3

The phrase

dimitte nobis debita nostra

belongs to the famous prayer Our Father in Latin. I can understand that dimitte is in the active imperative singular form and nobis is on dative of "us" as I imagine the verb dimittere is bitransitive. But why is debita nostra in the nominative instead of the accusative as it is the object of dimitte?

Shouldn't it be dimitte nobis debitam nostram?

2
  • 1
    Welcome back...!
    – Rafael
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 16:59
  • 1
    well, thank you Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 17:00

3 Answers 3

11

It's not nominative. It's accusative plural. With neuters, the nominative and the accusative look exactly the same, both ending in -a in the plural.

Also, regarding nobis, it's dative of separation with dimitto. While the bare dative here is uncommon with this verb in Classical texts (with ab or ex more popular), it's sticking close to the Greek ἡμῖν.

3
  • I read the dative as a dativus commodi (dative of advantage) rather than an uncommon substitute for ex or ab. Ex indicates what something is released from, but here the dative indicates for whom the thing is released.
    – brianpck
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 15:03
  • (Though I think you're right it's mostly imitating the Greek: the LSJ entry for ἀφίημι specifically lists a legal sense with the dative.)
    – brianpck
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 15:06
  • @brianpck Oh, yes, advantage makes sense here.
    – cmw
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 15:36
6

It should indeed be accusative instead of nominative as you say, and it is. It is the neuter plural accusative.

As it does not refer to any specific word appearing earlier but rather general things, the neuter plural is the way to go.

6

Débita nostra though seems nominative, is actually accusative... because debita is neuter, and neuters look the same both in nom. and acc.

So, why is debita's ending -a? Because it's a plural, and neuters form the plural in -a.

Debita nostra is the plural of debitum nostrum. So the literal translation would be forgive us our debts [or even, forgive us the things we owe].

1
  • 2
    In fact, one way or another, all neuters have a plural ending in -a 😉 Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 20:19

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.