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He does mention that the zero desinence of the first declension is only found in that particular combination of number and case value and that it contrasts with the desinences of the other number/case values (1939: 211-212), but he nevertheless makes a point of describing exactly the zero desinence as the expression of the content "not feminine" (1939: 213).
The subtypes of the first declension include nominals like LIPP 'flag', which exhibit productive gradation, along with nominals like MAJA 'house', which do not exhibit gradation.
For example, some first declension nouns have a stem partitive plural, as illustrated by maju in table 2.
Hence the contrast between 'tool or 'tooli and tooli in table 5 identifies TOOL as a first declension noun.
Quantitative contrasts also play a role in the paradigms of first declension nouns that contain short illative singular forms.
The two largest classes are the first declension, which contains nominals with vowel-final partitive singulars and the second declension, which contains nominals with consonant-final partitive singulars and non-trochaic genitive singulars.
The defining characteristic of the first declension is a partitive singular ending in one of the theme vowels a, e, i, or u.
In all grade-alternating first declension paradigms, the strong stem realizes the partitive singular and the weak stem realizes the genitive singular, defining a 'weakening' pattern.
Although most genitive plurals are based on the partitive singular, partitive plurals based on the partitive singular are a characteristic feature of the first declension.