A&G define the vocative as “the case of Direct Address.” (35f)
Generally speaking, the vocative and the nominative are the same.
However, in certain nouns of the second declension (those with nominative -us or -ius) have two exceptional variations. All nouns in -us feature an -e in the vocative (mūrus…mūre). Those ending in -ius (Vergilius, fīlius, genius, etc.) take a vocative -ī (Vergilī, filī, genī).
- [Highly attentive readers should note that this vocative does not shift its accent, rendering Vergílī, and not *Vérgilī, as one might expect.]
That’s how it stands for nouns. There’s a slight variation in policy for adjectives, though luckily the same general rule (same as the nominative) holds true for all but the second declension (bonus…bone). However, the one catch is that adjectives ending in -ius change to -ie and not -ī. Therefore, when calling to a Spartan son, we might say O fīlī Lacedaemonie! (not *Lacedaemonī).
If anyone has a better understanding of vocative plurals, which I assume are all identical to their nominative forms, feel free to say more in the comments below. A&G are totally silent on this issue, which I assume signals that listing the vocatives would be redundant (with respect to the nominatives).
The Essential AG: 38a