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

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

Minus and Minimē with Negative Force

Minus and minimē are the comparative adverbs meaning less so and least of all. However, in colloquial Latin they typically fill the role of ‘not’ and ‘no.’

  • Sī minus possunt, exeāmus. If they are unable, let us head out.
  • Audācissimus ego tand’ ex omnibus?—minimē. Am I therefore the most outrageous of men? Certainly not.

This effect is also present in in phrases with the subjunctive and quōminus (= ut eō minus).

  • Nōn aetās impedit quōminus agrī colendī studia teneāmus. Age does not prevent us from retaining an interest in tilling the soil.
  • Nihil impedit quōminus id facere possīmus. Nothing prevents us from doing that.

The Essential AG: 558b

Well, At Least Try

Two related of clauses of effort take a substantive clause of purpose with ut + subjunctive. They are classed under the general heading of such phrases that denote an action directed toward the future.

  • I will give it my best shot so that you will be satisfied: huic optīmam operam dābō tibi gratum sīs.
  • Let us attempt it now, to spare ourselves later pains: operam nunc dēmus ut postmodo onera vītēmus.
  • I will chew this over tomorrow: huic negōtium dābō postrīdiē.
  • Take care of this matter so that the plants do not die: huic negōtium dāte ne germina excīdant.

Note this alternative construction for operam dare.

  • He made the effort for the sake of learning: operam dedit discēndō. (gerundive clause)

The Essential AG: 505, 505n1, 563

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

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

Verbs of Permitting / Clauses of Purpose

Verbs of permitting will take either a Substantive Clause of Purpose (ut/nē + subjunctive) or an Infinitive.

  • He permitted them to make toys: permīsit ut facerent lūdibria.
  • He did not allow tents to be pitched: tentōria statuī nōn passus est.
  • She will allow you to pass: concēdet perīre.
  • They do not allow the importation of wine: vinum importārī nōn sinunt.

After writing this post, I realized that I’ve already discussed permission constructions, external to my ongoing analysis of A&G on Clauses of Purpose. Take a look at my older post for comparison.

https://latinforaddicts.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/ne-allow-me/

The Essential AG: 563c