Latin IS English!

July 15, 2009

More “Troublesome” Latin Coming into English (but only a fractional part)

The Word of the Day for July 15, 2009 is:

Word of the Day Image

fractious • \FRAK-shus\  • adjective

1 : tending to be troublesome : unruly
2 : quarrelsome, irritable

Example Sentence:

The class was fractious and uncontrollable when Mr. Douglas first took over as teacher, but he now has the students disciplined, focused, and ready to learn.

Did you know?

The Latin verb frangere (“to break or shatter) has many modern English relations. Dishes that are fragile can break easily. A person whose health is easily broken might be described as frail. A fraction is one of the many pieces into which a whole can be broken. But fraction also once meant “disharmony” or “discord” — that is, a “rupture in relations.” From this noun sense came the adjective fractious, meaning “unruly” or “quarrelsome.” Though the “disharmony” sense of the noun is now obsolete, fractious is still common today.

November 13, 2008

The Latin VERB & Its “Principal Parts”

When beginning to formally study Latin verbs, not simply for vocabulary purposes but also for their grammatical structures (i.e., Tense, Voice, Mode, Person and Number), it’s important to pay attention to, even memorize the various “principal parts” or appearances of the the verb. There are generally four principal parts of a given Latin verb. These four principal parts are the four basic structures of the verb from which all of its various forms are derived.

By way of example, let’s look at the four “principal parts” of a normal 1st conjugation Latin verb like laudo—


1st Prin. Part (Present Act.) 2nd Prin. Part (Infinitive) 3rd Prin. Part (Perfect Act.) 4th Prin. Part (Participle)

         laudo                  laudare                 laudavī          laudatus, –a, –um


Since the first Latin tense studied is normally the Present tense (1st principal part, above), it’s important to know that this tense of the Latin verb actually derives its base or “stem” from the “Infinitive” form (2nd principal part) by removing the Infinitive’s ending (-re). So, 1st Conjugation Latin verbs are also known as “a-stems,” since the stem is lauda|… ending with an “a” (see above).

You might say, “But I don’t see the “a” on the end of the Present tense (1st principal part) of the verb!” True enough.  It’s actually hidden, superceded by the addition of the verb’s 1st person singular personal ending (“o“). Or, as I like to say, it’s been “swallowed up like Jonah inside the whale.” However, the “a-stem” immediately reappears as the verb proceeds through its conjugation:

laudo          =  I praise

laudas =  you praise

laudat =  he/she/it praises


laudamus    =  we praise

laudatis =  you (pl.) praise

laudant =  they praise        


While there are four (4) main conjugations of Latin verbs, with some “irregularities” or variations from the above paradigm that occur, this is the “model” or norm for how Latin verbs derive their various forms.


Interested in taking a “live, interactive” online Latin class?  Take the POLL here!

“TV Makes People Nauseas” —OR— How to “Parse” a Latin Verb

One of the most important considerations in studying the foundational elements of Latin must be given to the verb, that part of speech which affirms either action or state of being. The component elements of a verb are collectively referred to as its “parsing” (from the Latin noun pars, partis = part, piece, function). These components are:

1. Tense

2. Voice

3. Mode (or Mood)

4. Person

5. Number

Or, as my beginning Greek professor used to wisely proclaim (to our era of declining quality television programming viewers) via the acronym of the first letters of each of the above words:  TV Makes People Nauseas!”

The “parsing” of a Latin “model” 1st conjugation verb laudo (“I praise…am praising…do praise”) is: Present, Active, Indicative, 1st Person, Singular. Now, let’s take a closer look at what these “parsing” components represent—

1. Tense conveys “kind” of action and generally, in the Indicative Mode only, the “time” of the action. So, for the above verb, Present tense would mean both present time and continuous “action” (that is, activity in real, present time). Of course, from your additional study elsewhere, you’ll know that the Latin tenses are the Present, Imperfect (continuous “action” in past time), Future, the Pluperfect (equivalent to the English Past Perfect), and the Future Perfect.

2. Voice (”active” or “passive”) tells how the action of the verb is related to the subject. With the active “voice,” the subject of the verb is “active” through the verb, most often with a direct object.  For example, Deum laudo = “I am praising God.” With passive voice, the subject is being acted upon.  For example, God is being praised.” Observe the diagram below. Even the direction of the arrows will help you remember what is happening with “active” and “passive” voice verbs.


3.  Mode (or Mood) tells what the verb is affirming, its relation to “reality.”

Indicative — declaratives, simple assertions, interrogations.
Subjunctive — mildly contingent, hesitating affirmation; mode of probability.
Imperative — commands or entreaties; mode of “volition.” 

4.  Person denotes who is acting as the subject.  In Latin the 1st, 2nd and 3rd personal pronouns (i.e., I, you, he, she, itwe, you, and they) are included in the endings of the verb form.

5.  Number is the “singularity” or “plurality” of the person or persons represented by the verb form, included in the verb’s personal endings.

One final word about a Latin verb’s “parsing.”  Since a verb’s parsing contains all the information needed to translate the word—providing you know its original root meaning, of course—whether it’s Present Active Indicative 1st person singular or Future Active Indicative 2nd person plural or Imperfect Passive Indicative 3 person singular; no matter what it is:


“If you can parse it, you can translate it!” 

Interested in taking a “live, interactive” online Latin class?  Take the POLL here!




Create a free website or blog at