Many students who want to practice spoken Latin come up with questions starting with "How + adjective": how large? how big? how important?. Is there a short way to ask those questions or is paraphrasing needed?


The simplest way is to modify the adjective with quam, "to what degree?". Formally, this is an interrogative adverb, that asks a question about how the adjective should be modified.

I couldn't find a direct question in my quick search (annoyingly, the PHI corpus doesn't let me search for question marks) but here's an indirect one from Cicero's defense of Quintus Roscius Amerinus:

Quam sīs audāx omnēs intellegere potuērunt.
Everyone could tell how brave you were.

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    But for "how big/large," would we not usually use quantus? Would it be right to say "Quanta est domus tua?" or "Quantus exercitus Caesaris erat?" (Serious question. I cannot recall seeing quantus in simple est statements or questions, but I also couldn't say what's wrong with it or how else to phrase it, aside from quam magnus.) Sep 23 at 19:00
  • @SebastianKoppehel I generally think of quantus as asking about quantity, not quality, so I would say quam magnus, but I'll have to do a corpus search later to check this. (Or perhaps ask another question.)
    – Draconis
    Sep 23 at 19:04
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    @SebastianKoppehel & Draconis: This line from Plautus' Rudens might be of interest: "Labr. Quam magnum vero? Daem. Quantum lenoni sat est." Compare that to Cicero's "Immo vero quantus exercitus!"
    – cmw
    Sep 24 at 17:24
  • @Draconis: In "quam sis audax" why "sis" and not "es"/ "eras"? Doesn't the present subjunctive imply some doubt--how brave you may be?
    – tony
    Sep 28 at 8:35
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    @tony Indirect question
    – Draconis
    Sep 28 at 16:53

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