In North & Hillard, Ex. 20, Q. 2, the student is invited to translate this sentence into Latin:

Those who wish to command ought to learn to obey.

I gave this translation: qui imperare volunt discere parere debent.

The answer book says this is correct except that the word ei should be included.

I know that imperare and parere[2] take the dative case; but I thought that, here, both verbs are intransitive? Does the answer given mean to command or to obey "him"?

Is the inclusion of ei mandatory; would the sentence be correct without it?

  • 2
    Ei here is nom. pl. (translating 'those' which is an emphatic 'they') rather than the dative, I would think.
    – Hugh
    Sep 15, 2017 at 10:03
  • 3
    As Hugh notes, ei is nom.pl. Although I wouldn't say it's strictly mandatory here, I personally would put it in just to break up that string of 5 consecutive verb forms: qui imperare volunt, ei parere discere debent.
    – cnread
    Sep 15, 2017 at 16:55
  • 1
    (the later form of ) is indeed completely superfluous there. Mar 18, 2019 at 22:11

1 Answer 1


The relative pronoun qui is masculine plural, and you translate it as "those who". As you can see, in English, we have a demonstrative/personal pronoun "those" and a relative pronoun "who". In Latin (and some other languages), the demonstrative pronoun can be left out in certain such cases. You have left it out.

I think that's acceptable, but you could add the Latin pronoun, representing English "those". That pronoun would be ei, which is masculine plural, and nominative, because it is the subject of the main clause (...debent).

Note that this construction has nothing to do with indirect speech.

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