Ut clauses of result are excellent for saying "so ___ that". But what if I wanted to reverse this and say "not ___ enough to"?

For example, tam strenue laborābam ut epistolās centum scripserim means "I worked so hard that I got one hundred letters written". What if I wanted to contrast myself with Pseudolus, who didn't work hard enough to get one hundred letters written?

(Note that I'm not looking for a simple ut…non, which to my understanding would be something like "I worked so hard that I didn't get one hundred letters written". I want to negate the working hard, rather than just the writing.)


Three options spring to mind; no doubt there are others.

  1. Replace strenue with some adverb that's opposite in meaning, such as pigre, and then negate the result clause:

    tam pigre laborabam ut centum epistulas non scripserim.

    I worked with so little energy that I didn't manage to write 100 letters.'

    (Note that in result clauses, the perfect subjunctive is regularly used even in so-called 'secondary sequence.' See Allen & Greenough §485.c, especially Note 2: 'There is a special fondness for the Perfect Subjunctive to represent a Perfect Indicative.' This is why I've used scripserim instead of keeping your scribarem – which should actually be scriberem.)

  2. Replace tam in your original main clause with adeo non, and then negate the result clause too:

    adeo non strenue laborabam ut centum epistolas non scripserim.

    To such a degree did I not work hard that I didn't manage to write 100 letters.'

  3. Use tantum abest with two result clauses, 'It is so far from being the case that x occurs, that y occurs.' This is a somewhat rare construction that I'm always very happy to run across in my reading (as I believe I did not so long ago in one of Pliny's letters).

    As explained in Allen & Greenough §571.b, one of the two result clauses (= x in the preceding translation) 'is substantive, the subject of abest; the other [= y] is adverbial, correlative with tantum.' In this case, the latter result clause is negated.

    In other words, you could say:

    tantum afuit ut strenue laborarem ut centum epistulas non scripserim.

    So far was I from working hard, that I didn't manage to write 100 letters.

| improve this answer | |
  • ne is not an option, right? – Rafael Aug 14 '18 at 13:23
  • 1
    @Rafael, Ne is not an option, unless one were to reformulate the result clause so that it says something like '...that I managed to write not even 30 letters'; in that case, ne would be used, but only as part of a ne...quidem: ut ne triginta quidem epistulas scripserim. – cnread Aug 14 '18 at 16:57
  • I kind of expected/needed an answer in that line, thanks – Rafael Aug 14 '18 at 16:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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