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Latin Grammar - Tips About the Parts of Speech in Latin


Latin Paradigm

Latin Paradigm

NS Gill

Latin is Familiar:

Latin is closer to English than a lot of languages, like Swahili or Mandarin. That's because Latin and English are both in the same language family -- called Indo-European. Sharing a language family doesn't necessarily make it easy for an English speaker to learn Latin, the ancient language of the Romans. Since the Romance languages (e.g., French and Spanish) evolved from Latin, familiarity with them helps.


Comparisons Between English and Latin:

LATIN: It is not necessary to use articles (the, an, a), but it is necessary for adjectives to agree with the nouns they describe.


ENGLISH: The opposite is true in English: we use articles (the, an, a) and don't put endings on our adjectives (red book or red books -- red is the same).

Word order is not usually very important in Latin, but is crucial for English.

Latin has more noun cases than English, where cases are visible mostly on pronouns (he, his, him).

Nouns in Latin have gender, which English lacks as a grammatical category.

The alphabet is almost the same, but there are differences worth noting:

Latin Pronouns:

Latin intensive pronouns translate into English with "-self" as in I myself. Demonstrative pronouns are "this" and "that," including a contemptuous form. Personal pronouns are the ones we usually think of as pronouns, the I, you, he, she, it, etc.
  • Latin Intensive Pronouns
  • Latin Personal Pronouns
  • Latin Demonstrative Pronouns
  • Latin Indefinite Pronouns:
    • aliquis, aliqua, aliquid, some, some one.
    • quidam, quaedam, quoddam, certain, certain one.
    • quisquam, quidquam, any one.
  • Latin Interrogative Pronouns: quis, who?
  • Latin Relative Pronouns: qui, who.
  • Latin Possessive Pronouns: meus, tuus, suus, noster, vester, suus, my, your, his, our, your, their.

Interjections in Latin as in English:

Interjections are words thrown in, either alone or in a sentence, but without a grammatical connection. (Oh! Yikes!) English and Latin both have interjections.

Prepositions in Latin as in English:

Prepositions tend to specify relationships or directions.

Latin Verbs:

Learning the paradigms of the Latin verbs is one of the most time-consuming parts of learning the language.

Why? Mostly, because verbs in Latin, as in English, are conjugated, but there are far more separate forms in Latin. First, there are 4 basic conjugations plus variations. Then, you have to learn how to conjugate Latin verbs for each person, in each conjugation, in each tense, and in each mood, as well as in their active and passive forms. Moods are forms like the subjunctive and indicative. Tenses relate to the time of the action.

Conjunctions in Latin as in English:

Conjunctions are often small words whose job is to join items together (and, but, or, nor, neither...nor, either...or, not only...but also)

Latin Nouns:

Conjugations go with verbs. Declensions go with nouns.

There are 5 declensions in Latin, which means 5 sets of endings to become familiar with. So much is fairly straightforward. What is most confusing to us is the use of cases, since English has very limited cases mostly visible on our pronouns.

Latin Adjectives:

Latin adjectives have to agree with the nouns the modify. As such they, too, are declined.

A simple English example would be someone who corrects a child for calling a girl "handsome". Handsome is sometimes thought of as a masculine adjective that belongs with a masculine noun, so the child is being trained to say "pretty girl" vs "handsome boy".

Latin goes further, so if there were a bunch of girls the child thought were handsome, the Latin-speaking child couldn't just use "pretty" or "handsome", but would have to learn to form a plural out of his adjectives.

Fortunately, although this seems pretty complicated, once you have a grasp of the declensions of the nouns, and get used to memorizing the gender of each noun, adjectives aren't too hard to learn.

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