aeternus, -a, -um (adj.), eternal, everlasting

or, fun with adjectives.


infinitus, -a, -um (adj.), infinite, endless

immortalis, -e (adj.), immortal, undying

These adjectives are also fave Latin words among the vamp-set, and versions of them can be seen in gamer-land alongside unfortunate perpetrations of nox, noctis..., creating many woeful, tragic, angst-filled moments and hours in my forever night.

See, it's like this.

As I said before, nouns and adjectives in Latin must agree. Grammatically speaking, that means:

1. They must have the same case.

We've talked about case. Or, rather, I've written about it and you might have read it. Nouns in Latin change their case -- their form, with a particular emphasis on endings, and if there's something gothier than an emphasis on endings I don't know what it is -- according to how they work in the sentence. Subjects and "predicate nouns" are in the nominative case, direct objects in the accusative, indirect objects in the dative, objects of prepositions in the ablative or accusative (you just have to learn which prepositions "take" which case); the genitive shows possession (and has other uses where we might in English say "of ---", like "that's a lot of blood," where "of blood" isn't really possessive -- it's not the same as "blood's lot," which sounds like a band name -- but in Latin is still all about the genitive case).

Now, in Latin, adjectives also change case endings the same way. If the adjective is modifying a noun in the nominative, the adjective has to be nominative, too.

And that's important, because Latin word-order isn't like English word-order; it can change around according for a variety of reasons, not least of which is because the writer likes the sound of one arrangement over another. So you have to pay attention to those endings.

Perhaps we should have an example:

The light burns the flesh.

In this sentence, "light" is the subject of the sentence; it's the word that's "in charge" of the verb "burns." "Flesh" is the direct object of the verb; that's what the light is burning. Word-order is important in English; if you said "the flesh burns the light," you end up with a very different and nonsensical sentence.

In Latin, however, you can change the word order around as much as you please, to the extent, of course, that there are only three words, because the case-endings tell you what's going on.

Lux incendit carnem.

[The light] [burns] [the flesh.]

Now: lux (lux, lucis, "light") is nominative (take my word for it, here), so you know that's the subject of the sentence, and carnem (caro, carnis, "flesh") is accusative, so it's the direct object. incendit (he/she/it burns) is the verb here. Knowing these things, you get exactly the same meaning out of:

Lux carnem incendit.

Carnem lux incendit.

Carnem incendit lux.

Each one might have a somewhat different emphasis, in the way that "The light burns the flesh" differs from "The light burns the flesh," but the endings, not the word-order, help you figure out what what's going on.

When you throw adjectives into this, it gets a little trickier, but works on the same principle.

The gleaming light kindles impious flesh.

Word-order tells us that "gleaming" describes "light" and "impious" describes "flesh."

Here it is in Latin:

Splendida lux incendit impiam carnem.

[bright/gleaming] [light] [burns/kindles] [impious] [flesh]

But we could also have (especially in poetry) a word-order like this:

Impiam lux incendit splendida carnem.

[impious] [light] [burns] [gleaming] [flesh]

... and it would still mean exactly the same thing as the first version. That's because you can, theoretically, if you were me or someone else wicked smart like that, tell that "impiam" is accusative and "splendida" is nominative and thus cannot modify the nouns they're right next to. No matter what arrangement of words you prefer, the sentence can't mean "impious light burns gleaming flesh" unless you changed it to "impia lux incendit splendidam carnem," and that would just be silly.

So word-endings are important, yes? 

2. Adjectives and the nouns they modify must have the same number.

This one's a no-brainer. If the noun is plural, the adjective that modifies it also has to be plural. In the examples above, both "light" and "flesh" were singular, and thus so were the adjective forms. Plural nouns must be modified by plural adjectives.

a) Marius slaughters the brutish victim.

Latin: Marius mactat ferinam victimam.

b) Marius slaughters the brutish victims.

Latin: Marius mactat ferinas victimas.

In English, "brutish" doesn't change at all here, no matter how many victims we're talking about. In Latin, though, not only do we need the accusative case -- "victim" is the direct object -- but we also need either the singular or the plural form of the adjective ferinus, depending on whether the noun is singular or plural.

(I should point out that the whole thing with the "-m" and "-s" being the same in both the Latin and English sentences is coincidental here.)

3. Adjectives and the nouns they modify must have the same gender.

As I mentioned last time, nouns in Latin have grammatical gender -- masculine, feminine, or neuter -- for reasons that aren't necessarily clear or even particularly important so long as you know that they do. (Some make sense: the Latin word for "man" is masculine; some don't: the word for "manliness" is feminine. Just accept it.) When you as the Latin student learn a new noun, it is to your advantage to learn the nominative and gentive singular forms and the gender in addition to the English meaning (all that will appear, in that order, in most Latin-to-English dictionaries). From that basic information you can decline the noun in all of its cases and figure out what adjective forms go with it.

In examples two and three above, by chance, lux (lux, lucis [f.], "light") caro (caro, carnis [f.], "flesh"), and victima (victima, victimae [f.], victim) all happen to be feminine nouns. As a result, the adjectives are also feminine.

Think of the adjective as a weird poser club kid. When the adjective is hanging out with a manly noun, it wears its masculine clothes. When the adjective is going to spend time with the girly nouns, it breaks out the grammatical equivalent of its to-die-for black dress and stiletto heels. If the adjective is chillin' with the androgynous noun set, it opens up the closet with the unisex wardrobe and gets dressed accordingly.

Adjectives are usually listed in dictionaries by the nominative, singular, masculine form, followed by the feminine and neuter forms.

Aeternus, "eternal, everlasting," has the feminine nom. sing. form aeterna and neuter nom. sing. form aeternum, so it would appear in the dictionary thus: aeternus, -a, -um.

The "wardrobe" for aeternus, -a, -um looks like this (endings underlined for emphasis; they may, unfortunately, seem slightly separated from the word on your browser):

case masculine feminine neuter
nominative aeternus aeterna aeternum
genitive aeterni aeternae aeterni
dative aeterno aeternae aeterno
accusative aeternum aeternam aeternum
ablative aeterno aeterna aeterno

case masculine feminine neuter
nominative aeterni aeternae aeterna
genitive aeternorum aeternarum aeternorum
dative aeternis aeternis aeternis
accusative aeternos aeternas aeterna
ablative aeternis aeternis aeternis

Those endings happen to be the same for pretty much any adjective that ends in -us, -a, -um (I can't think of obvious exceptions at the moment, and if I could I wouldn't trouble you with them at this point), which are called "adjectives of the first and second declensions," in case you were wondering, after nouns that have the same patterns of endings. (First declension nouns end in -a in their dictionary entries and are declined just like the feminine column above; they are mostly all feminine nouns with a few exceptions. Second declension nouns end in -us or -um and are declined like the masculine or neuter columns. Just file that away for the moment.)

Now suppose you wanted to name your vampire game "Everlasting Night," except in Latin because it's spookier. Since we're talking just one night, here -- it is, after all, everlasting -- we want the singular form, which is the first chart. Nox, noctis is a feminine noun, so you would need to use a feminine form of aeternus: that would be the middle column. As a simple name, not being used in a sentence, you would use the nominative ("naming," < nomen, nominis [n.], "name") case for the noun (nox) and so for the adjective: that's the top row.

Behold: the singular, feminine, nominative form of the adjective is aeterna. Adjectives tend to follow nouns in Latin (but don't have to), so your game would be called Nox Aeterna.

What if you were going to call it "Everlasting Nights"? I'll repeat the chart from last time, underlining the endings for the hell of it.
Case Singular Plural
nominative (subject or predicate noun after "is" etc.) nox noctes
genitive ("of ---") noctis noctium
dative (indirect object; 

"to/for ---")

nocti noctibus
accusative (direct object or object of preposition) noctem noctes
ablative (object of preposition or by itself to mean "from/by/with ---") nocte noctibus


Everlasting Nights = ?

[Check your answer.]

Now what if "eternal" wasn't good enough for you, and you preferred "infinite" or "endless"? The word you want is infinitus, -a, -um. It has exactly the same endings as aeternus.

If you wanted "immortal" or "undying," you end up with the word immortalis, -e. What is up with that? Immortalis, as it turns out, is a two-termination adjective of the third declension. What that means for you is that the masculine and feminine forms of the adjective have exactly the same endings, and so there's no need to list them separately. That's true for most third-declension adjectives.

Third-declension adjectives are declined very much like third-declension nouns like nox (but, alas, not identically).

case masculine/


nominative immortalis immortale
genitive immortalis immortalis
dative immortali immortali
accusative immortalem immortale
ablative immortali immortali

case masculine/


nominative immortales immortalia
genitive immortalium immortalium
dative immortalibus immortalibus
accusative immortales immortalia
ablative immortalibus immortalibus

The astute reader will note the difference between third-declension nouns and adjectives in, for instance, the ablative singular. But whatever.

Now. This is important. Our happy club-going adjectives have their own wardrobes and don't share them with those freaks from the other declensions. A common mistake for beginning Latin students is to think that the best way to make an adjective agree with a noun is to make the endings match.

Consider the following sentence:

I hate the everlasting night.

In Latin: odi noctem aeternam; "I hate" [you don't need a separate word for "I," but that's for another day], "night" [accusative, because it is the direct object], "everlasting" [accusative, singular, and feminine to agree with the noun]. Some unfortunate souls think that the rule of "agreement" requires us to write "noctem aeternem" or perhaps "noctam aeternam," so that they have exactly the same endings. But don't do that. It is ignorance and folly.

One final thing. Adjectives can be used as nouns, as in English. Masculine and feminine forms for people, neuter for things. So "the immortal" = immortalis, "the immortal (one)," or "the Endless" = infiniti, "the endless (ones)."


Let's practice. Or rather, you practice; I already know this stuff. Remember that there is no word for "a / an" or "the."

Some vocabulary:


blood, sanguis, sanguinis (m[asculine])

book, liber, libri (m.)

flesh, caro, carnis (f[eminine])

house, domus (f.) [this word has a weird declension, but for now you only need the nominative]

life, vita, vitae (f.) [the White-Wolfian word for blood, "vitae," is somewhat nonsensical]

light, lux, lucis (f.)

night, nox, noctis (f.)

poet, poeta, poetae (m.) [one of the few first-declension masculine nouns]

rose, rosa, rosae (f.)

sun, sol, solis (m.)

victim, victima, victimae (f.)

wolf, lupus, lupi (m.)

Note that vita, poeta, rosa and victima are all declined like aeternus in the feminine (aeterna, -ae, etc.), as are Roman personal names that end in -a. lupus is declined like aeternus in the masculine, as are all Roman personal names that end in -us (like Marius); similarly liber, except that the nominative singular doesn't end in -us; otherwise, it's the same, with all the endings for the other forms added to the root libr-: so in the singular, going down the column, liber (nom.), libri (gen.), libro (dat.), librum (acc.), libro (abl.), and so on.



bright/gleaming/splendid, splendidus, -a, -um

damned, damnatus, -a, um

eternal/everlasting, aeternus, -a, -um

immortal/undying, immortalis, -e

infinite/endless, infinitus, -a, um

mortal, mortalis, -e

my, meus, -a, um

sad, tristis, -e

white, albus, -a, -um


(I) am, sum

(I) bite, mordeo

burns/kindles, incendit

come! (as a command), veni

drinks, bibit

gave, dedit; I gave, dedi

(I) hate, odi

hates, odit

is, est

reads, legit


about, de (+ ablative)

into, in (+ accusative)

with me, mecum

1. The sad poet hates the endless nights.
What's the subject? "Poet." poeta, in the nominative.

The verb is "hates," odit.

The direct object is "nights," noctes, the accusative plural.

Our adjectives must agree in case, number, and gender with the nouns: "sad" must be masculine, singular, and nominative; "endless" must be feminine, plural, and accusative.


Poeta tristis odit noctes infinitas.

Your word order may vary, but your case-endings should not.

2. I bite the flesh of mortal victims.

The subject is "I," the verb "bite." Mordeo by itself means "I bite." (The word for "I," ego, is needed only for emphasis: "I am the one doing the biting here, not someone else.")

The direct object is "flesh"; we want the accusative carnem.

Our sentence so far is mordeo carnem.

What to do with the rest? "Victim" is possessive; it's telling us whose flesh. You would want the genitive case here, which Latin uses for almost everything where we would use "of ---." The genitive plural of victima is victimarum.

That leaves us with "mortal," which must agree with victimarum: feminine, plural, genitive. Thus: mortalium.

Mordeo carnem victimarum mortalium.

You do the rest on a piece of paper or something; this is pretty low-tech.

3. The blood is the life.
4. Marius drinks the blood of the poet.
5. Marius gave roses to the victim. (Hint: "to the victim" = indirect object)
6. The bright light of the sun burns my immortal flesh.
7. House of the Damned (Ones).
8. House of the Immortal Rose.
9. Camilla reads the book about the white wolf.
10. I am eternal. (Hint: are you a boy vampire or a girl vampire?)
11. My Camilla, come with me into the endless night. (Hint: Camilla will be nominative)
12. I gave the poet eternal life.

Nominative plural of nox, noctis (f.) is noctes.

Nominative plural feminine of aeternus is aeternae.

Eternal Nights = Noctes Aeternae.

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