Easy Latin – Lesson 3: Latin Verbs
Learning Latin verbs has never been easier! We are half way through our Latin series, decoding the ancient mysteries has never been easier. Soon we will be tackling longer sentences and real world translations!
Latin verbs are your doing or action words, such as run, talk, eat, etc. but also include states of being such as, to be, I was, I am able, etc.
Like nouns, there are different groups of verbs, called conjugations (four in total). Along with different conjugations, the end of the word will tell the reader two things,
- Person (who is performing the action), and,
- Tense (when the action took place).
Let’s look at ‘person’ first to get a grip on it.
When you are defining a verb in a sentence, you look at who is performing the action. There are three possibilities, defined as the 1st person, 2nd person, and 3rd person. Along with this you look to see if the person is a singular or plural. This is easiest to explain by studying the box below
|Second person||You||You (or ya’ll, or you all)|
|Third person||He, she, it||They|
Let’s look at some examples,
My dog is running. Here dog is written in the 3rd person singular.
You soldiers are all the same. Soldiers is written in the 2nd person plural.
Here are some sentences to try,
Exercise 1 – Person
Find the subject of the sentence and state what person and tense it is in.
- Robbie is a great writer.
- You are a good friend of mine.
- We are learning Latin.
- Those sailors are trouble.
- My grandmother is so lively.
Great work! Now lets look at the first and second conjugation. A quick note, the stem of a word is what makes up a word if you take away its variable ending. For example the noun, puella, take away the -a and you are left with puell-. You can do this with verbs too, video, remove the -o, and vide- is the stem.
Note: first conjugation verbs have an -a stem.
Verb: Amare, to love
|1st person, sing.||Amo||I love||-o|
|2nd person, sing.||Amas||You love||-s|
|3rd person, sing.||Amat||He (she, it) loves||-t|
|1st person, plural||Amamus||We love||-mus|
|2nd person, plural||Amatis||You love||-tis|
|3rd person, plural||Amant||They love||-nt|
For every verb in the present tense, the word’s personal ending is the same, so remember it by heart. They dont rhyme, but you can kind of sing it to make it easy to remember, o, s, t…mus, tis, nt…
The second conjugation differs to the first because the word stem ends in an -e. See how it changes the word as compared to the first conjugation above.
Verb: Habere, to have
|1st person, sing.||Habeo||I have||-o|
|2nd person, sing.||Habes||You have||-s|
|3rd person, sing.||Habet||He (she, it) has||-t|
|1st person, plural||Habemus||We have||-mus|
|2nd person, plural||Habetis||You have||-tis|
|3rd person, plural||Habent||They have||-nt|
When you are reading Latin, to construct the sentence, the correct verb and noun can be matched by finding the same person and number. For example, a 3rd person plural verb will agree with a plural noun. For example, puella amat, the girl loves…, or, domini laudant, the masters praise… There are many cases where there is no specific subject, it is inherent in the verb, habent, they have…, amo, I love…
When reading a Latin sentence, find the verb first, translate it, find the number, person and tense. Then find the nouns, translate them, find the case and number, and see if the verb agrees with any. The subject of the sentence will be in the nominative case!! Let’s look at an example,
puella dominos amat
Puella = girl, nominative, feminine singular
Dominos = masters, accusative, masculine, singular
Amat = he, she, it loves, 3rd person, singular, present
Therefore amat agrees with puella which is the nominative so you can translate as follows,
The girl loves the masters.
One last tip, there is no set rule to word order in Latin, you can literally write the sentence in any way you want because it is the words that give meaning, not the order. However, you will find that adverbs and adjectives will be next to their matching word, and that verbs tend to drift to the end of sentences. You can imagine the two most important words in a sentence occupy the two ends of the sentence, the subject noun at the start, and the verb at the end.
Excellent work! We are really firing along now and we’re ready to translate some sentences. Use the vocabulary at the end of the chapter to help translate the exercise.
Exercise 2 – Translating Latin
Translate the sentences below and check your answers here.
- dominus amat puellam
- equum habeo
- equum do
- puellae equos dant
- dominus equum habet et laudat
Exercise 3 – Translating English to Latin
Translate these English sentences to Latin, check your answers here.
- I love the girl.
- The girl has a horse.
- We praise the girls.
- The master is praising the horse.
Irregular verbs do not fit any set pattern, so you have to learn them by heart. The first set is a state of being, esse, to be, the second set is possibility, posse, to be able.
Verb: esse, to be
|1st person, sing.||Sum||I am|
|2nd person, sing.||Es||You are|
|3rd person, sing.||Est||He, she, it is|
|1st person, plural||Sumus||We are|
|2nd person, plural||Estis||You are|
|3rd person, plural||Sunt||They are|
Verb: posse, to be able
|1st person, sing.||Possum|
|2nd person, sing.||Potes|
|3rd person, sing.||Potest|
|1st person, plural||Possumus|
|2nd person, plural||Potestis|
|3rd person, plural||possunt|
Note: you can see a pattern formed by the text in bold to help you remember.
Exercise 4 – Translating Complex Sentences
This exercise is made to challenge you so don’t beat yourself up if you struggle. It is through that struggle that you will grow. We are going to use a bigger vocabulary and introduce all the verb cases.
- equum amo quod bonum est
- Sapientiam habeo et puellae do
- annus bonus est
- pugno quod puellam amo
- vir templum lunae laudat
- pueri boni aurum puellis possunt dare
Congratulations on coming this far! If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen so far, keep going! You can go to Lesson 4 where we will explore Latin adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and interrogatives. You can also skip ahead to check your Answers. Keep practising and you’ll be reading Latin in no time. Hit the links below to find each lesson.
Everything you need to get started is right here in this book, there are five lessons to work through, followed by answers for everything at the back. Also included are some absolute essentials that will help you throughout your journey in Latin, as you work through this book, and beyond it! There are references on all declensions, conjugations, pronouns, adverbs and irregular verbs! These you can print out and take with you, use them as flash cards and reference sheets, I still refer to them all the time and they are a great tool to check your work without seeing the answers! Plus there is an extensive vocabulary at the end that you can refer to and build on.
This course is essential for anyone starting out with Latin, it will explain everything you need to get started, with helpful hints along the way, and a few historic notes to add some fun.
R. D. Jones
|annus -i||2m||year||amo||1||I love||bonus -a -um||good|
|dominus -i||2 m||master, lord||do, dare||1||give||malus -a -um||bad, evil|
|equus -i||2 m||horse||esse||to be||Other|
|luna -ae||1f||moon||habeo||2||I have||et||and|
|puella -ae||1f||girl||laudo||1||I praise||quod||because|
|puer -i||2m||boy||posse||to be able||non||not|
|sapientia, -ae||1f||wisdom||pugno||1||I fight|
|vir, viri||2m||man, husband|