Summary of -ne, Nōnne and Num
Origin of -ne
–ne began with the force of nōnne (v.i.), expecting a yes response, but later “the negative force was lost and -ne was used merely to express a question” (AG, 332c N1)
Summary of Use
The enclitic -ne is attached to the emphatic word of a question, making the question a yes-no proposition.
When nōnne appears (viz. nōn ne), the force of the question expects a yes response
When the particle num appears, the force of the question expects a no response
- Did she fear that: eane id veritus est?
- Does she seem to fear death or pain: ea mortemne vedētur aut dolōrem timēre?
- Do you no observe: nōnne anamadvertis?
- Is there any doubt: num dubium est?
Advanced Notes on -ne
Occasionally, yes-no propositions are given without –ne
These are often ironic questions
- Do you not feel that your schemes are revealed: patēre tua cōnsilia nōn sentīs?
Often, when –ne is attached directed to the verb, it shares the expectation of nōnne, a yes response
- Do you not recall [what] I said in the Senate: meministīne mē in sentātū dicere?
–ne may participate in double questions, where -ne…an should be translated as or
- I ask whether slaves or free: quaerō servōsne an liberōs.
In poetry, -ne…-ne sometimes occurs, and should be translated whether…or.
The compounds anne…an and necne are rare alternatives
- Shall I talk to Gabinius, or Pompey, or both: Gabīniō dīcam anne Pompeiō an utrīque?
- Are these your words or not: sunt haec tua verba necne?
The enclitic –ne is scanned short in Latin poetry
The Essential AG: 332a-b
Famous Phrase: Num negāre audēs? Quid tacēs? (Do you dare deny it? Why are you silent?) [Cicero, In Catilinam, 1.4]