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Latin: An Intensive Introduction > Syntax > Flashcards

Flashcards in Syntax Deck (98)

Simple (General) Conditions

Formula: Indicative in both clauses


Future Conditions: More Vivid

Formula: Future indicative in both clauses. Occassionally, the future perfect indicative is used in the protasis for emphasis (In English, present in protasis, future in apodosis)


Future Conditions: Less Vivid

Formula: Present subjunctive in both clauses. (In English, should...would)


Contrary-To-Fact Conditions: Present Contrary-To-Fact

Contrary-to-fact conditions state something which is untrue and hypothesized.

Formula: Imperfect subjunctive in both clauses. (In English, were -------ing,...would be...-ing / would...)


Contrary-To-Fact Conditions: Past Contrary-To-Fact

Contrary-to-fact conditions state something which is untrue and hypothesized.

Formula: Pluperfect subjunctive in both clauses. (In English, had..., would have​...)


Mixed Conditions

Occassionally one finds a mixed condition where the protasis and the apodosis belong to different categories. Such conditions are constructed as logical thought requires.


Genitive with Verbs of Accusing and Condemning

The genitive is used with verbs of accusing or condemning to express the charge or the penalty.


Ablative of Means (Instrument)

The ablative without a preposition is used to express the means or instrument by which something is done.


Ablative of Manner

The ablative case may be used with or without the preposition cum to denote the way or manner in which something is done. The cum is required in this construction when the noun in the ablative is not modified by an adjective; when it is modified, cum is optional. When both a preposition and an adjective are used with the ablative of manner, the adjective often begins the phrase.

Note that phrases of this type can usually be translated by an English adverb ending in -ly.


Clauses of Purpose; Sequence of Tenses

Purpose clauses are frequently introduced by the subordinating conjunctions ut (in this case, meaning 'in order that') or nē ('in order that...not'); they have their verbs in the subjunctive.

If a verb of the main (independent) clause is a primary tense, the verb of the subordinate (dependent) subjunctive clause must be primary. This is called primary sequence. Likewise, if the verb of the main clause is in a secondary tense, the verb of the subordinate clause must be secondary. This is called secondary sequence.

In primary sequence, the present subjunctive regularly denotes an action which occurs at the same time as that of the main verb or will occur at some time subsequent to that of the main verb. The perfect subjunctive denotes an action which occurred prior to the time of the main verb.

In secondary sequence, the imperfect subjunctive regularly denotes an action which occurs at the same time as that of the main verb or will occur at some time subsequent to that of the main verb. The pluperfect subjunctive denotes an action which occurred prior to the time of the main verb.


  • Present (primary) and Imperfect (secondary) Subjunctive: contemporaneous or subsequent action (with reference to the main verb)
  • Perfect (primary) and Pluperfect (secondary) Subjunctive: prior action (with reference to the main verb)

It will be observed, then, that the tenses of the subjunctive frequently have no specific English tense values of their own but are relative to the tense of the main verb of a given sentence.

Since purpose clauses must logically refer to an action which will occur subsequent to the main verb, only the present and imperfect subjunctives are used in this construction. 

Translate: 'may' (primary sequence), 'might' (secondary sequence)


Indirect Commands

Consider the sentence, "I beg that you overcome the sailor". "That you overcome the sailor" is an indirect command and represents a direct imperative: "I beg you. Overcome the sailor!" Many verbs of orderingwarningbeggingurgingasking, and the like, take such a construction. The indirect command is really a substantive clause which functions as the direct object of the main verb.

Exemplum: Ōrō ut nautam superēs.


Ablative of Personal Agent

The agent or person who performs the action of a passive verb is regularly expressed in the ablative case preceded by the preposition ā or ab, 'by'.

Ablative of personal agent should not be confused with the ablative of means, which has no preposition, and which refers to a thing, not a person.


Some Uses of Participles

The tense of the participle is relative to that of the main verb. A present participle refers to an action contemporaneous with that of the main verb; a perfect participle refers to an action prior to that of the main verb; a future participle refers to an action subsequent to that of the main verb.

Some uses:

  1. Causal ("since")
  2. Concessive ("although") (frequently used with tamen, 'nevertheless')
  3. Temporal ("when, while, after")
  4. Conditional ("if")
  5. Relative clause

Note on future passive participle ("gerundive"): it carries the notion of obligation, necessity, propriety.


Active Periphrastic

Translate: "about to, going to, ready to"


Passive Periphrastic

Translate: "have (has) to, should, ought to, must"


Dative of Agent with the Passive Periphrastic

Personal agent is regularly expressed by the ablative case preceded by the preposition ā (ab). With the passive periphrastic, however, the personal agent is normally expressed by the dative case without a preposition. In fact, this use of the dative is purely referential; the action of the verb is viewed as necessary with reference to the agent.


Dative of the Possessor

With forms of the verb sum, the dative is sometimes used to show possession. The possessor is put into the dative case.

Exemplum: Liber est amīcō ("A book is to the friend; the friend has a book")


Complementary Infinitive

A complementary infinitive completes the meaning of an intransitive verb. Some of these are verbs which express ability, will, desire, and the like.


Objective Infinitive

An objective infinitive functions as the direct object of the transitive verb.

Exemplum: Amīcum vidēre optō ("I desire to see (my) friend")


Indirect Statement: Subject Accusative and Infinitive

After words which express or imply actions that take place in the head, such as saying, thinking, seeing, perceiving, knowing, and the like, we are able to express statements indirectly; that is, the essence of the original speaker's ideas is reported by someone else, although not necessarily in his exact words.

In English an indirect statement is generally introduced by the subordinating conjunction that, for which there is no equivalent in classical Latin. Instead, a construction with the subject in the accusative case and the verb in the infinitive is used.

In order to change a statement from direct to indirect, take the subject of the direct one and make it accusative; take the finite verb and change it to an infinitive.

The tense of the infinitive in this construction is relative to that of the main verb. The present infinitive expresses an action which is or was going on at the same time as that of the main verb; the perfect infinitive refers to an action which occured prior to that of the main verb; and the future infinitive signals one which will occur subsequent to that of the main verb.

*Note: Since the future active, perfect passive, and the periphrastic infinitives are compounded of a participle and the infinitive of sum, the participle is, in effect, a predicate adjective and must agree with its noun (the subject of the indirect statement) in gender, number, and case.


Impersonal Indirect Statement

When dīcere is used in the passive voice, this is called the Impersonal Indirect Statement, and the accusative is not used for the subject--the subject is in the nominative case.


Ablative of Separation

Some verbs which express or imply separation or deprivation are accompanied by the ablative case. The prepositions ā (ab), 'away from', ē (ex), 'from, out of', or , 'from, down from', are sometimes used with this construction, but more usually the ablative occurs alone.


Ablative of Origin

The ablative, with or without a preposition, expresses the origin or descent of a person or thing.


Ablative of Place from Which

In order to express place from which, the ablative is used with the prepositions ā (ab), ē (ex), or . But with the names of towns, cities, and small islands, and the words domus, 'home', and rūs, 'country', no preposition is used.


Accusative of Place to Which

Place to which is expressed by the accusative case with the preposition ad. With names of towns, cities, and small islands, and the words domus, 'home', and rūs, 'country', no preposition is used.


The Locative Case

The names of towns, cities, and small islands, and the words domus and rūs require a special case to express place in which or place where, which for other nouns is expressed by the ablative with the preposition in. This case is called the locative.

For nouns of the first and second declensions, the locative singular is identical to the genitive singular (-ī or -ae). In the plural for these two declensions, it is identical in form to the ablative plural (-īs).

For nouns of the third declension, the locative ends in either -e or -ī in the singular, in -ibus in the plural.


Rules for Determining Which Third Declension Nouns are I-Stems

A third declension noun with generally be an i-stem if:

  1. The nominative and genitive singular have the same number of syllables.
  2. The stem of the noun ends in two consonants except if the second consonant is an or r.
  3. The nominative singular of a neuter noun ends in -e, -al, or -ar.


Reflexive Pronouns

A reflexive pronoun generally refers to or reflects the subject of its own clause; therefore, it cannot have a nominative case.

In the first and second persons, there is no separate reflexive prounoun; one uses simply the correct case of ego or , and whether the usage is reflexive or not can be determined from the relationship of the pronoun to the subject. If they are the same person or thing, then the pronoun is reflexive; if they are different, then the pronoun is not reflexive.


  1. Mē videō (Reflexive)
  2. Mē videt (Not Reflexive)

In the third person, however, a separate form is used for both the singular and plural: --, suī, sibi, sē, sē.


  1. Eum videt. (He [person A] sees him [person B].)
  2. Sē videt. (He sees himself.)


Possessive Adjectives

The possessive adjectives for the first person are meus, -a, -um, 'my', and noster, nostra, nostrum, 'our'. For the second person, they are tuus, -a, -um, 'your', and vester, vestra, vestrum, 'your'. Since they are adjectives, they must agree with the thing possessed in gender, number, and case.

As has been seen throughout the text, the possessive adjective need not be expressed in Latin when its sense can be inferred easily from the context. When the adjective is used in Latin, it is strictly emphatic or is used to clarify a point which the context would otherwise leave obscure.

The possessive adjective for the third person is suus, -a, -um (singular and plural), but this word is used only reflexively; that is, the thing possessed belongs to the subject. When reflexive possession is not desired in the third person, a form of is, ea, id in the genitive case is used.


  1. Suum imperium ōdit. (He hates his own authority.)
  2. Eius imperium ōdit. (He [person A] hates his [person B's] authority.)

Observation: The genitive of the personal pronouns is never used to show possession. In order to express possession in the first and second persons, the possessive adjectives must be used.


Relative Pronoun

The relative pronoun introduces an adjectival clause which modifes the antecedent of that pronoun. The relative pronoun agrees in gender and number with its antecedent, but its case is determined by its used in its own clause.


Connecting Relative (The Relative Pronoun at the Beginning of the Sentence)

The relative pronoun is frequently used in Latin to begin a sentence where the English would use a demonstrative or a personal pronoun. Since the antecedent of the relative pronoun is a word or idea in the previous sentence, this usage makes for greater cohesion between sentences and thoughts.


Ablative of Accompaniment

The ablative is used with the preposition cum to denote accompaniment.

Translate: "with"


Ablative of Time When or Within Which

Time when or within which is expressed by the ablative. A preposition is not regularly used.

Translate: "in, at, within"


Accusative of Duration of Time and Extent of Space

The accusative, usually without a preposition, is used to express duration of time or extent of space. It answers the question "for how long?", whether it be of time or distance.

Translate: "for, during"


Subjunctive in Subordinate Clauses in Indirect Statement

Subordinate clauses within an indirect statement (subject accusative and infinitive) normally have their verbs in the subjunctive, the tense of which is frequently determined according to the rules of tense sequence after the verb or phrase of the head which introduces the indirect statement.

The development of this usage is logical, for the subjunctive is the mood of idea, intention, possibility, etc., as opposed to fact, and the person reporting the statement does not claim responsibility that the subject of the relative clause actually  does the action.


Present Participle in the Ablative Singular

  • -ī generally occurs when the participle is used as an attributive adjective
  • -e generally occurs when the participle is used as a noun or in an ablative absolute.


Ablative of Respect (Specification)

The respect in which a statement is true is expressed by the ablative without a preposition.

Translate: "in (respect to)"


The Vocative Case

The vocative is the case of direct address. It is generally identical to the nominative, except for second declension nouns ending in -us or -ius:

  1. Nouns ending in -us have a vocative singular in -e
  2. Nouns ending in -ius have a vocative singular in -ī
  3. The adjective meus, -a, -um, 'my', has the masculine singular vocative 

All plural vocatives are identical to the nominative plural.


Datives of Purpose (Service) and Reference: The Double Dative Construction (also called the Dative of Advantage/Disadvantage)

Two datives frequently appear in close proximity, one denoting the purpose (service) with reference to which the action or idea expressed in the clause occurs, the other denoting the person or thing with reference to whom or which the action or idea occurs or is relevant.

Another way to look at it: one denotes the advantage/disadvantage and the other dative further specifies the advantage/disadvantage.

Translate: "(for the purpose of)...(with reference to)", "as"


Translating Comparison of Adjectives

Sometimes comparatives and superlatives can be translated with "very" or "extremely" than making an actual comparison.


Quam Plus the Superlative

Quam followed by an adjective (or adverb) in the superlative degree gives the meaning "as [adjective/adverb] as possible"


Comparison with quam; Ablative of Comparison

Comparisons can be made in two ways in Latin:

  1. The conjunction quam is here equivalent to the English 'than'. As in English, quam, 'than', has the same case after it as it has before it (i.e., the things compared are in the same case).
  2. Here the ablative, without a preposition, is used with the comparative adjective to denote comparison. The ablative of comparison and the construction with quam may be used interchangeably with no distinction in meaning.


Ablative of Degree of Difference

The ablative, without a preposition, is used with the comparatives to express the degree in which the two things being compared differ. Less frequently, this kind of ablative is also found with a superlative in statements in which there is an implicit comparative judgment made.

Translate: "by"


Partitive Genitive (Genitive of the Whole)

The genitive is sometimes used in Latin to express the whole group or unit of which the word on which the genitive depends expresses the part

The ablative, preceded by the prepositions ē (ex), or dē is used as an alternative to the partitive genitive with some words. This is especially frequent when the word denoting the part is a cardinal numeral.

Some words used substantively in Latin require a partitive genitive to render an idea which in English would be expressed with a noun and adjective.

Exemplum: Satis pecūniae habet (He has enough (ofmoney)

In the singular, the word plūs is used substantively and is generally indeclinable; in the plural, it is used attributively and is declined.


Ablative Absolute

Grammatically, the ablative absolute refers to a part of the sentence which has no close syntactical connection with the rest; it is "untied" or "detached" from the main clause. The Latin absolute construction requires the ablative, not the nominative, case.

The subject of the absolute construction is different from the subject (or object) of the main clause. In the broadest sense, the absolute functions as an adverb giving the circumstances or time in which the action of the main clause occurs.

In an ablative absolute clause, the noun/pronoun in the ablative serves as the subject, and the participle serves as the verb (or an adjective is the predicate).

The tense of the participle is relative to the tense of the main verb. The present participle refers to an action which occurs at the same time as that of the main verb. The perfect participle refers to an action which occurred prior to the time of the main verb. The future participle refers to an action which occurs subsequent to the time of the main verb (although the future is very rare in classical Latin).


  1. When the present participle is used in an ablative absolute, the -ending for the ablative singular occurs rather than the -ī.
  2. Since there is no present participle for the verb sum, two nouns are sometimes used in an ablative absolute construction with an implied participle connecting them. The second noun is in effect a predicate ablative.
  3. The participle, since it is a verbal adjective, retains its verbal functions. Consequently, it can control an object.

Translate: "with, when, since, if, although"


Ablative of Cause

The ablative, generally without a preposition, is sometimes used to express cause.

Translate: "because of"

Sometimes cause is expressed by ob or propter, "on account of", followed by the accusative case.


Ablative and Genitive of Description

A noun in the ablative or genitive case, when modified by an adjective, may be used to describe or express a quality of another noun.

Exemplum: "A man of great wisdom"

  1. Vir magnā sapientiā
  2. Vir magnae sapientiae


Deponent Verbs

Deponent verbs have passive forms, but active meanings.


  1. Deponents do have a present participle which is active in form and meaning.
  2. Deponent verbs have a perfect active participle; other verbs have only a perfect passive participle.
  3. Deponent verbs have both a future active and a future passive participle in form and meaning.
  4. While the present and perfect infinitives have passive forms but active meanings, the future infinitive is active in form and meaning.

The present and future participles and the future infinitive, then, pose the only problem in the deponent system.


Semi-Deponent Verbs

Several verbs have active forms and meanings in the present system, but passive forms with active meanings in the perfect system. These are called semi-deponents.


Subjective and Objective Genitive

There is a verbal idea understood in nouns and adjectives of feeling or action. The noun that is the object of this verbal idea is called the objective genitive, and the noun that is its subject is called the subjective genitive.


  1. Objective Genitive:
    1. amor patriae (love of the native land [i.e., what is loved is the native land)
  2. Subjective Genitive:
    1. fēminae amor patriae (the woman's love of her native land)


Genitive of Characteristic (Predicate Genitive)

A noun in the genitive case which stands alone (or modified by an adjective) in the predicate denotes a characteristic or class.


  1. "Hominis sapientis est librōs legere" (It is [the mark] of a wise man to read books)
  2. "Bonī est deōs laudare" (It is [the mark] of a good [man] to praise the gods")

Translate: "It is the mark of, characteristic of"


Infinitive as Subject

Since the infinitive is a verbal noun, it may function as the subject of the sentence, especially with the verb esse

Exemplum: Vidēre est crēdere ("To see is to believe; seeing is believing")

Infinitives used as nouns are considered neuter singular. Infinitives used in this way may be modified by adjectives which will appear in the neuter.

Exemplum: Librōs legere bonum est ("To read books is [a] good [thing]; reading books is good; it is a good thing to read books")


Independent Uses of the Subjunctive: Jussive and Hortatory Subjunctives

The present subjunctive is used to express a command or an exhortation.

The jussive sense occurs mainly in the third person; the hortatory in the first. 

The negative is introduced by .

Translate: "May, let"


Independent Uses of the Subjunctive: Potential Subjunctive

The subjunctive may be used independently to express an action which might possibly or conceivably occur.

For present or future potentiality, the present (sometimes the perfect) subjunctive is used. This type of subjunctive is allied to future less vivid conditions; in fact, one might conceive of it as the apodosis (concluding clause) of such a condition, the protasis (if-clause) of which has been suppressed.

Past potentiality is expressed with the imperfect subjunctive.

The negative of the potential subjunctive is introduced by nōn.

Translate: "would, could, might"


Independent Uses of the Subjunctive: Deliberative Subjunctive

The present and imperfect subjunctives may be used to deliberate about a course of action. This is frequently used in a rhetorical question (i.e., a question which is asked for effect, but which does not demand an answer).

Exemplum: Quid faciam? ("What should I do?")

The negative is introduced by nōn.

Translate: "should"


Independent Uses of the Subjunctive: Optative Subjunctive

A wish for the future which is capable of fulfillment is expressed by the present subjunctive alone or is introduced by utinam or ut (negative utinam nē or ).

Translate: "would that...may"

Wishes incapable of fulfillment utilize the imperfect subjunctive for present time (cf. present contrary-to-fact conditions) and the pluperfect for past time (cf. past contrary-to-fact conditions).

Translate: "would that...were ---ing" or "would that...had"


Direct Questions

Questions are sometimes introduced by interrogative words: quis?, 'who?'; quid?, 'what?'; quandō?, 'when?'; quō?, quō modō?, 'how?'; cur?, quam ob rem?, 'why?'; unde?, 'from where?'; etc. If no interrogative word is used, the enclitic -ne is frequently attached to the introductory word in order to indicate that a question is approaching.

When the answer "yes" is expected, the question is introduced by the word nōnne.

When the answer "no" is expected, the question is introduced by the word num.

Double questions are introduced by the particles utrum (or -ne or no introductory particle at all), 'whether...or'.


Indirect Questions

Indirect questions are subordinate noun clauses which serve as the object (and, less frequently, the subject) of the words on which they depend. These words usually, but not always, express or imply actions that take place in the head, such as saying, thinking, seeing, perceiving, knowing, asking, and the like.

Indirect questions are introduced by an interrogative word and have their verbs in the subjunctive.

Exemplum: "I know who you are." (Direct Question: "Who are you?")

In direct speech, these clauses would have been direct questions with their verbs in the indicative or the deliberative subjunctive.


  1. While indirect questions follow the rules for sequence of tenses, a periphrastic form is frequently used to denote future time.
  2. In double indirect questions, when the second question is negative, necne is used more frequently than the an nōn of the direct question.


The Indefinite Pronouns aliquis, quis, quisquam, quisque

Indefinite pronouns represent some person or thing without designating exactly which one. Quīdam, 'a certain', met in the previous unit, is also an indefinite pronoun.

  1. aliquis
    The pronoun aliquis, aliquid is declined like the interrogative pronoun quis, quid with ali- added as a prefix; the forms for the adjective, aliquī, aliqua, aliquod, are identical to those of the relative pronoun quī, quae, quod with the prefix alī, with the exception of the feminine nominative singular (as noted in the three parts given), and the neuter nominative and accusative plural, which are aliqua.

    The pronoun means 'someone, something, anyone, anything'; the adjective means 'some, any'.
  2. quis
    Quis, quid 
    (adjective quī, qua, quod) is essentially identical to aliquis, aliquid (adjective aliquī, aliqua, aliquod), although it perhaps has a greater degree of indefiniteness about it. It is most frequently used instead of aliquis after the words sī, nisī, num, and .

    Remember: after sī, nisī, num, and , all the ali-'s drop away.
  3. quisquam
    Quisquam, quidquam 
    (sometimes written quicquam) is declined like quis, quid with the suffix -quam. It means 'someone (something), anyone (anything)' and is used mainly in sentences which are negative or imply negation. The adjective for quisquam is supplied by the word ūllus, -a, -um, 'any'.
  4. quisque
    The pronoun quisque, quidque (sometimes written quicque) (adjective, quīque, quaeque, quodque) is declined like quis, quid (adjective like quī, quae, quod) with the suffix -que and means 'each one (each), everyone (every)'.
  • Particular Indefinites
    • aliquis
    • quis
    • quisquam
    • quidam
  • General Indefinites
    • quivis
    • quilibet
  • Distributive Indefinites
    • quisque
    • uterque


Dative with Certain Intransitive Verbs

There are certain intransitive verbs in Latin which govern the dative case and take a dative of reference.


Impersonal Passives

Intransitive verbs (verbs which do not take a direct object) are sometimes found in the passive voice, but since they cannot have a direct object, then in the passive they cannot have a personal subject.

When a passive idea is desired, an impersonal construction must be used. An impersonal verb form appears in the third person singular and has no personal subject. The pronoun "it" may be used in English to give a literal translation.

When such verbs are used in the passive periphrastic construction, the ablative of agent generally occurs instead of the more usual dative of agent in order to avoid confusion with the dative that is governed by the intransitive verb.

Exemplum: Tibi ā nōbīs parcendum est ("It must be spared to you by us")

The impersonal passive construction sometimes occurs with other verbs which do not take the dative when particular attention is called to the verbal action itself rather than to the ones performing the action.

Exemplum: Domī pūgnātur (It is being fought at home; there is fighting at home; fighting is going on at home)

Translate: "It is..."


Dative with Compound Verbs

Many verbs compounded with prefixes such as the following govern the dative case:

  • ad-
  • ante-
  • circum-
  • con-
  • in-
  • inter-
  • ob-
  • post-
  • prae-
  • prō-
  • sub-
  • super-

It will be noted that such verbs cannot stand alone or, if transitive, simply with an accusative object; they require another word to complete the sense.

These datives, like all datives, are basically referential.


Clauses of Result

Clauses which express the result of an action or a quality are introduced by ut for the positive, ut nōn (nēmōnihilnumquam, etc.) for the negative, and have their verbs in the subjunctive.

The approach of a result clause is often indicated by the presence of an adjective or adverb of degree in the main clause.

  • Adjectives: tantus, -a, -um, 'so great'; tālis, -e, 'such, of such a sort'; tot (indeclinable), 'so many'
  • Adverbs: ita, 'so'; tam, 'so'; sīc, 'in this way'; adeō, 'so'

The rules for sequence of tenses are generally observed. However, the perfect subjunctive is sometimes found in the secondary sequence instead of the imperfect in order to lay stress on the fact that the action is completed.

Note the following similarities and distinctions between purpose and result clauses:

  • Purpose
    • Positive introduced by ut
    • Negative introduced by 
  • Result
    • Positive introduced by ut
    • Negative introduced by ut...nōn
    • An adverb or adjective of degree in the main clause frequently signals the approach of a clause of result.

Translate: "...that..."


Substantive Clauses of Result

Certain verbs and expressions have result clauses either as their object or subject.

  • Efficere/facere ut + object clause
  • Accidit/fit/fierī potest/effēcit ut + subject clause

The verbs efficere and facere are frequently followed by nē instead of ut...nōn to introduce a negative clause, particularly when there is an implicit notion of command in the sentence.


Relative Clauses of Characteristic (Generic Relative Clauses)

The relative pronoun quīquaequod plus the subjunctive can be used to describe its antecedent in terms of the general qualities or characteristics of the group to which the antecedent belongs.

The relative clause with its verb in the subjunctive characterizes its antecedent in terms of the general qualities of the larger group to which the antecedent belongs. The relative clause with its verb in the indicative describes a particular antecedent. Compare:

  • Is est quī celeriter ambulet (He is the [kind of] man who walks fast)
  • Is est quī celeriter ambulat (He is the [actual] man who walks fast)

In many instances, these clauses have general or indefinite antecedents, of which the following are common:

  • sunt quī
  • est quī
  • nēmō est quī
  • nihil est quod
  • quis est quī?
  • quid est quod?

But these generic clauses are also found with less vague and even with precise antecedents when they are felt to characterize or generalize rather than denote a specific attribute of the antecedent.

Exemplum: is est quī ("he is the [kind of] man who")

Relative clauses of characteristic are best translated into English using the indicative; the generic idea is carried over into English by the formulae which introduce such clauses--i.e., 'there is no one who', 'he is the sort of man who'. Sometimes, however, the context requires that the subjunctive be rendered with potential force.

Exemplum: Quis est quī hoc faciat? ("Who is the [kind of] one who does this? OR Who is there who would do this? [potential force]")

Frequently, negative relative clauses of characteristic are introduced by quīn (= quī [quaequodnōn), 'who...not, who...would not'.


Relative Clauses of Result

Very closely allied to the relative clause of characteristic is the relative clause of result. Here there is a fusion of both a relative clause of characteristic and a result clause to produce a relative clause of result. The relative pronoun is standing for the ut which would normally introduce the clause of result.

Relative result clauses use quīquaequod plus the subjunctive to describe the result of an action just as ut with the subjunctive.

Exemplum: Nihil est tam malum quod mūtārī nōn possit ("There is nothing so bad with the result that it cannot be changed")


Relative Clauses of Purpose and Purpose Clauses Introduced by Adverbs

Purpose clauses were presented as having their verbs in the subjunctive and as being introduced by ut for the positive and nē for the negative. However, there are other ways of expressing purpose with the subjunctive in Latin:

  1. Quō (ablative, 'by which') introduces a purpose clause which contains a comparative.
    1. Exemplum: Properātis quō celerius adveniātis ("You hasten by which you may arrived more quickly")
  2. Purpose clauses may be introduced by a relative pronoun when its antecedent, usually not the subject of the main verb, is clearly expressed in the main clause. They may also be introduced by an adverb (ubi, 'where'; unde, 'from where'; quō, '(to) where')


Indirect Reflexives

Reflexives refer to the subject of the verb of their own clause. A reflexive so used is called a direct reflexive.

However, in subordinate subjunctive clauses and in indirect statement, the reflexive usually refers to the subject of the main clause and not to that of the clause in which it appears. This use is called the indirect reflexive.

Exemplum: Plēbs ōrat ut sibi parcāmus (The common people beg that we spare them)

If one wishes to take the less frequent course and have one's reflexive refer to the subject of the verb in its own clause, clarity can be achieved by inserting the appropriate form of the intensive pronoun, ipseipsa, ipsum.


Cum Clauses

Cum is not only a preposition meaning 'with'; but it occurs also as a subordinating conjunction with the meanings 'when', 'since', and 'although'. The verb in such clauses is most often in the subjunctive, its tense determined by the rules for sequence of tenses after the main verb. The meaning of cum in such clauses must be determined from the context of the sentence.

Remember that the cum clause, although it may appear first in the sentence, is a subordinate clause, not the main clause.


  • cum Temporal
    • Primary Sequence: indicative
    • Secondary Sequence: indicative
  • cum Circumstantial
    • Primary Sequence: indicative
    • Secondary Sequence: subjunctive
  • cum Causal
    • Primary Sequence: subjunctive
    • Secondary Sequence: subjunctive
  • cum Concessive
    • Primary Sequence: subjunctive
    • Secondary Sequence: subjunctive


Cum Clauses: Temporal and Circumstantial Clauses

When the cum clause refers strictly to time and its action is coordinate with that of the main verb, it is a temporal cum clause and cum is translated 'when'. Such clauses have their verbs in the indicative.

If the cum clause states the circumstances in which the action of the main verb takes place, it is called a circumstantial cum clause and cum is translated 'when'. When the action in such cum clauses refers to present or future time, the indicative is used. When the action in the circumstantial cum clause is in past time, the subjunctive is used.


Cum Clauses: Causal Clauses

When cum translates as 'since' or 'because', the cum clause is causal. Causal cum clauses draw a causal connection between the two clauses. The verb in causal cum clauses is always in the subjunctive.

Translate into English as an indicative.


Cum Clauses: Concessive Clauses

When cum translates 'although', the cum clause is concessive. Frequently, tamen, 'nevertheless', in the main clause indicates that cum is to be taken as 'although', but the tamen is not always there. Concessive cum clauses always have their verbs in the subjunctive.


Cum, 'whenever'

If cum means 'whenever', it takes a perfect indicative when the main verb is present, a pluperfect indicative when the main verb is imperfect.


  • Cum tē vīdī, fēlix sum (Whenever I see you, I am happy)
  • Cum tē vīderam, fēlix eram (Whenever I saw you, I was happy)


Cum Clauses and Ablatives Absolute

The ablative absolute construction can be expressed with cum clauses with no change in meaning.

Note: whereas the ablative absolute with the perfect participle must be expressed in the passive because of the lack of a perfect active participle and also in order to avoid concordance of subjects in both clauses, the cum clause may use the active voice.


Other Words Introducing Temporal, Causal, and Concessive Clauses

  1. Temporal
    1. utubipostquamquandō (+ indicative)
    2. Translate: "When, after"
  2. Causal
    1. quoniamquandō (almost always with indicative)
    2. quodquia (+ indicative or subjunctive)
    3. Translate: "Since, because"
  3. Concessive
    1. quamquam, etsī (+ indicative)
    2. quamvīs (+ subjunctive)
    3. Translate: "Although"


Conjunctions with Indicative or Subjunctive

Several conjunctions take either the indicative or the subjunctive. The distinction is based on the difference between these two moods: the indicative is the mood of fact, while the subjunctive is the mood of probability, intention, or idea.

  1. quod or quia, 'because'
    1. Takes either the indicative ("actually"--i.e., the speaker believes and accepts responsibility for the statement) or subjunctive ("allegedly"--i.e., the speaker does not accept responsibility for the statement and does not express it as a fact; it is within the realm of probability or idea). This use of quod with the subjunctive is referred to as the quod clause of alleged reason
  2. dum or dōnec, 'while, as long as, until'
    1. When referring merely to a temporal idea, it takes the indicative. 
      1. Note: dum, 'while', normally uses the present indicative (the so-called historical present) to denote continued action in past time.
    2. When a notion of purpose, intention, or a future idea is involved, the subjunctive is used.
  3. antequam or priusquam, 'before'
    1. When referring strictly to time, they take the indicative.
    2. When purpose, intention, or idea is involved, the subjunctive is used in secondary sequence.
      1. In primary sequence, the present or future perfect indicative is generally used (less frequently, the present subjunctive).
    3. Frequently, ante/quam or prius/quam is split (tmesis) so as to give the sentence a greater degree of cohesion.


Clauses of Proviso

Dummodo, and dummodo (all meaning 'if only, provided that, as long as') are used to express conditional wishes with the present and imperfect subjunctives. The negative uses .

These are often used with a jussive or imperative.


Accusative of Exclamation

The accusative case is sometimes used in exclamations. The accusative case is used by itself in exclamations.


  • Ō tempora! Ō mōrēs! (Oh, the times, oh, the customs!)
  • Puerum miserum! (Unhappy boy!)


The Gerund

It has been said that the infinitive is a neuter verbal noun and that it may be used as the subject of the verb. Yet, the infinitive retains its character as a verb by taking an object or by being modified by an adverb.

When the verbal noun is not functioning as the subject of a verb, a specific form, called the gerund, is used. The infinitive supplies the nominative of the gerund. The other cases are formed by adding -nd to the present stem of the verb (for i-stems of the third conjugation and for all fourth conjugation verbs, an -ie will appear before the -nd), plus the neuter endings of the second declension. These forms are in fact the same as the neuter singular of the future passive participle, except that there is no nominative.

The gerund has no plural.

The gerund functions in the various grammatical cases like any other noun, but it still retains its verbal force and so may control an object and may be modified by an adverb. Intransitive verbs which govern the dative case will do so in the gerund form as well.

Translate: "---ing"


The Gerundive

The gerundive is a verbal adjective and is sometimes called the future passive participle.

Although the gerund may govern an object, in such instances Latin frequently prefers to use a gerundive construction instead, except when that object is a neuter adjective or pronoun.


The Gerund and Gerundive Used to Express Purpose

Purpose may be expressed by the gerund and gerundive in two common ways:

  1. Ad + the Accusative
    1. Ad + the accusative of the gerund may express purpose. 
    2. The gerund, as always, may take a direct object.
    3. But when the gerund would take an object, the gerundive construction is preferred in Latin.
  2. Genitive Followed by causā
    1. The genitive of the gerund, followed by causā, may be used to express purpose.
    2. Again, when the gerund would govern an object (except in the case of netuer adjectives or pronouns), the gerundive construction is preferred.
    3. The reason for the exception in the case of neuter adjectives or pronouns is the confusion in gender which might arise between masculine or neuter.
      1. Compare:
        1. Multa videndī causā venit.
        2. Multōrum videndōrum causā venit. (Many things or many men???)


Impersonal Verbs

A small number of verbs in Latin are found only in the third person singular, the infinitive, and sometimes the participle because of their peculiar meanings. Such verbs are called impersonal verbs because of their lack of a personal subject and require in English the word "it" to function as the subject.

The constructions with these verbs are as follows:

  1. With Accusative and Infinitive
    1. oportet; necesse est; licet
  2. With Dative and Infinitive
    1. necesse est; licet
  3. With Subjunctive Clause Introduced by ut (Expressed or Implied)
    1. ​necesse est; licet
  4. With Objective Genitive and Accusative
    1. miseret; piget; taedet; paenitet; pudet
    2. These impersonals take the genitive of the thing which arouses the feeling and the accusative of the person concerned.
    3. Instead of a genitive, an infinitive, a quod clause, or a neuter pronoun is sometimes used to express the source of the feeling. When this occurs, the infinitive, the quod clause, or the neuter pronoun is the subject of the verb.
      1. Legere mē taedet (Reading bores me)


The Impersonals interest and rēfert

These two impersonals, which mean 'it concerns, it is of interest, it is in the interest of', take the genitive of the person concerned and an infinitive, an ut clause, or a demonstrative pronoun in the neuter singular to express the thing which is of concern. But instead of the genitive of the personal pronouns, the following adjectival forms in the ablative case are used: meā, tuā, suā, nostrā, vestrā.


Clauses of Fearing

Verbs or expressions of fearing take subjunctive clauses introduced by nē for the positive and ut for the negative. While this may seem a curious reversal, it is a logical construction. In the earliest stages of the language, the constructions were paratactic; parataxis is the absence of subordination and the arrangement of several clauses side by side.

Timeō. Ut veniat! (I fear. I wish he would come!)

As the language developed, the constructions became hypotactic; hypotaxis is the subordination of one clause to another.

Timeō ut veniat (I fear that he is not coming)

Clauses of fearing follow the normal rules for sequence of tenses. While the present subjunctive may refer to an act that is either contemporaneous with or subsequent to the action of the main verb, when stress is laid on the subsequence (futurity) of the action, the active periphrastic is occasionally used.

Sometimes, nē...non are found instead of ut to introduce a negative clause of fearing.


Clauses of Doubting

When dubitō (1) means 'hesitate', it takes an infinitive.

When it means 'doubt', it takes the following constructions which are regularly used with words or expressions of doubting:

  1. When the word or expression of doubting is positive (as opposed to negative), it introduces an indirect question.
    1. Translate: "Doubt whether (that)..."
  2. When the word or expression of doubting is negative, a subjunctive clause is introduced by quīn (translated literally 'but that') is used.
    1. Translate: "Do not doubt (but) that..."

A virtual negative is an implied negative.


Clauses of Prevention

To express prohibition or prevention, the following constructions are used:

  1. Vetō, -āre, -uī, -itus, 'forbid', and prohibeō, -ēre, -uī, -itus, 'prohibit', take a simple infinitive.
  2. The following verbs are among those which take a subjunctive construction:
    1. dēterreō, -ēre, -uī, -itus, 'deter, prevent'

    2. impediō, -īre, -īvī (-iī), -ītus, 'prevent'

    3. obstō, -āre, -stitī, -stātus, 'hinder, stand in the way of'

  3. If the verb of prevention is positive, the subjunctive clause will be introduced by quōminus ( = quō minus, 'by which the less') or , 'in order that not'. These clauses are analogous to relative clauses of purpose introduced by quō, and quōminus in effect is standing for ut eō minus, 'in order that by this the less'. 

    When the verb of prevention is negative, the subjunctive clause is introduced by quōminus, 'by which the less', or quīn, 'but that'.


The Supine

The gerund is a verbal noun. There is another variety of verbal noun in Latin called the supine. As we might expect, it is neuter singular, but it has only two cases, the accusative and the ablative, each of which has a specific use. The supine, then, is not nearly as versitile as the gerund and, in fact, occurs infrequently. It is formed on the fourth principal part of the verb.

optātum, optātū
implētum, implētū
inceptum, inceptū
sēnsum, sēnsū

The accusative of the supine, ending in -um, is used without a preposition after verbs of motion to express purpose.

The ablative of the supine, ending in , is used with some adjectives as an ablative of respect.


Subjunctive by Attraction

Relative clauses in indirect statements usually have their verbs in the subjunctive. This is also frequently the case with relative and other subordinate clauses within clauses whose verbs are in the subjunctive, provided that the subordinate clause is an integral part of the idea of the main clause. The verbs in such subordinate clauses are said to be attracted into the subjunctive by the sheer force of the verb that governs the larger construction.


futūrum esse ut; fore ut

Although Latin has a future passive infinitive, it is not commonly found. When a future passive idea had to be expressed in indirect statement, a periphrasis was used.

The futurity is expressed in futūrum esse; the verbal idea in the English indirect statement is expressed in an ut clause of result (ut + subjunctive).

Fore is an alternate way of expressing futūrum esse. This construction is also used to stand for an active idea in future time when the verb in question has no fourth principal part and therefore can have no future active infinitive.

Possum, posse, potuī has no fourth principal part and so no future active infinitive; the periphrasis is essential in this case to express the future idea.


The Historical Infinitive

Occassionally an infinitive is used in narrative passages instead of a finite verb where the English demands a finite verb. Such infinitives are called historical infinitives and emphasize the pure verbal action rather than the agents of that action.

In viīs urbis heri currere, clāmāre, fortiter pūgnāre. (In the streets of the city yesterday [there were] running, shouting, fighting bravely.)

The historical infinitive, in which one can most clearly see the function of the infinitive as a pure verbal noun, is one of the earliest uses of the infinitive.

The subject of an historical infinitive is in the nominative case.


Shortened or Syncopated Forms of the Perfect Active System of Verbs

Forms of the perfect tenses which have -vi- or -ve- in them are sometimes shortened or syncopated by dropping the -vi- or -ve-.


  • amāstī FOR amāvistī
  • amārunt FOR amāvērunt


-ēre for -ērunt in the Third Person Plural, Perfect Active Indicative

The ending -ēre is sometimes used in poetry and high style prose as an alternate for -ērunt.

Exemplum: amāvēre FOR amāvērunt


The Greek Accusative: Accusative of Respect or Accusative After Verbs in the Middle Voice

The ablative case is regularly used in Latin to express respect or specification. Occasionally in poetry and in late Latin the accusative is found with this function. This is really a Greek construction which has been borrowed by the Latin.

The Greek verb has three voices: active, passive, and middle. The middle voice often has the same forms as the passive, but it is used in a reflexive sense; that is, the subject at the same time performs the action and experiences its effect(s).

The accusative of respect is frequently used to express the part affected.

Translate: "With respect to..."


Adverbial Accusative

Closely allied to the accusative of respect is the so-called adverbial accusative. What is in fact an accusative of respect functions adverbially.

Translate: "With respect to..."


Genitive with Expressions of Remembering and Forgetting

The genitive is frequently used with verbs and expressions of remembering and forgetting.

Note that the accusative is also found with verbs and expressions of remembering and forgetting.


Genitive of Indefinite Value

A few neuter adjectives and some nouns implying utter worthlessness, such as as, assis, M., 'as' (a small denomination of money), floccus, -ī, M., 'a lock of wool', and nihilum, -ī, N., 'nothing', are sometimes used in the genitive case to express the value of a person, thing, or situation when that value is not specifically determined or is indefinite. This use of the genitive is generally found with verbs meaning 'consider', 'reckon', and 'value'.

Magnī mē habet (He considers me of great [value])


Ablative of Price

The instrumental ablative (ablative of means) is used with some expressions to express the price of something.


quod, 'the fact that'

A substantive clause introduced by quod, 'the fact that', and with its verb in the indicative is sometimes used as the subject or object of another verb, or in apposition to the subject of that other verb.