When using a substantive gerundive, what form would a specifying purpose clause take? For instance: "things to be used for fighting," I would use a gerundive (utenda) and then what? A dative present participle? An infinitive? Ut + subjunctive? Is there an idiomatic way of doing this, or other preferred solution? Many thanks.


3 Answers 3


There are two types of dedicated purpose clauses known to grammarians: ut/ne clauses and relative clauses. I think the latter are ideally suited for the situation you describe. Let's take a somewhat clearer example: “The necessity of sending legates to sue for peace”:

Necessitas legatorum mittendorum (vel legatos mittendi) qui pacem petant.

Note that the subjunctive makes all the difference: It turns an ordinary relative clause into a purpose clause.

  • As is well-known, in Classical Latin the gerundive construction (legatorum mittendorum) is preferred wrt the gerund one legatos mittendi, which is, as you point out, also accepted to some degree. However, when dealing with this gerund + object construction, what I do not understand is why the genitive construction (e.g., legatos mittendi) is more frequent than the prepositional one, which is practically absent in Latin (e.g. in mittendo legatos / ad mittendum legatos). Cf. latin.stackexchange.com/questions/1144/…
    – Mitomino
    Commented Mar 20, 2021 at 21:18

One construction in this direction is that used for various commissions:

duoviri viis extra urbem purgandis
tresviri aere argento auro flando feriundo
quattuorviri viis in urbe purgandis
decemviri sacris faciundis

When you have a magistrate for some purpose, using a dative gerundive is an idiomatic way to go about describing their task.

  • llmavirta: The second line: "tresviri with copper, silver & gold for blowing & beating", presumably the smelting process. Is "feriundo" from verb "ferio" = "to beat"; the dative gerundive from this would be "feriendo", wouldn't it?
    – tony
    Commented Mar 20, 2021 at 12:15
  • 1
    @tony In the third and fourth conjugations the gerund and gerundive can use -und- instead of -end-, and this seems to be more common in older texts. You can replace feriundo and faciundis with feriendo and faciendis but you don't have to. // Those tresviri were responsible for minting coins.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Mar 20, 2021 at 12:25
  • Hello, me again. C.M. Weimer has deleted his answer so he will not entertain questions? He used "ad pugnandum" (gerund) = "for the purpose of fighting". If "ad" is used like this then it does not matter if the species is a gerund or a gerundive--they are indistinguishable e.g. "duas legiones in proelium misit ad hostes superandos." (gerundive); it could be either. Is this correct?
    – tony
    Commented Mar 20, 2021 at 12:41
  • 1
    @tony Indeed, ad with either gerund or gerundive is one way to express purpose. But in your example superandos is a gerundive, not a gerund. The gerund would be superandum and also possible, but the gerundive is often preferred in cases like this.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Mar 20, 2021 at 12:45
  • For some (mysterious?) reason, the prepositional ad + gerund + object construction ad superandum hostes was not particularly accepted compared to the gerundive one ad hostes superandos. Cf . "the prohibition of using objects with gerunds is, for example, very strong in in + ablative and ad + accusative contexts across authors of different periods" (excerpted from my answer: latin.stackexchange.com/questions/1144/… ).
    – Mitomino
    Commented Mar 20, 2021 at 20:55

Your example "things to be used for fighting" on the other hand I think would be something like utilia ad pugnandum, perhaps better apta ad pugnandum, or even res ad pugnandum necessariae.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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