I have noticed that in charts parsing the Declensions and Conjugations of Latin words, that the words are sometimes parsed with what looks like multiple options. For example, if you take the root "aufĕro" you can parse the Indicative Plural Perfect form of the root to "abstulerāmus", simple enough. However, the Infinitive Future form is parsed as "ablat (ūrūm, –am, –ūm) esse". How does one read the parsing given the multiple dashes in the middle of the word?

2 Answers 2


Those aren't dashes in the middle of the word, they're a typical way to say a word has multiple possible endings. What's atypical is the parentheses, it would be more sensible to write ablaturum, -am, -um. But even that is incomplete.

What you have to understand is that Latin does not really have a future infinitive. Instead it uses the infinitive of sum – which is esse – together with the appropriate form of the future participle of the verb. This, by the way, is called a periphrastic form.

As you perhaps already know, Latin verbs form not just the forms found in the conjugation tables, but also a few other forms, including several that are in effect adjectives: the past, present and future participle and the gerund(ive). The future participle is a first/second declension adjective, meaning it has three different nominative singular endings for masculine, feminine and neuter gender: -us, -a, -um. In the case of aufero, that's ablaturus, ablatura, ablaturum. These are of course just the nominative singular forms, in principle the participle exists in all cases like any other adjective.

Now, which form is appropriate depends on context. Infinitives have subjects, and those subjects are either in the nominative or in the accusative, and they can of course be any number and gender. And the participle has to agree with that subject in all three categories: case, number and gender.

So let's say we want to say “I know the woman will take away the gold”:

Scio mulierem aurum ablaturam esse.

The construction (Accusativus cum infinitivo, or AcI for short) calls for an accusative, the subject is feminine and singular, so the form is ablaturam. If I wanted to say “I know the soldiers will take away the gold,” it would be milites aurum ablaturos etc.

There is also an NcI calling for the nominative. Not sure how common it is in practice, but let's say we had the English sentence “The Romans are said to be about to abduct the Sabine women,” we'd get:

Romani Sabinas ablaturi esse dicuntur.

(Slightly convoluted example, but you get the idea.)

So this is what that table is trying to tell you. The future infinitive has many forms, and your table gives you three, in a slightly compressed form.


Whatever chart you're using expects you to know the forms derive from the future active participle ablātūrus, so you should read them as ablātūrum, ablātūram, ablātūrum since they're just the accusative of the first and second declensions.

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