Ūsus est maiōre usū

The phrase ūsus est + ablative is the rarer counterpart to the well known opus est + ablative, signifying need.

 

  • Nunc vīribus ūsus est: now there is need of strength.
  • Quid istīs cōnscrīptīs ūsust: what is the use of getting these in writing?

Ūsus vēnit is another still rarer alternative.

The Essential AG: 411

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There Was a Time When…

Quite closely relate to expression of existence / non-existence are expressions of past time, which make use of the phrase est cum and fuit cum, which may be translated as ‘there was a time when…’ Like the phrases that describe existence, these make use of a relative clause of characteristic (w/ subjunctive!) to describe an indefinite period of present/past time.

  • est cum …. present subjunctive
  • fuit cum …. imperfect subjunctive
  • est cum in omnis virī aevō domum parentis linquat: there comes a time in every man’s life when he must leave the home of his father
  • est cum omnibus deceat: there is a season for all things
  • fuit cum mihi quoque initium requiēscendī fore iūstum arbitrārer: there was a time when I thought a beginning of rest would be justifiable on my part
  • fuit cum nōn altior meīs genibus essēs: there was a time when you were no taller than my knees

The Essential AG: 535an3

What is the present participle of esse?

Most grammar textbooks will tell you that the Latin ‘to be’ has only a future active participle. On a practical level, that’s true. However, there is evidence within the Latin language of a lost present active participle. This would have been sōns, sontis. (cf. Greek ὤν).

However, this form is all but lost. We may conjecture that it existed at one time because it is stored in certain adjectives (īnsōns, innocent; absēns, absent, praesēns, present). It also appears in late Latin philosophical terminology (ēns, being; entia, the things which are). However, these were likely designed by intellectuals to reflect the present participle as it would appear, were it in use. Honestly, the same might be true of insōns, etc, but with words that old, we can’t trace their origins properly.

The Essential AG: 170b

Colloquial Omission of Verbs

In colloquial and poetic language, common verbs like dīcō, faciō, agō and the like are often omitted.

  • What does this aim at: quō hōc [spectat]?
  • You will know a lion by his claws: ex ungue leōnem [cōgnōscēs].
  • What shall I say of this: quid [dē hōc dicam]?
  • The songstress thus spoke in replay: haec contrā cantrix [inquit].
  • Then Cotta said: tum Cotta [inquit].
  • Where are you from, and where are you of to: unde [venīs] et quō [tendis]?

Sum, as a copula, is omitted quite frequently where it is a present indicative or present infinitive:

  • You are his wife: tū coniūnx [es].
  • What need of many words: quid multa [verbōrum est]?
  • What then? Am I the boldest of all: quid ergō [est]? audācissimus ego ex omnibus [sum]?
  • The best things are rare: omnia praeclāra rāra [sunt]?
  • Hear first what must be accomplished: accipe quae peragenda prius [sunt].

As you might imagine, omission of sum will be especially popular in proverbs and sententiae, where clever identities and definitions are made all the time, making a est or a sunt all too predictable.

The Essential AG: 319a