This came up in Duolingo: the sentence "The girl is hiding cookies under her dress" is translated by the app as "Puella crustula sub stola celat". However the question has been raised in discussion: could it also be "Puella crustula sub stolam celat"? In other words, that the girl has been spotted in the act of moving the cookies under her dress, rather than them being there already.

One person in the discussion said that this would only work with a different verb which allows for movement, such as "Puella crustula sumit et sub stolam ponit". But in English "to hide" can be either the act of moving to a hidden position or the act of staying there. Can "celare" take the accusative case here?

  • Interesting. I have to wonder if celare sub stolam is indeed invalid, wouldn't that also mean that celare sub stola does not mean the intended meaning of this sentence. i.e. sub stola can only refer to the place the action has taken place (not the hidden place). For the intended meaning one then can only use the ablative of means. i.e. Puella crustula stola celat (without sub altogether).
    – d_e
    Dec 25, 2020 at 15:38
  • But in English "to hide" can be either the act of moving to a hidden position -- this is arguably not the case, at least not grammatically: you cannot hide into a closet, for example. And I believe the same is true in Latin, but it is hard to prove a negative. Dec 25, 2020 at 19:55
  • @SebastianKoppehel For related discussion confirming Sebastian's point see ell.stackexchange.com/questions/56572/… Cf. "Additionally, I would note that hide is used with prepositions which indicate location, not motion. Thus, your guest cannot hide into, hide towards, or hide back to even the most spacious engine bay, but can slither, scuttle, swarm, etc. into it to hide in or inside or within it".
    – Mitomino
    Jan 2, 2021 at 17:20
  • I see the point about "hide into" in English. But the instruction "Hide in the wardrobe!" is still pretty clearly indicating movement. So how would that be put in Latin? I'm only reasoning by analogy with English; Latin may well be different. Jan 2, 2021 at 17:25
  • Assuming that the parallelism with English is correct (NB: English and Latin are both "satellite-framed languages" : see latin.stackexchange.com/questions/11083/…), the prediction is that accusative (sub stolam) with a non-motion verb like celare is not expected. But, as Sebastian says, it is hard to prove a negative. As for your example "Hide in the wardrobe!", I'd use another verb in Latin, a directional one: abdere with a reflexive or in its (medio)passive form (abdi) plus a PP with acc. (in aliquem locum).
    – Mitomino
    Jan 2, 2021 at 18:29

2 Answers 2


In my dictionary another translation of "celare" is "to conceal".
If this form is connected to an accusative it means "to conceal from somebody".

That is the only case (according to the dictionary Stowasser 2014) that is possible in connection to an accusative, so I suppose "Puella crustula sub stolam celat" makes no sense.

  • I've accepted this answer because it provides a definite explanation of what the accusative would really mean, and hence why "sub stolam celat" is wrong. Jan 3, 2021 at 13:39
  • So if I understand it correctly you could say "Puella crustula mercatorem celat" to mean "The girl is hiding cookes from the merchant". Jan 3, 2021 at 13:43
  • @PaulJohnson Yeah, correct.
    – Cyb3rKo
    Jan 3, 2021 at 13:53

The constructional pattern at issue here (i.e. the verb celare plus a directional Prepositional Phrase (PP) with acc. case: e.g. Puella crustula sub stolam celat) does not sound quite natural since the verb celare is not a motion verb.

It seems more natural to use a directional verb here like abdere or abscondere: Puella crustula sub stolam abscondit. Cf. an attested similar example with the same constructional pattern, i.e., where the accusative PP is expressing the path: sub Herculeas caput abscondit umbras (Sen. Her. 826). Note that an ablative PP is also possible with these prefixed verbs to profile not the path/directionality but rather the location: e.g. cultrum quem sub ueste abditum habebat (Liv. 9.25.7) // Abdere sub parvis aera recurva cibis (Ov. Rem. Am. 210).

  • Döderlein’s Hand-Book of Latin synonyms entry of celare further suggests that celare is probably not the best choice here, as it tends to pertain to abstract objects, like hiding sententia (that being said, celare can also refer to physical objects).
    – d_e
    Jan 2, 2021 at 21:25

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