Does "Dominus providebit" mean "The Lord will provide" or "The Lord provides"?

I once had a bit of an argument with a guy who studied Latin over that. It's an inscription that appears on the rim of some old Swiss coins that I have.

2 Answers 2


There might be more nuance to the matter, but from a purely grammatical point of view it is clear: the form providebit is a future form, not present tense. The corresponding present form would be providet. Therefore "The Lord will provide" is a better translation.

  • 1
    I'm pretty sure this is a reference to Gen 22:8 and the sacrifice of Isaac.
    – brianpck
    Jan 18, 2019 at 5:29
  • 1
    I agree with Joonas, as providebit is the third-person singular future active indicative of prōvideō
    – rafa226
    Oct 2, 2022 at 11:16

The "b" in providebit indicates future tense, while the "i" which follows the "b" is a connecting vowel having no significance other than ease of pronunciation. So the word providebit literally means "He will provide", being the third person singular form of the verb. It is understood to be masculine, following the masculine form of the word Dominus, which is understood to be in the nominative case indicating that it is the subject of the sentence. The meaning is therefore understood as "The Lord will provide".

  • This isn't entirely accurate. The vowel isn't purely a connector, but there is some sort of schwa. Imperfect verbs also have a -b-, but the fuller form is -ba-.
    – cmw
    Mar 1, 2021 at 19:51

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