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Latin verbs have four main patterns of conjugation. As in a number of other languages, Latin verbs have an active voice and a passive 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 conjugation with a present stem on -ǐ are regarded as a separate pattern of conjugation, and are called the fifth conjugation.
Conjugation is the creation of derived forms of a verb from 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, many languages require conjugating the verb to reflect that meaning.
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 Latin verbs have the following properties:
There are four conjugations in Latin which define patterns of verb inflection. However the grouping in conjugations is based solely on the behaviour of the verb in the present system, and the stems for other forms cannot be inferred from the present stem, so several forms of the verb are necessary to be able to produce the full range of Latin verbal forms. Most Latin verbs belong to one of the four verb conjugations, though some, like esse (to be), do not.
The first conjugation is characterized by the vowel ā and can be recognized by the -āre ending of the present active infinitive form. The principal parts usually adhere to one of the following patterns:
The second conjugation is characterized by the vowel ē, and can be recognized by the -eō ending of the first person present indicative and the -ēre ending of the present active infinitive form. The principal parts usually adhere to one of the following patterns:
The third conjugation is characterized by a short thematic vowel, which alternates between e, i, and u in different environments. Verbs of this conjugation end in an –ere in the present active infinitive. There is no regular rule for constructing the perfect stem of third-conjugation verbs, but the following patterns are used:
Intermediate between the third and fourth conjugation are the third-conjugation verbs with suffix –iō. .
The fourth conjugation is characterized by the vowel ī and can be recognized by the –īre ending of the present active infinitive. Principal parts of verbs in the fourth conjugation generally adhere to the following patterns:
Personal endings are used in all tenses. The present, imperfect, future, pluperfect and future perfect use the same personal endings in the active voice. However, the perfect, pluperfect and future perfect do not have personal endings in the passive voice as these are formed by a participle and part of esse. The perfect uses its own personal endings in the active voice.
|Active voice||Passive voice|
|Present tense, etc.||First person||–ō, –m||–mus||–or, –r||–mur|
|Third person||–it||–ērunt / -ēre|
The tenses of the imperfective aspect are present, imperfect, and future tense. Verb forms in the imperfective aspect express an action that has (or had) not been completed. Consider for concreteness the following verbs:
In all the conjugations except for the third conjugation, the –re is removed from the second principal part (for example, portāre without the suffix –re becomes portā–) to form the present stem, which is used for all of the tenses in the imperfective aspect. In the third conjugation, the –ō ending of the present indicative is dropped in order to form the present stem (for example, the present indicative form of regere is regō, and without the -ō it is the present stem, reg–). Occasionally, the terminating vowel of the stem is lengthened and/or shortened, and sometimes completely changed. This is often true both in the third conjugation and in the subjunctive mood of all conjugations.
The present tense (Latin tempus praesēns) is used to show an uncompleted action that happens in the current time. The present tense does not have a tense sign. Instead, the personal endings are added to the bare present stem. However, in this tense the thematic vowel, most notably the ě in the third conjugation, changes the most frequently.
The present indicative expresses general truths, facts, demands and desires. Most commonly, a verb like portō can be translated as "I carry," "I do carry," or "I am carrying". In all but the third conjugation, only the thematical vowel of the stem is used. In the third conjugation, the e is only used in the second person singular in the passive for a less difficult pronunciation. Otherwise, it becomes either an i or u. The first person singular of the indicative active present is the first principal part. All end in –ō.
|Present active indicative|
Add the passive endings to form the passive voice. The passive portor can be translated as "I am carried," or "I am being carried".
|Present passive indicative|
Notice that in the second person singular of petere, the thematic vowel is e (peteris, not petiris).
The present subjunctive may be used to assert many things. In general, in independent sentences, it is translated hortatorily (only in the third person plural), jussively and optatively. Portem can be translated as "Let me carry." or "May I carry." Portēmus can be "Let us carry".
Some alterations have occurred in the vowels from the indicative and subjunctive.
"We read an encyclopedia", "Defeat all liars", or "She wears a diamond/tiara" are helpful mnemonics for remembering this. First conjugation verbs have an "e" in their stem (we), second conjugation verbs have an "-ea" (eat), third conjugation verbs have an "a" (caviar), and fourths have an "ia" (caviar). Other acceptable mnemonics include she reads a diary, he beats a liar, everybody eats apple iambics, let’s steal a fiat, he cheats a friar, or Clem eats clams in Siam.
|Present active subjunctive|
Like the indicative, active personal endings may be replaced by passive personal endings. Porter can be translated as "Let me be carried" or "May I be carried." Hortatorily, Portēmur can be "Let us be carried".
|Present passive subjunctive|
The present imperative conveys commands, pleas and recommendations. Portā can be translated as "(You) Carry" or simply, "Carry". The imperative present occurs only in the second person.
|Present active imperative|
The imperative present of the passive voice is rarely used, except in the case of deponent verbs, whose passive forms carry active meaning. Portāminī can be translated as "(You) Be carried". The deponent sequīminī, on the other hand, means "(You) Follow!".
|Present passive imperative|
The imperfect (Latin tempus imperfectum) indicates a perpetual, but incomplete action in the past. It is recognized by the tense signs bǎ and bā in the indicative, and re and rē in the subjunctive.
The imperfect indicative simply expresses an action in the past that was not completed. Portābam can be translated to mean, "I was carrying," "I carried," or "I used to carry".
|Imperfect active indicative|
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".
|Imperfect passive indicative|
In the subjunctive, the imperfect is quite important, especially in subordinate clauses. Independently, it is largely translated conditionally. Portārem can mean, "I should carry," or "I would carry".
|Imperfect active subjunctive|
As with the indicative subjunctive, active endings are removed, and passive endings are added. Portārer may be translated as "I should be carried," or "I would be carried."
|Imperfect passive subjunctive|
The future tense (Latin tempus futūrum simplex) expresses an uncompleted action in the future. It is recognized by its tense signs bō, bi, bu, a and ē in the indicative and the vowel ō in the imperative mood.
The future tense always refers to an incomplete action. In addition, the future tense is stricter in usage temporally in Latin than it is in English. Standing alone, portābō can mean, "I shall carry," or "I will carry."
|Future active indicative|
As with all imperfective system tenses, active personal endings are removed, and passive personal endings are put on. Portābor translates as, "I shall be carried."
|Future passive indicative|
Notice that the penultimate vowel in the second person singular of portāre and terrēre is e, not i (portāberis and terrēberis, instead of the expected portābiris and terrēbiris).
The so-called future imperative was an archaic and formal form of the imperative; by the classical period, it was chiefly used in legal documents and the like. A few irregular or defective verbs (meminisse 'remember') used this form as their only imperative.
Portātō can be translated as "You shall carry".
|Future active imperative|
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."
|Future passive imperative|
The tenses of the perfective aspect, which are the perfect, pluperfect and future perfect tenses, are used to express actions that have been, had been, or will have been completed. The verbs used for explanation are:
For all conjugations, the –ī is removed from the third principal part. For example, from portāvī, portāv is formed. This is the perfect stem, and it is used for all of the tenses in the perfective aspect. The perfective aspect verbs also use the perfect passive participle in the passive voice. See below to see how it is formed. Along with these participles, the verb esse, which means, "to be", is used.
Unlike the imperfective aspect, inflection does not deviate from conjugation to conjugation.
The perfect (Latin tempus perfectum) refers to an action completed in the past. Tense signs are only used in this tense with the indicative. The tense signs of the subjunctive are eri and erī.
The indicative perfect expresses a finished action in the past. If the action were not finished, but still lies in the past, one would use the imperfect. Portāvī is translated as "I carried," "I did carry," or "I have carried."
|Perfect active indicative|
In the passive voice, the perfect passive participle is used with the auxiliary verb esse. It uses the present indicative form of esse. Portātus sum translates as "I was carried," or "I have been carried."
|Perfect passive indicative|
|First Person||portātus sum||portātī sumus||territus sum||territī sumus||petītus sum||petītī sumus||audītus sum||audītī sumus|
|Second Person||portātus es||portātī estis||territus es||territī estis||petītus es||petītī estis||audītus es||audītī estis|
|Third Person||portātus est||portātī sunt||territus est||territī sunt||petītus est||petītī sunt||audītus est||audītī sunt|
Like the imperfect subjunctive, the perfect subjunctive is largely used in subordinate clauses. Independently, it is usually translated as the potential subjunctive. By itself, portāverim translates as "I may have carried."
|Perfect active subjunctive|
The passive voice uses the perfect passive participle with the subjunctive present forms of esse. Portātus sim means, "I may have been carried."
|Perfect passive subjunctive|
|First Person||portātus sim||portātī sīmus||territus sim||territī sīmus||petītus sim||petītī sīmus||audītus sim||audītī sīmus|
|Second Person||portātus sīs||portātī sītis||territus sīs||territī sītis||petītus sīs||petītī sītis||audītus sīs||audītī sītis|
|Third Person||portātus sit||portātī sint||territus sit||territī sint||petītus sit||petītī sint||audītus sit||audītī sint|
The pluperfect (Latin tempus plūs quam perfectum) expresses an action which was completed before another completed action. It is recognized by the tense signs ear and erā in the indicative and isse and issē in the subjunctive.
As with English, in Latin, the pluperfect indicative is used to assert an action that was completed before another (perfect). Portāveram translates as "I had carried."
|Pluperfect active indicative|
In the passive voice, the perfect passive participle is used with esse in the imperfect indicative. Portātus eram is translated as "I had been carried."
|Pluperfect passive indicative|
|First Person||portātus eram||portātī erāmus||territus eram||territī erāmus||petītus eram||petītī erāmus||audītus eram||audītī erāmus|
|Second Person||portātus erās||portātī erātis||territus erās||territī erātis||petītus erās||petītī erātis||audītus erās||audītī erātis|
|Third Person||portātus erat||portātī erant||territus erat||territī erant||petītus erat||petītī erant||audītus erat||audītī erant|
The pluperfect subjunctive is to the perfect subjunctive as the imperfect subjunctive is to the present subjunctive. Simply put, it is used with the perfect subjunctive in subordinate clauses. Like the imperfect subjunctive, it is translated conditionally independently. Portāvissem is translated as "I should have carried," or "I would have carried."
|Pluperfect active subjunctive|
As always, the passive voice uses the perfect passive participle. The imperfect subjunctive of esse is used here. Portātus essem may mean "I should have been carried," or "I could have been carried," in the conditional sense.
|Pluperfect passive subjunctive|
|First Person||portātus essem||portātī essēmus||territus essem||territī essēmus||petītus essem||petītī essēmus||audītus essem||audītī essēmus|
|Second Person||portātus essēs||portātī essētis||territus essēs||territī essētis||petītus essēs||petītī essētis||audītus essēs||audītī essētis|
|Third Person||portātus esset||portātī essent||territus esset||territī essent||petītus esset||petītī essent||audītus esset||audītī essent|
The least used of all the tenses, the future perfect (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 is the only tense that occurs in a single mood.
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."
|Future perfect active indicative|
As with all perfective aspect tenses, the perfect passive participle is used in the passive voice. However, the future perfect uses the future indicative of esse as the auxiliary verb. Portātus erō is "I will have been carried," or "I shall have been carried."
|Future perfect passive indicative|
|First Person||portātus erō||portātī erimus||territus erō||territī erimus||petītus erō||petītī erimus||audītus erō||audītī erimus|
|Second Person||portātus eris||portātī eritis||territus eris||territī eritis||petītus eris||petītī eritis||audītus eris||audītī eritis|
|Third Person||portātus erit||portātī erunt||territus erit||territī erunt||petītus erit||petītī erunt||audītus erit||audītī erunt|
The non-finite forms of verbs are participles, infinitives, supines, gerunds and gerundives. The verbs used are:
There are three participles: present active, perfect passive and future active.
|Present Active||portāns, –antis||terrēns, –entis||petēns, –entis||audiēns, –entis|
|Perfect Passive||portātus, –a, –um||territus, –a, –um||petītus, –a, –um||audītus, –a, –um|
|Future Active||portātūrus, –a, –um||territūrus, –a, –um||petītūrus, –a, –um||audītūrus, –a, –um|
There are six infinitives. They are in the present active, present passive, perfect active, perfect passive, future active and future passive.
|Perfect Passive||portātus esse||territus esse||petītus esse||audītus esse|
|Future Active||portātūrus esse||territūrus esse||petītūrus esse||audītūrus esse|
|Future Passive||portātum īrī||territum īrī||petītum īrī||audītum īrī|
The Future Passive Infinitive was actually not very commonly used (Wheelock's Latin mentions it exists but makes it a point to avoid using it in any practice examples). In practice, the Romans themselves often used an alternate expression, "fore ut" followed by a subjunctive clause.
The supine is the fourth principal part. It resembles a masculine noun of the fourth declension. Supines only occur in the accusative and ablative cases.
The gerund is formed similarly to the present active participle. However, the –ns becomes an –ndus, and the preceding ā or ē is shortened. Gerunds are neuter nouns of the second declension, but the nominative case is not present. The gerund is a noun, meaning "the act of doing (the verb)", and forms a suppletive paradigm to the infinitive which cannot be declined. For example, the genitive form portandī can mean "of carrying", the dative form portandō can mean "to carrying", the accusative form portandum can mean "carrying", and the ablative form portandō can mean "by carrying", "in respect to carrying", etc.
One common use of the gerund is with the preposition ad to indicate purpose. For example paratus ad oppugnandum could be translated as "ready to attack". However the gerund was avoided when an object was introduced, and a passive construction with the gerundive was preferred. For example for "ready to attack the enemy" the construction paratus ad hostes oppugnandos is preferred over paratus ad hostes oppugnandum.
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 verb) being done”. Often, the gerundive is used with an implicit esse, to show obligation.
|portandus, –a, –um||terrendus, –a, –um||petendus, –a, –um||audiendus, –a, –um|
There are two periphrastic conjugations. One is active, and the other is passive.
The first periphrastic conjugation uses the future participle. It is combined with the forms of esse. It is translated as "I am going to carry," "I was going to carry", etc.
|Pres. Ind.||portātūrus sum||I am going to carry|
|Imp. Ind.||portātūrus eram||I was going to carry|
|Fut. Ind.||portātūrus erō||I shall be going to carry|
|Perf. Ind.||portātūrus fuī||I have been going to carry|
|Plup. Ind.||portātūrus fueram||I had been going to carry|
|Fut. Perf. Ind.||portātūrus fuerō||I shall have been going to carry|
|Pres. Subj.||portātūrus sim||I may be going to carry|
|Imp. Subj.||portātūrus essem||I should be going to carry|
|Perf. Subj.||portātūrus fuerim||I may have been going to carry|
|Plup. Subj.||portātūrus fuissem||I should have been going to carry|
The second periphrastic conjugation uses the gerundive. It is combined with the forms of esse and expresses necessity. It is translated as "I am to be carried," "I was to be carried", etc., or as "I have to (must) be carried," "I had to be carried," etc.
|Pres. Ind.||portandus sum||I am to be carried|
|Imp. Ind.||portandus eram||I was to be carried|
|Fut. Ind.||portandus erō||I will deserve to be carried|
|Perf. Ind.||portandus fuī||I was to be carried|
|Plup. Ind.||portandus fueram||I had deserved to be carried|
|Fut. Perf. Ind.||portandus fuerō||I will have deserved to be carried|
|Pres. Subj.||portandus sim||I may deserve to be carried|
|Imp. Subj.||portandus essem||I should deserve to be carried|
|Perf. Subj.||portandus fuerim||I may have deserved to be carried|
|Plup. Subj.||portandus fuissem||I should have deserved to be carried|
|Pres. Inf.||portandus esse||To deserve to be carried|
|Perf. Inf.||portandus fuisse||To have deserved to be carried|
There are a few irregular verbs in Latin that are not 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.
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 of ordinary passives is formed periphrastically with the perfect participle, which is formed on the same stem as the supine. Some examples coming from all conjugations are:
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 imperfective aspect tenses in the manner of ordinary active verbs; but their perfect are built periphrastically like deponents and ordinary passives; thus semideponent verbs have a perfect active participle instead of a perfect passive participle. An example:
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).
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:
They resemble the fourth conjugation in the following instances.
Defective verbs are verbs that are conjugated in only some instances.
The following are conjugated irregularly:
|Conjugation of āiō|
* Some sources[who?] do not list these parts.
|Conjugation of inquam|
|Conjugation of fārī|
|First Person||for||——||fābor||——||fātus sum||——||fātus eram||——||——||——|
The Romance languages lost many of these verbs, but others (such as ōdī) survived but became regular fully conjugated verbs (in Italian, odiare).
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:
The third person forms of esse may also be seen as impersonal when seen from the perspective of English:
As stated, the future active participle is normally formed by removing the –um from the supine, and adding a –ūrus. However, some deviations occur.
Several verb forms may occur in alternative forms (in some authors these forms are fairly common, if not more common than the canonical ones):
Like most Romance languages, syncopated forms and contractions are present in Latin. They may occur in the following instances:
|The Four Conjugations, Indicative Mood|
|laudō, laudāre, laudāvī, laudātus||terreō, terrēre, terruī, territus||agō, agere, ēgī, actus||capiō, capere, cēpī, captus||audiō, audīre, audīvī, audītus|
|2nd Person||laudās||laudāris||terrēs||terrēris||agis||ageris||capis||caperis||audīs||audīris (audīre)|
^ Futūrus esse is sometimes contracted as fore as seen in Caesar's De Bello Gallico.
^ 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
|Look up Appendix:Latin fourth conjugation in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Look up Appendix:Latin third conjugation in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Look up Appendix:Latin second conjugation in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Look up Appendix:Latin first conjugation in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|For a list of words relating to Latin verbs, see the Latin verbs category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
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