Reading LLPSI, I made a list of the proper nouns with macrons in the first lesson of the first chapter:


  • Rōma
  • Eurōpa
  • Germānia
  • Hispānia
  • Āfrica
  • Nīlus
  • Rhēnus
  • Dānuvius

We encounter with Italia and Eurōpa. But why Europa has a macron but Italia does not? Or why is Dānuvius but not Tiberis? I know some people recommend to just skip macrons for easyness but if I am going to learn Latin, I want to learn it properly since I'm a complete beginner.

  • Tiberis just doesn't have any long vowels in it. No idea why they didn't write Ītalia though, since the long ī seems pretty much universal. (The noun Italus "Italian person" has a short i but other forms like Ītalis, Ītalicus, etc share the long ī.) – Draconis Feb 20 '17 at 2:37
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    Also, if you want to learn with macrons (which I wholeheartedly recommend), prīmum should have a long ī also. – Draconis Feb 20 '17 at 2:40
  • @Draconis Could you expand on that a bit further? And I added that macron on prīmum. – Pablo Ivan Feb 20 '17 at 3:15
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    @PabloIvan You might be interested in this earlier question: How do I use macrons? – Joonas Ilmavirta Feb 20 '17 at 8:41
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    @AlexB. Oh! I had assumed everyone would do that all the time... Many Finns pronounce every single vowel with the correct length, but our native language must help with this distinction. – Joonas Ilmavirta Feb 20 '17 at 21:06

Latin vowels can be short or long, and a macron is a sign that a vowel is long. Rōma has a macron over the O because the O in that word happens to be a long vowel. None of the vowels in Tiberis have a macron because all three vowels happen to be short. There's no particular reason why a given vowel is long or short, other than the history of the specific word: it's just part of the word, and has to be memorized separately for each word. (A word can have more than one macron in it, by the way, since any vowel can be long or short; all your examples have exactly one, but that's just a coincidence.)

  • what about Italia? – Alex B. Feb 22 '17 at 16:39
  • @AlexB., I meant that the OP's examples of words containing macrons all contain exactly one. – TKR Feb 22 '17 at 23:41

Ī agrēe that learning the language with macrons is important. The mēaning often chānges depending on whether the vowel is short or long.

In English wē have short and long vowels as well.

It would benefit a foreigner tō knōw where the long vowels are.

For instance: bōw vs bow

bōw and arrow VS bow down

prīmer vs primer ("primmer")

prīmer, first cōat of pāint VS primer, a beginning lesson.

As you can sēe, vowel length is not always predictable in English. The sāme is the cāse in Latin.

māne = early (Crās māne = early in the morning) manē = wait! (Manē, Marce! = Wait, Marcus! )

  • Hi, and welcome to the site. It is only incidental to your answer, but are you sure about the translation of cras mane? I would have guessed it means “tomorrow morning.” – Sebastian Koppehel May 3 '20 at 11:51
  • The English distinction that's taught in school as "short vowels vs. long vowels" is really one of vowels vs. diphthongs, which is rather different from the Latin situation. (The two bow words, by the way, are something else again -- the difference there is between two diphthongs.) – TKR May 3 '20 at 17:41

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