A VADEMECUM OF LATIN SYNTAX

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. PURPOSE
B. RESULT
C. INDIRECT COMMANDS (JUSSIVE NOUN CLAUSES)
D. INDIRECT STATEMENT
E. INDIRECT QUESTIONS
F. RELATIVE CLAUSES OF CHARACTERISTIC
G. IMPERSONAL VERBS
H. CONDITIONS
I. TEMPORAL CLAUSES
J. CAUSAL CLAUSES
K. CONCESSIVE CLAUSES


LINKED PAGES

SEQUENCE OF TENSE
PARTICIPLES




A.  PURPOSE

Latin has a variety of different ways of expressing purpose—i.e. an agent's intention in doing something—all of which are translated by the English "(in order) to Y [VERB]" or  "so (in order) that X [SUBJECT] might/may/ will Y [VERB]."  The first—using an infinitive—is the simplest, and will work as long as the subject of the main verb and that of the verb of purpose are the same:

 (A) She goes to Rome to see the Romans.

When the subjects are different, it's best to translate using "so (in order) that...":

 (B) She goes to Rome so (in order) that the Romans might/may/will see her.

(1) Ut/Ne + Subjunctive

 (A1) Romam it ut Romanos videat.
 (B1) Romam it ut eam Romani videant.

Note that Sequence of Tenses affects the translation when "so (in order) that..." is used.  If the main verb is secondary, the Subjunctive will also have to be translated as past ("might/would"):

 (B2) Romam itut eam Romani viderent.
         She went to Rome so (in order) that the Romans might/would see her.
 

(2) Ad + Accusative Gerund/Gerundive

 (A2) Romam it ad Romanos videndum. [GND]
 (A3) Romam it ad Romanos videndos. [GNDV]

The best translation ignores the literal meaning ("...towards seeing Romans" / "...towards Romans to be seen") and uses the infinitive (a): "to see the Romans."

(3) Genitive Gerund/Gerundive + causa

 (A4) Romam it Romanos videndi causa. [GND]
 (A5) Romam it Romanorum videndorum causa. [GNDV]

The infinitive (a) still gives the best translation.  A more literal (and still acceptable) translation would be "for the sake of seeing Romans."

(4) Accusative Supine

 (A6) Romam it Romanos visum.

Again, the infinitive (A) gives the best translation.

Note that constructions (2), (3) and (4) can't be used to express purpose when the subject of the main verb and that of the verb of purpose are different; for this the Subjunctive (1) must be used.

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B.  RESULT

Result expresses the outcome of an action regardless of the agent's intention:

 (C) She runs so fast that she always falls.

What usually characterizes all expressions of result is the presence of an adverb that draws attention to the action of the main clause from which the result derives.  The main verb itself can be modified ("...runs so fast"), or else the modification can affect its object (direct or indirect):

 (D) She does such great things that everyone praises her.
 (E) She gives money to so many sailors that no one trusts her.

In either case, the translation of the result clause remains the same: "...that..."

(1) Ut/Ut Non (or Any Negative) + Subjunctive

 (C1) Ita celeriter currit ut semper cadat.
 (D1) Tanta facit ut omnes eam laudent.
 (E1) Pecuniam tot nautis dat ut nemo ei credat.

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C.  INDIRECT COMMANDS (JUSSIVE NOUN CLAUSES)

Jussive Noun Clauses express the content of an explicit (or implied) command or request.  Here too (as with Purpose Clauses) the best English translation uses a simple infinitive.

 (F) She orders us to do this.

It's important to keep Jussive Noun Clauses distinct from Purpose Clauses.  In sentence (F) above, her intention in ordering us might be quite different from what exactly it is that she orders us to do: she might want to test her authority, send us on a useless errand, embarrass us etc.—and in any case, (F) as it stands expresses only what she orders, not her reasons for doing so.

Since Jussive Noun Clauses take the same construction in Latin as Purpose Clauses, the only way to distinguish them is in terms of the meaning of the main verb.  Verbs that mean "command," "request," "urge," "beg," "persuade" etc. draw attention to content (not purpose), and so the translation "She orders us so (in order) that we might do this" would be incorrect.

Ut/Ne + Subjunctive

 (F1) Nobis imperat ut hoc faciamus.

Note that Sequence of Tenses applies here too.  If the main verb is secondary, the dependent verb will be in a secondary (Imperfect) tense of the Subjunctive, even though the English translation of the Jussive Noun Clause remains unchanged.

 (F2) Nobis imperavit ut hoc faceremus.
         She ordered us to do this.

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D. INDIRECT STATEMENT

Indirect statements are statements that are reported instead of being quoted directly.  They are generally introduced by a main verb of speaking, hearing, thinking etc.  Indirect statements in English are expressed by a clause introduced by "that" and containing a finite verb.

Direct:   (G) Caesar is fighting the Gauls.
Indirect:(H) We say that Caesar is fighting the Gauls.

In Latin there is no equivalent to this use of the conjunction "that."  Indirect statements are instead expressed by putting the subject of the direct statement into the Accusative and the finite verb into the corresponding tense of the Infinitive.

  (G1) Caesar Gallis oppugnat.
  (H1) Dicimus Caesarem Gallis oppugnare.

Like participles, infinitives in Latin have relative (not absolute) tense.  A Present Infinitive expresses an action occurring at the same time as that of the main verb; a Perfect Infinitive expresses prior action; and a Future Infinitive expresses subsequent action.

(1) Present Main Verb

 (H1) Dicimus [PR] Caesarem Gallis oppugnare [PR].
         We say that Caesar is fighting the Gauls.

 (H2) Dicimus [PR] Caesarem Gallis oppugnavisse [PF].
         We say that Caesar was fighting/fought the Gauls.

 (H3) Dicimus [PR] Caesarem Gallis oppugnaturum esse [FUT].
         We say that Caesar will fight/is going to fight the Gauls.

(2) Past Main Verb

 (H4) Diximus [PF] Caesarem Gallis oppugnare [PR].
          We said that Caesar was fighting the Gauls.

 (H5) Diximus [PF] Caesarem Gallis oppugnavisse [PF].
          We said that Caesar had fought the Gauls.

 (H6) Diximus [PF] Caesarem Gallis oppugnaturum esse [FUT].
          We said that Caesar would fight/was going to fight the Gauls.

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E. INDIRECT QUESTIONS

Indirect questions are questions that are reported instead of being asked directly.  In English there is no formal difference (except for word order) between a question in its direct and its indirect form:

Direct:    (I) Why is she doing this?
Indirect: (J) We ask why she is doing this.

In Latin there is a formal (but untranslatable) difference.  The verb of the direct question is put into the corresponding tense of the Subjunctive when the direct question is reported:

 (I1) Cur hoc facit?
 (J1) Rogamus cur hoc faciat.

Indirect questions are easily recognized by (1) a main verb of asking, (2) some interrogative word and (3) a dependent Subjunctive.

Rules for Sequence of Tense apply:

 (J1) Rogamus quid faciat.
         We ask [PR] what she is doing [PR].
 (J2) Rogamus quid fecerit.
         We ask [PR] what she did [PF].
 (J3) Rogavimus quid faceret.
         We asked [PF] what she was doing [IMPF].
 (J4) Rogavimus quid fecisset.
         We asked [PF] what she had done [PLPF].

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F. RELATIVE CLAUSES OF CHARACTERISTIC

In general, there are two kinds of relative clauses.  One kind expresses some fact about a particular antecedent.  In both Latin and English, factual relative clauses take a verb in the Indicative:

 (K) This is a man whom everyone loves.
 (K1) Hic est vir quem omnes amant.

Another kind expresses some general characteristic that the antecedent (now viewed as an instance of a type) exemplifies.  There are two ways in which English expresses a characteristic relative clause:

 (L) This is a man whom everyone would love.
 (M) This is the kind of man whom everyone loves.

Latin expresses both (L) and (M) in the same way, ie by putting the dependent verb into the Subjunctive:

 (LM1) His est vir quem omnes ament.

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G. IMPERSONAL VERBS

Some verbs in Latin are impersonal, i.e. they are used with no apparent person or thing as their subject.  They appear only in the 3rd Person Singular Indicative and Subjunctive (of all tenses) and in the Infinitive.  In addition, many regular verbs (marked below with an asterisk) can also be used impersonally.  In translating all of them into English, the indefinite "it" is generally used as a subject.  The most common of these verbs are listed below:

 *Accidit.  It happens.
 *Apparet.  It is evident.
 *Constat.  It is agreed.
 *Convenit.  It is agreed.
 *Evenit.  It comes about/results.
 *Fit.  It happens.
 Libet.  It is pleasing.
 Licet.  It is permitted.
 Miseret.  It causes pity.
 Necesse est.  It is necessary.
 Oportet.  It behooves.
 Paenitet.  It causes regret.
 Piget.  It displeases.
 Placet.  (a) It pleases.  (b) It is resolved.
 Pudet.  It causes shame.
 Taedet.  It wearies.
 *Visum est.  It seemed best.

Impersonal verbs take a variety of different constructions to express (1) the person affected by the action, and (2) the activity that is allowed, causes regret, is agreed upon etc., which takes the form of a clause:
 

(1) Case of the Person Affected

(a) The verbs miseret, paenitet, piget, pudet, taedettake an Accusative (A) of the person affected by the action and —when it is expresed at all—a Genitive (G) of the person or thing that gives rise to the action.  Oportettakes an Accusative of the person affected but no Genitive construction:

 Miseret nos (A) Marci (G).
 We pity Marcus. (lit., It causes us pity [because] of Marcus.)

 Stultitiae meae (G) me (A) puduit.
 I was ashamed of my stupidity.  (lit., It caused me shame [because] of my...)

 Vos (A) oportet.
 It behooves you.  (You are obliged.)
 

(b) The verbs apparet, licet, necesse est, oportet, placet, visum esttake a Dative (D) of the person affected by the action:

 Mihi (D) licet.
 I am allowed.  (lit., It is permitted to/for me.)

 Placuit nobis (D).
 It pleased us.
 
 

(2) Clauses After Impersonal Verbs

(a) The verbs apparet, constat(with inter+ A), libet, licet, miseret, necesse est, paenitet, piget, placet(= "it pleases"), pudet, taedettake a complimentary Infinitive:

 Apparet mihi hunc bonum esse.
 It is evident to me that this man is good.

 Inter nos constitit urbem capere.
 It was agreed among us to take the city. (We agreed to take the city.)

 Me puduit hoc tibi dicere.
 I was ashamed to say this to you.

 Necesse est nobis Romam ire.
 It is necessary for us to go to Rome.

 Nos taedet linguae Latinae studere.
 We're tired of studying Latin. (lit., To study Latin wearies us.)

 Te oportuit omnia dicere.
 It behooved you  to say everything.  (You were obliged to...)
 

(b) The verbs accidit, convenit, evenit, fit, necesse est, placet(= "it is resolved"), visum esttake ut+ Subjunctive.  The negative is generally ut non:

 Evenit ut Caesar Romam eat.
 It turns out that Caesar is going to Rome.

 Nos placuit ut pecuniam mitteremus.
 It was resolved that we send money.

 Visum est ei ut hoc tibi non diceret.
 It seemed best to him not to tell you this.

 Effecimus ut isti punirentur.
 We brought it about (saw to it) that these men were punished.

 Quid fit ut orator pecuniam istis det?
 Why does it happen that the speaker is giving money to those men?

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H. CONDITIONS

A condition is a compound statement in which the validity of one clause is contingent on the validity of the other.  The protasis is the conditional or subordinate clause (if-clause) that states the premiss; the apodosis is the main clause (then-clause) that follows if the condition is realized.

There are six basic types of condition in Latin, corresponding to the three basic time-frames (Present, Past, Future) and the two basic modes of reality (Factual/Unreal or Definite/Ideal).

•Definite Conditions

(1) Present Definite:  Present Indicative in Protasis and Apodosis

 Si (Nisi) hoc facis, erras.
 If (Unless) you are doing this, you are mistaken.

(2) Past Definite: Past Indicative in Protasis and Apodosis

 Si (Nisi) hoc faciebas/fecisti/feceras, errabas/erravisti/erraveras.
 If (Unless) you were doing/did/had done this, you were being/were/had been mistaken.

(3) Future Definite: Future Indicative in Protasis and Apososis

 Si (Nisi) hoc facies, errabis.
 If (Unless) you do (=will do) this, you will be mistaken.

NOTE that a Future Perfect Indicative is often used in the Protasis of Future Definite Conditions.  This is because the action of the Protasis is conceived as having already been completed in the future before the action of the Apodosis will take place:

 Si (Nisi) hoc feceris, errabis.
 If (Unless) you do (=willhave done) this, you will be mistaken.

NOTE also that English is less fastidious than Latin in its expression of temporal relations, and more often uses a simple Present tense ("do") in the Protasis of a Future Definite Condition where Latin more correctly uses a Future.
 

•Unreal/Ideal Conditions

(1) Present Contrary-to-Fact: Imperfect Subjunctive in Protasis and Apodosis

A Present CTF Condition implies that the premiss can't be realized because it is contrary to some known fact.  As such, the Apodosis states what would be the case if the Protasis were realized.  Note that English uses precisely the same construction to state a Present CTF Condition.

 Si (Nisi) hoc faceres, errares.
 If (Unless) you were doing this, you would be mistaken.

(2) Past Contrary-to-Fact: Pluperfect Subjunctive in Protasis and Apodosis

A Past CTF Condition makes the same statement as a Present CTF, except with reference to the past.  Note again that it is formed in the same way as a Past CTF Condition in English.

 Si (Nisi) hoc fecisses, erravisses.
 If (Unless) you had done this, you would have been mistaken.

(3) Future Ideal (Should/Would): Present Subjunctive in Protasis and Apodosis

A Future Ideal Condition differs from a Future Definite in that it expresses the premiss and conclusion with less vividness, implying less certainty about the likelihood that the action referred to will occur.

 Si (Nisi) hoc facias, erres.
 If (Unless) you should (were to) do this, you would be mistaken.

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I. TEMPORAL CLAUSES

Temporal relations are expressed in English by subordinating conjunctions ("when," "while," "after") governing clauses that take finite verbs:

 (N) When (While) she says (is saying) this, everyone obeys her.
 (O) When (While) she said (was saying) this, everyone obeyed her.
 (P) After she has said this, everyone obeys her.
 (Q) After she had said this, everyone obeyed her.

Latin has two ways of expressing temporal relations.

(1) Cum+ Subjunctive

Cumwith the Subjunctive is used to express the general temporal circumstances under which the action of the main verb takes place.  The difference between "when/while" and "after" is conveyed by different tenses of the Subjunctive.  With primary main verbs, a Present Subjunctive expresses action occuring at the same time as the main verb; with secondary main verbs, an Imperfect Subjunctive is used.  Action prior is expressed by a Perfect Subjunctive (with a primary main verb) or the Pluperfect Subjunctive (with a secondary main verb).

 (R1) Cum hoc dicat, omnes ei parent.
 (S1) Cum hoc diceret, omnes ei paruerunt/parebant.
 (T1) Cum hoc dicerit, omnes ei parent.
 (U1) Cum hoc dixerit,omnes ei paruerunt/parebant.
 

(2) Participles

Participles can also be used to express temporal relations.  Present participles express action at the same time as the main verb regardless of what tense the main verb is in; past participles express prior action.  The tense in which the participle is translated depends on the tense of the main verb.

 (R2) Omnes ei hoc dicenti parent. [same time as present main verb]
          (lit.) Everyone obeys her saying (when she says) this.
 (S2) Omnes ei hoc dicenti paruerunt/parebant. [same time as past main verb]
          (lit.) Everyone obeyed her saying (when she was saying) this.

Note that the absence of a Perfect Active participle in Latin makes a literal translation of sentences (T) and (U) impossible.

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J.  CAUSAL CLAUSES

The Latin sentences in Section F above can also be translated causally ("since," "because").  Only the context will distinguish causal from temporal meaning.

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K. CONCESSIVE CLAUSES

The participial sentences (R2, S2) in Section F above can also be translated concessively ("although").  When a Cum Clause has concessive meaning, the main clause generally contains the adverb tamen ("nevertheless").  Sequence of Tenses still applies to express contemporaneity and priority of actions.

(R3) Cum hoc dicat, omnes tamen ei parent.
         Although she says this, nevertheless everyone obeys her.
(S3) Cum hoc diceret, omnes tamen ei paruerunt/parebant.
          Although she was saying this, nevertheless everyone obeyed her.
(T2)  Cum hoc dixerit,omnes tamen ei parent.
          Although she has said this, nevertheless everyone obeys her.
(U2)  Cum hoc dixisset, omnes tamen ei paruerunt/parebant.
           Although she had said this, nevertheless everone obeyed her.
 

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