Greek First Declension Nouns

Most first declension Greek nouns end in or η. All such nouns are feminine in gender. The long alpha is found only in words whose stems end in ε, ι or ρ. First declension nouns in /η are declined with the following endings:

Nominative in Nominative in -ᾱ
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative (nom.) -αι -ᾱ -αι
Genitive (gen.) -ης -ῶν -ᾱς -ῶν
Dative (dat.) -ῃ -αις -ᾱͅ -αις
Accusative (acc.) -ην -ᾱς -ᾱν -ᾱς
Vocative (voc.) -αι -ᾱ -αι

* To decline any noun, you should take the genitive singular form (which can be found in a proper dictionary entry) and remove the ending; to that stem add the appropriate ending for the case and number required.

Nouns have persistent accent, as a general rule. However, the plural genitive of first declension nouns always takes a circumflex on the ultima. And when the accent of the genitive singular is on the ultima, both the genitive and dative will take a circumflex accent, singular and plural. In addition, the plural declension marker -αι is always counted as short for the purpose of determining accent.


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17 Responses to Greek First Declension Nouns

  1. Mike says:

    “All such nouns are feminine in gender.”

    George, “student” μαθητης is masculine.

    • No it is not, “tis” is feminine genitive present indicative, “of the learning, or belonging to the learning” or learner, it is feminine, genitive.
      i Mathitis. The learner.

      • George says:

        Mike is quite correct in the word being masculine in classical/koine greek. I think you have confused something, and I’m having trouble figuring just what. We’re talking a noun, so there is no “present indicative” here. I’m a little confused by your transliteration scheme, and wondering if it suggests a reference to modern greek. Even so, I’ve found nothing to make sense of your comment in my online searches of modern greek, either. Can you clarify?

      • Sorry you are correct, o mathitis, ο μαθητής, very sorry, masculine, nominative, present indicative, first person singular.
        Sorry again.

  2. George says:

    Most first declension Greek nouns end in or η. All such nouns are feminine in gender.

    “All such” refers to first-declension nouns with the stated ending. And just to be clear, that is a reference to the ending in the nominative.

    Indeed there are also additional first declension nouns that are feminine, ending in a short alpha. And masculine first declension nouns ending in -ης/-ᾱς. Beyond your example, there are many other nouns in this category, for example, ποιητής, “poet” and νεᾱνίᾱς, “young man”. I intend to cover the declension of these in a future post.

    However, first declension nouns with a nominative ending in long alpha or eta are feminine.

  3. Pingback: Greek First Declension Nouns - Variant 2 « σφοδρα - exceedingly

  4. Pingback: Greek First Declension Nouns - Variant 1 « σφοδρα - exceedingly

  5. Mike says:

    I miss read your statement. Thanks for the clarification!

  6. Pingback: 2010 in review | σφόδρα – exceedingly

  7. zeno says:

    oh i know it, but can we start with the 1st declension sample?

  8. Jennifer says:

    I am taking a Greek course in pursuit of my Doctorate in Christian counseling. This is a required
    course and I am completely lost. Two months of class and I’m not grasping this at all. The professor
    has no patience because it is an excellerated course-we only meet one night a week. What can I do to
    get a better understanding of how to transliterate and translate words from English to Gree and Greek
    to English?

  9. Doug says:

    Why does is there a long alpha after the omicron in stoa/porch? Isn’t the rule that long alpha is maintained only after epsilon/iota/rho?

  10. George says:

    Doug, I’ve never heard of such a rule, so I’m not sure.

  11. Sarah says:

    I’ve been studying Homeric Greek on my own about two months, but now that I’m reorganizing my notes, I’ve come to notice what may or may not be a mistake – I think you’ll guide me in the right direction.
    In first declension -η stem, is φίλη continuously accented on the penult (going φἰλη, φἰλης, φἰλη [with ιωτα subscript], φίλεν, φίλη), or does it move to the ultima, given the long length of the vowel? I’m leaning towards the latter. In either circumstance, why does that happen?

    • George says:


      Other than the genitive plural (circumflex on ultima), it keeps accent on the penult in all its forms. The fact that the final vowel is long keeps the penult from ever being a circumflex, but it does not cause accent to shift onto the ultima. I am assuming φίλεν is a typo?

      Another example, to illustrate, is τέχνη, τέχνης, τέχνῃ, τέχνην, etc. Similar (in long ᾱ) is: χώρᾱ, χώρᾱς, χώρᾳ, χώρᾱν…

      Also, there are many first declension nouns whose persistent accent is fixed on the ultima, which might give the false impression it should always be that way. Some examples, for good measure, are τῑμή, ψῡχή and ἀγορᾱ́.

      • Sarah says:


        Thanks for your response! φίλεν is indeed a typo – that should’ve been η! My keyboard assumes based on modern Greek and wherever else it pleases.

        Illustrating it that way with τέχνη was very helpful – for the first few chapters of the text I’m using, φίλη is the only first-declension adjective with an accented penult. Knowing now that other words (like τέχνη!) have a similar accenting pattern is relieving.

        On a different note, what sources would you recommend? I’ve been using Debnar’s edition of Pharr’s and occasionally Scott-Liddell as reference, and keeping away from most audiovisual methods – most speakers have very grating voices. Of course, as a beginner, I’m open to anything that might make this pursuit more engaging.

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