Colloquial Omission of Pronouns

Pronouns are omitted all the time, because Latin conjugation makes them somewhat redundant. Where the pronoun does exist, it is either emphatic or explanatory (especially necessary with third person verbs).

  • I speak: loquor
  • It is I that am speaking: ego loquor
  • We have killed Caesar: occidīmus Caesarem.
  • We, the glorious Senate of Rome, have killed Caesar: nōs, Senātus clarus Rōmae, occidīmus Caesarem.
  • You might have supposed she was gone: crēderēs eam abīre. [general statement]
  • Maybe you thought her gone, but I knew exactly where she was: tū crēderēs eam abīre, sed ego ubi adeō quō esse cognōvī. [terrible string of hiati there, pardon me for being no poet]

With third person verbs, omission of the subject will often imply a general (sometimes gnomic) statement:

  • They say he was once a woman: dīcunt eum fēminam olim fuisse.
  • The herdsman claim they are innocent: pastōrēs dīcunt eōs innōcentēs esse.
  • One doesn’t simply walk into Mordor: in Mordōrem nōn simpliciter iter facit.

Passive verbs omit implied subjects as well:

  • They fought long and hard: diū atque ācriter pūgnātum est.

The Essential AG: 318a-b


Adjective as Adverbs

Certain adjectives, although modifying the noun within a sentence, in effect modify the verb as well.

  • He was the first to arrive: prīmus vēnit.
  • I in no way doubt: nūlla dubitō.
  • They were glad to hear: laetae audiērunt.
  • He was often at Rome: Rōmae frequēns erat.
  • She arrived late: sēra vēnit.

The Essential AG: 290

Perfect Participles as Present Tense

A few deponent verbs use their perfect participles almost as though they were present indicative verbs.

  • They think the thing is incredible: rem incrēdibilem ratī sunt.
  • He fears a mutiny: sēditiōnem veritus est.
  • She encourages the women: fēmināes cohortāta est.
  • She’s angry: irāta est.

Also with solitus (~is accustomed), arbitrātus (~thinks), ausus (~dares), fīsus (~trusts), secūtus (~follows).

The Essential AG: 491

Oh, So It’s Like That, Is It?

The phrases euismodī, huiusmodī and cuiusmodī are indeclinable adjective equivalent to tālis and quālis.

  • They are men of this sort. hominēs huiusmodī sunt.
  • He is a man of this sort too. homō quōque huiusmodī est.
  • This is the kind of thing which is difficult to understand: hōc rēs euismodī est, quem difficilē comprendēre est.
  • What’s she like: cuiusmodī est?
  • What kind of things just she like to do: cuiusmodī rēbus fruitur?

Note that although these adjectives have a genitive form, they need not be placed with genitive nouns.

The Essential AG: 146b, 345a

Quod Sī

The conjunctive quod sī may be translated ‘but if’ or ‘if however,’ and generally modifies or qualifies a preceding statement with a new condition. It is therefore distinction from the isolate , which may produce conditionals without precedent.

  • If Caesar arrives, we are done for: sī Caesar veneat, pereāmus. (FLV construction)
  • If Caesar arrives, we are done for, but if we flee, we might survive: sī Caesar veneat, pereāmus, quod sī fugiāmus, fortasse vivāmus.
  • Caesar is coming. However, if we flee, we might survive: Caesar venit. Quod sī fugiāmus, fortasse vivāmus.

In short, quod sī establishes a conditional in direct relation to some other fact or some other conditional.

The Essential AG: 324d, 397a

Have Some More

My curiosity about habeō, habēre, habuī, habitum led me to Lewis and Short. I’ll share some of the less intuitive uses I found there.

  • habēre in metū = to fear
  • habēre quemquam can also refer to a sense of esteem. That is, how you ‘hold’ someone in your mind, and how you think of them.
  • habēre + infinitive, in addition to ‘I must do x‘ could also mean ‘I am able to do x,’ much like the Greek ἔχω + infinitive
  • habēre sē benē = to be well
  • habēre sibi/sēcum aliquid = to keep something to oneself
  • habēre without a direct object = to dwell [eum domī advēnimus, quō nunc habet — we went to visit him at the house where he now lives]
  • habēre in animō = to have in mind to, to be inclined to
  • the future imperative, habētō means ‘consider’ or ‘understand’ with a present sense [sīc habētō, mī amīce–consider it this way, friend]

To Have and Holding, For as Long as You Both Shall Live

In this post, I’d like to differentiate between the three ways that habeō takes a direct object: (a) an accusative, (b) an accusative perfect participle, and (c) an infinitive.

Habeō takes an accusative direct object in the sense of ‘possessing’ that object.

  • I have three sons: trēs fīliōs habeō.
  • She held the scepter: sceptrum habēbat.

Habeō with the perfect participle bears the same sense as ‘habēbat‘ above: possession extended over a period of time.

  • They are holding him in the prison: eum in carcere habent. (right now)
  • They are holding him in prison: eum captātum in carcere habent. (continuous status of incarceration)
  • They have him as a witness: eum teste habent. (at this moment).
  • They have him as a witness: eum testātum habent. (for now, but also for when they might need him)

Habeō with an infinitive completes a construction of purpose.

  • I have much to promise: multum habeō pollicērī.
  • You have work to do: labōrem habēs facere.
  • You must do the work: labōrem habēs facere. (cf. Spanish tener que)

The Essential AG: 460a, 497b

Imperative-esque Colloquial Phrases

I found these poor guys tossed at the end of the section on imperative mood, but they could all work well for your conversational Latin, so have a look:

All three phrases [cūrā ut; fac / fac ut; velim] make use of the subjunctive mood in a clause, much like the clauses of purpose I’ve been discussing of late.

  • Make sure you’re at Rome: cūrā ut Rōmae sīs
  • Makes sure that you take care of your health: fac ut valētūdinem cūrēs.
  • Be (Remain) at home: facite adsītīs domī.
  • I wish that you would send it to me: eum mihi velim mittās.

These are all great ‘polite imperative’ alternatives to the rather clumsy ‘amābō tē‘ that we’re likely more familiar with.

The Essential AG: 449

Verbs of Permitting / Clauses of Purpose

Verbs of permitting will take either a Substantive Clause of Purpose (ut/nē + subjunctive) or an Infinitive.

  • He permitted them to make toys: permīsit ut facerent lūdibria.
  • He did not allow tents to be pitched: tentōria statuī nōn passus est.
  • She will allow you to pass: concēdet perīre.
  • They do not allow the importation of wine: vinum importārī nōn sinunt.

After writing this post, I realized that I’ve already discussed permission constructions, external to my ongoing analysis of A&G on Clauses of Purpose. Take a look at my older post for comparison.

The Essential AG: 563c

Iubeō and Vetō Constructions

We’ve been discussing how verbs that demand and decree take a substantive clause of purpose (ut/nē + subjunctive). Allen and Greenough no sooner outline the phenomenon of these purpose clauses than they start demonstrating common exceptions.

Iubeō (order) and vetō (forbid) are more likely to take the infinitive + accusative.

  • He orders them to send more loaves: aliōs panēs eōs ferre iubet.
  • She forbids them from approaching the temple: aedem adire vetat. 

Where the verb is passive, the verb remains infinitive, but the subject accusative becomes nominative:

  • They are ordered to be present the next day: adesse iubentur postrīdiē.
  • He was ordered to go into exile: īre in exsilium iussus est.
  • Simonides was forbidden to sail: Simōnidēs vetitus est nāvigāre.

This construction is most common with these two verbs, but not unheard of with other verbs of commanding.

  • He orders that a bridge be built: pontem fierī imperat.
  • Matters at hand warn us to be on our guard so that we don’t perish too soon: rēs praestentēs nōs monet cavēre nē citior pereant.

(careful with that last one — it’s meant to differentiate the two options on the table, but if you read it too quickly it might just conflate them)