Answering ‘Yes’

The Romans did not possess a word of affirmation—a ‘yes’ that stands alone. Instead, they used one of two ways to express a positive answer to a question.

1. The first is to repetition the verb of the question, which implies affirmation.

  • Do you sing?—I sing: canisne?—canō.
  • Does your father jog?—Indeed, he does: currit parēns?—currit.

This repetition is particular useful with double questions, where it allows the respondent to clearly choose one of the two (or few) options.

  • Did you see it, or are you repeating something you have heard?—I saw it myself: vīdistī an dē audītō nūntiās?—egomet vīdī.

2. There are a number of places where this would get awkward, so the Romans have a variety of affirmative adverbs to replace the repeated verb.

  • Is her name Julia?—Yes it is: Iūlia eī nomen est?—nomen est. (awkward)
  • Is her name Julia?—Yes it is: Iūlia eī nomen est?—ita vērō.

There a set number of these adverbs, and they sometimes couple to form more emphatic responses.

  • vērō, in truth, true, no doubt
  • etiam, even so, yes
  • ita, thusly, yes
  • sānē, surely, no doubt
  • certē, certainly, unquestionably
  • factum, true, so it is

Each of these has a its own flavor. ‘Factum‘ would be appropriate for past completed actions (think faciō), ‘certē‘ works both to affirm and to dispel the double of the questioner, whereas ‘vērō‘ is more of a calm rejoinder. Some combinations:

  • ita vērō, certainly
  • ita est, it is so
  • sānē quidem, absolutely

Some examples:

  • Is she as gorgeous as they say?—oh yes. estne ut fertur in formā?—sānē.
  • Did you already take out the trash?—I did. stramenta exduxistī?—factum.
  • Is he really so selfish?—He sure is. estne vērō tantum egoisticus?—ita vērō.

The Essential AG: 336a, 337

If you readers out there know of any other standard Latin ‘yes’s feel free to add them below.

Uses of Iam

Origin of Iam

“Of uncertain formation” (AG, 215.6)

Summary of Use

Iam is an adverb and may be translated now, already, at length, or presently

“With negatives, iam means no longer.” (AG, 322b)

Iam may modify any tense.

  • With the imperfect or pluperfect, iam is ingressive, marking the start of past action.


  • I have already said before: iam anteā dīxī.
  • There is no longer room for mercy: nōn est iam lēnitātī locus.
  • This has come to be a practice: hōc iam erat īnstitūtum. (ingressive iam)

Nunc versus Iam

Nunc merely notes the present, the immediate, the pressing.

Iam adds “a reference to the previous time through which the present state of affairs has been or will be reached.” (AG, 322b)

Iam will mark a transition between the previous and present; nunc only considers the present.


Etiam (viz. ‘et iam’) is an adverb and may be translated also, even, yes

Etiam usually precedes the verb it modifies, making it more emphatic than quoque, which usually follows

  • He acts not only with words, but also with force: nōn verbīs sōlum sed etiam vī ēgit.
  • Are you well? Yes, indeed I am: Agis benē? Etiam egō.

Etiamsī (viz. ‘etiam sī’) begins a concessive clause and should be translated even if

  • Even if you have nothing to write, write anyway: etiamsī quod scrībās nōn habēbis, scrībitō tamen.

Iamdiū and iamdūdum are adverb and should be translated for a long time

These take present verbs in Latin, but perfect verbs in English translation.

  • For a long time I have not know what you were doing: iam diū īgnōrō quid agās.
  • I have long been urging you: tē iam dūdum hortor.

Where they take imperfect verbs in Latin, iamdiū and iamdūdum denote “an action continuing in the past but begun at some previous time.” (AG, 471b)

  • I had been weeping for some time: iamdūdum flebam.

The Essential AG: 322b

Famous Phrase: etiamsī omnēs, egō nōn: even if all others [abandon you], I will not.

[Jesus to Peter, Matthew 26:33-4]