I am working through ch 1 of Wheelock's Latin, and I am confused as to when the vowel immediately preceding a personal ending should receive a macron. For example, here is the present indicative active conjugation for the verb amāre "to love, like":


  1. amō
  2. amās
  3. amat


  1. amāmus
  2. amātis
  3. amant

Why is it a long ā for amās versus a short a for amat?

  • Welcome to the site! We marked this question as duplicate because it had been asked before. If you think the linked question and its answer don't really satisfy you, please edit your post to clarify what you're after. Your question is an excellent one; marking as duplicate is merely a matter of organizing content.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 10:03

2 Answers 2


If you're using the 7th edition of Wheelock's Latin (the most recent edition), this is explained at the bottom of page 4:

Note that the stem vowel has no macron in certain forms (e.g., moneō, laudānt); learn the following rule, which will make it easier to account for macrons that seem to disappear and reappear arbitrarily:

Vowels that are normally long are regularly shortened when they occur immediately before another vowel (hence moneō instead of *monēō), before -m, -r, or -t at the end of a word (hence laudat, not *laudāt), or before nt or nd in any position (laudant, not *laudānt: the asterisks here and elsewhere in this book indicate a hypothetical form not actually occurring in classical Latin).

The 7th edition was significantly revised/expanded; I don't remember whether earlier editions have a similar explanation.


I'd say it was best at this stage not to worry about long and short vowels.

Whether a vowel is long or short is important in scanning verse, and so the 'macron' is meticulously used in dictionaries and grammars to indicate 'long'.

A vowel, and thus a syllable is long (a as in car) if so marked, otherwise it is short (a as in cat).

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.