Latin for beginners (1911)/Part II/Lesson XVIII

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119. The inflection of a verb is called its conjugation (cf. § 23). In English the verb has but few changes in form, the different meanings being expressed by the use of personal pronouns and auxiliaries, as, I am carried, we have carried, they shall have carried, etc. In Latin, on the other hand, instead of using personal pronouns and auxiliary verbs, the form changes with the meaning. In this way the Romans expressed differences in tense, mood, voice, person, and number.

120. The Tenses. The different forms of a verb referring to different times are called its tenses. The chief distinctions of time are present, past, and future:

1. The present, that is, what is happening now, or what usually happens, is expressed by

the Present Tense

2. The past, that is, what was happening, used to happen, happened, has happened, or had happened, is expressed by

the Imperfect, Perfect, and Pluperfect Tenses

3. The future, that is, what is going to happen, is expressed by

the Future and Future Perfect Tenses

121. The Moods. Verbs have inflection of mood to indicate the manner in which they express action. The moods of the Latin verb are the indicative, subjunctive, imperative, and infinitive.

a. A verb is in the indicative mood when it makes a statement or asks a question about something assumed as a fact. All the verbs we have used thus far are in the present indicative.

122. The Persons. There are three persons, as in English. The first person is the person speaking (I sing); the second person the person spoken to (you sing); the third person the person spoken of (he sings). Instead of using personal pronouns for the different persons in the two numbers, singular and plural, the Latin verb uses the personal endings (cf. § 22 a; 29). We have already learned that -t is the ending of the third person singular in the active voice and -nt of the third person plural. The complete list of personal endings of the active voice is as follows:

Singular   Plural
1st Pers. I -m or we -mus
2d Pers. thou or you -s you -tis
3d Pers. he, she, it -t they -nt

123. Most verbs form their moods and tenses after a regular plan and are called regular verbs. Verbs that depart from this plan are called irregular. The verb to be is irregular in Latin as in English. The present, imperfect, and future tenses of the indicative are inflected as follows:

Present Indicative
Singular Plural
1st Pers. su-m, I am su-mus, we are
2d Pers. e-s, you[1] are es-tis, you[1] are
3d Pers. es-t, he, she, or it is su-nt, they are
Imperfect Indicative
1st Pers. er-a-m, I was er-ā´-mus, we were
2d Pers. er-ā-s, you were er-ā´-tis, you were
3d Pers. er-a-t, he, she, or it was er-a-nt, they were
Future Indicative
1st Pers. er-ō, I shall be er´-i-mus, we shall be
2d Pers. er-i-s, you will be er´-i-tis, you will be
3d Pers. er-i-t, he will be er-u-nt, they will be
a. Be careful about vowel quantity and accent in these forms, and consult §§ 12.2; 14; 15.

Plate II

(See page 208)



The Boys Sextus and Marcus

First learn the special vocabulary, p. 287.

S. Ubi es, Mārce? Ubi est Quīntus? Ubi estis, amīcī?
M. Cum Quīntō, Sexte, in silvā sum. Nōn sōlī sumus; sunt in silvā multī aliī puerī.
S. Nunc laetus es, sed nūper nōn laetus erās. Cūr miser erās?
M. Miser eram quia amīcī meī erant in aliō vīcō et eram sōlus. Nunc sum apud sociōs meōs. Nunc laetī sumus et erimus.
S. Erātisne in lūdō hodiē?
M. Hodiē nōn erāmus in lūdō, quod magister erat aeger.
S. Eritisne mox in lūdō?
M. Amīcī meī ibi erunt, sed ego (I) nōn erō.
S. Cūr nōn ibi eris? Magister, saepe irātus, inopiam tuam studī dīligentiaeque nōn laudat.
M. Nūper aeger eram et nunc īnfīrmus sum.



  1. You are, you were, you will be, (sing. and plur.).
  2. I am, I was, I shall be.
  3. He is, he was, he will be.
  4. We are, we were, we shall be.
  5. They are, they were, they will be.
  6. Why were you not in school to-day? I was sick.
  7. Lately he was a sailor, now he is a farmer, soon he will be a teacher.
  8. To-day I am happy, but lately I was wretched.
  9. The teachers were happy because of the boys’ industry.




  1. 1.0 1.1 Observe that in English you are, you were, etc. may be either singular or plural. In Latin the singular and plural forms are never the same.