In chapter 4 LLPSI it says "sacculum suum in mensa ponit". Ponit means put or sets, so indicates a movement. As far as I know in in Latin in the meaning of into or onto (as is the case here) takes the accusative, so in mensam (Like it would be the case in German). However, the book uses ablative, indicating no movement. Very confusing.


2 Answers 2


You are entirely correct that in with the accusative tends to indicate motion, while in with the ablative tends to indicate position.

But placing (pōnō) isn't considered a verb of motion: the Latin verb is more like "causes its location to be", and thus there's no real motion involved. (Its English derivative is "to position", from pōsitiō, from pōsitus.) Pōnō is all about the end result. And the end result is that the bag is resting on the table.

Sacculum suum in mēnsā pōnit.
He causes his bag to be resting on the table.
(Or:) He sets his bag on the table.

If you want to indicate motion, you could use a verb like ferō "carry" or jaciō "throw":

Sacculum suum in villam fert.
He carries his bag into the villa.
Sacculum suum in piscīnam jacit.
He throws his bag into the fishpond.

  • Congratulations on your re-election to Moderator. In this answer, latin.stackexchange.com/a/19029/1982, Tyler Durden translated, "...si facis in penem quidquid tibi venit..." to, "...and come to do whatever your prick suggests...". What does, "in" + accusative, really mean here? To fit the translation it would have to be "from" or "through"--not among the listed meanings for "in". Any thoughts? (I did ask TD but he didn't reply.)
    – tony
    Oct 24, 2022 at 9:09

The preposition in is one of a number of prepositions in Latin that can take both the accusative case and the ablative case. In the accusative, it can mean into, against, etc. and in the ablative, it can mean either in, at, on, or upon.

The verb pōnō is not a verb of motion; it indicates that something (sacculum suum) comes to be placed, usually on something (in mēnsā).

In the case of your sentence, mēnsa is in the ablative (mēnsā) to indicate that the subject of the sentence is placing something on or upon the table:

Sacculum suum in mēnsā pōnit.

He places his own sack on/upon the table.


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