Latin conjugation

Conjugation is the creation of derived forms of a verb from its basic forms or principal parts. It may be affected by person, number, gender, tense, mood, voice or other language-specific factors. When, for example, we use a verb to function as the action done by a subject, most languages require conjugating the verb to reflect that meaning. (For more information on conjugation in general, see the article on grammatical conjugation.)

In Latin, there are four main patterns of conjugation composed of groups of verbs that are conjugated following similar patterns. As in other languages, Latin verbs have a passive voice and an active voice. Furthermore, there exist deponent and semi-deponent Latin verbs (verbs with a passive form but active meaning), as well as defective verbs (verbs with a perfect form but present meaning). Sometimes the verbs of the third declension with a root on -ǐ, are regarded as a separate pattern of conjugation, and are called the "fifth conjugation", so that it is said there are five main patterns of conjugation.

In a dictionary, Latin verbs are always listed with four principal parts which allow the reader to deduce the other conjugated forms of the verbs. These are:
# the first person singular of the present indicative active
# the present infinitive
# the first person singular of the perfect indicative active
# the supine or, in some texts, the perfect passive participle, which is nearly always identical. Texts that commonly list the perfect passive participle use the future active participle for intransitive verbs. Some verbs lack this principal part altogether.

For simple verb paradigms, see the following pages: [] , [] , [] , []

Latin verb properties

Latin verbs have the following properties.

:1. Two aspects—perfective (finished), imperfective (unfinished):2. Two voices—active, passive:3. Three finite moods—indicative, subjunctive, imperative:4. Four non-finite forms—infinitive, gerund, participle, supine:5. Six tenses—::

Add the passive endings to form the passive voice. The passive "portor" can be translated as "I am carried," or "I am being carried."

Imperative present

The imperative in the present conveys commands, pleas and recommendations. "Portā" can be translated as "Carry you." or simply, "Carry." The imperative present only occurs in the second person.
*The second person singular in the active voice only uses the bare stem, and doesn't add an imperative ending.

As with the present tense, active personal endings are taken off, and passive personal endings are put in their place. "Portābar" can be translated as "I was being carried," "I kept being carried," or "I used to be carried."

Future tense

The future tense (Latin "tempus futūrum simplex") expresses an uncompleted action in the future. It is recognized by its tense signs "bō", "bi", "bu", "e" and "ē" in the indicative and the vowel "ō" in the imperative mood.

Indicative future

The future tense always refers to an incomplete action. Also, the future tense is more strict in usage temporally in Latin than it is in English. Standing alone, "portābō" can mean "I shall carry," or "I will carry." Remember that "shall" and "will" are only used in the first person. All other persons only use "will" in the indicative.
*The first and second conjugations use "bō", "bi" and "bu" as signs for the future indicative.
*The third and fourth conjugations replace their thematicals with "a", "ě" and "ē". The fourth conjugation inserts an "ǐ" before the "a", "e" and "ē".

The letter R is used to designate the passive voice in the future imperative. The second person plural is absent here. "Portātor" translates as "You shall be carried."

ubjunctive perfect

Like the subjunctive imperfect, the subjunctive perfect is largely used in subordinate clauses. Independently, it is usually translated as the potential subjunctive. By itself, "portāverim" translates as "I may have carried."
*The tense signs "eri" and "erī" are used before the personal endings are added.

In the passive voice, the present passive participle is utilized with "esse" in the indicative imperfect. "Portātus eram" is translated as "I had been carried."

Future perfect tense

The least used of all the tenses, the future perfect tense (Latin "tempus futūrum exāctum") conveys an action that will have been completed before another action. It is signified by the tense signs "erō" and "eri". The future perfect tense is the only tense that occurs in a single mood.

Indicative future perfect

As said, the future perfect is used to mention an action that will have been completed in futurity before another action. It is often used with the future tense. In simple translation, "portāverō" means "I will have carried," or "I shall have carried."
*The tense signs "erō" and "eri" are used before the personal endings.

The infinitives

There are six infinitives. They are in the present active, present passive, perfect active, perfect passive, future active and future passive.
*The present active infinitive is the second principal part (in regular verbs).
**"Portāre" means "to carry."
*The present passive infinitive is formed by adding a "–rī" to the present stem. This is only so for the first, second and fourth conjugations. In the third conjugation, the thematical vowel, "e", is taken from the present stem, and an "–ī".
**"Portārī" translates into "to be carried."
*The perfect active infinitive is formed by adding an "–isse" onto the perfect stem.
**"Portāvisse" translates into "to have carried."
*The perfect passive infinitive uses the perfect passive participle along with the auxiliary verb "esse". The perfect passive infinitive must agree with what it is describing in number and gender.
**"Portātus esse" means "to have been carried."
*The future active infinitive uses the future active participle with the auxiliary verb "esse."
**"Portātūrus esse" means "to be going to carry." The future active infinitive must agree with what it is describing in number and gender.
**"Esse" has two future infinitives: "futurus esse" and "fore".
*The future passive infinitive uses the supine with the auxiliary verb "īrī".
**"Portātum īrī" is translated as "to be going to be carried." This is normally used in indirect speech. For example: "Omnēs senātōres dīxērunt templum conditum īrī." "All the senators said that a temple would be built."

The preposition "ad" can be used with a gerund in the accusative singular case to indicate purpose. For example, "ad oppugnandum" is translated as "to attack". However, when an object is introduced, Romans usually converted the gerund to a gerundive, agreeing with the accusative object. For example, "to attack the enemy" would become "ad hostes oppugnandos", which, while technically grammatically wrong, was the normal way of using this construction. The gerundive is said to be "attracted" into the case of the noun, and occurred because Romans (mistakenly) thought that the gerund(ive) and the object should be in the same case.

The gerundive

The gerundive is the passive equivalent of the gerund, and much more common in Latin. It is a first and second declension adjective, and means " [the act of] (the verb) being done". Often, the gerundive is used with an implicit"esse", to show obligation.

*"Puer portandus" means "(the) boy should be carried," or "(the) boy who should be carried." "Amanda" means "She who must be loved".

Peculiarities within conjugation and non-finite forms

Irregular verbs

There are a few irregular verbs in Latin that aren't grouped into a particular conjugation (such as "esse" and "posse"), or deviate slightly from a conjugation (such as "ferre, īre," and "dare"). It consists of the following list and their compounds (such as "conferre"). Many irregular verbs lack a fourth principal part.

:"sum, , fuī, futūrus" — to be, exist:"possum, ref|potesse, potuī" — to be able, can:"eō, , īvī / īī, ītum" — to go:"volō, , voluī" — to wish, want:"nōlō, , nōluī" — to be unwilling, refuse:"mālō, , māluī" — to prefer:"ferō, , tulī, lātum" — to bear, endure:"fiō, , factus sum" — to become, happen:"edō, , ēdī, ēsum" – to eat, waste:"dō, , datum" — to give, bestow

Deponent and semi-deponent verbs

Deponent verbs are verbs that are passive in form (that is, conjugated as though in the passive voice) but active in meaning. These verbs have only three principal parts, since the perfect tenses of ordinary passives are formed periphrastically with the perfect participle, which is formed on the same stem as the supine. Some example coming from all conjugations are:

:1st Conjugation: "mīror, , mīrātus sum" — to admire, wonder:2nd Conjugation: "polliceor, , pollicitus sum" — to promise, offer:3rd Conjugation: "loquor, , locūtus sum" — to speak, say:4th Conjugation: "orior, , ortus sum" – to rise, spring up

Deponent verbs use active conjugations for tenses that do not exist in the passive: the gerund, the supine, the present and future participles and the future infinitive. They cannot be used in the passive themselves, and their analogues with "active" form do not in fact exist: one cannot directly translate "The word is said" with any form of "loquī", and there are no forms like "loquō", "loquis", "loquit", etc.

Semi-deponent verbs form their impefective aspect tenses in the manner of ordinary active verbs; but their perfect tenses are built periphrastically like deponents and ordinary passives; thus semideponent verbs have a perfect active participle instead of a perfect passive participle. An example:

:"audeō, audēre, ausus sum" — to dare, venture

Note: In the Romance languages, which lack deponent or passive verb forms, the Classical Latin deponent verbs either disappeared (being replaced with non-deponent verbs of a similar meaning) or changed to a non-deponent form. For example, in Spanish and Italian, "mīrārī" changed to "mirar(e)" by changing all the verb forms to the previously nonexistent "active form", and "audeō" changed to "osar(e)" by taking the participle "ausus" and making an "-ar(e)" verb out of it (note that "au" went to "o").

Third conjugation –iō verbs

There is a rather prolific subset of important verbs within the third conjugation. They have an "–iō" present in the first principal part ("–ior" for deponents), and resemble the fourth conjugation in some forms. Otherwise, they are still conjugated as normal, third conjugation verbs. Thus, these verbs are called third conjugation –iō verbs or third conjugation i-stems. Some examples are:

:"capiō, capere, cēpī, captum" — to take, seize:"rapiō, rapere, rapuī, raptum" — to plunder, take up:"faciō, facere, fēcī, factum" — to do, make:"cupiō, cupere, cupīvī, cupītum" — to desire, long for:"morior, morīref|moriri, mortuus sum" (dep.) — to die, decay:"patior, patī, passus sum" (dep.) — to suffer, undergo

They resemble the fourth conjugation in the following instances.

:Indicative present (first person singular, third person plural) — "capiō, capiunt," etc.:Indicative imperfect — "capiēbam, capiēbāmus," etc.:Indicative future — "capiam, capiēmus," etc.:Subjunctive present — "capiam, capiāmus," etc.:Imperative future (third person plural) — "cupiuntō," etc.:Present Active Participle — "capiēns, –entis":Gerund — "capiendī, capiendum," etc.:Gerundive — "capiendus, –a, –um"

Defective verbs

Defective verbs are verbs that are only conjugated in only some instances.
*Some verbs are only conjugated in the perfective aspect's tenses, yet have the imperfective aspect's tenses' meanings. As such, the perfect becomes the present, the pluperfect becomes the imperfect, and the future perfect becomes the future. So, the defective verb "ōdī" means "I hate." These defective verbs' principal parts are given in vocabulary with the indicative perfect in the first person and the perfect active infinitive. Some examples are:

::"ōdī, ōdisse" — to hate::"meminī, meminisse" — to remember::"coepī, coepisse" — to have begun
*A few verbs, which meanings usually have to do with speech, only appear in certain occurrences.

::"Cedo" (plur. "cette"), which means "Hand it over!" or "Out with it!" is only in the imperative mood, and only is used in the second person.

The following are conjugated irregularly.

"āiō" — I affirm, state


:"'Imperative - "fare":Present Active Participle — "fāns, fantis":Present Active Infinitive — "fārī":Present Passive Infinitive - "farier":Supine — (acc.) "fātum", (abl.) "fātū":Gerund — (gen.) "fandī," (dat. and abl.) "fandō," no accusative:Gerundive — "fandus, –a, –um"

The Romance languages lost many of these verbs, but others (such as "ōdī" and the imperative "cedo") survived but became regular fully-conjugated verbs (in Italian, "odiare", "cedere").

Impersonal verbs

Impersonal verbs are those lacking a person. In English impersonal verbs are usually used with the neuter pronoun "it" (as in "It seems," or "It storms"). Latin uses the third person singular. These verbs lack a fourth principal part. A few examples are:

:"pluit, pluere, pluvit" — to rain (it rains):"ningit, ningere, ninxit"ref|ningunt — to snow (it snows):"oportet, oportēre, oportuit" — to be proper (it is proper, one should/ought to)

The third person forms of "esse" may also be impersonal:

:"Nox aestīva calida fuit." — It was a hot, summer night.:"Est eī quī terram colunt." — It is they who till the land.

Irregular future active participles

As stated, the future active participle is normally formed by removing the "–um" from the supine, and adding a "–ūrus." However, some deviations occur.

Alternate verb forms

Several verb forms may occur in alternate forms (in some authors these forms are fairly common, if not more common than the canonical ones):
*The ending "–ris" in the passive voice may be "–re" as in:::"portābāris" → "portābāre"
*The ending "–ērunt" in the perfect tense may be "–ēre" as in:::"portāvērunt" → "portāvēre"

yncopated verb forms

Like most Romance languages, syncopated forms and contractions are present in Latin. They may occur in the following instances.
*Perfect stems that end in a "–v" may be contracted when inflected.::"portāvisse" → "portāsse"::"portāvistī" → "portāstī"::"portāverant" → "portārant"::"portāvisset" → "portāsset"
*The compounds of "noscere" (to learn) and "movēre" (to move, dislodge) are also able to be contracted.::"novistī" → "nostī"::"novistis" → "nostis"::"commoveram" → "commoram"::"commoverās" → "commorās"

ummary of forms

The four conjugations in the indicative mood


The archaic uncontracted form "potesse" occurs frequently in Lucretius.
Form "moriri", Ovid, Metamorphoses (poem) 14.215 []
Used by Cicero frequently.
Used personally by Lucretius (2.627): "ningunt" []


* [ New Latin Grammar] , an eBook, originally written by Charles Edwin Bennett at the Project Gutenberg

ee also

* Grammatical conjugation
* Latin declension
* List of English words from Latin verb forms
* Romance copula
* William Whitaker's Words
* Latin mnemonics

External links

* [ Verbix] automatically conjugates verbs in Latin.
* [ Latin Verb Synopsis Drill] tests a user on his ability to conjugate verbs correctly.

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