Declension of Nouns and Pronouns

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90. The words to which we now proceed are incapable of forming sentences except in combination with a verb.

The relation of such words to the verb is shown in general either by a case ending—as in the words which are said to be "declined"—or by an adverbial ending (such as -ως, -θεν, etc.). The ending in either case is suffixed to a stem or theme. Thus, λογο- is the stem of the case forms

λόγο-ς

λόγο-ν

λόγο-ιο, etc.

αὐτο- is the stem of the case forms

αὐτό- ς

αὐτό-ν

αὐτο-ῖο

and also of the adverbs αὐτό-θεν, αὐτό-θι, αὔτως, etc.

The stems now in question belong to two great classes, those of nouns and of pronouns, called nominal and pronominal stems respectively. The term "noun" includes substantives and adjectives. The other parts of speech—adverbs, prepositions, conjunctionsmay ultimately be resolved into case forms or adverbial forms either of nouns or pronouns.

The distinction between nouns and pronouns brings before us in a new form the fundamental antithesis involved in the division of a verb into a stem which "predicates," and a personal ending which marks the subject. A noun either denotes a single object or group of objects (i.e. when it is a proper name), or denotes objects through their permanent attributes as belonging to a class; a pronoun denotes an object by its local position, or momentary relation to something else, as "this" or "that," "here" or "there," "same" or "other." This contrast is shortly expressed by saying that nominal stems are predicative, and pronominal stems demonstrative; the former name or describe, the latter only "point out" what is intended. Accordingly, nominal stems are in general either identical with, or formed from, the stems of verbs: Pronouns are found to contain the same elements as those which furnish the personal endings of verbs. The simplest forms obtained by analysis are thus of two kinds. They were first clearly distinguished by Bopp, and called by him verbal and pronominal roots respectively (Vergl.-Gr. § 105).

91. Declensions. The main distinction is that between the consonantal declension (including that of stems in -ι and -υ), which forms the genitive in -ος, and the vowel declensions, of which three may be distinguished:

  1. Stems in -ο (chiefly masculine and neuter) with Gen. -οιο
  2. Stems in -η (chiefly feminine) with Gen. -ας, -ης
  3. Stems in -ε (personal pronouns) with Gen. -ειο