I'm working my way through Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata, and I've come across something that's tripping me up when I try to write.

Example: Gallia est in Europa (pardon the lack of accents); and Arabia quoque in Asia est.

Why is "est" sometimes in the middle of the sentence, and sometimes at the end? The same goes for "sunt."

  • Welcome to the site, Sermo! I took the liberty of adding a few tags, assuming that you meant Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata. If you meant something else, please edit the question and accept my apologies.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Oct 14, 2018 at 17:53
  • I did mean that! Apologies, I thought I could be shortened, I didn't really think about whether or not similar titles exist.
    – Sermo
    Oct 14, 2018 at 17:54
  • As Lingua Latina just means "the Latin Language", I'm sure it can be misunderstood. I had no specific title in mind; I just wanted to be sure. Misunderstanding things online is all too easy... Anyway, feel free to make any further edits if you feel like it.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Oct 14, 2018 at 17:56
  • Related question with relevant answers: What word order resolves the ambiguity of two nominative nouns in a sentence?
    – Asteroides
    Oct 14, 2018 at 22:17

1 Answer 1


Latin word order is very free, and the predicate — like est or sunt — can go anywhere. Any of these is valid:

  • Gallia est in Europa.
  • Gallia in Europa est.
  • Est Gallia in Europa.
  • Est in Europa Gallia.
  • In Europa Gallia est.
  • In Europa est Gallia.

The most common choice is Gallia in Europa est (and SOV in general), but the rule — if any — is not to stick to any order but to have variations across any text. An unusual word order can also be used for emphasis. I would say that the largest emphasis in a Latin sentence is on the first word and the second largest one on the last word.

  • 1
    That's unbelievably nice to hear. I was wondering why the author didn't try to make it clearer why he had chosen to move the word order. I was fearing that it would be a complicated, heavily contextual rule. Appreciate the answer and peace of mind!
    – Sermo
    Oct 14, 2018 at 18:01
  • @Sermo I'm glad I could bring you some peace of mind! If you have any more questions about that book or Latin in general, I would much like to see them on this site.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Oct 14, 2018 at 18:02

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