Throwing a Fit

The impersonal phrase ‘fit ut‘ may be rendered in English as ‘it happens that…’ or ‘it comes about that…’ and takes a subjunctive clause in Latin. This ut-clause may be classed as one of result.

Recall that fit is the third person singular active indicative of fiō, which bears a complicated relationship to faciō, explained best by Mark Damen here. For more information on fiō, don’t bother with the Perseus edition of Lewis and Short. Even the advanced entry looks like this—

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 2.53.53 PMSo detailed! So precise!

Here are a few examples of fit ut in action—

Fit ut hominēs causā nullā multa timeant: It (often) happens that men fear many things with little (good) reason.

Fit ut imbri crebrō certāmen differat: It is the case that, with the heavy rain, the match shall be cancelled.

The Essential A&G: 568n2, 569.2

Comparison of Participles (as Adjectives)

In my last post I covered the basics of comparing regular adjectives. Participles decline as regular adjectives when they are compared, whether they be present active (patiēns, patient) or perfect passive (apertus, open).

  • amans (stem ament-) / amantior, -ius / amantissimus, -a, -um (loving)
  • rabiens (stem rabient-) / rabientior, -ius / rabientissimus, -a, -um (raving)
  • nescitus, -a, -um (stem nescito-) / nescitior, -ius / nescitissimus, -a, -um (ignorant)
  • olfactus, -a, -um (stem olfacto-) / olfactior, -ius / olfactissimus, -a, -um (sniffed)

A related phenomenon occurs with compound adjectives ending in -dicus, -volus, and -ficus (from dīcō, volō, and faciō). These compounds in fact take the stem of their related present active participle (dīcens, volens, faciens) in place of other endings.

  • maledicus, -a, -um / maledīcentior, -ius / maledīcentissimus, -a, -um (slanderous)
  • benevolus, -a, -um / benevolentior, -ius / benevolentissimus, -a, -um (well-wishing)
  • māgnificus, -a, -um / māgnificentior, -ius / māgnificentissimus, -a, -um (grand)

The Essential AG: 124a, 127

Irregular Imperatives in Compounds

What you probably know:

Somewhere in Latin class, you likely came across the most common irregular imperatives: dīc, fer, dūc, fac — Speak, Carry, Lead, Do. I repeat them in this order to recreate the mnemonic DFDF, SCLD — Dufus! Dufus! Scold him!, which I was introduced to early on.

What you might not know is whether these irregular forms are maintained within compounds. Indeed, they are, with one exception.

  • Cōnfer haec exempla: compare these examples.
  • Infer tribūtum reditūs foederāle semel in annō: pay your federal income taxes once a year.
  • Eam addūc ut moveat: persuade her to move.
  • Dēdūc maiōrīs verbīs fābulam: expand on your story with more words.
  • Maledīc donec potes: curse them while you still can.

The exception is therefore fac, which is derived from faciō, a verb that more often than not takes its compounds in –ficiō. Such compounds do not display an irregular imperative.

  • Effice tria carmina: complete three poems.
  • Infice regem priusquam cīvēs cōnficiat: poison the kill before he kills the citizens.

If you’d like a refresher on the plurals: cōnferte, addūcite, maledīcite, facīte, efficite, etc.

Also, note that early late features the occasional face, dūce, and dīce (but never fere).

The Essential A & G: 182.

Compounds of Fīō

Compounds of faciō vary between passives in -fīō and passives in -ficior. The distinction? Check the vowel a (faciō) in the compound. In the rare case that this is retain in the compound, then –fīō is also retained.

benefaciō, benefacere, benefēcī, benefactum (in place of the expected beneficio/ficere/fēcī/fectum, and hence the English ‘benefaction’ but also ‘infection.’)

  • benefīō, benefierī, benefactus sum

Several of the faciō compounds that feature -ficiō/-ficior forms will also feature passive -fīō forms, with separate meanings.

  • cōnfit, it happens
  • dēfit, it lacks
  • īnfit, he beings (to speak)
  • interfit, he perishes
  • superfit, there remains

The Essential AG: 204b-c


In place of a passive form [facior], Latin makes use of fīō, fierī, factus sum.

  • Note that both the ī and the ō are long, which distinguishes fīō from similar – verbs, where the i is short
  • Note that A&G get very prescriptive about the proper forms of fīō, and whereas they distinguish between those forms which appear in “good” prose from those which appear in (“bad”?) prose, we will make no such distinction here.

Picture 1

photo credit: Wiktionary

Note a few variations: the long vowel on ī is present in present in most places, but absent in fit, fierem, and fierī.

The Essential AG: 204


The essential verb faciō, facere, fēcī, factum, is generally regular, though features a few variant forms you may not have known, and a distinct set of rules for compounds which you may have always ‘sensed’ but never understood.

Exceptional Features

The two exceptional features of faciō are its imperative singular (just the fac, ma’am—not face, which sounds like a Canadian swearing), and its passive forms, derived from fīō (to be discussed in a later post).

Faciō also features a variant future perfect faxō (in place of the more common fēcerō) and a variant perfect subjunctive faxim (in place of the more common fēcerim).

Compound Rules

Compounds of faciō (i) replace a with i and (ii) replace the supine -actum with –ectum, and while retaining the -iō declension, sometimes they feature passive forms that are not derived from fīō.

  • cōnficiō, cōnficere, cōnfēcī, cōnfectum (finish)
  • cōnficior, cōnficī, cōnfectus sum (die) [but note that ‘ficior’ is not a word!]
  • afficiō, afficere, affēcī, affectum (affect)
  • afficior, afficī, affectus sum (be affected
  • inficiō, inficere, infēcī, infectum (dye, poison)
  • inficior, inficī, infectus sum (be poisoned)

Relation to PIE

For those interested in the topic discussed in the last post, the Latin faciō is derived from the PIE dʰeh₁, which also produced τίθημι, do, and (the German) tun.

The Essential AG: 204, 204a

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

Participle with Verbs of Effecting

Verbs denoting completed action (faciō, indūcōredeō, dō) may take a participle in place of an infinitive of the same verb, rendering the description more forcible:

  • Many did away with their officers: praefectōs suōs multī missōs fēcērunt.
  • Many made their officers leave: praefectōs suōs multī mittere fēcērunt.
  • She will get everything done: trānsactum omne reddet.
  • She will work to complete everything: omne transigere reddet.
  • Don’t make her angry with me: nē mihi incensam dēs.
  • Don’t cause her to begim angry with me: nē mihi illiam incendere dēs.

This effect is frequent with constructions describing the actions of authors:

  • Xenophon presents Socrates disputing: Xenophōn facit Sōcratem disputantem.
  • Plato introduced Alcibiades drunk: Platō indūxit Alcibiādem pōtum.

The Essential AG: 497c