In this lesson, we will learn about the nominative cases of nouns and adjectives. We will also learn about the Gaulish verb ‘to be.’

Gaulish, like other ancient Indo-European (I-E) languages, was an inflected language. This basically means that nouns, adjectives, and verbs had a basic stem (or base form) and that an ending was added to the end of the base form, which determined the function of the word in a sentence. As the lessons progress, your understanding of what an inflected language entails will grow and become more clear.


For Gaulish verbs, there are three moods (indicative, subjunctive, and imperative), two voices (active and passive), and four tenses (present, imperfect, preterite, and future). These will all be explained in detail when they appear in later lessons.

For now, we will focus on present active indicative. The indicative mood means that the action is being stated as fact. The active voice means that the subject of the sentence is the one doing the action. The present tense means that the action is occurring in present time. For the Gaulish verb ‘to be,’ we will first be learning the present active indicative forms of the verb.

Also, when discussing verbs, we refer to the person and number of the verb. In English, person and number are as follows:

1st person singular = I
2nd person singular = you
3rd person singular = he/she/it

1st person plural = we
2nd person plural = you (all)
3rd person plural = they

In Gaulish, the ending of a verb determines the person and number.


The verb ‘to be’ is what is referred to as a copula, meaning that it connects a subject and a complement (a word that refers back to the subject and describes it in some way). The complementing word can be either another noun or an adjective.

For example, let us examine the following English sentence:

The men are old.

In this sentence, the men is the subject, are is the copula verb, and old is the complement of the subject because it is describing (referring back to) the subject.

In Gaulish, here is the paradigm for the present active indicative of the verb ‘to be’:

immi 1st person singular I am
ei 2nd person singular you are
essi 3rd person singular he/she/it is
emmos 1st person plural we are
esue 2nd person plural you (all) are
sent(i) 3rd person plural they are

For the 3rd person plural, if the next word begins with a vowel, then the form sent is used. If the next word begins with a consonant, then the form senti is used. These optional forms help with pronunciation of the two words.


For Gaulish nouns, there are three genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter), two numbers (singular and plural), and seven cases (nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative, instrumental, and locative). As with verbs, each of these will be explained in detail when they appear in later lessons.

There are also eleven different classes of nouns, which are determined by the stem from which the noun is formed.

For now, we will learn O-stem declension and A-stem declension, and we will learn the nominative singular and nominative plural of each declension. For ease of learning, we will refer to O-stem nouns as 2nd declension and A-stem nouns as 1st declension.

In general, for the gender of a noun, there is what is referred to as the gender of animate objects and the gender of inanimate objects. For the most part, the gender of animate objects can usually be determined by the meaning of the word. For example, the Gaulish word for ‘son’ (mapos) is masculine and the Gaulish word for ‘daughter’ (enigenā) is feminine. However, the gender of an inanimate object has to be learned, such as the Gaulish words for spear (gaisos), shield (scēton), and axe (beialiā). Each of these words are something which can be used in battle and are inanimate objects, but the gender of each Gaulish word is different.

The eleven different nominal declensions can also contain words of different genders. However, starting out, the 2nd declension is for masculine and neuter nouns and the 1st declension is for feminine nouns.

Before moving on to the 2nd and 1st declensions, we must first learn the function of the nominative case. The nominative case is used mainly to indicate the subject of a sentence. It can also be used for a word that is a complement (refers back to the subject, which was discussed above).

Also, in Gaulish, the words “the” and “a(n)” were not included. These articles were understood as they were in Latin. When translating, they should be included (when necessary) to help with the understanding and flow of the sentence.


The nominative endings for the 2nd declension are as follows:

-os masculine singular
-oi masculine plural
-on neuter singular
neuter plural

The nominative endings for the 1st declension are as follows:

feminine singular
-ās feminine plural

Now let us take a look at the Gaulish words for weapons discussed above, each of which we learned has a different gender.

gaisos – spear (2nd declension masculine singular)
gaisoi – spears (2nd declension masculine plural)

scēton – shield (2nd declension neuter singular)
scētā – shields (2nd declension neuter plural)

beialiā – axe (1st declension feminine singular)
beialiās – axes (1st declension feminine plural)

You will notice that each noun has a stem (gais-, scēt-, and beiali-) to which the particular endings are added.

Note: Both 2nd declension and 1st declensions can have nouns that either end in the regular ending or with an -i- before the regular ending. You will notice that the word beialiā has an -i- in the stem and it is included when the noun is declined.


Adjectives of the 2nd and 1st declensions have nominative endings which are the same as their nominal counterparts.


Now let us take a look at some sample sentences incorporating the 2nd and 1st declension nominative case endings and the present active indicative of the verb ‘to be’ that we have learned. Besides the words we have learned above, we will also be using the following adjectives: letanos -ā -on (broad, wide), māros -ā -on (big, great), and sīros -ā -on (long). Note how when adjectives are listed, they are listed in the nominative masculine complete form and then the feminine and neuter endings follow. This informs you that the word is an adjective but also aids in writing out each gender individually in a dictionary.

gaisos essi sīros. The spear is long.
scētā sent letanā. The shields are wide.
beialiā essi mārā. The axe is big.

Notice in each sentence that the adjectives agree with the nouns in terms of case, number, and gender. This pertains to whether the adjective is serving as a complement or modifying the noun. For example:

scētā letanā sent mārā. Wide shields are big.

In the above sentence, letanā is modifying scētā, and mārā is complementing scētā. But the case, number, and gender for both adjectives are the same because the case, number, and gender of each is determined by the noun.

Also, notice that the noun comes first and then the adjective modifying it. This is the standard practice.


Let us also at this point learn the Gaulish for the conjunction ‘and’. There are two forms. The first is etic and it is used to join two words or clauses in a sentence. The second is the suffix -c and it is used to join two words in a sentence. It is also added to the end of the second of the two words being joined. For example:

scēton essi letanon māronc.
The shield is wide and big.

The above sentence uses the suffix -c at the end of the second word, māron. However, the above sentence could also be written using etic as in the example below:

scēton essi letanon etic māron.
The shield is wide and big.

Either way is acceptable. But only etic can join two clauses in a sentence. For example:

scēton essi letanon etic gaisos essi sīros.
The shield is wide and the spear is long.


New Vocabulary:


uiros (man, husband)
donā (woman, wife)
mapos (boy, son)
enigena (girl, daughter)
tegiā (house)
ueniā (family)


senos ā on (old)
iouincos ā on (young)
biccos ā on (small, little)
dagos ā on (good)
drucos ā on (bad)
temmos ā on (warm)
ougros ā on (cold)
lasenos ā on (happy)
trougos ā on (sad)


extos (but)


Using what you have learned in this lesson as well as the new vocabulary above, translate the following sentences into English.

1. uiroi senti senoi.
2. enigenā essi iouincā.
3. mapos biccos essi dagos.
4. tegiā senā essi mārā extos temmā.
5. emmos ueniā.