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


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

Imperative-esque Colloquial Phrases

I found these poor guys tossed at the end of the section on imperative mood, but they could all work well for your conversational Latin, so have a look:

All three phrases [cūrā ut; fac / fac ut; velim] make use of the subjunctive mood in a clause, much like the clauses of purpose I’ve been discussing of late.

  • Make sure you’re at Rome: cūrā ut Rōmae sīs
  • Makes sure that you take care of your health: fac ut valētūdinem cūrēs.
  • Be (Remain) at home: facite adsītīs domī.
  • I wish that you would send it to me: eum mihi velim mittās.

These are all great ‘polite imperative’ alternatives to the rather clumsy ‘amābō tē‘ that we’re likely more familiar with.

The Essential AG: 449

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.

The Essential AG: 563c

Substantive Clauses of Purpose (p1)

To understand the distinction between a substantive clause and a relative clause, follow this link.

Of substantive clauses, those that take the subjunctive have two central uses:

  • To express purpose
  • To describe results

Both such clauses either take ut or (where the purpose/results are negative).

  • He warns him to avoid all suspicious activities: monet ut omnēs suspīciōnēs vītet.
  • I beg that you aid her: tē rogō ut eam iuvēs.
  • He persuades them to leave: persuādet ut abeant.
  • He orders his men not to return: suīs imperāvit nē redeant.

A few things to note in the examples above:

  • The third phrase would look identical as either a substantive clause of purpose or result. One must use context to determine whether he is in the process of persuading them to leave, or whether he has already achieved this result.
  • The verbs that take substantive clauses may also take secondary objects (I beg you; He orders them) in any case except the nominative.

Substantive Clauses of Purpose are used with a variety of verbs and verbal phrases to denote actions that have future/planned directive. Such as:

  • (id) agō, agere, ēgī, actum, I do it (so that)
  • censeō, censēre, censuī, censum, I think, suppose, judge, recommend
  • ēdīcō, ēdīcere, ēdīxī, ēdictum, I publish, decree
  • mandō, mandāre, mandāvī, mandātum, I order, command
  • precor, precārī, precātus sum, I beg, pray

In general, verbs of admonishing, asking, bargaining, commanding, decreeing, determining, permitting, persuading, resolving, urging and wishing are apt to take an ut/nē substantive clause of purpose. For a fuller list, see A&G 563 fn1.

In poetry, don’t be surprised to find an infinitive clause standing as a substitute for the substantive. There are also more common prose variations for particular verbs and verbal phrases under this general heading, which I’ll sort through in coming posts.

The Essential AG: 563

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’]