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Latin: An Intensive Introduction > Syntax > Flashcards

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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.