Latiné loqui disce sine molestiá!
Learn to speak Latin with ease! ¡Aprende a hablar latín sin esfuerzo!
Apprenez à parler latin sans peine! Impara a parlare latino senza sforzo! Lernen Sie latein zu sprechen ohne Mühe!
De arte grammaticá
Grammatical analysis, based on the study of morphology (the form of words), syntax (their function) and semantics (their meaning), allows us to classify all the words in a language into several categories known as parts of speech. English has nine parts of speech: verb, noun (also called substantive, or more properly substantive noun), adjective (more properly adjective noun), pronoun, article, adverb, preposition, conjunction and interjection. Latin has only eight, as there is no article.
From the point of view of morphology, the parts of speech are divided into variable and invariable, because some of them can undergo different formal changes and others remain always unchanged.
The verb is formally the most complex part of speech as it is subject to the most changes, but it is also the easiest to identify for the very same reason. Regarding their meaning, verbs serve to indicate action, state or condition, and they are easy to tell apart because they change their form in order to express, among other things, the present or past time of the action, state or condition referred to. A word like go, for instance, is a verb and it can take the form went to refer to the past, or appear in other forms like goes or going or gone. In their more neutral form, verbs in English are preceded by the word to, as in to go, which also makes them easy to identify. This neutral form is called the infinitive. Most verbs follow regular patterns, like to play, which can change into plays, played and playing only, or to love, that changes into loves, loved and loving; whereas others are more irregular, like to be, which changes into am or is or are, was or been and being. Latin verbs can adopt many more forms than their English counterparts.
The noun, also called substantive, is the second most important part of speech. Regarding meaning, a noun serves to name the things or ideas that perform or undergo the actions, states or conditions referred to by verbs, and they are easy to identify in English because they change their form according to whether one or more than one is meant. A word like child, for instance, is a noun and it takes the form children to indicate many of them. Most nouns just take an s to express this, like table and tables; but there are some irregular ones, as child above, or foot that becomes feet. Nouns can take an article, a part of speech which doesn’t exist in Latin, and which is only one of three words: the and a / an.
In English, the same word can often serve as a verb or as a noun, depending on context, and so we have a book, but also to book, or a man, but also to man; as a noun we can have a book or two books, as a verb I book or he books or I booked or I’m booking or it’s booked, we can have a man or two men, or I man, he mans, I manned, I’m manning, it’s manned. In Latin, verbs and nouns are easier to tell apart, but nouns can change in many more ways than in English too.
Syntax: Nouns and verbs are put together to form the simplest of sentences. The normal function of a noun is thus to be the subject of the verb, which in English normally comes before the verb, whereas the verb is said to function as predicate. So with a noun like cats and a verb like eat, we can form the sentence cats eat, where the noun cats is said to perform the function of subject of the sentence, and eat is the predicate. A noun can also perform the function of object of a sentence. The object will normally follow the verb in English, as in cats eat mice, where the noun mice is the object of the sentence. Of course we can attach articles to these nouns in English (not in Latin) or change the form of the noun and the verb to bild up more varied sentences like cats eat mice or the cat eats a mouse, or the cat ate the mice, or the cat will eat mice.
A third part of speech we can now introduce is the pronoun. A pronoun is a word that can substitute a noun that has been mentioned before or is otherwise understood in the context and it would be cumbersome to repeat again. As in cats eat mice, they love them, where they has been used not to repeat cats, and them not to repeat mice; or cats eat mice, mine love them, where mine again refers to cats. There are many types of pronouns, both in English and Latin, the most important ones are personal pronouns (I, me; he, him; she, her; it; we, us; you; they, them), possessive pronouns (mine, his, hers, its, ours, yours, theirs) and demonstrative pronouns (this, these; that, those), among many others.
Syntax: Pronouns are substitutes for nouns, so they can perform the same functions as nouns in the sentence, mainly subject or object. In they love them, the pronoun they is the subject and them is the object.
The adjective is a fourth part of speech. It is changeable in Latin, but unchangeable in English. Adjectives express mainly qualities and are used to complement nouns, so as to make our simplest model sentences above that bit richer in meaning, as when we say clever cats love fat mice, where clever and fat are adjectives.
Syntax: Adjectives perform two main functions in sentences, for they can be attributive, if they complement the noun directly, as in clever cats love fat mice, but also predicative, if they do so through a verb, as in cats are clever or mice look fat. We now learn therefore that a verb can be followed not only by an object (e.gr.: mice in cats watch mice), as seen above, but also by a predicative complement (e.gr. nice in cats look nice). It will be important to distinguish these two cases because the grammatical form of the predicative complement is quite different in Latin from that of a proper object.
The adverb is an unchangeable word that expresses manner (e.gr.: quickly in come quickly), place (e.gr.: here in come here) or time (e.gr.: now in come now). Most adverbs of manner in English are formed by attaching the ending –ly to an adjective.
Syntax: Adverbs normally express the manner, place or time of the action, state or condition conveyed by the verb, whence their name (e.gr.: quickly in cats eat quickly), but an adverb can also complement an adjective (e.gr.: very in the tower is very high) or another adverb (e.gr.: very in the room was very quickly painted).
We have now seen the main components of a model sentence. It has a verb as its nucleus, which usually has a noun as a subject and can also take a noun as an object, or it can take a predicative adjective. The noun, whether subject or object, can further be complemented by articles (not in Latin) and attributive adjectives, and if necessary substituted by pronouns. The verb in turn can be further complemented by adverbs. Adverbs can also complement adjectives or other adverbs. This is an example of all of these resources put together in a sentence:
They set an extremely dangerous tiger free very carelessly here yesterday.
Although all these combinations should allow us a great number of possibilities of expression, they are still in fact quite simple, and certainly not enough for the complex human mind.
The first thing we can do to expand these resources is to make words function in ways they were not originally meant to:
So, for instance, we can make a verb work as a noun, and instead of I like the sea, where the object of the verb to like is the noun sea, as expected, we can say I like swimming or I like to swim, where the object of the verb to like is another verb, to swim! We can also use a verb as an adjective, as in I saw a smiling girl, where a form of the verb to smile is serving as an adjective (instead of say I saw a happy girl), or as an adverb, as in I went running, where the verb to run is serving as an adverb of manner (instead of say I went quickly).
We can have a noun serving as an adjective, as in I have a philosophy class, where the noun philosophy is used as an attributive adjective to qualify another noun! We can also have a noun serving as a predicative adjective, as in He is a model (instead of say He is exemplary).
We can have an adjective serving as a noun, as in The rich drink champagne, where the adjective rich is used as a noun and functions as subject of the sentence.
Sometimes these swaps of function cannot be readily made, and we need the aid of another class of words, an unchangeable part of speech called prepositions. Their only function is to allow us to use nouns as adverbs, so that they can complement verbs not as subjects of objects, but expressing manner, place or time, as an adverb would do. For instance, when an adverb of place like there is not enough in a sentence like He reads there, we can express the circumstance of place with a noun like park or train or school, etc. thanks to prepositions like in or on or at, etc. as in He reads in the park or He reads on the train or He reads at school.
Another class of words that allow us to enlarge our expressive resources are conjunctions, also unchangeable. These are of two types. Some of them allow us to join parts together and are called coordinative, as in I like bread and cheese, where and joins two nouns functioning as objects of to like, or in I like bread and you like cheese, where and joins two full sentences. Other conjunctions are called subordinative and allow us to make full sentences perform the functions described above for single words (i.e. subject, object, etc.), as the word that in He believes that cats have many lives, where cats have many lives is a full sentence, but also the object of the verb to believe (as the noun story in He believes a story).
Finally there are some special pronouns and adverbs, called relative pronouns and relative adverbs that also behave as subordinative conjunctions. A relative pronoun is a pronoun inasmuch as it stands in for a noun, as when we replace the noun book in the sentence the book is on the table and say what is on the table; but the pronoun what can also act as a subordinative conjuntion since it allows us to use that sentence within another to perform the functions described above for single words (i.e. subject, object, etc.), as in I want what is on the table, where what is on the table is a full clause, but also the object of the verb to want (as the noun book in I want the book). Similarly, a relative adverb is an adverb inasmuch as it expresses the manner, place, or time of the verb, even if it does so as an unknown, as the word when in when the train arrives, but it also acts as a subordinative conjunction since it allows us to use that sentence within another to perform the functions described above for single words (i.e. subject, object, etc.), as in I know when the train arrives, where when the train arrives is a full clause, but also the object of the verb to know (as the noun time in I know the time).
ACCIDENTIA VERBÓRUM ET CONCORDANTIA
The parts of speech we have identified above as variable change according to some categories in what is known as accidence. The accidence of words changes depending on the accidence of the other words they are syntactically connected to within the sentence in what is known as concord.
Any doubts about accidence and concord that students may have will be dealt with as required during the course.