How to nominalize adjectives in Latin? In English, adjectives can be nominalized with a slight different in meaning: "the sick man", "the sick". In German, it's possible to nominalize the present participle: "die neue Kollegin", "die Neue".

But how is it with Latin? And can the participles (like portans, portatus...) be nominalized (like the German: "tragend" > "der Tragende")?

1 Answer 1


Latin doesn't need any changes at all. Since there are no definite articles, there's no need for anything but using the adjective substantively. The only requirement is following normal grammar rules on case endings, i.e. decline it according to gender and number.

So, you could easily use either vir bonus or just bonus for "the good man / the good one (masc.)," and the same is true for participles. One of the most memorably lines from Livy is vae victis, "woe to the conquered" or "woe the conquered ones." Even something like omnia ("everything", literally "all things") is technically an adjective used as noun.

For further reading, I suggest looking at Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar §288.

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    It's also worth mentioning that the neuter can be used to express abstract concepts: bona mea = "my goods" or quid novi (< novum) = "what's new?"
    – brianpck
    Commented May 2, 2017 at 17:10

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