Verbs are the action words of a sentence or clause.
Latin verbs exhibit :
- Two Voices - Active and Passive
- The Active voice is used when the Subject of the sentence performs the action
eg : The dog chased the cat.
The Passive voice is used when the Subject of the sentence receives or is affected by the action
eg : The cat was chased by the dog.
- Six Tenses - Present, Imperfect, Future, Perfect, Past Perfect (or Pluperfect) and Future Perfect
- The Present Tense is used for actions going on at the present, or for general statements
eg : The dog is chasing the cat. It is good to be truthful. The dog barks all the time.
The Imperfect is used for continued or repeated action in the past.
eg : The dog was chasing the cat. The dog used to chase the cat.
The Future is used for actions in the future
eg : The dog will get supper this evening.
The Perfect is used for an action which has been completed or finished. It generally corresponds to the English simple Past tense.
eg. The dog has chased the cat. The dog did chase the cat. The dog chased the cat.
The Pluperfect or Past Perfect is used for an action which had already been completed before some other cation in the past. It can often be translated into English as "had" done something.
eg. The cat had scratched the dog before he chased her.
The Future Perfect is rarely used. It indicates an action that will have been completed before another action takes place in the future.
eg. I will have eaten breakfast before my brother gets out of bed.
- Two Aspects - Imperfective and Perfective
- The Imperfective Aspect includes the Present, Future, and Imperfect tenses - it implies that an action has not been completed
The Perfective Aspect includes the Perfect, Pluperfect, and Future Perfect tenses - it implies that an action has been finished or completed.
- Three Moods - Indicative, Imperative, and Subjunctive
- The Indicative is used for statements.
eg. The dog chased the cat.
The Imperative is used for giving orders or prohibitions
eg. Don't chase the cat.
Sometimes the Infinitive is not regarded as a Mood, but as one of the non-finite forms
The Subjunctive is used when there is some doubt about the action
eg. If the dog should chase the cat I'll tie him up. Let's play with the dog. Whoever may tease the cat will get scratched.
English speakers are no longer careful to make a distinction between a definite statement and a "doubtful assertion" - we tend to use the indicative when we ought to use the subjunctive.
- Two Numbers - Singular and Plural
- The Singular is used when one person or thing is the subject
eg. He is a good student
the Plural is used when more than one person or thing is the subject
eg. They are good students.
- Three Persons - First, Second, Third
- The First Person Singular = I; First Person Plural = We
The Second Person Singular = Thou, you; Second Person Plural = You
The Third Person Singular = He, she, it; Third Person Plural = They
- Four non-finite forms - the Infinitive, Participles, the Gerund, the Supine
- The Infinitive has the form "to do" something
eg. The dog likes to chase the cat. It is good to exercise regularly. I am going to graduate soon.
Participles have the form "doing" something, "having done" something, "going to do" something
eg. The dog, chasing the cat, tore up the yard. The cat, having gone out, wants to come in again. The students, going to study, went to the library.
The Future Passive Participle is also called the Gerundive. It is a future passive participle which is used as a verbal adjective. It has the form "about to be", "fit to be", "deserving to be"
The Gerund is a verbal noun, with the form "of/to/for/by doing" something
eg. The dog has a fondness for running in circles. We learn by reading books.
The Supine only occurs in the accusative and ablative cases. The accusative form ends in -um, and is used with a verb of motion in order to show the purpose. The accusative form of a supine can also take an object.
eg. The dog came into the yard to bury (for burying) his bone.
All the various forms of a verb can be worked out if one knows just four "Principal Parts" of the verb.
Dictionaries and verb tables usually list the Principal Parts in the order :
1. First Person Singular Present Active, eg. amo - I love
2. Present Infinitive Active, eg. amare - to love
3. First Person Singular Perfect Active, eg. amavi - I have loved, I did love, I loved
4. The Supine, in either the masculine or neuter form, eg. amatus or amatum - loved
Sometimes the Infinitive will be listed last.
For regular verbs, the Principal Parts may be abbreviated, eg.
amo -are -avi -atum
Download a pdf file of the Principal Parts of common verbs.
Don't try to learn the whole list - read through five or ten a day until they become familiar. When learning verbs as part of you vocabulary, always learn the Principal Parts.
Copyright © 1999 Shirley J. Rollinson, all Rights Reserved
Department of Religion
ENMU Station 19
Portales, NM 88130
Last Updated: August 11, 2009