The Latin phrase,

quodcumque dixerit vobis facite,

taken from John 2:5 of the Vulgate, translates to,

Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye,

according to the Douay-Rheims translation of the Vulgate (http://vulgate.org/nt/gospel/john_2.htm), or,

do whatever he tells you,

according to Yandex (https://translate.yandex.com/?lang=la-en&text=quodcumque%20dixerit%20vobis%20facite).

However, sometimes a shortened version of this phrase is used, where the word "vobis" is removed, i.e.,

quodcumque dixerit facite.

See, for example, the coat of arms of Seán Patrick O'Malley: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/index.php?title=Se%C3%A1n_Patrick_O%27Malley.

According to https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/index.php?title=Quodcumque_dixerit_facite, the shortened phrase "quodcumque dixerit facite", translates to

whatever you say, do.

(this translation also agrees with Yandex https://translate.yandex.com/?lang=la-en&text=quodcumque%20dixerit%20facite and Google https://translate.google.com/#view=home&op=translate&sl=auto&tl=en&text=quodcumque%20dixerit%C2%A0facite) However, this translation does not quite make sense to me as "dixerit" in Latin is third person singular, so I am not sure where the "you" comes from in "whatever you say, do."

Therefore, what is the correct English translation of "quodcumque dixerit facite"?

1 Answer 1


Your intuition is correct! The verb is still third person singular, and should be translated that way.

To make it painfully literal, the verb is future perfect, so:

Whatever (s)he will have said, all of you, do it.

Or, for actually good English:

Everyone, do whatever (s)he says.

Vobis just specifies that the speaker is saying these things "to all of you"; without it, though, it's still quite clear that "he" is speaking, not "you".

  • Sorry, I've got a fixation about Latin ambiguities. How do you know it's not perfect subjunctive, indirect after quodcumque?
    – Hugh
    Feb 21, 2020 at 21:04
  • @Hugh Could also be that, "whatever he might have said", but the subjunctive feels a bit weird to me here
    – Draconis
    Feb 21, 2020 at 21:49
  • @Hugh: It is my understanding that the perfect subjunctive is only used in specific circumstances e.g. (i) conditional sentences (improbable conditions); if the conditional act is completed before the consequence begins the perfect subjunctive is used, instead of present subjunctive; (ii) "cum" = since/ because (cum librum legerim = since I have read the book); consecutive clauses; perf. subj. can be used after a historic tense; but, only (a) when the result is momentary, not continuous and (b) the result actually did follow (tantus erat ardor militum ut nemo motum terrae senserit
    – tony
    Feb 22, 2020 at 11:42
  • @Hugh: Continuing: …= the soldiers were so engrossed that no one felt the earthquake); (iii) prohibition e.g. ne + second-person of the perfect subjunctive (ne feceris illud, Marce! = Don't do that, Marcus!). I used to wonder what the perf. subj. was for, so I compiled a list of its uses; but, this may not be exhaustive.
    – tony
    Feb 22, 2020 at 11:48
  • @Draconis: If a subjunctive was used here would it not have to be imperfect--"diceret" = "he might have said"; definitely not perfect subj?
    – tony
    Feb 22, 2020 at 11:52

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