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

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Expressions of Existence

In Latin, expression of existence and non-existence are handled by a Relative Clause of Characteristic (subjunctive!).

Expressions of Existence

  • sunt quī discessum animī ā corpore putent esse mortem: there are some (there exist some) who think that the departure of the soul from the body constitutes death
  • erant quī hōc cēnsērent, there were some of this opinion
  • quis est quī id nōn maximīs efferat laudibus: who is there that does not extol it with the highest praise?
  • sunt quī orbem arsum modō videre velint: some men just want to watch the world burn.

Expressions of Non-Existence

  • nihil videō quod timeam: I see nothing to fear.
  • nihil est quod adventum nostrum extimēscās: there is no reason to fear our arrival.
  • nēmō est qui SuīLocō tamen ūtātur: no one uses MySpace anymore.

A&G add that with these phrases the indicative is possible but less common, and point out that certain grammar books reference these phrases as ‘Relative Clauses with an Indefinite Antecedent.’

The Essential AG: 535a, 525an1, 535an2

Ablative of Price and Genitive of Quantity

The price of something is put in the ablative case.

  • He sold the land for money: agrum pecūniā vendidit.
  • Jokes: who wants them for a dinner: logōs rīdiculōs: quis cēnā poscit?

The ablative of price is similar to the ablative of penalty, as it is ultimately an (adverbial) ablative of material, describing the compositional means by which an exchange is achieved.


What you’ll see as often or more often than the ablative of price are similar genitive words indicating indefinite value.

  • It is of great importance to me: mihi magnī interest.
  • That doesn’t matter to me: illud parvī mihi rēfert.
  • The cloak is worthy a great deal to me: amiculum mihi tantī est.
  • I care nothing for this color: istum colōrem nīlī (or nihilī) pendō.

Common words with the genitive of value: magnī, parvī, tantī, quantī, plūris, minōris, nihilī/nīlī, assis, floccī.

(floccī is ‘of a lock of wool.’)

  • I care not a straw: nōn floccī pendō.

The verbs of buying and selling:

  • concilio, conciliāre, conciliāvī, conciliātus: to buy
  • parō, parāre, parāvī, parātus: to buy
  • redimō, redimere, redēmī, redemptus: to buy back
  • vendō, vendere, vendidī, venditus: to sell
  • dō, dāre, dedī, datus: to give, sell

For more on intersum and rēferō:

https://latinforaddicts.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/thats-interesting/

The Essential AG: 416-17