In North & Hillard; Ex 191, Q10: the student is required to translate: "He refused to fight until reinforcements came."

An awkward one: the student has to remember to use "negavit" (he denied that); it's indirect speech; here, requiring a reflexive pronoun (coincident subject); "until" = dum (+ subjunctive).

The answer-book confirmed: "negavit se pugnaturum esse dum novae copiae advenirent."

The sequence-of-tenses rule dictates that the future tense ("until reinforcements [will] arrive", is linked to the present subjunctive. Therefore, why use imperf. subj. "advenirent", as opposed to pres. subj. "adveniant"?

1 Answer 1


The are two clauses here:

  1. "He refused to fight"
  2. "until reinforcements came"

Clause 1 is the governing clause, 2 the subordinate one. When translating to Latin, you first translate the governing clause. Depending on the type of refusal, you could pick perfect (he stated once that he will not fight) or imperfect (he consistently refused all requests before conditions changed). Either way, you have one of the past tenses.

The subordinate clause would naturally be in subjunctive (=conjunctive), because it is a thought of the subject of the governing clause — and some conjunctions require subjunctive anyway. Clause 2 happens after 1 and is subordinate to a past tense. The consecutio temporum (sequence of tenses) rule states that in this case the subjunctive must be imperfect or periphrastic imperfect. (I think periphrasis is not necessary, but I'm not sure.) Therefore venirent is a good choice.

The point is that 1 governs 2. Therefore the tense of 1 is free from any external influences but the tense of 2 depends on that of 2. It seems that you were thinking in the opposite direction.

  • llimavirta: had another look at the consecutio temporum: perfect tense without has/ had (negavit) links to the imperf. subj., usually in ut/ ne clauses. I should've remembered that in the first place. Thank you for answering.
    – tony
    Jul 14, 2018 at 10:28
  • @tony I'm glad to be able to help. Please remember to vote up the questions and answers you like and accept an answer when a question of yours is settled. That feedback is crucial for the site to work well!
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jul 14, 2018 at 11:26

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