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I have lately begun learning latin (about two-three months in) and have thus far memorised all the noun and adjective declensions. But the task of committing to memory and understanding sufficiently the verbs seems daunting. Could anyone here recommend chapters of books and suchlike materials which are helpful in understanding and memorising latin verbs. Thanks.

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    I once developed a tool for training on verbs. I personally found it very helpful in getting grip on ppp and indicative perfect stems which ultimately should be known/memorized. For some bad reason I omitted the macrons in the answers so it should be kept in mind.
    – d_e
    Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 7:26
  • @d_e Thanks a lot that will be of much help.
    – Jack
    Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 12:13

3 Answers 3

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I surveyed the paradigms in Morwood's "Latin Grammar" to develop common patterns for verb stems and common morphemic differences between conjugations and their voices by comparing pages throughout the conjugations section.

NB: Morwood does not explicitly give all verb forms.

For quick reference of declined or conjugate forms I visit https://latin.cactus2000.de/index.en.php .

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I made myself flashcards. Each flashcard had 12 finite forms, 3 persons times 2 numbers (singular, plural) times two voices (active, passive). I had six cards (one per tense) for each of the five conjugations, (I counted 3rd conjugation as two conjugations) so 30 cards total. I also made cards for some of the irregular verbs.

I have forgotten many of the details. That was a very long time ago now.

But I kept at it, drawing a few cards from random and running through the litany every weekday on my lunch break. After a few months, I had them memorized.

I only did the indicative forms. I tackled the subjunctives later, without flash cards.

The information I put on the flash cards came from the appendix of my Latin textbook. Most first year Latin textbooks have an appendix with all the forms of the verb paradigms in them. In my case, I used Gavin Betts' Teach Yourself Latin.

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In my opinion there are two kinds of verbs: those that can be compounded and the "simple" verbs that are not compounded.

For example, mitto is complex verb that can be compounded. So, we have amitto, admitto, emitto, dimitto, inmitto, intermitto, permitto, praemitto, promitto, remitto, submitto, supermitto, and transmitto. The way to learn complex verbs is to learn the entire complex at one time. So research each complex verb with all of its variations and put all the meanings together to learn them as a single body of concept. By doing this you are learning a single IDEA, not trying to memorize dozens of disparate English equivalencies. If you get bogged down learning separate English words for every possible situation, you will just never learn it, because there are just thousands and thousands of them.

So, for example, take demitto. This word can mean to fall, but it can also mean to sink like in water, and it can also mean to stoop over, but it can also mean to hurl something like a rock, but it can also mean to fell a tree, or to let down the hair, or to hand down evidence. If you try to memorize all this, there will be no end to it. You have to learn the whole mitto complex as a single concept or idea.

To learn the simple verbs, one approach is to learn them in relation to other verbs, such as antonyms or synonyms. For example, possum and nequeo are antonyms. So, you can double your speed of learning, because you learn both words at the same time. Every time you learn a new simple verb, find its antonym or synonym and record both together in your notes.

I recommend against using flashcards or word lists, except as a skill check. I only use word lists to identify key words that I don't know for some reason, not as a way to learn meanings. The way to learn meanings is to read Latin thoroughly and deeply. A good place to start is Fabulae Faciles. So, let's take an example sentence from that book:

Hic Linus Herculem ōlim obiurgābat, quod nōn studiōsus erat; tum puer īrātus citharam subitō rapuit, et omnibus vīribus caput magistrī īnfēlīcis percussit.

So, when we read this sentence, we learn what obiurgabat, rapuit and percussit mean. We learn these verbs. If you read FF in detail several times until you know all the stories by heart, then you will remember these verbs because you have a context in which to remember them. When you later see for example, this sentence in Suetonius:

Atque inter haec absentem senatum populumque gravissimo obiurgavit edicto...

You will remember what obiurgavit means because you remember what Linus did to Hercules.


About Learning Paradigms (Grammar Tables)

I strongly advise against trying to memorize paradigms (grammar tables). It is much, much more important to learn vocabulary. If some sentence seems like it has some critical grammar that you just absolutely have to know the exact tense or something, then use a site like this that allows for exact form lookup.

You can get by in verb endings by learning just the basic basics, like bi- means future, ba- means imperfect, -isse- is pluperfect etc. Just get the gist of it.

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    Isn't the OP asking about memorizing verb conjugations?
    – brianpck
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 18:18
  • @brianpck Hmm, maybe. I guess it wasn't clear to me from the question. So, he is asking about learning the paradigms, not the vocabulary? Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 18:26
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    @TylerDurden The key is in his sentence: "have thus far memorised all the noun and adjective declensions." He learned the declensions, but verbs are more difficult. Clearly OP is asking about conjugations, the verbal analogue to declensions, and not every verb ever.
    – cmw
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 22:05

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