According to Dowling's Wheel the first step in learning Latin is the memorization of verb conjugations and noun declensions tables. My question is where do I find those tables? I've googled a little bit and I was only able to find like 20-30 verbs and nouns. That doesn't seem enough to be able to read Latin texts.

  • I think the first step when learning a Language is to learn Vocabulary. Declensions are not the best place to start. For example, Bello, Amo, Bono all finish in -o, and yet, they are a noun, a verb and an adjective, respectively. You will not gain anything by looking solely at the -o. Vocabulary is the first step required.
    – luchonacho
    May 8, 2017 at 7:33
  • Thanks for the remark. Could you recommend some place to start?
    – freefall
    May 8, 2017 at 10:26
  • 1
    This book is to me the best option. Fully in Latin, very didactic. An old classic.
    – luchonacho
    May 8, 2017 at 11:18

1 Answer 1



For the verbs, you don't need to learn the conjugation of every single verb individually. Latin has four basic verb conjugations:

  1. First conjugation: model verb: amāre.
  2. Second conjugation: model verb: tenēre.
  3. Third conjugation: model verb: dīcere.
  4. Fourth conjugation: model verb: audīre.

You learn these four conjugations by learning all the tenses of these four verbs. Then, when you learn new verbs, you should simultaneously learn what conjugation they belong to. You do this be memorising some basic forms when you learn the verb, namely (e.g. for capere, which follows the third conjugation):

  • 1st person singular of the praesēns: capio;
  • 1st person singular of the perfectum: cēpi;
  • past participle: captum.

With your knowledge of these "basic forms" (also note the pronunciation of the infinitive!) and the model conjugations, you should be able to infer the complete conjugation of the new verb.


The nouns also have a limited set of "model declensions", i.e. five:

  1. First declension, e.g. aqua (or "rosa", as in Jacques Brel's song).
  2. Second declension, e.g. dominus (masculine) and bellum (neuter).
  3. Third declension, e.g. dux (masculine), virtus (feminine), nomen (neuter), pars, animal.
  4. Fourth declension, e.g. portus (masculine).
  5. Fifth declension, e.g. dies, res.

As before, you need to memorise the declensions of the "model nouns" (I have not listed them all), and then when you learn a new noun, always memorize the genitive case and the noun's grammatical gender together with the nominative case, since the genitive form is a good indicator for the declension type.

With the knowledge of the model declensions, you should then be able to infer the entire declension of a new word.

Reading text requires much more than familiarity with what I have described above, but that is outside the scope of this question.

Vocabulary Lists

For basic vocabulary lists, see e.g. Latin Core Vocabulary by Christopher Francese (Dickinson College Commentaries, 2014), which lists the types of information a described above (nominative, genitive and gender for nouns, basic verb forms for verbs).

  • Thank you for the insight, which is VERY helpful. However it doesn't strictly answer my question. My question is more about how to build a proper vocabulary base. What you described is the next step. Nevertheless I will up vote your answer.
    – freefall
    May 2, 2017 at 9:43
  • @freefall Then I misunderstood your question - I did not interpret the request for declension tables as a request for vocabulary lists.
    – Tsundoku
    May 2, 2017 at 10:55
  • @freefall For example, there is a basic vocabulary list by Dickinson College, and it includes the basic forms I mentioned in my response. Is that the sort of thing you are looking for (but possibly longer)?
    – Tsundoku
    May 2, 2017 at 11:14
  • Yep, that is something I looked for. That would be a great addition to your answer.
    – freefall
    May 2, 2017 at 11:40
  • @freefall OK, added. I'll add more links when I found more resources. I will also add them to my website.
    – Tsundoku
    May 2, 2017 at 12:50

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