The following list is a selection of terms that will prove useful for learning Latin. This is taken from the OpenLearn website and is part of the free online course – ‘Getting started on classical Latin’ which is available at…
Accessed on – 3rd August 2019.
Glossary of Terms
Accusative (case) – The case of the direct object of the verb; e.g. vir feminam amat, ‘the man loves the woman ; or puer servum videt, ‘the boy sees the slave ’. The accusative is also used with certain prepositions.
Adjective – A ‘describing word’: that is to say, a word that modifies (i.e. describes) a noun; e.g. beautiful, brave, large.
Adverb – A word which modifies (describes the action of) a verb. In English, adverbs commonly, but not always, end in – ly, e.g. quickly, suddenly, but also soon, always, almost. Adverbs can also modify an adjective or another adverb: almost ready; really easily.
Agreement – In the case of verbs, agreement means the change in the form of the verb depending on the verb’s subject. Thus in the sentence ‘I do’, ‘do’ agrees with ‘I’; in the sentence ‘he does’, ‘does’ agrees with ‘he’. In the case of adjectives, agreement means the change in the form of the adjective to match the number, gender and case of the noun: thus vir parv us, ‘the small man’, but femina parv a, ‘the small woman’.
Case – Latin nouns are found in one of six cases: nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative & ablative.
Clause – A section of a sentence containing, as a minimum, a subject and a verb (though in Latin, unlike English, the subject is not always stated).
Complement – A word or phrase which adds to the description of the subject of a sentence (and which, therefore, like the subject, appears in the nominative case). A complement is most often found in conjunction with the verb ‘to be’. Thus in the sentence ‘vir est amicus’, ‘The man is a friend’, the subject is vir, ‘man’ (‘The man is …’) whereas amicus, ‘friend’, is the complement (‘… a friend’).
Conjunction – A word that links parts of a sentence; e.g. and, but, since, because.
Ending – The letters added to the stem of a noun, verb or adjective, for example, in order to mark number and so on. Thus the ending of ama nt, ‘they love’, indicates that the verb is third person plural (‘they’).
Feminine – One of the three genders of nouns (and adjectives) in Latin. Examples of feminine nouns are femina, ‘woman’, regina, ‘queen’, and statua, ‘statue’.
Future Tense – The future tense describes an action that will happen in the future; e.g. ‘I shall carry’, ‘she will listen’.
Gender – Nouns (and adjectives) in Latin are one of three genders: masculine, feminine or neuter.
Imperfect Tense – The tense used to describe ongoing, repeated, or habitual actions in the past; e.g. portabat, ‘he was carrying’, ‘he used to carry’, ‘he kept carrying’ or just ‘he carried’ (when the ‘carrying’ went on regularly in the past: ‘He carried his shopping home every day’).
Inflection (inflected) – The way in which words change shape to convey information about their precise meaning and/or their grammatical role in a sentence (e.g. English ‘he’/‘him’, ‘is’/‘are’, ‘desk’/‘desks’, ‘look’/‘looked’). Languages like Latin that rely heavily on inflection to convey meaning are often called ‘inflected languages’.
Interjection – A word or phrase that is not connected grammatically to the rest of the sentence and which is used to convey emotion; e.g. hey! oh dear! alas! whoops! wow!
Masculine – One of the three genders of Latin nouns (and adjectives) in Latin. Examples of masculine nouns are amicus, ‘friend’, servus, ‘slave’ and vir, ‘man’.
Neuter – One of the three genders of nouns (and adjectives) in Latin. Examples of neuter nouns are aurum, ‘gold’, and forum, ‘forum, market place’.
Nominative (case) – The case of the subject of the verb; e.g. femina virum amat, ‘ The woman loves the man’.
Noun – A person, animal, place, thing, event, idea or concept; e.g. puer, ‘boy’; Roma, ‘Rome’; statua, ‘statue’; campus, ‘field’; imperium, ‘power’; virtus, ‘courage, virtue’.
Number – Whether a noun, verb, pronoun or adjective is singular or plural.
Object (also known as direct object) – The person in a sentence to whom the action of the verb is being done (or the thing to which the action is being done). In the sentence ‘The man carries the soldier’, for example, ‘the man’ is the subject, ‘carries’ the verb and ‘the soldier’ is the direct object (i.e. it is the soldier who is on the receiving end of the carrying). (In Latin, the direct object of a verb appears in the accusative case.)
Part of Speech – Whether a word is a verb, noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction or interjection.
Person – The form of a verb will differ according to the ‘person’. There are three ‘persons’ in both English and Latin: first person (‘I’ and ‘we’), second person (‘you’, either singular or plural) and third person (‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’; ‘they’).
Pluperfect Tense – The pluperfect is the tense used to show that an action took place before another action in the past. The Latin pluperfect can usually be translated into English using ‘had ____ed’, e.g. portaveram, ‘I had carried’; amaverant, ‘they had loved’.
Preposition – A word which accompanies a noun (or a pronoun) to provide information such as the location of the action of a sentence in space or time; e.g. in, towards, against, with, among, from, after, about.
Present Tense – The tense used to indicate that the action of a verb is either happening right now (e.g. ‘I am running to school’) or regularly happens at the current time (e.g. ‘I run to school every day’, or ‘I do run …’). In Latin, ‘I am running’, ‘I run’ and ‘I do run’ are all expressed by the same word: curro.
Pronoun – A word which (effectively) replaces a noun or a noun phrase: this, that, he, she, it, we, they. ‘Look at the ship, it ’s enormous!’; ‘My parents? They ’re retired now.’
Sentence – A group of words which combine according to grammatical rules to express a statement, question, wish or command. A sentence usually contains at least one verb.
Singular – In the case of nouns, pronouns and adjectives, ‘singular’ is when one is meant (as opposed to more than one); e.g. amic us, ‘friend’ (as opposed to amic i, ‘friends’). In the case of verbs, a singular subject indicates that one rather than more than one person (or thing) is performing the action of the verb; e.g. ama t, ‘he/she/it loves’ (as opposed to ama nt, ‘they love’).
Subject – The person or thing performing the action of the verb in a clause. (In Latin, the subject is found in the nominative case.)
Tense – Verbs in English and Latin have tenses; e.g. present, imperfect, perfect, pluperfect. The tense of the verb indicates when the action is performed.
Verb – A word expressing an action, state or condition: curro, ‘I run’; dormio, ‘I sleep’; est, ‘he/she/it is’. In Latin, the dictionary form of most verbs ends in – o.
V.1 – Complied on 3rd August 2019.