I am trying to translate "plan [in order] to achieve" into Latin.

Is it more appropriate to use second ("meditator ut consequaris") or third person ("meditator ut consequatur") in future imperative here?

If both are acceptable, which one sounds more natural for a general rule or maxim?


In my opinion the passive imperative suffers from similarity to the agent noun derived from the verb. This usually happens in the first conjugation. That is, the imperative meditator ("plan!") looks like the noun meditator ("planner"), and vowel lengths match as well. My first reaction to this word is that it's a noun. Therefore my starting point to choose a phrasing that makes this reading less likely or less harmful.

My immediate reading of meditator ut consequatur is "so that a planner would achieve". The imperative reading might not occur to me at all unless there is a clear person being ordered. For a motto it sounds weird to say "may he plan so that he achieves". Who's he? Therefore I don't quite like the third person option, although it is grammatically perfectly valid.

I think a motto with an order works better when aimed to the reader. The second person motto meditator ut consequaris can still be misread as "so that you would achieve as a planner", but that is less likely than with the third person. And that alternative reading isn't all that bad; giving two legitimate but different readings with essentially the same message is a nice play with words.

I prefer the second person option. Just because the future imperative is ambiguous, I would consider changing it to the usual imperative: meditare.

If I may suggest an alternative wording using these words, I think a more natural choice is to use a gerund to express the means. This makes the roles of the two verbs abundantly clear, and it sounds somehow more Latin to me in style:

Meditando consequeris.
You will achieve by planning.

As to whether meditari and consequi are the best verbs for your purpose, I will have to point you to an online Latin dictionary. Whichever verbs you end up picking, my recommended structure is this last one with a gerund and a future tense. Of course, the ablative gerund can be replaced with the ablative form of a noun if the means can be described well with a noun. Bear in mind, though, that a gerund will make it more active. To me meditando gives the impression that you actually have to plan yourself, whereas consilio just gives the circumstances and makes me think you are working on someone else's recommendation.

  • Wow, thank you for such a comprehensive answer, Joonas!
    – Yuriy
    Jul 31 '19 at 12:36
  • Based on your description it looks like "meditando" better conveys my idea. What do you think about semantic differences between "consequeris" and "assequeris"?
    – Yuriy
    Jul 31 '19 at 12:50
  • 1
    @Yuriy I'm glad to be able to help! Based on a quick dictionary look-up, I think assequi is a more suitable verb. You can always ask a new question about choosing the most appropriate translation for "achieve" in your context if you want more details on it. There is a long list of possible verbs: consequi, assequi, perpetrare, perficere, pervincere, patrare, peragere...
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jul 31 '19 at 13:10

I reached out to the community of discord.gg/latin for help with translating this motto, and received three possible translations:

  • "meditator ut consequaris",
  • "si vis consequi, meditare", and
  • "consilio assequeris".

Out of them the last one, "consilio assequeris" was recommended as the most appropriate.

  • 2
    I agree that the last one of these sounds most natural.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jul 31 '19 at 6:57
  • 2
    In my opinion, the last one also sounds quite natural but not so for a general rule or aphorism. E.g., cf. Illud certissime tua ejus modi opera, diligentia, consilio consequeris, ut praeclarum hoc ad cetera adjunxeris tui erga regem ipsum obsequii testimonium et nostrum de tua virtute ac nobiscum judicium mirifice comprobaberis (books.google.es/… )
    – Mitomino
    Jul 31 '19 at 18:06

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