Lesson 24.1 — Noun Declensions

In this lesson we will learn the final two major cases:  the genitive and the dative.


In Greek, there are three broad families of noun word-patterns.  Each of these patterns is called a "declension."  What declension a particular noun follows has no bearing on the meaning of the word.  The different declensions affect only the form of the case ending.

Below are the new case endings for you to memorize.


Case Endings

Declension 2 1 2
Gender masculine feminine neuter
Nominative Singular ς - ν
Genitive Singular υ ς υ
Dative Singular ι ι ι
Accusative Singular ν ν ν
Nominative Plural ι ι α
Genitive Plural ων ων ων
Dative Plural ις ις ις
Accusative Plural υς ς α

In the dative singular, when you add ι to a word that already ends in a vowel, that final vowel lengthens and the iota becomes a subscript.

α + ι becomes ᾳ
                                hence    βασιλεια + ι      = βασιλειᾳ

η + ι becomes ῃ
                                hence    ἀγαπη + ι          = ἀγάπῃ

ο + ι becomes ῳ
                                hence    λογο + ι             = λογῳ

Where you see an underlined ω in the genitive plural, it means that the final vowel of the word stem, ο, combines with another ο to become ω. This is contraction, similar to how in English "can" + "not" can be combined to become "can't". Hence:

ο + ο
ν = ων


When the endings are attached to the final stem vowel they look like this.

Declension 2 1 2
Gender masculine feminine neuter
Nominative Singular ος η   α ον
Genitive Singular ου ης   ας ου
Dative Singular ῃ   ᾳ
Accusative Singular ον ην   αν ον
Nominative Plural οι αι α
Genitive Plural ων ων ων
Dative Plural οις αις οις
Accusative Plural ους ας α


Attaching the stem to the ending yields words that look like this.

Declension 2 1 2
Gender masculine feminine neuter
Nominative Singular λόγος γραφή   ὥρα ἔργον
Genitive Singular λόγου γραφῆς   ὥρας ἔργου
Dative Singular λόγῳ γραφῇ   ὥρᾳ ἔργῳ
Accusative Singular λόγον γραφήν   ὥραν ἔργον
Nominative Plural λόγοι γραφαί   ὧραι ἔργα
Genitive Plural λόγων γραφῶν   ὡρῶν ἔργων
Dative Plural λόγοις γραφαῖς   ὥραις ἔργοις
Accusative Plural λόγους γραφάς   ὥρας ἔργα



Feminine first declension nouns have identical endings in the plural, regardless of whether the root ends in η or α.

Both the masculine and neuter have the same case endings in the genitive and dative.  This is always true.

In the dative an iota is always present for all three genders.  In the singular, it is subscripted.

For the dative singular there is an iota subscript, and the plural has ις.  The dative plural also has a longer endings (two letters) than the singular (one letter); you can associate "longer" with the plural.

All three genders have ων in the genitive plural.  This is always true.

Many feminine nouns ending in ας can be either genitive singular or accusative plural.  Look either at the definite article (τῆς/τάς) or the context to decide.


The Definite Article

Declension 2 1 2
Gender masculine feminine neuter
Nominative Singular τό
Genitive Singular τοῦ τῆς τοῦ
Dative Singular τῷ τῇ τῷ
Accusative Singular τόν τήν τό
Nominative Plural οἱ αἱ τά
Genitive Plural τῶν τῶν τῶν
Dative Plural τοῖς ταῖς τοῖς
Accusative Plural τούς τάς τά

These articles do not change with the declension of the noun. will modify a feminine noun whether it is first or second declension. You may have already noticed this in your translation work. You are not sure what the noun is...but it is connected with a definite article which tells you the case and number.

Here is the noun paradigm with the definite article.

Declension 2 1 2
Gender masculine feminine neuter
Nominative Singular ὁ λόγος ἡ γραφή   ἡ ὥρα τό ἔργον
Genitive Singular τοῦ λόγου τῆς γραφῆς   τῆς ὥρας τοῦ ἔργου
Dative Singular τῷ λόγῳ τῇ γραφῇ   τῇ ὥρᾳ τῷ ἔργῳ
Accusative Singular τόν λόγον τήν γραφήν   τήν ὥραν τό ἔργον
Nominative Plural οἱ λόγοι αἱ γραφαί   αἱ ὧραι τά  ἔργα
Genitive Plural τῶν λόγων τῶν γραφῶν   τῶν ὡρῶν τῶν ἔργων
Dative Plural τοῖς λόγοις ταῖς γραφαῖς   ταῖς ὥραις τοῖς ἔργοις
Accusative Plural τούς λόγους τάς γραφάς   τάς ὥρας τά  ἔργα


The Second Three Noun Rules

  1. In the dative singular, the iota subscripts if possible.

    γραφη + ι = γραφῇ.  This rule explains what happens to the dative singular case endings in the first and second declension.  A vowel can only subscript under a long vowel.

  2. Vowels often change their length.

    λογο + ι = λόγῳ. By "change their length" we mean they can shorten (e.g. from omega to omicron), lengthen (omicron to omega) as in the dative singular, or disappear entirely.

  3. In the genitive and dative, the masculine and neuter will always be the same.

Other Declension Patterns


Some words are irregular.  This is especially true of proper nouns (i.e. names).  You will learn these as you run into them.  An extremely common, and irregular, name is "Jesus".  Proper names are usually preceded by the definite article.

Nominative Singular ὁ Ἰησοῦς
Genitive Singular τοῦ Ἰησοῦ
Dative Singular τῷ Ἰησοῦ
Accusative Singular τόν Ἰησοῦν

The definite article that precedes the name is the tip off between the dative and genitive.

Alternate First Declension Pattern

There are 26 nouns in the New Testament that shift their final stem vowel, in the genitive and dative singular, from α to η.  Here is a sample:

Nominative Singular δόξα
Genitive Singular δόξης
Dative Singular δόξῃ
Accusative Singular δόξαν
Nominative Plural δόξαι
Genitive Plural δοξῶν
Dative Plural δόξαις
Accusative Plural δόξα

Here is the rule for the α to η shift:

If a first declension word has a stem ending in α, where the preceding letter is ε, ι, or ρ, it will form the genitive and dative singular with α

Typical words here would include ἀλήθεια (truth) and ἡμέρα (day).

Otherwise, the α will shift to η.

Words where this occurs include, of course, δόξα ("glory", as indicated above) and θάλασσα (sea).


Click  for a brief summary of the things you need to memorize.