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Kinds of Sentences

269. A Sentence is a form of words which contains a Statement, a Question, an Exclamation, or a Command.

a. A sentence in the form of a Statement is called a Declarative Sentence: as,—canis currit, the dog runs.

b. A sentence in the form of a Question is called an Interrogative Sentence: as,—canisne currit? does the dog run?

c. A sentence in the form of an Exclamation is called an Exclamatory Sentence: as,— quam celeriter currit canis! how fast the dog runs!

d. A sentence in the form of a Command, an Exhortation, or an Entreaty is called an Imperative Sentence: as,—ī, curre per Alpīs, go, run across the Alps; currat canis, let the dog run.

Subject and Predicate

270. Every sentence consists of a Subject and a Predicate.

The Subject of a sentence is the person or thing spoken of. The Predicate is that which is said of the Subject.

Thus in canis currit, the dog runs, canis is the subject, and currit the predicate.

271. The Subject of a sentence is usually a Noun or Pronoun, or some word or group of words used as a Noun:—

  1. equitēs ad Caesarem vēnērunt, the cavalry came to Cæsar.
  2. hūmānum est errāre, to err is human.
  3. quaeritur num mors malum sit. the question is whether death is an evil.

a. But in Latin the subject is often implied in the termination of the verb:—

sedē -mus, we sit. curri -tis, you run. inqui-t, says he.

272. The Predicate of a sentence may be a Verb (as in canis currit, the dog runs), or it may consist of some form of sum and a Noun or Adjective which describes or defines the subject (as in Caesar cōnsul erat, Cæsar was consul).

Such a noun or adjective is called a Predicate Noun or Adjective, and the verb sum is called the Copula (i.e. the connective).

Thus in the example given, Caesar is the subject, cōnsul the predicate noun, and erat the copula (see § 283).

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

273. Verbs are either Transitive or Intransitive.

  1. A Transitive Verb has or requires a direct object to complete its sense (see § 274): as,—frātrem cecīdit, he slew his brother.
  2. An Intransitive Verb admits of no direct object to complete its sense:—

    cadō, I fall (or am falling). sōl lūcet, the sun shines (or is shining).

    Note 1.--Among transitive verbs Factitive Verbs are sometimes distinguished as a separate class. These state an act which produces the thing expressed by the word which completes their sense. Thus mēnsam fēcit, he made a table (which was not in existence before), is distinguished from mēnsam percussit, he struck a table (which already existed).

    Note 2.--A transitive verb may often be used absolutely, i.e. without any object expressed: as,—arat, he is ploughing, where the verb does not cease to be transitive because the object is left indefinite, as we see by adding,—quid, what? agrum suum, his land.

    Note 3.--Transitive and Intransitive Verbs are often called Active and Neuter Verbs respectively.


274. The person or thing immediately affected by the action of a verb is called the Direct Object.

A person or thing indirectly affected by the action of a verb is called the Indirect Object.

Only transitive verbs can have a Direct Object; but an Indirect Object may be used with both transitive and intransitive verbs (§§ 362, 366):—

  1. pater vocat filium (direct object), the father calls his son.
  2. mihi (ind. obj.) agrum (dir. obj.) ostendit, he showed me a field.
  3. mihi (ind. obj.) placet, it is pleasing to me.

Note.--The distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs is not a fixed dis tinction, for most transitive verbs may be used intransitively, and many verbs usually intransitive may take a direct object and so become transitive (§ 388. a).

a. With certain verbs, the Genitive, Dative, or Ablative is used where the English, from a difference in meaning, requires the direct object (Objective):—

  1. hominem videō, I see the man (Accusative).
  2. hominī serviō, I serve the man (Dative, see § 367).
  3. hominis misereor, I pity the man (Genitive, see § 354. a).
  4. homine amīcō ūtor, I treat the man as a friend (Ablative, see § 410).

b. Many verbs transitive in Latin are rendered into English by an intransitive verb with a preposition:—

  1. petit aprum, he aims at the boar.
  2. laudem affectat, he strives after praise.
  3. cūrat valētūdinem, he takes care of his health.
  4. meum cāsum doluērunt, they grieved at my misfortune.
  5. rīdet nostram āmentiam (Quinct. 55) , he laughs at our stupidity.

275. When a transitive verb is changed from the Active to the Passive voice, the Direct Object becomes the Subject and is put in the Nominative case:—

  1. Active: pater fīlium vocat, the father calls his son.
  2. Passive: fīlius ā patre vocātur, the son is called by his father.
  3. Active: lūnam et stellās vidēmus, we see the moon and the stars.
  4. Passive: lūna et stellae videntur, the moon and stars are seen (appear).


276. A Subject or a Predicate may be modified by a single word, or by a group of words (a phrase or a clause).

The modifying word or group of words may itself be modified in the same way.

a. A single modifying word may be an adjective, an adverb, an appositive (§ 282), or the oblique case of a noun.

Thus in the sentence vir fortis patienter fert, a brave man endures patiently, the adjective fortis, brave, modifies the subject vir, man, and the adverb patienter, patiently, modifies the predicate fert, endures.

b. The modifying word is in some cases said to limit the word to which it belongs.

Thus in the sentence puerī patrem videō, I see the boy's father, the genitive puerī limits patrem (by excluding any other father).

277. A Phrase is a group of words, without subject or predicate of its own, which may be used as an Adjective or an Adverb.

Thus in the sentence vir fuit summā nōbilitāte, he was a man of the highest nobility, the words summā nōbilitāte, of the highest nobility, are used for the adjective nōbilis, noble (or nōbilissimus, very noble), and are called an Adjective Phrase.

So in the sentence māgnā celeritāte vēnit, he came with great speed, the words māgnā celeritāte, with great speed, are used for the adverb celeriter, quickly (or celerrimē, very quickly), and are called an Adverbial Phrase.

Clauses and Sentences

278. Sentences are either Simple or Compound.

  1. A sentence containing a single statement is called a Simple Sentence.
  2. A sentence containing more than one statement is called a Compound Sentence, and each single statement in it is called a Clause.
a. If one statement is simply added to another, the clauses are said to be Coördinate. They are usually connected by a Coördinate Conjunction (§ 223. a); but this is sometimes omitted:—
  1. dīvide et imperā, divide and control. But,—
  2. vēnī, vīdī, vīcī, I came, I saw, I conquered.

b. If one statement modifies another in any way, the modifying clause is said to be Subordinate, and the clause modified is called the Main Clause.

This subordination is indicated by some connecting word, either a Subordinate Conjunction (§ 223. b) or a Relative:—

  1. ōderint dum metuant, let them hate so long as they fear.
  2. servum mīsit quem sēcum habēbat, he sent the slave whom he had with him.

A sentence containing one or more subordinate clauses is sometimes called Complex.

Note.--A subordinate clause may itself be modified by other subordinate clauses.

279. Subordinate Clauses are of various kinds.

a. A clause introduced by a Relative Pronoun or Relative Adverb is called a Relative Clause:—

  1. Mosa prōfluit ex monte Vosegō, quī est in fīnibus Lingonum (B. G. 4.10) , the Meuse rises in the Vosges mountains, which are on the borders of the Lingones.

For Relative Pronouns (or Relative Adverbs) serving to connect independent sentences, see § 308. f.

b. A clause introduced by an Adverb of Time is called a Temporal Clause:—

  1. cum tacent, clāmant (Cat. 1.21) , while they are silent, they cry aloud.
  2. hominēs aegrī morbō gravī, cum iactantur aestū febrīque, aquam gelidam biberint, prīmō relevārī videntur (id. 1.31), men suffering with a severe sickness, when they are tossing with the heat of fever, if they drink cold water, seem at first to be relieved.

c. A clause containing a Condition, introduced by , if (or some equivalent expression), is called a Conditional Clause. A sentence containing a conditional clause is called a Conditional Sentence.

Thus, aquam gelidam biberint , prīmō relevārī videntur (in b, above) is a Conditional Sentence, and ... biberint is a Conditional Clause.

d. A clause expressing the Purpose of an action is called a Final Clause:—

  1. edō ut vīvam, I eat to live (that I may live).
  2. mīsit lēgātōs quī dīcerent, he sent ambassadors to say (who should say).

e. A clause expressing the Result of an action is called a Consecutive Clause:—1

  1. tam longē aberam ut nōn vidērem, I was too far away to see (so far away that I did not see).


280. A word is said to agree with another when it is required by usage to be in the same Gender, Number, Case, or Person.

The following are the general forms of agreement, sometimes called the Four Concords:—

  1. The agreement of the Noun in Apposition or as Predicate (§§ 281-284).
  2. The agreement of the Adjective with its Noun (§ 286).
  3. The agreement of the Relative with its Antecedent (§ 305).
  4. The agreement of the Finite Verb with its Subject (§ 316).
a. A word sometimes takes the gender or number, not of the word with which it should regularly agree, but of some other word implied in that word.

This use is called Synesis, or cōnstrūctiō ad sēnsum (construction according to sense).


281. A noun used to describe another, and denoting the same person or thing, agrees with it in Case.

The descriptive noun may be either an Appositive (§ 282) or a Predicate noun (§ 283).


282. A noun used to describe another, and standing in the same part of the sentence with the noun described, is called an Appositive, and is said to be in apposition:
  1. externus timor, maximum concordiae vinculum, iungēbat animōs (Liv. 2.39) , fear of the foreigner, the chief bond of harmony, united their hearts. [Here the appositive belongs to the subject.]
  2. quattuor hīc prīmum ōmen equōs vīdī; (Aen. 3.537), I saw here four horses, the first omen. [Here both nouns are in the predicate.]
    litterās Graecās senex didicī; (Cat. M. 26), I learned Greek when an old man. [Here senex , though in apposition with the subject of didicī , really states something further: viz., the time, condition, etc., of the act (Predicate Apposition).]

a. Words expressing parts may be in apposition with a word including the parts, or vice versa (Partitive Apposition):—

  1. Nec P. Popilius neque Q. Metellus, clārissimī virī atque amplissimī, vim tribūnīciam sustinēre potuērunt (Clu. 95) , neither Publius Popilius nor Quintus Metellus, [both of them] distinguished and honorable men, could withstand the power of the tribunes.
  2. Gnaeus et Pūblius Scīpiōnēs, Cneius and Publius Scipio (the Scipios).

b. An Adjective may be used as an appositive:—

  1. ea Sex. Rōscium inopem recēpit (Rosc. Am. 27) , she received Sextus Roscius in his poverty (needy).

c. An appositive generally agrees with its noun in Gender and Number when it can:—

  1. sequuntur nātūram, optimam ducem (Lael. 19) , they follow nature, the best guide.
  2. omnium doctrīnārum inventrīcēs Athēnās (De Or. 1.13) , Athens, discoverer of all learning.

Note.--But such agreement is often impossible: as,ōlim truncus eram fīculnus, inūtile “līgnum(Hor. S. 1.8.1) , I once was a fig-tree trunk, a useless log.

d. A common noun in apposition with a Locative (§ 427) is put in the Ablative, with or without the preposition in:—

  1. Antiochīae, celebrī quondam urbe (Arch. 4) , at Antioch, once a famous city.
  2. Albae cōnstitērunt, in urbe mūnītā; (Phil. 4.6), they halted at Alba, a fortified town.

For a Genitive in apposition with a Possessive Pronoun or an Adjective, see § 302. 6

For the so-called Appositional Genitive, see § 343. d.

For the construction with nōmen est , see § 373. a.

Predicate Noun or Adjective

283. With sum and a few other intransitive or passive verbs, a noun or an adjective describing or defining the subject may stand in the predicate. This is called a Predicate Noun or Adjective.

The verb sum is especially common in this construction, and when so used is called the copula (i.e. connective).

Other verbs which take a predicate noun or adjective are the socalled copulative verbs signifying to become, to be made, to be named, to appear, and the like.

284. A Predicate Noun or Adjective after the copula sum or a copulative verb is in the same case as the Subject:—

    pācis semper auctor fuī; (Lig. 28), I have always been an adviser of peace.
  1. quae pertinācia quibusdam, eadem aliīs cōnstantia vidērī potest (Marc. 31) , what may seem obstinacy to some, may seem to others consistency.
  2. êius mortis sedētis ultōrēs (Mil. 79) , you sit as avengers of his death.
  3. habeātur vir ēgregius Paulus (Cat. 4.21) , let Paulus be regarded as an extraordinary man.
  4. ego patrōnus exstitī; (Rosc. Am. 5), I have come forward as an advocate.
  5. dīcit nōn omnīs bonōs esse beātōs, he says that not all good men are happy.

a. A predicate noun referring to two or more singular nouns is in the plural:—

  1. cōnsulēs creantur Caesar et Servīlius (B. C. 3.1) , Cæsar and Servilius are elected consuls.

b. Sum in the sense of exist makes a complete predicate without a predicate noun or adjective. It is then called the substantive verb:

    sunt virī fortēs, there are (exist) brave men. [Cf. vīxēre fortēs ante Agamemnona (Hor. Od. 4.9.25), brave men lived before Agamemnon.]

For Predicate Accusative and Predicate Ablative, see §§ 392, 415. N.

1 Observe that the classes defined in a-e are not mutually exclusive, but that a single clause may belong to several of them at once. Thus a relative clause is usually subordinate, and may be at the same time temporal or conditional: and subordinate clauses may be coördinate with each other

hide References (19 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (18):
    • Caesar, Gallic War, 4.10
    • Cicero, Against Catiline, 1.21
    • Cicero, Against Catiline, 4.21
    • Cicero, For Ligarius, 28
    • Cicero, Philippics, 4.6
    • Cicero, For Archias, 4
    • Cicero, For Publius Quinctius, 55
    • Cicero, For Sextus Roscius of Ameria, 27
    • Cicero, For Sextus Roscius of Ameria, 5
    • Cicero, For Aulus Cluentius, 95
    • Cicero, For Marcellus, 31
    • Cicero, For Milo, 79
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 3.537
    • Caesar, Civil War, 3.1
    • Cicero, On Oratory, 1.13
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2, 39
    • Cicero, De Senectute, 26
    • Cicero, De Amicitia, 19
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Horace, Satires, 1.8
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