Fragment of a dedicatory inscription, later re-used as a doorsill. Note the foot wear on the left side of the stone. 1st c. A.D. Athenian Agora Excavations.

More 3rd Declension Nouns

We have already learned how to form 3rd Declension nouns. Most of the nouns that we introduced in these lessons have stems ending in –ν (δαιμον-), –δ (ἐλπιδ-), –ντ (ἀρχοντ-) or –κτ (νυκτ-). In other words, these stems end in a NASAL, DENTAL, or PALATAL. In this lesson, we introduce 3rd Declension nouns that have stems ending in –ρ, and –εσ.

Before we look at these new nouns, let us review the 3rd Declension case endings for MASCULINE and FEMININE nouns:

Singular Plural
Nominative ς ες
Genitive ος ων
Dative  –ι  –σι
Accusative α ας

The 3rd Declension case endings for NEUTER nouns are as follows:

Singular Plural
Nominative α
Genitive ος ων
Dative ι σι
Accusative α


Stems Ending in –ρ

Declining most 3rd Declension nouns whose stem ends in –ρ is fairly straightforward. Greek often avoids the combination –ρσ-, usually by dropping the –ς from the NOMINATIVE SINGULAR (μάρτυς –υρος is an exception to this rule).

In the DATIVE PLURAL, the –σι ending is always intact. What happens when the –ρ– encounters the –σι can vary. Many nouns simply allow the full –ρσι– combination. For example, the dative plural of ῥήτωρ, ῥήτορος “orator,” is ῥήτορσι (S 259; GPH p. 11). There are, however, exceptions to this pattern.

  • μάρτυςυρος drops the ρ for most Greek authors: μάρτυσι
  • χείρ, χειρός shortens its stem: χερσί

Note the inflections of the following common nouns, each with their own slight peculiarities:

μάρτυς -υρος ὁ witness

Singular Plural
Nominative ἡ μάρτυς αἱ μάρτυρες
Genitive τῆς μάρτυρος τῶν μαρτύρων
Dative τῇ μάρτυρι ταῖς μάρτυσι
Accusative τὴν μάρτυρα τὰς μάρτυρας

χείρ, χειρός ἡ hand

Singular Plural
Nominative ἡ χείρ αἱ χεῖρες
Genitive τῆς χειρός τῶν χειρῶν
Dative τῇ χειρί ταῖς χερσί
Accusative τὴν χεῖρα τὰς χεῖρας

πῦρ, πυρός τό fire

Singular (No plural)
Nominative τὸ πῦρ
Genitive τοῦ πυρός
Dative τῷ πυρί
Accusative τὸ πῦρ


Stems Ending in –ερ

More stem and accent changes occur in noun stems ending in –ερ (S 262). The good news is that the basic case endings do not change. The stem changes, however, do require memorization.

There are four common nouns of this type (S 262; cf. GPH p. 12). As you memorize the inflections for each, note the following patterns for the first three nouns:

  • The vowel stem –ερ becomes –ηρ in the nominative singular, due to the loss of a sigma resulting in COMPENSATORY LENGTHENING.
  • The vowel stem –ερ becomes simply –ρ in the genitive singular, and dative singular and plural.
  • The accent is on the ultima in the genitive and dative singular, on the penult in the accusative singular and all forms of the plural.
  • The insertion of an –α– between the ρ– and –σι in the dative plural.

πατήρ, πατρός ὁ father (stem: πατερ-)

Singular Plural
Nominative ὁ πατήρ οἱ πατέρες
Genitive τοῦ πατρός τῶν πατέρων
Dative τῷ πατρί τοῖς πατράσι
Accusative τὸν πατέρα τοὺς πατέρας

μήτηρ, μητρός ἡ mother (stem: μητερ-)

Singular Plural
Nominative ἡ μήτηρ αἱ μητέρες
Genitive τῆς μητρός τῶν μητέρων
Dative τῇ μητρί ταῖς μητράσι
Accusative τὴν μητέρα  τὰς μητέρας

θυγάτηρ, θυγατρός ἡ daughter (stem: θυγατερ-)

Singular Plural
Nominative ἡ θυγάτηρ αἱ θυγατέρες
Genitive τῆς θυγατρός τῶν θυγατέρων
Dative τῇ θυγατρί ταῖς θυγατράσι
Accusative τὴν θυγατέρα τὰς θυγατέρας


For the fourth noun, note the following patterns:

  • The vowel stem –ερ becomes –ηρ in the nominative singular, due to the loss of a sigma resulting in COMPENSATORY LENGTHENING.
  • The vowel stem –ερ became simply –ρ in all oblique cases!
  • The resulting forms (e.g. ἀνρόςἀνρί) gradually developed a sound change that inserted a δ between ν and ρ (S 130). (Likewise, the French word cendre, “ash,” comes from the Latin cinerem!)
  • The accent pattern matches the other three –ερ nouns, with the exception of the genitive plural ending: ἀνδρῶν.

ἀνήρ, ἀνδρός ὁ man (stem: ἀνερ-)

Singular Plural
Nominative ὁ ἀνήρ οἱ ἄνδρες
Genitive τοῦ ἀνδρός τῶν ἀνδρῶν
Dative τῷ ἀνδρί τοῖς ἀνδράσι
Accusative τὸν ἄνδρα τοὺς ἄνδρας


Stems Ending in –εσ

As we saw in our discussion of the ATTIC FUTURE, an INTERVOCALIC SIGMA – i.e., a  –σ– found between two vowels – often drops out, and the surrounding vowels contract. This process often occurs in 3rd Declension noun stems ending in –εσ once personal endings are added.

Nouns of this type are usually NEUTER. Masculine and feminine nouns of this type do appear, but they are less frequent or are proper names.

1. Proper names in –εσ

The name Socrates, ὁ  Σωκράτης, declines as follows (S 264; GPH 13). Note the following patterns:

  • In the nominative singular, the loss of a sigma results in COMPENSATORY LENGTHENING, just as we see with the four –ρ stem nouns above.
  • Regular and expected contractions occur in the oblique forms once the intervocalic sigma is dropped.
  • Finally, in the accusative singular, a ν is added by many, though not all, authors.
Nominative (Σωκράτεσς →) Σωκράτης
Genitive (Σωκράτεσος → Σωκράτεος →) Σωκράτους
Dative (Σωκράτεσι →) Σωκράτει
Accusative (Σωκράτεσα → Σωκράτεα →) Σωκράτη(ν)

2. Neuter nouns in –εσ

For neuter nouns, recognizable patterns emerge.

  • First, in the nominative and accusative singular, the stem –ες becomes –ος. Otherwise, all accent and contraction rules apply normally (S 264; GPH p. 14).
  • Second, the accent is usually born on the ANTEPENULT of the uncontracted, inflected forms.

For example:

ἔτος -ους τό year (stem: ἐτεσ-)

Singular Plural
Nominative (ἔτες →) ἔτος (ἔτεσα ἔτεα →) ἔτη
Genitive (ἔτεσος ἔτεος →) ἔτους (ἐτέσων ἐτέων →) ἐτῶν
Dative (ἔτεσι →) ἔτει (ἔτεσσι → ) ἔτεσι
Accusative (ἔτες →) ἔτος (ἔτεσα  ἔτεα →) ἔτη

γένος -ους τό clan, generation; type, class (stem: γένεσ-)

Singular Plural
Nominative (γένες →) γένος (γένεσα γένεα →) γένη
Genitive (γένεσος γένεος →) γένους (γενέσων γενέων →) γενῶν
Dative (γένεσι →) γένει (γένεσσι → ) γένεσι
Accusative (γένες →) γένος (γένεσα  γένεα →) γένη


– τὸ τέλος –


Paradigms, Key Terms and Concepts

  • Chapter Paradigms


Stems Ending in –ρ

ἀνήρ, ἀνδρός ὁ man
θυγάτηρ -τρός ἡ daughter
μάρτυς -υρος ὁ, ἡ witness
μήτηρ, μητρός ἡ mother
πατήρ, πατρός ὁ father
πῦρ, πυρός τό fire (note: this word has no plural!)
χείρ, χειρός ἡ hand

Stems Ending in –εσ

γένος -ους τό clan, generation; type, class
ἔθνος -ους τό nation
εἶδος -ους τό form, shape
ἔπος -ους τό word
ἔτος -ους τό year
μέγεθος -ους τό magnitude
μέρος -ους τό part, share
ὄρος -ους τό mountain, hill
πάθος -ους τό suffering, experience, emotion
πλῆθος -ους τό crowd
τεῖχος -ους τό wall
τέλος -ους τό end



I. Memorize the vocabulary.

II. Decline in full the following nouns:

  1. ἡ θυγάτηρ, θυγατρός
  2. τὸ ἔτος, ἔτους
  3. ὁ ἀνήρ, ἀνδρός
  4. τὸ τεῖχος, τείχους

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: γένει (answer: τῷ / τοῖς γένεσι)

  1. ἄνδρας
  2. πατέρες
  3. χερσί
  4. τέλους
  5. εἰδῶν
  6. ἔθνη
  7. πάθος
  8. μέρους
  9. τεῖχος
  10. ἔτει




Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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.