Re: 1st declention nouns

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Mar 19 2000 - 07:53:32 EST

At 9:55 PM -0600 3/18/00, Mitchell Gray wrote:
>Dear B-Greekers,
>Please excuse me for the question that I am about to ask. I know that many
>of you will think, 'Man, that is easy' but hey, I'm new to this. I just
>started a week ago. Anyway my question is this. I was reading Mounce's
>Basics to Biblical Greek and he says on page 31: "For example, a first
>declension case ending for the subject of the verb is nothing; the stem
>stands by itself (GRAPHE; WRA)." Then he has this sentence:
>hE WRA ESTIN NUN (I'm not sure if I transliterated that right or not, I'm
>not use to having to write it like this).
>Anyway, my question is this: What does Mounce mean by this? Is this only
>for the nouns that are the subjects? Sorry if this seems extremely easy,
>but my learning deficiency doesn't allow me to comprehend some of the
>simplest things.

What it means, Mitch, is simply that for a first-declension feminine noun,
the nominative singular case form IS the long-vowel stem of the noun itself
without any additional "case-ending" or "case-marker." For a
first-declension feminine noun the nominative singular form will always be
identical with the noun's stem, whatever that may be. Then in the
illustrative sentence,

        hH WRA ESTIN NUN (in your transliteration you used an E instead of
H in hH),

hH WRA is the nominative phrase and is the subject for the predicate ESTIN
NUN.How do we know WRA is nominative? Because (a) it is the simple stem of
the noun WRA, and (b) it is accompanied by a nominative feminine article,

So while you have to add something to that stem to form any other case of
the noun (-S --> hWRAS for genitive sg., an iota-subscript --> hWRAi for
dative sg.,-N --> hWRAN for accusative sg.--and corresponding additions in
the plural for the cases in the plural), you don't have to add anything to
the stem for the feminine nominative singular but just use the noun stem
itself as a nominative.

Personally I think Mounce's phrasing is misleading here: "a first
declension case ending for the subject of the verb is nothing"--that's not
wrong, but I think it would have been clearer to say the same thing with
"there is no distinctive case ending for the first-declension feminine
singular subject of the verb."

I hope that helps. I would only add that what Mounce is saying here applies
ONLY to FEMININE first-declension nominative singulars--MASCULINE
first-declension nominative singulars DO add -S to the noun stem (e.g. hO


Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics/Washington University One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018 Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 WWW:

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