Other Words

Prepositions, adverbs and conjunctions

Last lesson's phrase was an example of a Latin word sandwich. Magna and laude, in the same case are the bread, and cum is the meat. Cum magna laude, or cum laude magna would be understood, but would be clumsy. Magna cum laude is graceful. Summa cum laude is even better. Logically, there should only be one of the latter, but my university manages to award several each year, defying logic.

You will be glad to hear that the other words we will talk about in this lesson never change. They do not take endings, and are not conjugated, declined, or compared. The down side is that you don't get much flexibility from them. You have already met a couple, the prepositions cum (ablative), e or ex (ablative), and ante (accusative). Let's consider another very important preposition, in. You will have no trouble with its meaning, since it is the same in English. To show how to use it we need a verb of motion, and what could be more appropriate than go? Like sum, this is an irregular verb. Its present tense is eo, is, it, imus, itis, eunt -- I go, thou goest, he goes, and so forth. The future and imperfect are easy: ibo and ibam (etc.). Agricola it in agrum means the farmer goes into the field. Agricola stat in agro means the farmer stands in the field. The accusative is always used for motion into, and the ablative for being there. Sub (beneath) and super (above) are the same. This is always worth looking for when motion is involved. Besides e and ex are a and ab, also meaning out of, but which take the ablative! There is a slight difference in meaning that is responsible for this; e concentrates on the movement out, a on the state of being out. If you are going to something, ad with the accusative does the trick. Post, after, takes the accusative like ante. Sine, without, takes the ablative like cum. Prepositions are good words to know; they give the relations between words like cases, but specify more particularly. In English, they have indeed replaced cases. Many Latin prepositions have been taken over into English as well.

We have just seen new uses for the accusative and ablative. The accusative is used for place to which, and the ablative for place at or from which. A preposition is not always needed. If you are headed to a town or a small island, just the accusative is enough. Eo Romam - I'm going to Rome; Athenas natamus - we are swimming to Athens (Athenae, Athenarum, plural form). Rus is to the country (accusative of neuter rus, ruris), urbem to the city, and domum is home. If it's not a town or an island, or one of the special cases, or if you actually say town or city, the in or ad is necessary: In urbem Romam eant, for example. This is the place to which. The ablative is used for place where. If it's a town, a preposition is not needed. Curiously, in the singular of the first and second declensions, the ending is not -a, but -ae! This is a survival of the locative case, which has all but disappeared elsewhere. Puer Romae habitat - the boy lives in Rome (habito, habitare, live). Logically, we also have a place from which, and for this the ablative is also used. The prepositions ex or ab are often used for clarity, but are not needed for towns and small islands. Domo means from home, and rure from the country. The preposition is also omitted when the meaning is clear from the verb. For example, Amicitia nullo loco excluditur says that friendship is excluded from no place. Excluditur is a passive we shall get to know in Lesson XI. What does Caius Nolam Romae fugit mean? (Nola is a town near Rome, fugit means flees).

Cases have similar meanings with respect to time. We have time when (ablative, like place where), extent of time (accusative, like place to which), and time within which (ablative, like place from where). Per is often used with the accusative, to express the time within which something happened, as well as simply the passage of time. In is used with the ablative for a point in time, as in bis in die on your prescription-- twice per day. You will only have to recognize expressions of space or time, not create them, and keep in mind that a preposition may not be present, as one always must be in English. This is just one more reason to make every effort to get a sensitivity for what the cases mean. It helps to realize that the accusative and ablative carry all the load in this respect. The genitive and dative don't do this kind of work, except rarely in poetry when places seem to be personified.

Learning the gender and endings of a noun, or what case is used with a preposition, makes Latin seem hard to learn. Just as in English, a Latin speaker does not have to remember memorized things when communicating. The trick is that certain words just go together and sound right, and one works by analogy. The best way to take advantage of this is to remember phrases that stick in the mind. For example, you probably know the word antebellum, and now you recognize the Latin words ante and bellum. The case must be accusative (neuters always have accusative like nominative, and prepositions are not used with nominatives), so ante is used with the accusative, and bellum is neuter second declension. You may also remember pro bono, which tells you that bonum is second declension, and that pro is used with either dative or ablative, probably ablative. Now pro bello should come naturally, as should ante bonum. So, it would be better to remember words as used together than vocabulary lists!

Just as an adjective modifes a noun, an adverb modifies a verb or adjective. Ante and post can be used in this way without a case in the vicinity. More is magis (or plus), less is minus. Too much is nimis, enough is satis. Well is bene, badly is male (two syllables). Alias means at other times, and alibi means at another place; these will be familiar from your wanted posters. Passim means everywhere. Certe means surely, and can be used for "yes." Adverbs are like ants, numerous and crawling everywhere! They help to make language vivid and expressive, and are dead easy to use. Prepositions started life as adverbs, and sometimes they revert in their careless moments. The neuter singular accusative of an adjective is often used as an adverb, often in an archaic form, such as paulatim, little by little; statim, at once; multum, much; paulum, a little; nimium, too much; facile, easily; dulce, sweetly; clam, secretly; palam, openly.

A conjunction joins two small thoughts into one big floppy one. "And" can be expressed in Latin by et, but atque, ac and the suffix -que should be used when possible. et is used to connect equally important thoughts, and can mean "also" or "too", and begin a sentence as well. Atque is used to introduce a more important thought, ac a less important. In a series of nouns, one can also add -que to the second one, as in puellae taurique - girls and bulls. SPQR meant Senatus PopulusQue Romanus - the senate and people of Rome. Et (something) et (something else) means "both (something) and (something else)." Or is aut, and aut (something) aut (something else) means "either (something) or (something else), but not both." Vel ... vel means almost the same thing, implying that you can choose one or the other. These are all called coordinating conjunctions, since they join independent clauses (an independent clause is one that makes a sentence all by itself). Item means "besides" or "also". Lists used to be written: knife, item blanket, item rope, and so on, and this was so common that each item became known as an item. "But" is sed, as in is (he) puellam amat, sed ego eam non amo. He loves the girl, but I do not love her. The pronouns is, ego, eam will be discussed in more detail later. Is and ego are used here for emphasis and to make a contrast; they are not necessary.

I just used the technical term clause. This means a bunch of words expressing a thought with a subject and predicate, which must contain some kind of verb, very loosely defined (infinitives and participles count - anything that can have a subject or an object). A simple sentence is a clause, but a clause may not be a sentence. "Seeing the bear" is a clause. "Seeing the bear and climbing the tree" is two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction. If you said "Seeing the bear, I climbed the tree," the two clauses make a sentence. In this case, seeing the bear is grammatically the dependent clause, and I climbed the tree the independent clause, though the climbing the tree was surely dependent on seeing the bear, in fact, if not in grammar. Dependent clauses are usually introduced by subordinating conjunctions, that we will have to take time to introduce later, since they have funny effects on the verbs. Our example in Latin reads Videns ursum, arborem ascendi, which you can probably figure out. Videns is a participle (seeing), and ascendi is the perfect tense of ascendo, ascendere, meaning "I ascended."

Today's quote is from Juvenal: lucri bonus est odor ex re qualibet. Re is from res, rei (thing), a word we will have to know, and will take up later. Qualibet is an adjective modifying re meaning whatever. Can you guess what lucri and odor are from their English relatives? Identify the cases, and translate the phrase.

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Composed by J. B. Calvert
Created 24 June 1999
Last revised 21 July 2002