From Augustine De Bono Coniugali:

Multi quidem facilius se abstinent ut non utantur, quam temperent ut bene utantur.

While the meaning of the sentence is clear, I'm not sure about the grammatical construction here. As facilius seems to be the the modifier of the entire se abstinent ut non utantur, but then I would expect, as some English translations render this ("To many, it is easier .."), to see a kind of dative like multis.

Generally, What are the ways to construct sentences like:

It is easier for him to read than to write.

1 Answer 1


The two basic options that come to mind are:

  1. Ille facilius legit quam scribit.
  2. Illi facilius est legere quam scribere.

The second one corresponds with the typical English phrasing. The first one is "he reads easily" rather than "it is easy for him to read", but I see no difference in meaning in Latin.

The structural difference is significant. In the first one the subject is ille, in the second one it is the infinitive and ille is just a beneficiary. The dative is not a valid choice if the verb is in a personal form. Notice also that in the first option facilius is a comparative adverb whereas in the second one it is the neuter nominative. Which option flows best depends on the flow of the narrative and the structures around it.

  • 1
    Thanks. Reading your answer, now I see I was misreading facilius, to be the nominative of facilior, but it is rather the comparative of facile the adverb.
    – d_e
    Jan 1, 2021 at 22:34
  • 1
    @d_e Indeed, facilius plays different roles in the two approaches. I added a note on that to help future readers.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 2, 2021 at 9:34

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