Lesson 8: Nouns/The Second Declension


II. Second Declension: stems in -ο

135.1 Nouns of the second declension are predominantly masculine and neuter (indicated by ὁ and τό), with some feminines (ἡ).

135.2 The inflectional pattern of the masculine and feminine nouns follows the masculine article, that of the neuter nouns the neuter article, with the three exceptions noted (§122): masc. nom. sing, -ος (rather than -ο), neut. nom. and acc. sing, -ον (rather than -o).

135.3 The second declension thus consists of two basic patterns, one for masculines and feminines and one for neuters. The two patterns differ only in the nom. and acc. cases (both numbers). Feminine nouns of the second declension are declined exactly like the masculines; their gender is indicated only by the article (ἡ) and other modifiers. For the sake of completeness, the second declension may likewise be divided into three subcategories.

136. The three major declension patterns of the second declension are:

136.1 Masculines in -ος (II.1)

    θεός, οῦ, ὁ god
    S   P
N       θεός θεοί
G       θεοῦ θεῶν
D       θεῷ θεοῖς
A       θεόν θεούς

136.2 Feminines in -ος (II.2)

  ὁδός, -ου, ἡ way, road, journey
    S   P
N       ὁδός ὁδοί
G       ὁδοῦ ὁδῶν
D       ὁδῷ ὁδοῖς
A       ὁδόν ὁδούς

Note: Feminines of the second declension are declined exactly like masculines.

136.3 Neuters in -ον (II.3)

  ἔργον, -ου, τό work
      S    P
N       ἔργον ἔργα
G       ἔργου ἔργων
D       ἔργῳ ἔργοις
A       ἔργον ἔργα

1360. Mnemonic hints:

1360.1 Masculines and feminines = masculine article, except: add -ς‚ to nom. sing.

1360.2 Neuters = neuter article, except: add -ν to nom. and acc. sing.

1360.3 All middle cases (gen., dat.) in each number are identical.

1360.4 Differences between masculine-feminine and neuter are therefore confined to the nominative and accusative.

1360.5 The neuter nominative and accusative singular are identical, as are the nominative and accusative plural.

1360.6 One may confuse the masculine-feminine accusative singular (-ον) with the neuter nominative or accusative singular (-ον), but the article and other modifiers (and the structure in which they occur) often make it possible to distinguish them: masculine-feminine articles, τόν, τήν neuter articles, τό.

1360.7 One may also confuse the neuter nominative and accusative plural with the nominative singular of first declension nouns in -α (§132) But again the article (ἡ for the feminine nominative, τά for the neuter nominative and accusative) and other modifiers may signal the difference.

1360.8 The gen. plurals of all first and second declension nouns (as in the case of the article) will be identical.

↓ 137. Contract substantives of the second declension (II.4) will show -ους (masc.) or -ουν (neut.) in the nom. sing., and -ουν (masc. and neut.) in the acc. sing., rather than -ος, -ον. -ους, -ουν are contracted from -οος or -εος. The declension pattern is in other respects identical with that of other second declension nouns. Only four nouns of this type appear in Bauer (see Appendix II, II.4).

↓ 138. The Attic second declension (II. 5) follows a pattern in the sing, of -ως, -ω, -ῳ, -ω(ν): it has ω throughout, and, like nouns of 1.4, the gen. is the nom. less -ς; the acc. varies between -ω and -ων. The plural does not come into consideration. Only three nouns of this type appear in the New Testament (see Appendix II, II.5).

139. Summary. Masculines and feminines of the second declension are declined like the masc. article, but add -ς‚ to the nom. sing. Neuters of the second declension are declined like the neut. article, but add -ν to the nom. and acc. sing. By learning the declension of the masc. and neut. articles and the three variations thereon, one has learned the inflectional patterns of all second declension nouns (save for nouns in categories II.4 and 5, which are exceedingly rare).

There are 912 second declension nouns in the New Testament vocabulary (Appendix II) . It is now possible to identify the inflectional patterns of well over two-thirds of the nouns represented in Bauer (not necessarily in a given text, since frequency has to be taken into account).

1390. Following is a catalogue of second declension nouns appearing in John 8:12-59. Nouns belonging to II.2, II.4, and II.5 are not represented in this passage. The nouns are listed in each category in the order of their appearance. Those marked with an asterisk (*) appear in the New Testament more than 100 times. This catalogue may also be used as a vocabulary list.

II.1. Masculines in -ος

* κόσμος, -ου, ὁ world [cf. cosmic]
  Φαρασαῖος, -ου, ὁ Pharisee
* νόμος, ου, ὁ law [cf. Deuteronomy: second law]
* ἄνθρωπος, -ου, ὁ man [cf. anthropology]
* υἱός, -ου, ὁ son
* λόγος, -ου, ὁ word [cf. logic]
* δοῦλος, -ου, ὁ slave
* θεός, -οῦ, ὁ God [cf. theology]
  ἀνθρωποκτόνος, -ου, ὁ murderer
* θάνατος, -ου, ὁ death [cf. thanatopsis]
  λίθος, -ου, ὁ stone [cf. lithography]

II.2. Feminines in -ος

(no examples in this passage)

II.3.Neuters in -ον

  γαζοφυλακεῖον, -ου, τό treasury
  ἱερόν, -οῦ, τό sanctuary, temple [cf. hierarch]
  τέκνον, -ου, τό child
* ἔργον, -ου, τό work, deed
  δαιμόνιον, -ου, τό divinity, demon [cf. demon]

1391. Facility with the Greek noun is generated by practice at identification in context, together with vocabulary building and familiarity with the types of word clusters in which the noun normally appears. Meaning is best learned, however, in conjunction with the word group and the sentence.

1392. There follows a supplementary catalogue of first and second declension nouns found in John 1:1-51. Omitted are the nouns which appeared in the catalogue in §1390. The words are again given in the order of their appearance, and an asterisk (*) means that they appear in the New Testament more than 100 times.

I.1. Consistent α or η in the singular

* ἐξουσία, -ου, ἡ authority, power
* φωνή, -ου, ἡ sound, voice [cf. phonetic, phonograph]
  Βηθανία, -ας, ἡ (also indeclinable) Bethany
  περιστερά, -ᾶς, ἡ dove, pigeon
  Γαλιλαία, -ας, ἡ Galilee
  συκῆ, -ῆς, ἡ fig tree

1.2. α/η shift in the singular (no new examples)

1.3. Masculines in -ας/-ης, gen. -ου

  Ἰωάννης, -ου, ὁ John
  Λευίτης, -ου, ὁ Levite
  Ἠλίας, -ου, ὁ Elijah
  Ἠσαΐας, -ου, ὁ Isaiah
  Ἰορδάνης, -ου, ὁ Jordan
  Ἀνδρέας, -ου, ὁ Andrew
  Μεσσίας, -ου, ὁ Messiah
  Ἰσραηλίτης, -ου, ὁ Israelite

II.1. Masculines in -ος

  κόλπος, -ου, ὁ bosom, breast
  χριστός, -οῦ, ὁ christ
  ἀμνός, -οῦ, ὁ lamb
* οὐρανός, -οῦ, ὁ heaven [cf. Uranus (planet), uranium (element)]
* ἀδελφός, -οῦ, ὁ brother [cf. Philadelphia: (city of) brotherly love]
  Πέτρος, -ου, ὁ Peter
  Φίλιππος, -ου, ὁ Philip [Philip: lover (φίλος) of horses (ἵππος)]
  δόλος, -ου, ὁ deceit, cunning
* ἄγγελος, -ου, ὁ angel

II.2 Feminines in -ος

* ὁδός, -οῦ, ἡ way, road, journey [cf. anode, cathode: electrical terminals]

II.3. Neuters in -ον (no new examples)