Yes and No Questions

Summary of -ne, Nōnne and Num

Origin of -ne

ne began with the force of nōnne (v.i.), expecting a yes response, but later “the negative force was lost and -ne was used merely to express a question” (AG, 332c N1)

Summary of Use

The enclitic -ne is attached to the emphatic word of a question, making the question a yes-no proposition.

When nōnne appears (viz. nōn ne), the force of the question expects a yes response

When the particle num appears, the force of the question expects a no response

Basic Uses

-ne

  • Did she fear that: eane id veritus est?
  • Does she seem to fear death or pain: ea mortemne vedētur aut dolōrem timēre?

Nōnne

  • Do you no observe: nōnne anamadvertis?

Num

  • Is there any doubt: num dubium est?

Advanced Notes on -ne

Occasionally, yes-no propositions are given without –ne

These are often ironic questions

  • Do you not feel that your schemes are revealed: patēre tua cōnsilia nōn sentīs?

Often, when –ne is attached directed to the verb, it shares the expectation of nōnne, a yes response

  • Do you not recall [what] I said in the Senate: meministīne mē in sentātū dicere?

ne may participate in double questions, where -ne…an should be translated as or

  • I ask whether slaves or free: quaerō servōsne an liberōs.

In poetry, -ne…-ne sometimes occurs, and should be translated whether…or.

The compounds anne…an and necne are rare alternatives

  • Shall I talk to Gabinius, or Pompey, or both: Gabīniō dīcam anne Pompeiō an utrīque?
  • Are these your words or not: sunt haec tua verba necne?

The enclitic –ne is scanned short in Latin poetry

The Essential AG: 332a-b

Famous Phrase: Num negāre audēs? Quid tacēs? (Do you dare deny it? Why are you silent?) [Cicero, In Catilinam, 1.4]

yesno_grammar.pdf