Quanti... constat? Quanti... constant?
"Quanti" is called a "genitive of value".
(By the way, I don't understand why it's not a "genitive of price", as we ask for a price here.)

-What would be the literal translation of "Quanti constat ille canis in fenestra?"
I mean an English sentence showing the role of the genitive "quanti".
Something like "What is the composition of the value of this dog in the window"?
Can you improve this literal translation?

As it is "constat" in the singular, and "constant" in the plural, I can't find a good literal translation including the agreement of this verb.

I ask for the literal translation, not the real translation, it means "How does it cost?".

2 Answers 2


Literal translation

If you want a very literal translation, I'd offer:

Quanti constat ille canis in fenestra?
Of how much with-stands that dog in window?

The English is not idiomatic or even grammatical, but that's what you easily get if you want literal. The verb constare has a number of different meanings, so no single English verb is going to capture it. I therefore split it as con-stare and translated the halves — that is a very literal reading of the verb but is not good at conveying information in English. As more complicated verbs often don't have a unique counterpart in the other language, there is no literal translation for them.

The English sentence I offered above makes little sense. Indeed, I would say that there is no such thing as a literal translation. You always need to decode the message from one language and code it into another, and you always need some liberty have to take some context into account. This process can be extremely simple if the sentence is simple or the languages are very close.

Reading genitive of value

I find it useful to sometimes supply additional words to make sense of some constructions. Here I might add an implicit pretii:

Quanti [pretii] constat canis ille?
Of how great price is that dog?

This could be read as a qualitative genitive. Compare with canis codiculae parvae, "a small-tailed dog" or "a dog of small tail". Qualitative genitives can be translated to English in a more direct way, although it does often sound old-fashioned or otherwise awkward.

  • Yes, I didn't want something grammatical, only a really literal "translation". Thank you.
    – Quidam
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 11:26
  • Of how much consist? Also good?
    – Quidam
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 11:28
  • @Quidam That's possible, but beware of false friends. Consistere and consist certainly look alike and are etymologically linked, but that doesn't imply that the meanings are anywhere close. I think it's somewhat misleading here, but perhaps not horribly so.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 11:30
  • it's because I've checked all the meanings for "constare", and they seem based on "consist". I wasn't referring to the appearance of English word.
    – Quidam
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 11:45
  • 1
    @Quidam Are you looking for a translation, or a gloss?
    – Draconis
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 17:34

Price is expressed by the ablative case:

He bought the book for seven denarii. = "librum septem denariis emit." (Numerals, above three, do not decline.)

The old man bought his country house for a lot of sestertii = "senex villam multis sestertiis emit."

Value is expressed by the genitive case:

He valued his friendship very highly = "amicitiam plurimi habuit." (i.e "He held his friendship of a very high [value].)

The Roman citizens valued their freedom very highly = "cives Romani libertatem suam maximi habuerunt.

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