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156. The Active and Passive Voices in Latin generally correspond to the active and passive in English; but—

a. The passive voice often has a reflexive meaning:—

  1. ferrō accingor, I gird myself with my sword.
  2. Turnus vertitur, Turnus turns (himself).
  3. induitur vestem, he puts on his (own) clothes.

Note.--This use corresponds very nearly to the Greek Middle voice, and is doubtless a survival of the original meaning of the passive (p. 76, footnote 2).

b. Many verbs are passive in form, but active or reflexive in meaning. These are called Deponents (§ 190):1 as, hortor, I exhort; sequor, I follow.

c. Some verbs with active meaning have the passive form in the perfect tenses; these are called Semi-Deponents: as, audeō , audēre , ausus sum, dare.


157. The Moods are used as follows:—

a. The Indicative Mood is used for most direct assertions and interrogations: as, valēsne ? valeō, are you well? I am well.

b. The Subjunctive Mood has many idiomatic uses, as in commands, conditions, and various dependent clauses. It is often translated by the English Indicative; frequently by means of the auxiliaries may, might, would, should; 2 sometimes by the (rare) Subjunctive; sometimes by the Infinitive; and often by the Imperative, especially in prohibitions. A few characteristic examples of its use are the following:—

  1. eāmus, let us go; abeat, let him not depart.
  2. adsum ut videam, I am here to see (that I may see).
  3. quaesieris, do not thou inquire.
  4. beātus sīs, may you be blessed.
  5. quid morer, why should I delay?
  6. nesciō quid scrībam, I know not what to write.
  7. moneam, audiat, if I should warn, he would hear.

c. The Imperative is used for exhortation, entreaty, or command; but the Subjunctive is often used instead (§§ 439, 450):—

  1. līber estō, he shall be free.
  2. ossa legitō, do not gather the bones.

d. The Infinitive is used chiefly as an indeclinable noun, as the subject or complement of another verb (§§ 452, 456. N.). In special constructions it takes the place of the Indicative, and may be translated by that mood in English (see Indirect Discourse, § 580 ff.).

Note.--For the Syntax of the Moods, see § 436 ff.


158. The Participles are used as follows:—

a. The Present Participle (ending in -ns) has commonly the same meaning and use as the English participle in -ing; as, vocāns, calling; legentēs, reading. (For its inflection, see egēns , § 118.)

b. The Future Participle (ending in -ūrus) is oftenest used to express what is likely or about to happen: as, rēctūrus, about to rule; audītūrus, about to hear.

Note.--With the tenses of esse, to be, it forms the First Periphrastic Conjugation (see § 195): as, urbs est cāsūra, the city is about to fall; mānsūrus eram, I was going to stay.

c. The Perfect Participle (ending in -tus, -sus) has two uses:—

  1. It is sometimes equivalent to the English perfect passive participle: as, tēctus, sheltered; acceptus, accepted; ictus, having been struck; and often has simply an adjective meaning: as, acceptus, acceptable.
  2. It is used with the verb to be ( esse ) to form certain tenses of the passive: as, vocātus est, he was (has been) called.

    Note.--There is no Perfect Active or Present Passive Participle in Latin. For substitutes see §§ 492, 493.

d. The Gerundive (ending in -ndus), has two uses:—

  1. It is often used as an adjective implying obligation, necessity, or propriety (ought or must): as, audiendus est, he must be heard.

    Note.--When thus used with the tenses of the verb to be ( esse ) it forms the Second Periphrastic Conjugation: dēligendus erat, he ought to have been chosen (§ 196).

  2. In the oblique cases the Gerundive commonly has the same meaning as the Gerund (cf. § 159. a), though its construction is different. (For examples, see § 503 ff.)

Gerund and Supine

159. The Gerund and Supine are used as follows:—

a. The Gerund is a verbal noun, corresponding in meaning to the English verbal noun in -ing (§ 502): as, loquendī causā, for the sake of speaking.

Note.--The Gerund is found only in the oblique cases. A corresponding nominative is supplied by the Infinitive: thus, scrībere est ūtile, writing (to write) is useful; but, ars scrībendī, the art of writing.

b. The Supine is in form a noun of the fourth declension (§ 94. b), found only in the accusative ending in -tum, -sum, and the dative or ablative ending in -, -.

The Supine in -um is used after verbs and the Supine in -ū after adjectives (§§ 509, 510):—

  1. vēnit spectātum, he came to see; mīrābile dictū, wonderful to tell.

Tenses of the Finite Verb

160. The Tenses of the Indicative have, in general, the same meaning as the corresponding tenses in English:—

a. Of continued action,

  1. 1. PRESENT: scrībō, I write, I am writing, I do write.
  2. 2. IMPERFECT: scrībēbam, I wrote, I was writing, I did write.
  3. 3. FUTURE: scrībam, I shall write.

b. Of completed action,

  1. 4. PERFECT: scrīpsī, I have written, I wrote.
  2. 5. PLUPERFECT: scrīpseram, I had written.
  3. 6. FUTURE PERFECT: scrīpserō, I shall have written.

161. The Perfect Indicative has two separate uses,—the Perfect Definite and the Perfect Historical (or Indefinite).

  1. The Perfect Definite represents the action of the verb as completed in present time, and corresponds to the English perfect with have: as, scrīpsī, I have written.
  2. The Perfect Historical narrates a simple act or state in past time without representing it as in progress or continuing. It corresponds to the English past or preterite and the Greek aorist: as, scrīpsit, he wrote.
162. The Tenses of the Subjunctive are chiefly used in dependent clauses, following the rule for the Sequence of Tenses; but have also special idiomatic uses (see Syntax).

For the use of Tenses in the Imperative, see §§ 448, 449.

1 That is, verbs which have laid aside ( dēpōnere ) the passive meaning.

2 The Latin uses the subjunctive in many cases where we use the indicative; and we use a colorless auxiliary in many cases where the Latin employs a separate verb with more definite meaning. Thus, I may write is often not scrībam (subjunctive), but licet mihi scrībere; I can write is possum scrībere; I would write is scrībam , scrīberem , or scrībere velim ( vellem ); I should write, (if, etc.), scrīberem ( ) ..., or (implying duty) oportet scrībere .

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