Many Latin teachers have discovered the benefit of using songs to help students remember endings. On this page are the lyrics to the songs I use. I wrote a few but many I borrowed/ stole from other teachers. I have credited the authors wherever possible. The book that I have used most often, Ecce Romani, introduces the case endings across declensions rather than all in one declension. Therefore these songs are designed so that students can recognize different case endings across first and second and in accusative case, across third declension as well.
Regardless of what text you are using, I find this makes so much more logical sense than memorizing the chart as a declension of endings. Students when translating will first need to find nominative endings, then accusative. It is much more helpful if they are grouped together by case rather than declension in their memory. Otherwise, they have to run through each declension and pick out the nominative/ accusative or whatever they are looking for as they go up and down the lists. I've heard students do this. It's quite impressive when they can, but it takes a while. If you are following a grammar oriented text such as Jenny's or Latin for Americans, I would suggest that you use these songs to help students more quickly recognize the endings by case rather than declension.
When teaching these songs, I find it useful in many cases to play a short clip of the original. They can all be found on Youtube. Don't assume that students will just know the tune. Even the traditional Christmas songs are not familiar to all students. You will then need to sing it to them with the new lyrics and then conduct them all together. Classes vary a lot in terms of their enjoyment of singing. Some will sing these songs constantly in and out of class. Other students will groan and roll their eyes at you. Regardless, the songs really do help and the entertainment value breaks up the class makes Latin memorable and unique.
A Future ending tale…(based on a true story)
Once many years ago, when I was working in day care before I found my first teaching job, the following series of events took place.
I was in charge of a small group of about eight two-year-olds. Two-year-olds have few words but many feelings. They often express those feelings in inappropriate ways. For example, sometimes they express anger by biting. Teeth are a relatively new acquisition for two-year-olds and it doesn’t take long for them to discover that they are a useful weapon as well as helpful for crunching cheerios.
In my group, I had two very different children: Beavis and Robert Bis. Beavis was a shy boy who often cried. He had trouble with the “v” sound in his name so he called himself “Beemus.” His parents adapted it as a nickname so we at the center called him that as well. Robert, or Bo as he was called was a more violent child – taking toys and biting when he didn’t get his way. Well, on the day of Beavis’ third birthday, Beavis’ mom brought in a Bundt cake for the group to share. Parents often did this kind of thing at the day care center. I cut it up and we all sang “Happy Birthday” to Beavis. Bo was not happy with the attention that Beavis was getting so he bit him and then took a big bite out of Beavis' slice of cake.
As it was customary to send a short note home with the children about their day, I sent the following note home to Beavis’ parents:
Bo Bis bit Beemus, then bit his bundt (bo, bis bit, bimus, bitis, bunt)
Get it? (Cue groaning)
Note: The first song contains all the ablative prepositions. I find these are best learned together with their meanings. You need to clarify however that ab can also be "a" and ex can also be "e". Later, when you get to accusative prepositions, you can explain why it is "sometimes sub and in." Also, if students are confused about whether a preposition is ablative or accusative - simply ask them to sing the song. if it's in the song - it's ablative. If it's not in the song, it's accusative.
The Ablative Preposition Song (To the tune of London Bridges)
Lyrics by: unknown
Cum, ab, ex, de, sine, pro
Sine pro (2x)
Cum, ab, ex de, sine, pro and sometimes sub and in
Ablative Use Song (To the Tune of Bingo)
Lyrics by Jocelyn Demuth
When you see a noun in the ablative
Without a preposition
Add a word before the noun
Let the sense guide your decision
In, with from or by (3X)
One of those will fit just fine!
Note: To some people, this many seem blasphemous - reducing all the myriad of uses of the ablative to a children's song. In my experience, these names, ablative by means, manner, place from etc. do very little to help students understand how to translate. I tell students to insert the preposition that makes sense first and then assign a name to the use of the ablative. Teaching the titles first is unnecessarily confusing. I pay my heating bill every year with the money I make from tutoring students clearing up just this one point of confusion.
Personal endings song (to the Tune of M-I-C-K-E-Y) Mickey Mouse song
Lyrics by Margaret Brucia
O,S,T, M-U-S, T-I-S, N-T Latin verbs, Latin Verbs….Forever let us learn our Latin verbs!
Present Tense Song (To the Tune of Joy to the World)
Lyrics by Nancy Emery
First conjugation the vowel is "A"
In second the vowel is "E"
In numbers 4 and 3, the vowel is "I" not "E"
With U before N-T (3x)
The Future Rap
Rap and Lyrics by Linda Kordas
In Conjugations 1 and 2, add Bo, bis, bit and bunt with a "U"
In conjugations 3 and 4, add am, es, et and 3 e's more
Bo, bis, bit, bimus, bitis, bunt
Am, es, et, emus, etis, ent
Break it down….
The Perfect Song (To the Tune of How much is that Doggy in the Window)
Lyrics by Linda Kordas
I, isti, it, imus, istis, erunt (ruff-ruff)
The perfect tense, have, has, did, E-D
The stem changes from the second to the third principle part
Usually ending in S,X, U or V .....
Note: Students more often remember VSUX especially when it is pronounced vee sucks.
The Passive Song (To the Tune of We Three Kings)
Lyrics by Jocelyn Demuth
Or, ris, tur, mur, mini, ntur
Passive endings are what these are for!
Be, been, being, add preceding the verb
To make it passive..
(Note: For all these songs, pronounce the case endings according to Latin pronunciation. For example, "Ae - i - i" is sung as "Iye -eee -eee." In the Dative song, "is" is sung as "ees."
The Genitive Song (To the tune of O Christmas Tree) Lyrics by Linda Kordas
Oh, Genitive Possessive Case
Ae – i- i (pronounced i --eee- eeee)
Arum, orum, orum…
Accusative Ending Song (Includes 3rd Declension M+F- To the Tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat) Lyrics by Jocelyn Demuth
Am, um, um and em
Tell me once again!
As, os, a and es
That’s the accusative case!
Dative Song (To the Tune of Hi, Ho, Hi… -Dwarves' song from Snow White)
Lyrics by Jocelyn Demuth
Ae – O and O
Then back to is we go!
Use the dative with verbs like do, dono, mando, monstro
Note: The last line of this song immediately feeds back into the first line and is sung until no one can stand it anymore