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I have 2 imperative sentences:

Fenestram aperīre


Fenestram aperī

I wonder if the passive form is correct and how could be translated into English or any other language.

Thank you very much!

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1 Answer 1


The active order fenestram aperi is perfectly valid. The passive one fenestram aperire is ungrammatical and it is not clear what it should mean. Therefore there is no point in trying to translate it; translation requires meaning.

The verb aperire is transitive and non-deponent. Passive imperative forms of such verbs are extremely rare and are therefore best avoided when composing in Latin.

The form aperire as an imperative "be opened!" is valid despite being rare, but it is not used with an accusative. To see this, let us first look at indicative sentences:

  1. Tu fenestram aperis.
  2. Fenestra a te aperitur.

These are essentially equivalent in meaning. The subject of 1 is tu and that of 2 is fenestra. When turning the descriptive indicative sentence into an order with an imperative, the order is given to the subject — and that subject should be tu. You would have to give your passive order to the window!

If you are addressing a window instead of a person, these two indicative sentences work alike:

  1. Livia te aperit.
  2. Tu a Livia aperiris.

In 3 the subject is Livia, in 4 it is tu (the window). The subject of an imperative clause should be tu, so an order would have to be based on 4:

[A Livia] aperire!
"Be opened [by Livia]!"

You can of course drop the agent, but I find that it clarifies what is going on. There is no room for an accusative object, just like with (almost) any passive clause.

  • Thank you very much for the good explanation.
    – babelpoint
    Sep 16, 2021 at 20:00
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