When do I use the gerundive vs. participle forms of a verb in Latin?

  • 1
    A typical Latin verb has one gerundive and several participles. Do you only want to compare amandus and amans, or should amatus and amaturus be included, too?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Aug 25, 2016 at 5:43

1 Answer 1


I think that your question will become a lot clearer when you realize that the gerundive is a participle: specifically, it is the future passive participle.

This is thus not a question of choosing between a gerundive and a participle, but rather choosing which participle (tense and voice) to use. Here is a brief overview of the kinds of participles of amare (to love):

  1. Present active: amans, -ntis
    • mater amans: "a loving mother" or "a mother who loves"
  2. Future active: amaturus, -i
    • mater amatura: "a mother who is about to love"
  3. Perfect passive: amatus, -i (N.B. this has an active meaning with deponent verbs)
    • mater amata: "a beloved mother" or "a mother who was loved"
  4. Future passive: amandus, -i
    • mater amanda: "a mother who shall be loved"

Note that this future passive meaning most often conveys a sense of obligation, i.e. "a mother to be loved" = "a mother who should be loved."

If you provide further details about your use case, I can specify further, but as you see there is a pretty clear distinction between each participial form.

  • 2
    As an interesting aside, the absence of a perfect active participle (as there is in Greek) often forces such thoughts to be translated using ablative absolute + perfect passive participle, e.g. "having visited the store" becomes "the store having been visited..."
    – brianpck
    Aug 25, 2016 at 12:38
  • I didn't know "the gerundive is a participle: specifically, it is the future passive participle." Thank you. Also, are the 4 tenses/voices you enumerate all there are for Latin participles?
    – Geremia
    Jan 7, 2017 at 15:03

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