I'd like some clarification on the possible translations of "to see you." I'm teaching Jenney's Second-Year Latin (1990, Prentice-Hall edition).

In the introduction to Lesson 12 (page 138), the book gives a very brief and not-so-thorough list of nine Ut-Clause uses (I can write about those if needed). The following exercise that I will ask about seems to me as only marginally connected to the ut-clauses, but feel free to explain to me why I'm wrong. My main question relates to the Lesson's exercise E (page 144), which asks the reader to match the any possible English versions (List A) of "to see you" to a list of Latin options (List B) on the right. The lists are:

List A: (followed by Jenney's correct answers from List B)

  1. He has come to see you. (defgh)
  2. He came to see you. (defgi)
  3. He wants to see you. (a)
  4. He wants her to see you. (a)
  5. He will ask her to see you. (h)
  6. He ordered her to see you. (a, i)
  7. He says it is good to see you. (a)
  8. He hopes to see you. (c)
  9. He promised to see you. (c)
  10. He is afraid to see you. (a)
  11. He is sorry to see you. (a)

List B:

a. tē vidēre
b. sē tē vidēre
c. sē tē vīsūrum
d. tē vīsum
e. ad tē videndum
f. tuī videndī gratiā
g. tuī videndī causā
h. ut tē videat
i. ut tē vidēret

My attempt at explaining the answers to my students, using elimination:

  1. a is not an option: I don't know why not. Are infinitive phrases never used in Latin to express purpose? Only subjunctive adverbial clauses of purpose? This is only evident when the English conversational translation "He has come to see you" is contrasted with a more literal "He has come so that he may see you."
    b & c are not an option: They ask for a reflexive, which is not in the English sentence.
    d is an option: It's a supine, used in the accusative with a verb of purpose, often translated into English phrased as an infinitive.
    e is an option: It's a gerund: He has come "for seeing you."
    f is an option: It's a gerund with objective genitive: He has come "for the sake of seeing you."
    g is an option: It's a gerundive with genitive of possession: He has come "for the reason of seeing you."
    h is an option: This is the literal translation that makes letter "a" incorrect.
    i is not an option: Why? Is it because the subjunctive imperfect cannot be used with "He has come" as opposed to "He came"? I think that German and Koine Greek make a tense distinction between "he came" (preterite/aorist) and "he has come" (perfect/perfect), but I didn't think that Latin did. (Side note: does German have an imperfect tense or is that included in the simple past?)

  2. abcdefghi follow the same descriptions as # 1, except the tense change between "h" and "i" is somehow related to the difference between the English "he came" and "he has come."

  3. Only "a" acts like the infinitive phrase that List A #3 demands.

  4. Only "a" acts like the infinitive phrase that List A #4 demands, plus that "her" (eam) would be added as a subjective accusative.

  5. This is the Latin translation of an indirect command, which follow a verb of commanding, asking, or advising. That means we only have "h" or "i" left, and since the verb is future tense, the imperfect subjunctive in "i" cannot apply.

  6. This is the Latin translation of an indicative command (as seen above in #5), but since verb is perfect tense, the imperfect subjunctive in "h" cannot apply. I'm not sure I understand why "a" applies to this one, but not the previous. I speculate that #6 needs an infinitive phrase to complete its verb's meaning (I think that's a property of iubeō, iubēre, iussī, iussum?), but #5 does not? Even if #5 doesn't require an infinitive phrase, why can't it?

  7. I'm not sure why this can only be "a", but I'm assuming it has to do with the use of the impersonal in the sentence.

  8. Although the given conversational English doesn't display it, the literal version of this English would say "He hopes himself to see you." That's a simple infinitive phrase. Couldn't this be "h" or "i" and be translated into a literal English: "He hopes that he may see you."

  9. Same as #8? Maybe if I fully understood #8, I could explain why it's distinct from #9. I would say something about the tense of the main verb in contrast with the future infinitive.

  10. All that's needed could be just the infinitive phrase: "He fears to see you." Why couldn't this work with "h" and "i" and be a ut final clause after a verb of fearing?

  11. Same as #10? I don't see how it could be, since it's the main verb is not of fearing.

I would hope that Jenney's answer key would better clarify why each English "to see you" fits with each Latin phrase. Unfortunately, it does not. So instead I actually will get to learn and use my brain! Hooray! That's why I'm here. One student wanted to know if letter a would work in every scenario, but the answer key was listing only the best option.

Thus, my two major questions:
1. Did I explain each answer correctly? What did I say incorrectly?
2. May the present active infinitive (tē vidēre) be translated for each instance of the English "to see you," but other scenarios are more appropriate? OR are there certain scenarios where tē vidēre is completely inappropriate?

1 Answer 1


Here are some comments:

  • 1a: The infinitive cannot express purpose in Latin like it can in English. See this earlier question, for example.
  • 1h&i: The rules of consecutio temporum require that a conjunctive subordinate to present or future verb is present or perfect, and one subordinate to any of the past tenses is imperfect or pluperfect. Because "he has come" is a past thing, h is incorrect and i correct. In ut clauses both present and imperfect conjunctive express present (or future) action; the only temporal difference is in the verb they are subordinate to.
  • 2: When translating to Latin, I would make no distinction between 1 and 2. If I wanted to express the difference, I would do it through choices of verbs. The list of possibilities for 1 and 2 are identical.
  • 3&4: Correct.
  • 5: Your answer is correct, but keep in mind that the conjunctive is present because the governing verb is future, not because the subordinate clause happens later or at the same time as the main clause.
  • 5&6: Wishes require (always?) an ut clause, but some orders take an accusativus cum infinitivo structure. This is why 6 has an a but 5 doesn't.
  • 7: Here "to see you" is the subject. Perhaps it helps to consider the sentence "to see you is good". For this kind of construction Latin uses the infinitive. If a verb is forced to function like a noun, the infinitive is used for nominative and accusative (without prepositions).
  • 8h: This is indeed possible, but 8i is not.
  • 8&9: Tenses of infinitives work differently than tenses of subordinate clauses. If the hoped action takes place later than hoping, then the infinitive is a future one, no matter when you hope.
  • 10: I'm not sure if any of the letters fit. I would phrase that in Latin as timet, ne te videat. If the desire is not to see, the clause should have a ne instead of an ut. Perhaps te videre eum terret could work, but that sounds a bit unnatural.
  • 11: I would translate this as eum paenitet te videre. Verbs of feeling behave a bit weirdly.

I can elaborate if you can tell what still confuses you.

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