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Latin/Lesson 8-Imperfect and Future

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Warning: Beyond the imperfect, this page is not entirely clear. Do not use it beyond the basic imperfect if you are a first time Latin student. Specific aspects confused me until I got up in the morning. Of course, I never knew them very well anyway.

Intro: 12
Chapter 1 123456
Chapter 2 12345678
Chapter 3 12345678
Chapter 4 12345678910
Chapter 5 123456789

Imperfect and Future constructs

See discussion for my thoughts on this.

I have substansially corrected this page. I apologize for my prior errors.

Smkatz 14:14, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I don't believe that it's 3rd conjugation that receives the "ie," but rather only 3rd-io. So, in your example, "vinciebam" ought to be, "vincebam," but "accipiō" will be "accipiebam."

Imperfect Active IndicativeEdit

The imperfect is a construct like:
I was seeing.
In Latin it would look like this:

English has a similar construct called progressive past. Actions seem incomplete, and so the imperfect label. For example, "I was running," "We were sailing," "They were calling." Note that 'to be' is always there. Latin, however, would sometimes use imperfect like simple past; accordingly, "We were sailing" could be translated as "We sailed." Other translations of imperfect can be used to/kept such as "We used to sail/We kept sailing."

Regardless of language, the concept of an imperfect is important. Imperfect is called imperfect for a reason - in Latin, the verb "perficere" means to finish/complete, which is what perfect is from. Thus, imperfect, in the grammatical sense, means not finished - that the action could be or could not be completed. Perfect instead means it has been finished - I saw. You have already seen, and it is now completed. I was seeing implies that the action is not yet completed.

The perfect tense, which we will learn later, is a more immediate reference to the past. The name, imperfect, helps you remember its use: in situations where you can't say when an event started or ended or happened, you must use the imperfect.

In situations where you can know when an event started or ended or happened, use the perfect.

You conjugate the imperfect tense this way: verb + ba + personal ending

The endings for imperfect are:

1. -bam
2. -bas
3. -bat
1. -bamus
2. -batis
3. -bant

Note that the only thing we add are ba + the personal endings (the same as in the present tense) to the infinitive stem. This gives us the imperfect conjugation.

Note that in third and fourth conjugations, you will have to form it differenntly. There is *no* rule to explain this, it just is, although there are memorization techniques that can help.

venire is 4th conjugation and is formed like: veniebam veniebas veniebat veniebamus veniebatis veniebant

For third conjugation, an example used in some textbooks/study guides is: capere (to capture or seize)

capiebam capiebas capiebat capiebamus capiebatis capiebant

Note that it is easiest to think of what the endings -ere and ire lack. The imperfect -ba + the personal ending, which we can call the imperfect conjugation, must be prefixed by ie.

A few examples:

amabam - I was loving (A-conjugation--1st)
monebatis - You were warning [object/personage] (of something negative) (Pl.) (2nd Conjugation)
'vinciebamus - We were defeating (long I-conjugation--3rd conjugation)
capiebant - They were catching (short I-conjugation--3rd conjugation)
pellebat - She/he/it was propelling (drive something (not a vehicle), propel something) (consonantic conjugation)

(Wiki-reading tips: See discussion. Some of the above may be unclear, however the clarifying '--' and '/' indicate verification. We may not know what the original author intended, but we know what conjugations the examples are.)

Future I, ActiveEdit

Future active is a tense which, unsurprisingly, refers to something which has not yet happened. The endings are fairly basic, and follow fairly regular rules - however, the future endings used in 1st and 2nd conjugation differ from the endings of 3rd, 3rd-io (not a typo!), and 4th.

For example - "amo, amare" (1st conjugation) would be

Ama bo - I will love
* Ama bis - You will love
Ama bit - He/She/It will love
Ama bimus - We will love
Ama bitis - Y'all will love
Ama bunt - They will love

  • 1st person singular and 3rd person plural use bo and bunt, not bi.

Note the B and the BIs - the distinguishing feature of future tense in Latin.

With "venio, venire" (4th conjugation--io), however, the endings are different. In future, this is what they look like:

Veni am - I will come
Veni es - You will come
Veni et - He/She/It will come
Veni emus - We will come
Veni etis - Y'all will come
Veni ent - They will come

[deleted paragraphs go here. deleted to maintain rigorous accuracy, which we will go back to striving for.)

To clarify: venire, venio.. we know it is 4th conjugation verb and if we look at its first person singular conjugation, we see that it is an io verb, because the conjugation of the first person singular is "venio". (an io category exists within 3rd and fourth conjugations and is a more general concept which we will briefly introduce here by using venire, venio as an example).

Let's first identify what we know.

We know it is 4th conjugation -io because it ends in ire, which tells us that it is 4th conjugation, and io because its first person singular ends in io (venio). Because it is io, we leave the i in. So, when we are asked (as all textbooks should phrase these new questions):

1. What are the steps to form the future 2nd person conjugation?

We say:

1. It is better to know more than you need: check the infinitive nominative singular, we now know that it is 4th conjugation io. 2. We now know that we can form the stem: the stem is veni and can then add a personal ending--leaving in the i. We leave in the i because it is io. Because it looks weird, we never leave the i in the future perfect.

What is the form for venire, in the future tense, in the 2nd person?

The answer is venies.

Future conjugationEdit

Example: I will love:

The table at the end of this page tries to sumamrize the future tense, with both sets of personal endings. As the warning notes, this summary may confuse some.

As an aid to your understanding, this table only applies to the future tense. Do not assume the table is displaying a pattern that is somehow applicable to all of Latin.

(Wiki-reading-tip: This is why they are in the future section, and were not discussed before.)

The A- and the E- conjugation are (relatively) straight-forward. The others are more advanced, and as the warning notes, could confuse a first-time student. Commercial textbooks probably explain it better at this point, although laying their explanation in a table like the one below is well-advised. Leave items marked with a ? in until issues are resolved.

Take a look at the following table:

A E long I (vincere/3rd conj.) short I Consonantic
ama-bo mone-bo vinci-am capi-am pell-am
ama-bis mone-bis vinci-es capi-es pell-es
ama-bit mone-bit vinci-et capi-et pell-et
ama-bimus mone-bimus vinci-emus capi-emus pell-emus
ama-bitis mone-bitis vinci-etis capi-etis pell-etis
ama-bunt mone-bunt vinci-ent capi-ent pell-ent

The vocabulary mostly consists of verbs, and can easily be looked up in a dictionary. We will give a limited translation below, and the rest, for those who are particularly adept at language learning, can be learned through imersion.

capere (3rd conjugation--short ere): to seize, metaphorically or literally [see dictionary for full explanation]

amare (first conjugation -are): to love

EXERCISE: Can you be your own editor?

monere (what conjugation? 2nd Conjugation Does it change based on the macron over the first vowel on the ending? Yes long ere = 2nd short =3rd[long ere vs. short ere?]

It means to warn like in admonish (an English word that means to scold lightly.)