Uses of Quam (Everything Else)

Uses of Quam (part 4 of 4)

Summary of Use

Quam has many and various uses in Latin

It appears most commonly as the standard coordinating conjunction of comparison between two adjectives, adverbs or clauses (part 1)

  • Two things compared with quam will always appear in the same case
  • There are better and worse (common and less common) ways to compare with quam

The phrases quam ut, quam quī, quam sī and quam (alone) may also initiate a subjunctive statement (part 2)

  • These include clauses of purpose, characteristic and comparison

The compouds quamquam and quamvīs are concessive particles, taking either subjunctive or indicative clauses (part 3)

Quam and its compounds have several other functions (part 4)


The pairing tam…quam connects a demonstrative and relative pair of phrases (i.o.) and should be translated so (as) … as with comparative force.

When used of present characteristics, the relative phrase may take a subjunctive verb

  • He spoke as often as possible: tam saepē orātus est quam poterat. 
  • She eat as much as she might like: tam multa edit quam velit. 

Quam with Relative Time

Quam may appear with single adverbs that already offer comparative force: ante, prius, post, posteā, prīdiē, and postrīdiē

  • She did not let him go until he gave her a pledge: nōn ante dīmīsit eum quam fidem dedit.
  • There came the third day after he said these things: post diem tertium quam dīxerat vēnit.

In this same way, quam may appear with the ablative of time

  • She died within eight months after his death: octāvō mēnse quam eius mortem morīta est.

The phrase quam diū should be translated as long as and takes the indicative.

  • She spoke as long as she could: ōrābat quam diū poterat.

Idiomatic Uses

Quam inhabits a number of idioms–mīrum quam (marvelously), sānē quam (immensely), valdē quam (enormously)–all of which function as adverbs.

  • He has uncommonly few of his own: suōs valdē quam paucōs habet.
  • I was immensely glad: sānē quam sum gāvīsus.

Placing quam before a superlative adjective or adverb intensifies the superlative

  • They had the very least: quam mimimum habuērunt.

The Essential AG: 291c, 323g, 535c



Famous Phrase: carpe dīem! quam minimum credūla posterō [seize the day! put the very least trust in tomorrow]

(Horace, Odes, 1.1)





Comparative Subordinate Conjunctions

Comparative Subordinate Conjunctions

Summary of Use

Conjunctions are either coordinate or subordinate

  • Coordinate conjunctions connect “coordinate or similar constructions” (AG, 223a)
  • Subordinate conjunctions connect a main clause with the clause it modifies (i.e. subordinates)

Comparative subordinate conjunctions are sub-class of subordinate conjunctions imply both comparison and condition between the two clauses

Comparative subordinate conjunctions may introduce indicative or subjunctive clauses, often hinged on the presence of near the conjunction

  • ut, utī, sīcut, prout, and praeut will produce indicative clauses
  • velut, velutī and ceu may produce either indicative or subjunctive clauses
  • tamquam (tanquam), quasi, ut sī, ac sī and velut sī will produce subjunctive clauses

Indicative Exempla

ut, utī, sīcut, or velut, just as, like

  • Fātur ut fātur meus pater: He speaks just as my father speaks.
  • Pugnat utī quae nihil āmittere habet: She fights like one with nothing to lose.
  • Ex altā arbore cadunt sīcut sidera summō caelō: they fall from the high tree. like stars from high heaven

prout or praeut like as, exactly as

  • these are more precise or emphatic than those at (2.1)
  • Fātur prout fātur meus pater: He speaks just like my father speaks.
  • Vidēris praeut tuus pater: You look exactly like your father.

ceu, just as, like

  • a poetic variant of those at (2.1)
  • tenuis fugit ceu fūmus in aurās: Fleeting, he flees as smoke in air.

Subjunctive Exempla

tamquam (tanquam), quasi, ut sī, and velut sī, as if

  • He mourns as if Asia were closed: luget tamquam clausa sit Asia
  • He speaks as if he were my father: fātur quasi meus pater sit.
  • She fights as if she had nothing to lose: pugnat ut sī nihil āmittere habeat.
  • They dreaded his cruelty as if he were present: crūdeēlitātem horērent velut sī cōram adesset.

ac sī, exactly as if

  • this is more emphatic than those at (3.1)
  • You do exactly as if you had asked me: similter facis ac sī mē rogēs. 

Famous Phrase: si fueris Romae, Romano vivito more; si fueris alibi, vivito sicut ibi

(if you will be at Rome, live in the Roman custom; if you will be elsewhere, live as those there)

[attributed to St. Ambrose, who received it as advice, this is the very clumsy predecessor do our own ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’]