Why does conjugate differently from other first conjugation verbs in that you find a short a where otherwise you might expect a long ā?



amāre (dare), amārī (darī), amātūrus (datūrus), amāns (dans), amātus (datus), amābit (dabit), amābitur (dabitur), amātō (datō), amābat (dabat), amābātur (dabātur), amāret (daret), amārētur (darētur)

The only other irregularity of this sort I have found so far is stō having statūrus (not stātūrus).

At least according to en.wiktionary.org (where I got those forms), it seems amō sets the pattern for most first conjugation verbs.

I thought there might be an interesting story of derivation about . Thanks.


1 Answer 1


The story, as often, has to do with Proto-Indo-European laryngeals. Both these verbs had a laryngeal as the last consonant of the root: *deh₃-, *steh₂-. All the forms in Latin are based on the zero grade of these roots (i.e. the form without a vowel): *dh₃-, *sth₂-. Now, when a PIE laryngeal found itself between two consonants, in Latin the result was the vowel a: for example, *dh₃-tos > datus. So although these verbs are considered part of the first conjugation, in historical terms the a is not the first-conjugation vowel at all, but the reflex of a PIE laryngeal.

  • 1
    This raises the question how much these verbs were regularized to conform with the first conjugation as well as they do. Based on this background story, I could well believe there having been bigger differences than vowel length in early Latin or Proto-Italian.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 20:51
  • 1
    I'm sure you're right - there has been a major re-adjustment of originally athematic verbs to conform the later Latin conjugational system. The short a in stare is ultimately traceable to a zero-grade *sth₂-. from a PIE stem *steh₂-, but the original athematic conjugation has been largely assimilated to the historical Latin conjugational system.
    – varro
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 0:10

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