in the genitive and dative singular and plural.

The accent on the genitive plural of a first declension noun always falls on the last syllable.

Feminine nounsEdit

Feminine nouns of the first declension may be further subdivided on the basis of α/η and ᾱ/ᾰ distinctions in the singular. However, in the plural, all nouns of the first declension have the same endings, which consistently have alpha instead of eta. The nominative singular and vocative singular are always identical, as are the nominative plural and vocative plural.

Nouns in etaEdit

In Attic Greek, most feminine nouns of the first declension have eta throughout the singular, because long alpha was usually changed to eta in this dialect, except after epsilon, iota, or rho.

ἡδονή, ἡδονῆς, (hedoné, hedonês) "pleasure"

Singular Plural
Nominative ἡδονή ἡδοναί
Genitive ἡδονῆς ἡδονῶν
Dative ἡδονῇ ἡδοναῖς
Accusative ἡδονήν ἡδονᾱ́ς
Vocative ἡδονή ἡδοναί

νίκη, νίκης, (níkē, níkēs) "victory"

Singular Plural
Nominative νίκη νῖκαι
Genitive νίκης νικῶν
Dative νίκῃ νίκαις
Accusative νίκην νíκᾱς
Vocative νίκη νῖκαι

Note: There is nothing irregular about the accentuation of νῑ́κη. In the nominative and vocative plural, the last syllable becomes short, which forces the acute to change to a circumflex, per the rules of accentuation.

Nouns in long alphaEdit

After epsilon, iota, or rho, the long alpha is retained:

θεᾱ́, θεᾶς, (theá, theâs) "goddess"

Singular Plural
Nominative θεᾱ́ θεαί
Genitive θεᾶς θεῶν
Dative θεᾷ θεαῖς
Accusative θεᾱ́ν θεᾱ́ς
Vocative θεᾱ́ θεαί

χώρᾱ, χώρᾱς (khórā, khórās) "land, country"

Singular Plural
Nominative χώρᾱ χῶραι
Genitive χώρᾱς χωρῶν
Dative χώρᾳ χώραις
Accusative χώρᾱν χώρᾱς
Vocative χώρᾱ χῶραι

δημοκρατίᾱ, δημοκρατίᾱς, (dēmokratíā, dēmokratíās) "democracy"

Singular Plural
Nominative δημοκρατίᾱ δημοκρατίαι
Genitive δημοκρατίᾱς δημοκρατιῶν
Dative δημοκρατίᾳ δημοκρατίαις
Accusative δημοκρατίᾱν δημοκρατίᾱς
Vocative δημοκρατίᾱ δημοκρατίαι

Nouns in short alphaEdit

Like the more common nouns in long alpha, these have stems ending in epsilon, iota, or rho. The short alpha appears in the nominative, accusative, and vocative singular:

ὑγίειᾰ, ὑγιείᾱς (hygíeia, hygieíās) "health"

Singular Plural
Nominative ὑγίειᾰ ὑγίειαι
Genitive ὑγιείᾱς ὑγιειῶν
Dative ὑγιείᾳ ὑγιείαις
Accusative ὑγίειᾰν ὑγιείᾱς
Vocative ὑγίειᾰ ὑγίειαι

Note the shift in accent resulting from the lengthening of the ending.

Nouns in short alpha and etaEdit

These nouns generally had stems ending in -σσ-, which was changed in Attic to -ττ-. They have short alpha in the nominative, accusative, and vocative singular, and eta in the genitive and dative singular.

θάλαττᾰ, θαλάττης, (thálatta, thaláttēs) "sea"

Singular Plural
Nominative θάλαττᾰ θάλατται
Genitive θαλάττης θαλαττῶν
Dative θαλάττῃ θαλάτταις
Accusative θάλαττᾰν θαλάττᾱς
Vocative θάλαττᾰ θάλατται

Masculine nounsEdit

Masculine nouns of the first declension end in -ης or -ᾱς, with the -ου ending characteristic of the second declension in the genitive singular. Other than that their case endings are the same as those of feminine nouns of the first declension, although the ending of the vocative singular is inconsistent (and may be -ᾱ, -ᾰ, or -η). Note that the vocative plural, however, still matches the nominative plural.

νεᾱνίᾱς, νεᾱνίου, (neāníās, neāníou) "young man"

Singular Plural
Nominative νεᾱνίᾱς νεᾱνίαι
Genitive νεᾱνίου νεᾱνιῶν
Dative νεᾱνίᾳ νεᾱνίαις
Accusative νεᾱνίᾱν νεᾱνίᾱς
Vocative νεᾱνίᾱ νεᾱνίαι

πολῑ́της, πολῑ́του, (polítēs, polítou) "citizen"

Singular Plural
Nominative πολῑ́της πολῖται
Genitive πολῑ́του πολῑτῶν
Dative πολῑ́τῃ πολῑ́ταις
Accusative πολῑ́την πολῑ́τᾱς
Vocative πολῖτᾰ πολῖται