Marble base for a bronze statue. The inscription honors a young woman, who received crowns for her service as a hearth initiate, and for leading the processions at important festivals for Apollo and Athena. 2nd c. B.C. Athenian Agora Excavations.

First Declension Nouns

Almost all Greek nouns belong to one of three INFLECTION patterns, called the FIRST DECLENSION, SECOND DECLENSION, and THIRD DECLENSION. Each represents a particular set of CASE ENDINGS for gender, number, and case. So far, we have encountered only THIRD DECLENSION nouns. This lesson introduces FIRST DECLENSION nouns.


1. First Declension: Nouns with –η in the Singular

Most nouns of the first declension end in –η in the singular, which becomes –α in the plural (S 212). Most nouns in this declension are FEMININE and use endings similar to those of the FEMININE DEFINITE ARTICLE (S 216; GPH p. 1).

Singular Plural
Nominative -αι
Genitive -ης -ῶν
Dative -ῃ -αις
Accusative -ην  -ας

ἡ ἀγάπη -ης  love, charity

Singular Plural
Nominative ἡ ἀγάπη αἱ ἀγάπαι
Genitive τῆς ἀγάπης τῶν ἀγαπῶν
Dative τῇ ἀγάπῃ ταῖς ἀγάπαις
Accusative τὴν ἀγάπην  τὰς ἀγάπας

ἡ γνώμη -ης  idea, intelligence, opinion

Singular Plural
Nominative ἡ γνώμη αἱ γνῶμαι
Genitive τῆς γνώμης τῶν γνωμῶν
Dative τῇ γνώμῃ ταῖς γνώμαις
Accusative τὴν γνώμην  τὰς γνώμας

ἡ τιμή -ῆς value, honor

Singular Plural
Nominative ἡ τιμή αἱ τιμαί
Genitive τῆς τιμῆς τῶν τιμῶν
Dative τῇ τιμῇ ταῖς τιμαῖς
Accusative τὴν τιμήν  τὰς τιμάς


2. Accent of First Declension Nouns

Recall that nouns have a PERSISTENT ACCENT. FIRST DECLENSION nouns generally follow this pattern. There are two accent rules, however, that apply to nouns of the FIRST DECLENSION, but not to those of the third declension.

  1. Some FIRST DECLENSION nouns, e.g. τιμή -ῆς, have a persistent accent on the ultima of all inflected forms. When this happens, a CIRCUMFLEX is used on the genitive and dative, singular and plural; an ACUTE accent falls on the nominative and accusative, singular and plural. We have encountered the ultima “circumflex belt” before; note the accent pattern, for example, on the definite articles as well as on a number of pronouns, such as αὐτός αὐτή αὐτό.
  2. No matter where the persistent accent of a FIRST DECLENSION noun falls, the genitive plural is accented with a circumflex on the ultima: –ῶν. Note, for example, the inflections of ἀγάπη -ης and γνώμη -ης, above. This accent reflects a contraction of the original ending of the genitive plural: –άων (S 213).

For a download of all the accent rules for nouns, click here: Greek Accents Nouns.


3. Inflection of γῆ γῆς

There is only one monosyllabic first declension noun in our vocabulary list: γῆ γῆς. For this noun, all inflected forms have a circumflex! This noun reflects a contraction of γέᾱ– or γάᾱ-, and declines in Attic Greek as follows (S 227; cf. GPH p. 4):

ἡ γῆ γῆς earth

Singular (No plural)
Nominative ἡ γῆ
Genitive τῆς γῆς
Dative τῇ γῇ
Accusative τὴν γῆν


4. First Declension: After –ε, –ι or –ρ 

In Attic and Koine Greek, when a first declension noun has a stem ending in –ε, –ι or –ρappears instead of η in all cases in the singular (e.g. οἰκίᾱ building, houseχώρᾱ land, place). This change has no meaning. It is just a difference in pronunciation. These endings remain all long with the exception of the nominative plural –αι (cf. S 216; GPH p. 2).

Note that when this change to  occurs in the genitive singular, its form now is identical to that of the accusative plural! The definite article, as well as context within a sentence, helps to distinguish between the two.

ἡ οἰκία -ας building, house

Singular Plural
Nominative ἡ οἰκία αἱ οἰκίαι
Genitive τῆς οἰκίας τῶν οἰκιῶν
Dative τῇ οἰκίᾳ ταῖς οἰκίαις
Accusative τὴν οἰκίαν  τὰς οἰκίας

ἡ χώρα -ας land, place

Singular Plural
Nominative ἡ χώρα αἱ χῶραι
Genitive τῆς χώρας τῶν χωρῶν
Dative τῇ χώρᾳ ταῖς χώραις
Accusative τὴν χώραν  τὰς χώρας


5. First Declension: Nominative and Accusative Singular in –

A handful of first declension nouns end in –– in the NOMINATIVE and ACCUSATIVE SINGULAR, yet still retain –η– in the genitive and dative singular (S 216, 221; cf. GPH p. 2). Nouns of this class can often be identified by the accent of the nominative singular. Note, for example, that the –α must be short for the accent to be able to recede to the antepenult of θάλαττα sea, or to allow for a circumflex over the penult of γλῶττα tongue, language.

Again, when this type of noun has a stem ending in –ε, –ι or –ρ, is used for the genitive and dative singular. Note the following inflections:

ἡ γλῶττα -ης tongue, language

Singular Plural
Nominative ἡ γλῶττα αἱ γλῶτται
Genitive τῆς γλώττης τῶν γλωττῶν
Dative τῇ γλώττῃ ταῖς γλώτταις
Accusative τὴν γλῶτταν τὰς γλώττας

ἡ ἀλήθεια -ας truth

Singular Plural
Nominative ἡ ἀλήθεια αἱ ἀλήθειαι
Genitive τῆς ἀληθείας τῶν ἀληθειῶν
Dative τῇ ἀληθείᾳ ταῖς ἀληθείαις
Accusative τὴν ἀλήθειαν τὰς ἀληθείας


6. First Declension: Masculine Nouns

Most nouns of the first declension are feminine. Some nouns of the first declension, however, are MASCULINE, particularly those referring to a specifically male person. In such instances, two changes occur:

  • The GENITIVE SINGULAR uses the masculine –ου ending.

Otherwise, masculine nouns follow the basic rules for all other first declension nouns. Observe the following (cf.  S 222; GPH p. 3):

ὁ στρατιώτης –ου soldier

Singular Plural
Nominative ὁ στρατιώτης οἱ στρατιῶται
Genitive τοῦ στρατιώτου τῶν στρατιωτῶν
Dative τῷ στρατιώτῃ τοῖς στρατιώταις
Accusative τὸν στρατιώτην τοὺς στρατιώτας

ὁ ποιητής -οῦ creator, poet

Singular Plural
Nominative ὁ ποιητής οἱ ποιηταί
Genitive τοῦ ποιητοῦ τῶν ποιητῶν
Dative τῷ ποιητῇ τοῖς ποιηταῖς
Accusative τὸν ποιητήν τοὺς ποιητάς


– τὸ τέλος –


Paradigms, Key Terms and Concepts

  • Chapter Paradigms
  • INFLECTION OF γῆ, γῆς ἡ 

Vocabulary List 1

Noun in –η

  • ἀνάγκη -ης ἡ necessity
  • ἀρετή -ῆς ἡ excellence, goodness, valor, virtue
  • ἀρχή -ῆς ἡ beginning; authority, office
  • βουλή -ῆς ἡ council, plan, advice
  • γῆ γῆς ἡ earth
  • γνώμη -ης ἡ idea, intelligence, opinion
  • γραφή -ῆς ἡ drawing, writing, indictment
  • δίκη -ης ἡ justice; legal case
  • εἰρήνη -ης ἡ peace
  • ἐπιστήμη -ης ἡ knowledge
  • ἡδονή -ῆς ἡ pleasure, enjoyment
  • κεφαλή -ῆς ἡ head
  • μάχη -ης ἡ battle
  • νίκη -ης ἡ victory
  • ὀργή -ῆς ἡ anger
  • τέχνη -ης ἡ art, skill
  • τιμή -ῆς ἡ value, honor
  • τροφή -ῆς ἡ nourishment, food
  • τύχη -ης ἡ luck, fate
  • φωνή -ῆς ἡ sound, voice
  • ψυχή -ῆς ἡ breath, soul

Vocabulary List 2

Noun Stems in –ε, –ι or –ρ

  • αἰτία -ας ἡ cause, origin; accusation
  • διαφορά -ᾶς ἡ difference, disagreement
  • ἐκκλησία -ας ἡ gathering; church
  • ἡμέρα -ας ἡ day
  • οἰκία -ας ἡ building, house
  • οὐσία -ας ἡ essence, property
  • πολιτεία -ας ἡ constitution, republic
  • σοφία -ας ἡ wisdom
  • στρατιά -ᾶς ἡ army
  • συμφορά -ᾶς ἡ event, situation, disaster
  • σωτηρία -ας ἡ safety
  • χώρα -ας ἡ land, place

Noun in –ᾰ–

  • ἀλήθεια -ας ἡ truth
  • γλῶττα -ης ἡ tongue, language
    • Koine: γλῶσσα -ης ἡ
  • δόξα -ης ἡ opinion, judgment, glory
  • θάλαττα -ης ἡ sea
    • Koine: θάλασσα -ης ἡ

Masculine Nouns

  • δεσπότης -ου ὁ master
  • ποιητής -οῦ ὁ creator, poet
  • στρατιώτης -ου ὁ soldier


I. Memorize the vocabulary.

II. Decline in full the following nouns:

  1. ἡ γραφή -ῆς
  2. ἡ ἡμέρα -ας
  3. ἡ θάλαττα -ης
  4. ὁ δεσπότης -ου
  5. ἡ γῆ γῆς

III. For the following noun forms, 1). Give the proper form of its article(s), and 2). Change to its opposite number (singular to plural, plural to singular).

For example: ὀργῆς (answer: τῆς /τῶν ὀργῶν)

  1. εἰρήνη
  2. σωτηρίᾳ
  3. ψυχάς
  4. θάλατται
  5. ἐκκλησιῶν
  6. τύχην
  7. ποιητοῦ
  8. ἀρεταῖς
  9. σοφίαν
  10. μάχῃ



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Ancient Greek for Everyone Copyright © by Wilfred E. Major and Michael Laughy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.