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Salvete omnes, doctissimi amici et amicae, a question rose from Orberg LLPSI I, where it says: "Iam et Marcus et Quintus mala habent."

Why would he use the accusativus pluralis of malum when et...et means both...and, in which case there is a separation as in 'each individually'? I am arguing that it should be "Iam et M. et Q. malum habent".

svbeev

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  • +1 agreed, the plural should not be necessary, unless they both suffer from many conditions, which seems to be the case ;)
    – Rafael
    Aug 27 '20 at 22:45
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    māla as in apples, but I guess the same applys here
    – rearThing
    Aug 27 '20 at 23:57
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    It seems to me the same logic would argue for singular habet. Which is to say that it isn't a question of a priori logic, but of the facts of attested usage.
    – TKR
    Aug 28 '20 at 0:15
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    That's a good point @TKR and according to Harm Pinkster (The Oxford Latin Syntax) an emphatic coordination (et...et) usually involves the verb agreeing in number with the nearest subject (so being singular if the nearest subject is singular), e.g. et proavus et avus praetor fuit, "both the great-grandfather and the grandfather were praetors" (literally "was a praetor"). Pinkster mentions that there are "also instances" where writers use a plural verb though, as they normally would for a straightforward "et" coordinated subject.
    – rjpond
    Aug 28 '20 at 7:36
  • @TKR, that occured to me as well but did not want to push my luck:)
    – rearThing
    Aug 29 '20 at 5:35
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Iam et Marcus et Quintus mala habent.

A comment by TKR pointed out that in addition to the question of whether "malum" should be used as a distributive singular, there's also the question of what the number of the verb should be.

According to Harm Pinkster (The Oxford Latin Syntax), an emphatic coordination (et...et) usually involves the verb agreeing in number with the nearest subject (so being singular if the nearest subject is singular).

For example: et proavus et avus praetor fuit, "both the great-grandfather and the grandfather were praetors" (literally "was a praetor").

Pinkster mentions that there are "also instances" where writers use a plural verb though, as they normally would for a straightforward "et" coordinated subject.

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The two individuals, Marcus and Quintus have apples, the et... et signifies the both... and as you stated. The reason the māla is plural, is because there is more than one apple between the two of them. If you said Mārcus et Quīntus mālum habent it would imply that between both of them, there is only one apple. Perhaps a better rendering would be et Mārcus et Quīntus II māla habent (Marcus and Quintus have two apples) or Mārcus mālum habet, et Quīntus quoque (Marcus has an apple, Quintus does too).

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