A Reader’s Diēgest

Here are a few notes on the Latin for day—diēs.

1. Diēs is a fifth-declension noun.

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 4.34.41 PM(photo credit: Wiktionary)

2. Diēs is typically masculine (like most fifth declension nouns), but is occasionally feminine, especially in fixed phrases and general reference to time or dates.

  • cōnstitūtā diē : on a fixed day
  • longa diēs intervēnit : a long time had passed

3. Diēs is one of only two nouns in the fifth declension that is entirely declined. Rēs is  the other such noun—all other fifth declension nouns are wanting in the plural (or at least the plural genitive, dative and ablative) in extant Latin literature.

The Essential AG: 96, 97, 98a

Reminder: The Double Comparative with Intrā

This is just a quick reminder (of what I covered briefly in March 2012) that intrā gives rise to one of the few comparative / superlative adjectival pairs that is not derived from an adjective.

  • intrā, within —> interior, -ōris, inner —> intimus, a, -um inmost

A&G offer this fascinating footnote:

“The forms in -trā and -terus were originally comparative (cf. alter), so that the comparatives in -terior are double comparatives.” (my emphasis)

  • Like this: in + accusative —> intrā + accusative —> interior, -ōris

The Essential AG: 130a

Hedging in Latin

How does one hedge their language in Latin? One option might be a relative clause of characteristic (with the subjunctive!)

  • So far as I know, she never left the house: quod sciam, numquam domum abiit.
  • From what I have heard, he enjoys three cocktails every evening: quod audīverim, tribus mixtīs cotīdiē fruitur.
  • She’s an idiot, at least in my view: stulta est, quō modō videam.

The Essential AG: 535d

Our Latin Kin

Not all relations between Latin and English counterparts may be described as derivation. There are a few genuine parallels that stem from a more distant common relation (proto-Indo-European). With these words, Latin is less a mother or grandmother, and more of a cousin.

As we can imagine, this kind of relationship features more striking variations in phonetic form than direct derivation. As Latin and (what A&G call) Primitive Germanic began to undergo separate consonantal and vowel shifts, their PIE derivations took on similar yet distinct forms, which eventually conformed to distinct phonological rules in each family of languages.

(*ph₂tḗr) —> pater / father

(*bʰer) —> ferō / bear, frater / brother

(*dwṓu) —> duo / two, (dēns) dentis / tooth

(*h₁rew) —> ruber / red

(*h₂wḗh) —> ventus / wind

(*sneygʷʰ) —> nive / snow

(*ǵʰans) —> ānser / goose

For those interested, you’ll find a larger list in A&G (19). There are some general phonological rules we see emerging: the aspirated b of PIE becomes Lain f/b and English f/b/v, the aspirated d of PIE becomes Latin f/b/d but in English only d, etc.

The Essential AG: 18, 19

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]


Licet Constructions

Uses of Licet

Summary of Use

licet is an impersonal verb, appearing only “in the third personal singular, the infinitive and the gerund” (AG, 207)

licet takes the dative whenever it governs a finite phrase or clause

licet also offers the dative (or rarely an accusative) to the subject of this phrase

licet may be translated it is allowed, is permitted, may be done

Summary of Forms


  • licet / licēbat / licēbit / licuit / licuerat / licuerit


  • liceat / licēret / licuerit / licuisset

Et Cetera

  • licēre / licuisse / licitum est / licitūrum est / licēns

Basic Uses


  • No bathing in the fish-pond: lavāre in cētārium nōn licet.
  • They ask that they may do this: rogant ut id sibi facere liceat.
  • You speak as though it were not permitted: loquēris quasi nōn licēret.


  • let all terrors menace me: licet omnēs mihi terrōres impendeat.

this use may have concessive force, appearing where one would expect a concession with ut

  • if concessive, it should be translated ‘though all terrors might menace me’


Licet may take–

  • the simple infinitive
  • the infinitive with accusative subject
  • the infinitive with dative of interest
  • the subjunctive, usually without ut (concessive licet)

The Essential AG: 207, 527

Famous Phrase: videlicet (contraction of videre licet, it is permitted to see)

[further contracted and anglicized as viz. expressing ‘plainly,’ ‘namely,’ or ‘as follows’]