Jump to content

Want to learn Latin?

Recommended Posts

I found this good Latin course online. It explains how to create sentances, and then you just have to learn enough words. Anyone want to learn Latin with me?


© 1999 by C.J. Cherryh

I used to teach this subject. I use a method that's a little different than the standard, a method aimed at results, not tradition, and no need to learn grammar at the outset, when you've got enough new things to learn. If you learned by the traditional method you may find this radically different; but trust me.

If this is new to you...give it a try. Download this file and work with the pieces and see if you don't think this is easier than legend says it is. Think of Bren Cameron, with more than singular and plural to worry with...and try an alien language.

I've found Latin fluency more valuable myself than any other subject I ever studied: vocabulary, logic, world-building, history, culture, reasoning and general knowledge. I can read scientific texts in subjects I never studied...because to me the scientific jargon makes perfect sense.

And if a good number of my visitors would like to learn how to think and speak Latin beyond the 3 sessions below, I'll continue this section from time to time. Let me know.


First of all, not every human born thinks in the same order. English is moderately unusual, in fact, in the way it patterns thoughts. Let me show you the Latin thought pattern.


Now, think about that. Two units. The first package is, say, "Marcus Brutus/Caesar." <Actor/Actee>

So, what, knowing history, would you expect the action to be? The <Action> is pretty well expected from the association of the first two parts. OK? We expect...<stabbed or killed or assassinated>. That's right.

Now think of another <actor/actee> and a really logical <action>. How about "The man/the runaway horse” followed by <caught>. Has to be a single simple action. Nothing fancy, yet. Try several more logical and obvious combinations.

In Latin, the verb [action] is often a no-brainer. Of course, the hearer says to himself, it's thus and such. Every language has set expectations. In Latin, the most important understanding is the <actor/actee> set. The <action> is, with a lot of practice, downright guessable.

NEXT: Latin words change endings according to their duty. ACTORS have a basic spelling...."Marcus Brutus".

ACTEEs change that spelling to end in the -m sound [-am, -um, or -em]. Why this happens...ask later. Just trust that if "Marcus Brutus" weren't the hitter, but the hitt-ee, he'd be "Marcum Brutum."

Let's say Caesar saw Marcus Brutus. In Latin, the actor/actee is "Caesar/Marcum Brutum" and the action is "saw".

Tullia [a woman's name] saw Marcus Brutus. <Tullia Marcum Brutum> "saw."

Marcus Brutus saw Tullia. <Marcus Brutus Tulliam> <saw.>

Neat trick: because Latin shows use by changes in spelling, you can turn a statement inside out and upside down and the meaning doesn't change. <Tulliam/Marcus Brutus> <saw> is exactly the same as <Marcus Brutus/Tulliam> <saw>. This reversal is nice for poetry...but rare. Save that trick for later. Do it the plain way. Marcus Brutus Tulliam <saw>.

Some words to use for practice.

§ Marcus Brutus [a man's name] say: mar-koos bru-toos; mar-koom, etc.

§ Tullia [a woman's name] say: TOO-lee-ah; TOO-lee-ahm.

§ Tullius [a man's name] say: TOO-lee-oos; TOO-lee-oom.

§ Caesar [a man's name: this is one of the -em sort, not uncommon. The actor version is Caesar; actee is Caesarem.] say: KY-sar; KY-sar-aym.

§ Femina [can you possibly guess it's an -am type?] means 'woman'. Say: FAY-mee-nah. Many words of this time are women's names. So are the words for: casa [casam] meaning 'house,' tabula [tabulam] meaning 'table', urna [urnam] meaning 'pot, jar, container', aqua [aquam] meaning 'water', and porta [portam] meaning 'door' or 'access' or 'gate.' Not every of the type has to do with houses and their furnishings, but a lot do.

§ Patria [another -am] means 'country' as in 'native land'. Say PAH-tree-ah.

Oh, forgot to mention: Latin doesn't have a word for "a, an, the" and rarely uses "my, yours, his, theirs." You can say "Marcus Brutus patriam" < betrayed> and it means Marcus Brutus <betrayed> [his] country. Trust me. It does.

Ok, there's all of lesson one and some words to play with. You haven't learned the ACTION yet. That's next, and it's not that hard, either. What you've got is the most basic and important word-association in the whole language. If you can do <actor/actee> rapidly and accurately with various words, hey, you're a third of the way through Latin I semester one in a single lesson, and if you knew enough words, could probably get a meal and rent a room in an inn anywhere in the Roman Empire.

TECHNICALITIES: Now ignore what's below if technical words aren't your cup of tea: but for those who want to know the grammar, I'll reiterate what I just said in grammatical jargon:

You've just learned two 'cases' of all Latin noun classes, the actor [nominative case] and the actee [accusative case.] Latin nouns come in five classes, or spelling groups, also called 'declensions'. We haven't gotten to plurals, but that will come. "Cases' are nothing more than 'instances' of words in use. No big deal.

Latin nouns [names of people/places/things/concepts] have five cases in all. More on this later. You know two.

You now know the basic word order of the Latin sentence.


Now that you know the ACTOR/ACTEE pattern, let's work on ACTION.

ACTIONS generally end in -t. It can be -at, -et, or -it, depending on 'class' [spelling group] of the word in question. Don't worry about WHEN a thing happened; let's assume everything we talk about happens now before our eyes. We'll not say "Brutus killed Caesar" but rather "Brutus is killing Caesar." "Caesar sees Brutus." The "is ...ing" or the "...s" form is the simplest form: think of it as newspaper headlines...or the report from that frantic fellow running toward you down the street... <ACTOR/ACTEE> <ACTION>

<Marcus Brutus/Caesarem> <OCCID-it.> Marcus Brutus Caesarem occidit! Marcus Brutus kills/is-killing/murders Caesar!

<Femina/Marcum Brutum> <VID-et> A woman sees/spots Marcus Brutus.

<Marcus Brutus/Caesarem> <NEC-at>. Marcus Brutus slays/slaughters/messily-kills Caesar!

Three different ACTION words in three different spelling classes. There are OCCIDere types, VIDére types, AUDire types and NECare types. How to tell the ending to use, whether it's -it, -et, or -at? Well, you'll notice for one thing the endings don't sound much different. Romans regularly misspelled them. [if you mistake them, no one's going to notice if you're speaking. Writing, well, I don't expect you to do too much better than the Romans.]

But here's the way you tell: NECare type verbs use -at; OCCIDere and AUDíre types use -it, and VIDére types use -et. The dictionary always lists verbs with the -o form and with the -[*]re form, plus two others. Take the capitalized part of the word, put the correct ending on it, and [trumpet fanfare] you've got it.

A sample of how to do this

§ occido...occidere [kill/murder] say: OK-kee-doh...ok-KEE-deh-reh [no mark on the e. I hate to break the news that the Romans didn't use those pesky marks, but they didn't. They did it all by ear. If there's no accent mark, the accent goes BEFORE the -ere ending. If there is one, it goes ON the -ére. The other two kinds, the íre and the áre types, are always long: it's only the 'e' that can be one or the other. The worst you'll do is have -it when you should have -et. If you have to pick fast, pick -it: why? There are more of that kind of verb!

§ So occido...occidere becomes: occidit. [kills, murders, does in, slays]

§ habeo...habére becomes habet. [has, owns]

§ amo...amare becomes amat. [likes, loves]

§ Video...vidére...[see, spot] say: WEE-day-oh...wee-DAY-reh [that accent mark drags the accent back to the é] Latin is pronounced a lot like Italian, by the way. [No surprise!] Which is why the -e- sound is -ay- , particularly to the American ear. But why is the -v- pronounced 'wa'? It always is.

§ Neco...necáre [kill messily/slaughter] say: NAY-ko...nay-KAH-reh

§ Amo...amáre [love] AH-mo...ah...MAH...reh

§ Capio...capere [catch/take/pick up/snatch/arrest/understand, as in gotcha!] KAP-ee-oh....KAP-ayr-reh

§ Audio...audíre [hear, listen to, pay attention to] OW-dee-oh, ow-DEE-reh

§ teneo...tenére [get/understand/hold/have] TAYN-ay-oh...tayn-AY-reh

Review: Mechanics: To make the -it/-et/-at form: cut off the -ere/-are/-ire/-ére from the second form of each ACTION...and put on -et for the -ére types; -at for the áre types, -it for all the others. Do not double i's, a's or e's.

Correct answers? : occidit, videt, necat, amat, capit, audit, tenet. Kills, sees, slaughters, loves, takes, hears, has.

[tenére and habére mean very close to the same thing. Both mean 'have', but tenet besides meaning 'has' can mean 'hangs on to." And habet can mean, in street slang, "he's kilt the guy!" As you know from English, where 'get down' has quite a few meanings, what happens to those words 'on the street' may be something quite different than you see in the average dictionary.

Mistakes? Figure out why the right answer is the right answer. Look closely at those accent marks.

<Marcus Brutus Caesarem> <audit.>

Caesar Marcum Brutum amat.

Femina Marcum Brutum capit.

Make up your own.

Want a few exclamations to enliven your language? Try:

Ecce! [AY-kay] Wow! or Look! or Yipes! Also: Lookoutforthatchariot! Pay attention!

and the more somber: eheu! [EH-hew] which can be translated as an expression ranging from oh, dear! to: s--t!


You've just learned every plain action in the language. If you want to, find Cassell's Latin Dictionary at your friendly newsstand, and you can handle any plain ACTION in that very thick book. When you look up an action, learn both forms. Say them to yourself aloud. This will be useful.

Caution: those of you taking Latin in school: my methods are decidedly unorthodox. If your teacher tells you differently, respect what your teacher is telling you and do things his way: he's giving you the grades! My way is simpler, and quite different, intended to get you speaking first, knowing grammar second. But I don't want to confuse you. We end up saying exactly the same words; only our routes [and rules!] are different. And please don't repeat the bad words.

TECHNICALITIES: Above, I've given you the third person singular verb of all 4 'conjugations' or verb 'classes' and shown you how to derive the 'root' from the 'infinitive [-re form]...1st conjugation verbs are the -are's, and always use -at. 2nd conj. verbs are the -ére's and always use -et. 3rd conj. verbs are always -ere and use -it. 4thd conj. verbs are always -íre and also use -it.

FOR TEACHERS AND GRAMMARIANS: [The standard method is to derive the 'stem!' from the infinitive, taking off only the -re, and adding -t, then for 3rd and 4th classes, making transformational changes] Why do I use this unorthodox method? Because when in future, imperfect, and other forms, the student can always use the same 'root', with infixes, without the additional changes and vowel shifts the 'stem' requires. For the student struggling with the early forms, I've found it easier to explain, easier to do, easier to memorize, because there's no change in the root.]


OK...so you now know the basic statement.


Marcus Brutus/Caesarem occidit.

Suppose we just wanted to say not "Marcus Brutus" but "he" is killing Caesar?

I have a deal for you. You get this lesson for free. You already know how.

How? Leave out the actor. Leave the words "Marcus Brutus" out.

The verb happens to be the 'he' form. Or the 'she' form. Even the 'it' form. You just say...

Caesarem occidit.

And it means He is killing Caesar! or He's killing Caesar!

Magical, eh?

Latin is a language of very few words.

Of course...Antony could say, after Caesar had been out on the town, referring to Caesar's wife Calpurnia, "Caesarem occidit," meaning "She's killing Caesar." Rome was a small town, comparatively speaking. He, she, or it.... Everyone knew what you meant.

Femina Caesarem occidit. The woman is killing Caesar. Caesarem occidit. He is killing Caesar, she is killing Caesar, or you could even say, Cena Caesarem occidit. Cena? That means dinner. [say: kay-na] It's killing Caesar. Calpurnia's cooking, perhaps.

How's that for free knowledge?

I know, I know, now you want to know how to say I'm killing, you're killing, all that sort of gory thing. But let's not confuse ourselves. Stick to this simple pattern.

[ACTOR/ACTEE> <ACTION> or [missing actor]/ACTEE> <ACTION>

More words to play with:

§ Cena...dinner

§ Lupa...she-wolf

§ Lupus..he-wolf

§ Cervus....deer, male

§ Taurus....bull

§ Vacca....cow; say: WAH-ka [all v's are pronounced as w's]

§ Gallus....a Gaul

§ Britannus....a Briton; say: bree-TAHN-noos

§ Britannia....Britain; say: bree-TAHN-yah

§ Italia....Italy

§ Facio...facere [make, do, construct, create]

§ Forum...a public meeting place, a forum [actor/actee identical: forum]

§ Roma....Rome [yes, r's are rolled]

§ Florentia...Florence: say: flow-RAYN-t-ya

§ Gloria.....reputation [good], fame

§ Ars...[goes to artem]....art: say: ARSSS. AR-tem.

§ Calamitas..[goes to calamitatem] disaster ;say: kah-LAH-mee-tahs.

§ Civitas....[goes to civitatem] a city as a political unit, a state, a city-state. say: KEE-wee-tahs, kee-wee-TAH-tem.

§ Urbs...[goes to urbem] a city as an urban center, a city.


Caesar is taking Rome. He has Britain. Caesar has a reputation. Brutus is creating a disaster. Calpurnia is creating art. Calpurnia is making dinner. Caesar is creating a city-state. Caesar is building a city. Rome has a reputation. The woman is taking dinner. The wolf catches the deer. The she-wolf is catching her supper. He is building a city. He is creating art. It takes the deer. Look! the woman is catching Calpurnia. The wolf watches the deer.

Make up your own. Constantly consider <ACTOR/ACTEE> and the <ACTION>will suggest itself. Try some with 'he', 'she' or 'it' as ACTOR. [Yes, there are ACTEE forms of he/she/it: later for those.]

TECHNICALITIES: There are none, to speak of. These action words are verbs. You don't need to use a pronoun with them to express 'he, she' or 'it.' If there's no [ACTOR] expressed, the verb handles it. Yes, Latin has pronouns. It doesn't use them much. You technical buffs get this one free, too.


All right, you can now frame a basic interaction of people. You can state what's going on. There are a number of ways to go from here, depending on need. Let's, however, keep it simple. Let's add other people to the mix. Let's add...you!

How do you do that?

Marcus Brutus Caesarem occidit, eheu!

Marcus Antonius Marcum Brutum occidit.

Poor Caesar!

But let's say, without getting too complicated, that YOU see, you catch, you understand, you do an array of things. Easy done!

Remember how you add -it, -et, or -at to say: HE does it? To say you do it, add -is, -es, or -as.

"YOU" has become the <ACTOR/*> in the <actor/actee> transaction. Since you is YOU, the <actor> is taken care of, done, all handled!

<[you]/Caesarem occidis!>

Someone might say that to Brutus. As a matter of fact, if poor Caesar had gotten a chance to finish his sentence, [Et tu, Brute,] the rest of it would have been....you guessed it.....Caesarem occidis! And the complete meaning would have been, "Even you, Brutus, are murdering Caesar!"

Unfortunately the assassins gave him no time to be grammatical.

Oh. What's that funny form of Brutus? It's actually pronounced at both ends: BROO-tay. It happens to be a special form of the word for male names when you talk TO men. No other type of word does that. Just men's names. It was actually rude to start a sentence with a man's name in that form. It had the effect of "Hey! You!"

So you can see that Caesar, who was a very fine writer, instinctively remembered to stick SOME word in front of Brutus' name to prevent it being first in the sentence! I always said, hey, if poor old Caesar can remember to be polite under such circumstances, so can I.

In English, if we use a word that way, we set it off in commas. Hey! Mark! You have a cow!

In Latin, Heus! [HAYoos!] Marce! Vaccam habes!

§ Cenam amas. You like the dinner.

§ Carrum tenes. [carrus/carrum: cart/wagon/car] You have a car.

As you can see, conversations involving only 'you' are pretty limited.

TECHNICALITIES: The second person singular, "you", is done by adding -is, -es, or -as. End report.


OK, choices, choices. So many choices. But let's try to deny something.

Let's say someone ISN'T doing something.


Here's your pattern: Same as before: <actor/actee> NOT <action.>

§ Marcus Antonius Caesarem non occidit. Marcus Brutus Caesarem occidit.

Mark Antony isn't killing Caesar. Marcus Brutus is killing Caesar.

§ Cervus lupum non capit. Lupus cervum capit.

The deer isn't catching the wolf. The wolf is catching the deer.

§ Calpurnia cenam habet. Caesar cenam non habet.

Cleopatra Caesarem amat. Calpurnia Cleopatram non amat.

§ Currum non habes.

Currum non habet.

Antonius currum non habet.

Let's try a fancier word than just "not". Let's try "never", or that other word of time, "sometimes." And then for variety, "right now" or "now."

§ Numquam [NOOM-kwam] never

§ Interdum [iN-tayr-doom] sometimes, occasionally.

§ Nunc [NOONk] now.

§ Iam [yahm] now or 'by now', especially with "non", as in "non iam" ....not any more.

§ Caesar currum numquam habet. Caesar never has a car.

§ Calpurnia currum interdum habet.

§ Calpurnia currum non iam habet. Antonius currum capit. Calpurnia Antonium nunc non amat.

TECHNICALITIES: Not many...but "non" or "not" is an adverb; and adverbs come in that position no matter what they are. Yes, they can vary and change position for emphasis. But you're pretty safe putting them here. Better do one thing all the time and then vary it only after that pattern is set in your mind.


Asking questions.

Tolerably easy, too. Latin didn't have question marks. We use them, simply because it's our habit. To ask a question about a word or idea put "an" [say: awn} in front of the sentence next to the word you want to have information about and put that word first in the sentence. [see where it's going to be really useful that words have endings that tell about their function no matter where they appear in the sentence?]

To question an action: ---add the ending -ne [say: nay] to the action and put it first.

To question a not-action---add the ending -ne to the "not" and put it first.

Back to poor old Caesar....

An Brutus Caesarem occidit? Is Brutus killing Caesar?

An Caesarem Brutus occidit? Is Brutus killing Caesar?

Occiditne Brutus Caesarem? Is Brutus killing Caesar?

Nonne Brutus Caesarem occidit? Isn't Brutus killing Caesar?

Num....now there's a word. Say: noom. It means, "Oh, surely not"

Num Brutus Caesarem occidit. Oh, surely Brutus isn't killing Caesar!

Cenam habes. Num cenam habes? Nonne cenam habes?

An vaccam habes?

An cervus lupum capit?

An lupa cervum capit?

Nonne lupa cervum capit?

Let's have some new words to work with.

§ Gladius gladium [sword]

§ Gladiator gladiatorem [gladiator, swordsman, fighter]

§ Scutum scutum [ah! a neuter word! same form for actor and actee!] say: SKOO-toom

§ Saxum saxum [say: SOX-oom] loose rock or material of rock, as in a big cliff; stone

§ Iacio iacere [say YA-kee-oh, YA-keh-reh] heave, throw like a spear or ball.

§ Paro parare [PAH-ro, pa-RAH-reh] fix, prepare, get ready

§ Aqua aquam [AK-wah, AK-wahm]

Gladiator gladium tenet. Gladiator saxum tenet.

Femina tabulam parat. Calpurnia aquam habet. Tenetne Calpurnia urnam? An femina aquam habet? An gladiator saxum iacit? Tu, Brute! Num saxum iacis? Capitne lupus Calpurniam? Marcus Brutus lupum videt. Nonne Brutus lupum videt? Lupa gladiatorem capit. Gladiator scutum parat.

Someone asked, by the way, if I'd provide more practice: just wait! When I get you online folk up to speed [not too many more lessons] I can start providing you the comics I used to use when I taught. I drew and wrote them, and they provide a visual connection for words, so you learn new words with an image in front of you.

TECHNICALITIES: These words of question tend to be classed with adverbs [verbal modifiers]. That's not, in my mind, accurate, because they are a group, some of which go with verbs, some of which go with nouns, and it seems to me we're working too hard to make Latin agree with English, a language it never heard of. I call them Interrogative Particles, and that's probably as good a description as exists, a little word you stick in fast to advise your hearer you're asking a question.


Note; I just had a reader remind me of a scene in the film Life of Brian. Those of you who have gotten this far will appreciate the "Romans go home" sequence. I wish I could render it here.

We're getting close to basic fluency.

Today we learn that "is" is no ordinary action...in fact, it's not an action at all! So there's no actee! EVERYBODY'S an actor in an "is" sentence! And you have [actor/actor] "is"!

est.....[he, she it] is

You put the words in the usual positions...."is" comes last.

Caesar Romanus est.

Caesar is Roman. Caesar is a Roman. Caesar is the Roman.....all those things are the same. One thing IS the other. There's no transaction. She IS Sally. "She" = "Sally." No -ums!

Marcus Brutus Romanus. Femina Calpurnia est.

Non est! ....[He] isn't!

Nonn'est? ...or Nonne est? Isn't he?

Nonne est Calpurnia? That's Calpurnia, isn't it? She's Calpurnia, isn't she? See how English has a lot of nuances for that question....but Latin's pretty straightforward, one plain question...Isn't she Calpurnia?

Femina Marcum Brutum videt. Marcus Brutus Romanus est. Calpurnia Romana est. [Note that Romanus is Romana for a Roman [female].]

TECHNICALITIES: est is an intransitive verb. The "be" verb [am, is, are, was, were, be, been] is highly irregular in most European languages: it's one of those oddments you just have to memorize. You can see our own language is pretty irregular on this point, itself!


New words: new type of word.

Joinings of two actors or joinings of two actees.

§ Et....and

§ Que...and [in a set, usually a pair] and not BETWEEN the words, but after the pair. Gladius scutumque. Sword 'n shield. Rare with persons, more common with things.

§ Et A et B....means "both A and B" Et Caesar et Cleopatra....Both Caesar and Cleopatra...

§ Atque...and [very strong; we'd use italics on such a word] and; also means: "and, what is more," : Calpurnia Caesarem atque Cleopatram videt .....Caesar and Cleopatra, both, ....or...Calpurnia spies Caesar, not to mention Cleopatra....You can be fairly loose translating this one, as the main idea is a really strong and.

Marcus Brutus et Caesar Cleopatram......ah! but what do we do with the action? No longer "he", but "they"!

We make it a plural [more than one actor] action....and the basic change? Where there was -t, use -nt.

§ It > unt/iunt [audire and its type, the -ire words, have the extra "i".]

§ Et> ent

§ At> ant

New words:

§ Miles militem: say MEE-lace, MEE-lee-taym means "soldier"

§ Gladius gladium.....sword

§ Scutum...scutum...shield

§ Baculum...baculum....staff

§ centurio...centurionem... sergeant.

§ Dux....ducem.....leader; general

§ Consul....consulem...a consul [highest civil rank: president: there were two at any one time.]

§ Centuria....centuriam......a "century", 60 to 100 men, smallest operational unit of the Roman army.

§ Legio.....legionem.....legion [3000 to 6000]

§ Aquila...aquilam.....eagle [legion standard; also an eagle, as in wildlife]

§ Pilum....pilum....javelin [one of those no-sex words, like scutum and baculum]

Ecce! Et Marcus Brutus et Caesar Cleopatram vident. Cleopatra Romam videt. Cleopatra Caesarem atque Marcum Brutum videt. Cleopatra Caesarem amat. Cleopatra Caesarem et Antonium amat. Gladiatores Caesarem audiunt. Caesar militem ducit. . Miles scutum pilumque habet. Gladiator gladium et scutum habet. Caesar militem audit. Miles Caesarem atque Antonium videt. Cervus cervaque lupum vident. Milites Cleopatram vident. Caesar legionem ducit. Centurio centuriam ducit. Caesar centurionem ducit. Gladiator et miles Roman vident. Cleopatra Calpurniam videt atque audit. Centurio baculum tenet. Dux militem ducit. Dux Cleopatram et Antonium videt. Legio aquilam habet. Aquila legionem ducit. Centurio scutum et gladium parat. Miles pilum iacit. Miles non scutum iacit. An legio aquilam tenet? Tenetne Brutus aquilam?

TECHNICALITIES: Every language has its favorite points of elaboration. Several words for "and" may seem excessive, but if you listen to English very carefully, you'll notice we have more than one way of saying "and" such as salt 'n pepper [like -que] and and, spoken very strongly, for really, really, really "and". Then just plain "and" and "both...and"...These are, you may remember from high school, "conjunctions." The "both...and" is a "correlative conjunction".


Directions: There are 2 kinds of directions in Latin.

Latin uses a spelling change in the basic word after the directions IN and OFF. [To satisy your curiosity, the other direction is TO, and that's another matter!]

After "in".............lupus and such words > lupo

.......................scutum and its type > scuto

.......................lupa, tabula and such words > lupá, tabulá, etc.

.......................dux, miles, and other words that become -em in the actee form > duce, milite, etc.

That same spelling change can express HOW a thing happens, as in WITH a sword: gladio. For that, no other word: "gladio" in and of itself means "with a sword".

You're right....it could get really confusing if there were no distinction at all between IN, OFF, DOWN FROM, WITH...so there are specific words for these directions and one must use them. For the technophiles, these directions are called prepositions. Why are they called that? Because they come "in front". They're "pre-positioned" to give you the right direction...like signposts.

§ In.....in [yes, "in" is a Latin word.] also means: "within", "inside" or even "on"; simplest location...remember it's only English that has 4 words for this idea. Latin has just one. "In." [say een.]

§ E[x] ...."out of " [the difference between e and ex is that between a and an in English: it's sound, not meaning. Same with a, ab.]

§ A....from, as in "away from the town." or "from the town"

§ De...."down from, off," as in "off the table." "down from the hill." [Note: English "stacks" directions one atop the other. Latin is quite happy with just one, thank you!

§ @#$%..."with", used with people! He went "with Alice." Think of "com"pany. As a matter of fact, "com" is a countrified variant of "@#$%" [say: koom]

§ [Nothing]..."with", used with things, as in HOW a thing was done, with what instrument: he hit the mark "with his sword". Using "@#$%" conjures a really silly picture...he and his sword together plotting to hit something...but if you just say "gladio" ...you've said "with a sword".

Bene! Femina aquam urná portat [carries.] Caesar et Antonius militem scuto portant. Caesar Antonium e casá portat. Femina @#$% Antonio Caesarem videt.

Now, we need to say something about order in which things happen. The original actor/actee group holds firm. BUT if it's "the-woman-with-Antony", that whole expression can come together as a package. If the woman sees "Caesar-with-Antony" the order would be "Femina Caesarem @#$% Antonio videt." [Latin would tend to stick in "who is walking", but that's a bit advanced yet.]

New words:

§ Nauta nautam [looks like female, but rarely is] sailor

§ Navis navem [ship]

§ Navigare navigat sail. Note: you sail "on a ship" rather than "sailing a ship". Nauta nave navigat. "A sailor sails on a ship." Not quite as bad a tongue-twister in Latin as in English!

§ Ambulare ambulat ...walk

§ Ager agrum [field: agricultural]

§ Stare stat [stand [still]]

§ Pirata piratam [rarely female] pirate

Pirata navem gladio capit. Nauta scutum gladiumque capit. Navem defendit. [defendere defendit: defend]

Nauta navem amat. Nauta nave e Sicilia navigat. Caesar navem habet. An Antonius nave navigat?

Femina e casá ambulat. Femina @#$% gladiatore a foro ambulant. E foro ambulant. Caesar Brutum in foro videt. Calpurnia Antonium in foro videt. Lupus de colle [collis collem: hill] ambulat. Caesar Brutum in agro videt. Caesar @#$% Bruto in agro ambulat. De colle ambulant. Nonne Cleopatra nave navigat? An Caesar in agro ambulat? An lupum videt? An gladio navem capiunt?

This is where one really begins to need practice. Put together a lot of sentences and run them past your eye until you get really used to this curious way of doing "in," "from," "with" and "with." It's quite different, and it takes some getting used to. Practice, practice, practice.

TECHNICALITIES: That new "case" is the "ablative," used for certain words of direction or instrument. Those are called "prepositions" in English.

Even more obscure technicality: in really, really early and rural Latin there used to be a "locative" case. It was gobbled up by the "ablative", since in most instances, it looked a lot like it. There used to be an "instrumental" case, too, which was also devoured by the "ablative" for exactly the same reason: most people couldn't tell the difference and consequently forgot there was a difference. That's why there's that "plain" usage of "gladio," "with a sword," for instance, or "urná", "in a jar". It's really an instrumental case in sheep's clothing, but no one cared any more what it was, grammatically: the average Roman didn't have a degree in linguistics and just cared what it sounded like...which was just like the ablative. So the ablative ended up with a whole truckload of jobs, a catch-all case for anything left over.

One of the only survivals of the old cases was the word "domum": home, and curiously...we talk about going "home" or being "home" too. Would you believe the pesky locative has a survival in English, too?

That's the way languages change, growing simpler and simpler in one sense, that everything sounds alike, until people absolutely have to make distinctions and recomplicate things to make sure the difference is heard. The usual impetus for simplification is a massive influx of new speakers, as in an immigation, and the usual reason for complication is a long period without them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I'll be darned!

I've wanted to learn Latin since I was a sophomore in high school, and actually started until I got to all these diclensions or w/e they're called and realized this is way too much without a guide or a class.

I'll make a serious attempt to learn some! Starting right now!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did Latin for about 7 years and have nearly forgotten everything besides the basics. The thing is that since the fourth year we were only focussing on literature, social life, history and philosophy, the teacher did most of the translations.

If you wish to learn it you either need a lot of time or follow it at school. The basic grammar really isn't that hard, it's just a matter of knowing the rules and extending your vocabulary. But understanding texts can be a pain, especially because the good old Romans were fond of style figures and the problem that the meaning of certain sentences depends on word order and combination.

The interesting thing about Latin for me was just the texts we had to read. It's cool to jump into the mind of someone around that time, to read about their problems, passions, life, philosophy, etc.

If you want to learn an interesting language have a look at Esperanto. I know it's not that popular but it's a very creative one and actually quite fun to learn. No need to study tons of grammatical rules (like Latin) or tons of vocabulary. If you know the few basic rules and the roots of several words you're all set.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Last week I made the mistake of telling my grandfather that I wished to learn Latin. Since my school isnt offering a latin course at the moment, he decided to teach me. So now I have an old german guy trying to teach me latin by making me read from the Latin Vulgate.

If you want to learn an interesting language have a look at Esperanto. I know it's not that popular but it's a very creative one and actually quite fun to learn.

Hmm, maybe. But its not exactly a language that I could use...

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Well that's a typical misunderstanding surrounding Esperanto. In fact it is a language you can use, there are quite a bit of online Esperanto communities and many countries have their own Esperanto teams. Also many books have been translated to Esperanto and in some countries there are even radio shows.

The coolest thing perhaps is that several members of the Esperanto organization offer free bed and breakfast to foreign members visiting their country.

Anyway just depends why you're learning an artificial or dead language. Esperanto is useful because of the nice community surrounding it and the creativity of the language while Latin is a lot more interesting from a philosophical, historical or religious POV.


Yeah same thing here. Did some online courses but due to a lack of time it's on hold :/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I took latin at school, got a grade B at GCSE (exams taken in the UK when you are 16).

Interestingly a remarkable amount has stayed with me, despite my not doing the course since the 80’s (Yes I am that old). :shrug:

How about some verb endings and the tenses they signify….





























Glad I got that out of my system…..I think I will go and lie down in a darkened room to recover.

Enjoy ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...