The Latin Supine

Formation of the Supine

It’s a rare bit of grammar, but we’re lucky, because it’s simple. It takes one of only four forms:

  • The supine is always a fourth-declension (the -us, -ūs declension) noun, and always appears in the accusative or ablative
  • Moreover, these forms will always have an initial t- or s-, leaving four possible endings: -tum, -sum, -tū, and -sū

The accusatives move with verbs; the ablatives move with adjectives: vēnit spectātum [he came to see]; mirabile dictū [marvelous to tell]

You have the endings, now consider the stems:

  • The supine stem is always identical to the perfect passive participle’s stem
  • amātus: amātum, amātū; rectus: rectum, rectū

Uses of the Supine

As I mentioned just above, there are four forms with two endings, and therefore two uses:

The supine accusatives, -tum and -sum are “used after verbs of motion to express purpose” (AG, 509)

  • nam vēnī dē tumultū te admonitum, quem cum abīrēs linquistī: and I’m here to remind you, of the mess you left when you ran away
  • pārentēs abībit inventum postrīdiē: she leaves tomorrow to find her parents

Not that the supine is a singular accusative, even where it follow a plural verb, or takes a plural object

The supine ablatives, -tū and – are used with a handful of adjectives, as a means of reference 

  • iste senex foedus et visū et olfactū est: that geezer is hard on the eyes and the nose
  • nulla optima via catō deglūbū est: there is no best way to skin a cat

The ablatives may also appears with fāsnefās and opus, again as a means of reference 

  • this is unholy to say: hōc nefās dictū est
  • this letter is a burden to write: literra opus scriptū est. 

The supine ablatives are commonly attached to statements about the senses, or statement denoting easy or difficulty.

Essential AG: 94.b; 509-10

Review of First Conjugation (Even the Nasty Bits)

You need this. This is your intellectual chi. Failing that, it’s your intellectual tea. Take it daily, slowly–let it steep. Verb summaries don’t have to be boring, but they are important. Try rendering everything in full English translation. ‘I love him, You love cats, She loves the boy who left her.’ Make love triangles. Have fun.

Take five minutes. You won’t regret it.

(PS–I’ll bet there’s at least one mistake on here. find it)

First Conjugation ACTIVE (complete)

Primary Sequence

Present

amō, amās, amat, amāmus, amātis, amant

amem, amēs, amet, amēmus, amētis, ament

Imperfect

amābam, amābās, amābat, amābāmus, amābātis, amābant

amārem, amārēs, amāret, amārēmus, amarētis, amārent

Future

amābō, amābis, amābit, amābimus, amābitis, amābunt

[no subjunctive future primary]

Secondary Sequence

Perfect

amāvī, amāvistī, amāvit, amāvimus, amāvistis, amāvērunt

amāverim, amāveris, amāverit, amāverimus, amāveritis, amāverint

Pluperfect

amāveram, amāverās, amāverat, amāverāmus, amāverātis, amāverant

amāvissem, amāvissēs, amāvisset, amāvissēmus, amāvissētis, amāvissent

Future Perfect

amāverō, amāveris, amāverit, amāverimus, amāveritis, amāverint

[no subjunctive future secondary]

Et Cetera

Present Imperative

amā, amāte

Future Imperative

amātō (2nd or 3rd person singular), amātōte (2nd person plural), amantō (3rd person plural)

Infinitive (present, perfect, future)

amāre

amāvisse

amātūrus esse

Participles (present, future) 

amāns, amantis

amātūrus, -a, -um

Gerund

amandī, amandō, amandum, amandō

Supine

amātum, amātū

The Essential AG: 184 (p89-90)

Famous Phrase: “odī et amō quārē id faciam fortasse requiris / nesciō sed fierī sentiō et excrucior” – Catullus, 85

[I love and hate, perhaps you ask why I do it / I do not know, but I feel it done, and am tortured]

(I imagine this is how we all feel about verb summaries, no?)