Questions tagged [syntax]

Syntax are the rules for how sentences and phrases are constructed in a language, including word order and how words change based on their relations to other words (snl.no/syntaks).

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Stacked/Consecutive Genitives

For example, the way of the cross in Latin is via crucis, but how would one go about saying the beginning of the way of the cross? Would both via and crux be in the genitive, yielding principium viae ...
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Why Does Cicero use the Third-Person Singular Instead of the Plural Form?

Cicero, de Oratore (2.25.108): "...in quibus hoc praecipit ratio et doctrina ut vis eius rei, quam definias sic exprimatur ut neque absit quicquam neque supersit," "...on which ...
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Coordinating positive and negative imperatives

For positive commands, Latin uses the imperative: Da mihi librum "Give me the book." For negative commands, it uses a number of constructions of which noli + inf. is most common: Noli mihi ...
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Can a gerund stand alone?

In response to a question e.g. "How will you maintain order?" (= "quomodo tu disciplinam sustentabis?"), the answer could be, "By ruling." In Latin, an ablative of the ...
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Accusative case marking of subjects in infinitival clauses

The present question is based on a previous discussion with Draconis and on a previous question raised by Joonas. The Accusativus cum Infinitivo (AcI) construction is often regarded in linguistics as ...
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How can I define a new word in Latin?

As Latin is an ancient language, many words denoting new meanings are not available. So, I think it's necessary to define some new words in Latin. For example, principissa (a New Latin word, just ...
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Construction with ecce

According to the usual authorities the particle ecce is construed with the accusative in pre-classical Latin, but with the nominative in classical and post-classical Latin. Thus, Lewis and Short: “(...
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Can -que be used with negation?

If I want to negate two things, can I combine them with -que? For example, if I want to say "I don't have a cat or a dog", can I say non habeo felem canemque? Or should it rather be non ...
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The verb 'utor' in gerundive constructions

I was wondering about the logic of the usage of the verb utor in gerundive constructions. The following relevant quote is from Woodcock's (1959: 164) A New Latin Syntax: "one can say ad hanc rem ...
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Is “Te id dicente id non fit.” good Latin for “You saying so does not make it so.”?

Is "Te id dicente id non fit." good Latin for "You saying so does not make it so."? There are a couple of things I am not sure about it. When the participle is in ablative ("...
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In Vulgate, Matthaeus 4:23, it says “et prædicans Evangelium regni”. Shouldn't it be “regno” (dative) rather than “regni” (genitive)?

In Vulgate, Matthaeus 4:23, it says "et prædicans Evangelium regni". Shouldn't it be "regno" (dative) rather than "regni" (genitive)? He was talking the gospel TO the ...
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Which Case is Governed by Verb Obsto/ Obstare?

Continuing from Q: What is the Role of "Quid" in "ne quid obstet"?, with Livius (9.8.6): "ne quid divini humanive obstet quominus iustum piumque de integro ineatur bellum.&...
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How is “as…as” to be Expressed in Latin?

In expressions e.g. "A change is as good as a rest."; "He was as good as his word."; how is the "as...as" part to be translated? I've found quid sicut bonum ("Word ...
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On the (necessary or typical?) relationship between double accusative and causation

I was wondering if there is a syntactic/semantic generalization that can account for the so-called "double accusative" predicative frame in Latin (verbs with person & thing (docere ...
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Word order in Virgil's Aeneid - why so scrambled?

I can understand why Virgil would like to use standard devices like chiasmus and synchysis to create poetic effect in the Aened. But sometimes the word order is scrambled up so much, I can't work out ...
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iuvare ut + subjunctive

In English, I might ask you to "help me [to] do" some task. Would the most (classically) idiomatic Latin equivalent be an ut clause (e.g., "iuva ut faciam ...")? My only reason for ...
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Can valeo be used transitively?

Looking through the entry in Lewis & Strong, I couldn't find any mention of the accusative being used with valeo, except as the object of certain prepositions. However, the following use of magna ...
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What are the Roles of “Quin” and “Sit” in “fieri non potest quin sit”?

In the question on Sherlockian logic, Batavulus, in his answer gave an alternative translation of the clause "it must be believed"/ "one must believe it", which is: "fieri ...
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Putting the virus in its place!

My schooldays Latin is very rusty! please help with translating 'pneumonia and the virus are losers' Sunt should go at the end? Victus should be plural and accusative? Thank you!
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Seneca's Quaestiones Naturales Book VII [25,4] parsing question

Latinistas! I have trouble parsing a passage from Seneca's Quaestiones Naturales (Natural Questions) Book VII COMETS, [25,4] The first sentence — “Veniet tempus quo ista quae nunc latent in lucem ...
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How do you say “feed on (something)” in Latin

Not the most experienced in Latin, so this may seem redundant to most, but I'm trying to figure out how to say "to feed on (something)". I'm assuming I just change the case of the object ...
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Constituendi autem sunt qui sint in amicitia fines et quasi termini diligendi (Cic. Amic. 56)

I was wondering to what extent the agreement pattern exemplified with the following sentences drawn from Cicero's De Amicitia can be regarded as the most natural one. I'm asking this question since, ...
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Is “gate to heaven” “foris paradisi” or “foris paradiso”?

I noticed that the Croatian for "gate to heaven" is "vrata raja", "raja" being the genitive singular (rather than dative) of "raj" (heaven). I was wondering how ...
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How do you say “Heroes are never forgotten.” in Latin?

Besides, its [of the Latin language] grammar also seems not to allow making statements that you would expect a truly natural language to allow, like "Heroes are never forgotten." The Flat ...
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Number of adjectives in polite plural address

This question concerns using the plural vos instead of the singular tu for polite address of a single person in Latin. This is not a classical feature but arises later. When using this address, are ...
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Does the indefinite pronoun/determiner “quă” only exist as an enclitic?

I recently learned that there is an indefinite determiner and pronoun quă used in the feminine nominative singular and neuter nominative/accusative plural with the sense "any(one)" (...
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Genitive Adjective with no Noun Referent

Praejudicium autem cum dico, non volo intelligi qualecunque praegressum judicium in animo; quasi animus ab omni omnino judicio liber esse debeat: sed judicium quod semel formatum tanti fit, ut eo quis ...
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On the syntax of 'Cogitate quantis laboribus fundatum imperium (…) una nox paene delerit' (Cic. Cat. 4, 19)

Picking up the thread of analyzing beautiful structures involving participles in Cicero's works (e.g. see this link), I'd like to raise a question about the syntax of the following complex sentence. ...
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In Latin, is there an “adjective form of nation name” vs genitive “of nation name” distinction?

In Latin, is there an “adjective form of nation name” vs “of nation name” distinction? In English we can say “Church of Rome” or “Roman Church”, or “Embassy of Germany” or German Embassy”, or “Prime ...
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On the syntax of some datives in a beautiful Ciceronian structure

I was wondering if you would like to share your thoughts on the grammar of the datives in the following texts from Cicero. The second example is a very interesting one provided by Kingshorsey in an ...
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ad obsidionem urbis vs. ad obsidendam urbem

I was wondering to what extent the two Prepositional Phrases (PPs) in the title of the present question can be taken as functionally equivalent. Consider the following text about Caesar's siege of ...
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Latin version of “non ho che un” or “je n'ai qu'un”

At least Italian and French have an idiomatic way to say "I have only one friend": Non ho che un amico. Je n'ai qu'un ami. Finnish has the same thing: "Minulla ei ole kuin yksi ystävä....
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participium coniunctum vs. ablative absolute of transitive deponent verbs

I was wondering why the "active meaning" and the transitivity of deponent perfect participles like cohortatus in (1) are not naturally preserved in the Ablative Absolute in (2). Why is it ...
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Can *esse* be elided with a dative of possession?

The possessive dative construction involves a subject possessee, a dative possessor, and a form of esse: Mihi soror est. Dicit sibi sororem esse. In this construction, is esse ever elided? That is, ...
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Female Names and Heritable *Cognomina*

Suppose I want to speak of the daughter of a man with a heritable cognomen. Let us take Marcus Tullius Cicero as an example. If I want to clarify that the Tullia I am speaking of is his daughter (or ...
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Impersonal Verbs: Are Active Transitives Possible?

Latin utilizes some verbs that pretty much only occur impersonally, like oportet. One can also regularly form impersonal actives from intransitive verbs like placeo and impersonal passives from ...
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Agreement and possessive genitive

What we do in the following example? I need to combine two words in a phrase: 'professional' and 'holiday'. There is no adjective 'professional' in Latin or my searching is bad. So I can use the ...
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“Tu quoque, Brutus, mi fili?” Grammar question

Someone told me these were Caesar's actual last words. Google confirms this. But I can't find an explanation for what looks to me like weird grammar. First of all, shouldn't "Brutus" be &...
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Confusing syntax in two sentences

I seem to be confused by the constructions of these two sentences from a Medieval Latin text: Unde vocum alia suavis est illa, scilicet quae subtilis, spissa, clara et acuta est. and Multiplicem ...
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Subjunctive with adverb “quam”

Passage: “Quam autem civitati carus fuerit, maerore funeris indicatum est.” Cic. Amic. 11 My translation in English: «Moreover, how dear he was to the citizenry was indicated by the grief of his ...
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A Completed Action in the Mind OR Indirect Speech?

There are currently two theories (of which I am aware) to explain the use of the perfect subjunctive, in examples from the Latin Vulgate, included in brianpck's answer to Q: Memento quod <...
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Can a predicate nominative ever be a different gender from the subject?

I want to say "My favorite animal is..." and then give the animal. But "animal" is neuter, so I'll end up with a predicate nominative that doesn't agree in gender with the subject! "Meum dilectum ...
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Active verb with future passive and perfect participle?

How does the active verb "veniunt" work with the word "consideranda"? Almost like a periphrastic? As I have translated below: "Ac initio quidem duo principalia decreta ante omnia consideranda ...
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Scope of negation with absolute constructions

In Latin and Greek, when a negator appears in an absolute construction (ablative absolute, genitive absolute), it is generally taken to negate the predicate within that construction: hostibus ...
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Is it “bene videtur” or “bonum videtur”? Adjective or adverb with verbs/copulae meaning “seem”

With verbs like "seem, appear", one sometimes uses an adverb to express how something appears ("she looked well"), at other times an adjective ("he seemed angry"). How did the Romans do it, ...
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1answer
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Confusion between Direct Speech / Subordinate Clause(s) / Indirect Speech

In the 2011 re-make of "Ben Hur" Pontius Pilate (Hugh Bonneville) advised a colleague that Caesar was not about to return a job to him, to which he is unsuited, which he cannot do. The first ...
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On different expressions of partitivity in Latin

I was wondering whether there is any difference between the following partitive expressions in Latin: ūnus tribūnōrum and ūnus ex tribūnīs 'one of the tribunes' (cf. the so-called 'partitive genitive' ...
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Is an Ablative Absolute construction like “portā clausā” ambiguous in Early Latin?

As a follow-up question of two previous posts (cf. here and here), I was wondering if an Ablative Absolute construction like portā clausā is ambiguous in Early Latin as it is in Classical Latin. For ...
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Analysis of Dative in >>Confessions<<

In Caput VI Liber II Augustine wrote:"Quamvis mihi nondum fideli......" (Although I was not a Christian...) Here he used the dative case (mihi fideli). What's the dative case for? Why is it dative? ...
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Confessiones, sentence analysis

This is a sentence in Caput V, Liber II of Confessiones of Augustine: Cum interea non satageret idem pater qualis crescerem tibi. Here what's the case of qualis? According to the declension table it ...