On my previous question (thus begins the chain) I wrote a comment saying "Illa est bona idea. Fortasse rogem cras." I used the subjunctive because I take "fortasse" to mean "maybe", which to me warrants the potential subjunctive.

Is my conclusion correct? What other adverbs of possibility or probability would warrant the subjunctive? Take the following for example.

  • fortasse
  • forsitan
  • forte
  • fortassis
  • probabiliter (probably, per this suggestion)
  • veri simile est (same source as above)

Happy to hear your thoughts, primarily regarding the comment I wrote, but also regarding the other words in the bullet-list above.

My conjecture, which I will share with you briefly, is that words leaning towards "possibly, perchance, perhaps, maybe" take the subjunctive, but words leaning towards "probably, almost certainly, most likely" lean towards the indicative. I could easily be wrong.

  • 1
    Good question! I'd note that while fortasse/fortassis tends to take the indicative, forsitan/forsan (probably a contraction of fors sit an) tends to take the subjunctive, so I wouldn't be so sure of your conjecture, though it makes sense at first glance.
    – Anonym
    Commented Nov 24, 2017 at 9:29
  • @Anonym Ah, that's interesting. I would be interested to know why the indicative should be used in "Fortasse rogabo cras". Perhaps it's wrong of me to attribute all clauses of uncertainty to the subjunctive.
    – ktm5124
    Commented Nov 24, 2017 at 9:34
  • You could also have written rogabo and it would have been right, too. But they mean something different. Fortasse does not necessarily make the verb subjunctive.
    – cmw
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 5:50

1 Answer 1


My impression is that there are no hard rules in Latin that force you to pick a specific mood in the presence of some adverbs. There are certainly correlations: many adverbs can be used to indicate probability, and so can the conjunctive mood.

I think the question should not be whether an adverb warrants the conjunctive but whether the situation warrants it. If something is unlikely, counterfactual, or subjective, the conjunctive mood is often a better fit than indicative. In some situations the conjunctive is required clearly (e.g. indirect questions), but sometimes it's more ambiguous.

Of course, if someone has information about certain adverbs going typically together with certain moods, I would be happy to stand corrected. But if so, it should be argued that there is something beyond the correlation I explained in the first paragraph: the conjunctive and the adverbs you mention can be used to express the same tone.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.