Learn the Endings of Fifth Declension Latin Nouns

Latin is an inflected language, meaning that words are modified to express different grammatical categories such as tense, number, gender, or case. Many inflected languages make a distinction between the modification of verbs versus other parts of speech. The inflection of verbs, for instance, is also called conjugation, whereas the inflection of nouns, adjectives, and pronouns is known as declension. Latin nouns possess gender, case, and number (i.e., singular and plural). While the declensions generally delineate number and case, gender does have its place in the language, particularly with the neuter nouns.

The Latin language has five declensions, each of which is based on the stem. The first declension is considered the –a stem, the second the –o stem, the third is consonantal, the fourth the –u stem, and the fifth the –e stem. Every noun in Latin follows on of these five declensions. Here we will look at the declension of Latin nouns, specifically the fifth declension.

Fifth Declension of Latin Nouns

The fifth declension nouns in Latin are sometimes called -e stem nouns. The nouns of this declension are few but common. Like the first declension, fifth declension nouns are typically feminine, which a few exceptions. For instance, the word for day (dies) can be either masculine or feminine in the singular, but in the plural, it is masculine. Meridies, the Latin word for mid-day, is also masculine.

Otherwise, the fifth declension nouns are all feminine (all 50 or so of them). The forms of fifth declension are easily taken for third declension forms. But mistaking an accusative plural fifth declension noun for an accusative plural third declension noun, for instance, as long as you have the gender right, should cause no trouble in translation.

Most Fifth Declension Nouns in Nominative Singular End in -IES

The Rudiments of Latin and English Grammar, by Alexander Adam (1820) characterizes fifth declension Latin nouns as follows:

All nouns of the fifth declension end in ies, except three; fides, faith; spes, hope; res, a thing; and all nouns in ies are of the fifth, except these four; abies, a firtree; aries, a ram; paries, a wall; and quies, rest; which are of the third declension.

The Fifth Declension Endings

The endings of the masculine or feminine fifth declension are as follows: 

Case Singular Plural
NOM. -es -es
GEN. -ei -erum
DAT. -ei -ebus
ACC. -em -es
ABL. -e -ebus

Let’s take a look at these fifth declension endings in action using the Latin word dies, -ei, f. or m., day.

Case Singular Plural
NOM. dies dies
GEN. diei dierum
DAT. diei or die diebus
ACC. diem dies
ABL. die diebus

Here are some other fifth declension nouns for practice:

  • effigies, effigiei, f., effigy
  • fides, fidei, f., faith
  • res, rei, f., thing
  • spes, spei, f., hope.

For more information and resources, explore a paradigm of an additional fifth declension noun,  f. (thinness), complete with macrons and umlauts.

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Gill, N.S. "Learn the Endings of Fifth Declension Latin Nouns." ThoughtCo, Jan. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/learn-endings-fifth-declension-latin-nouns-117593. Gill, N.S. (2020, January 28). Learn the Endings of Fifth Declension Latin Nouns. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/learn-endings-fifth-declension-latin-nouns-117593 Gill, N.S. "Learn the Endings of Fifth Declension Latin Nouns." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/learn-endings-fifth-declension-latin-nouns-117593 (accessed March 27, 2023).