Latin for Duolingo: Present Tense Verbs, Lesson 1
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(Skip to the sentences if you hate grammar or just want to try some real Latin!) This week we will begin more systematic study of the Latin system for verb conjugations. So far we have learned just enough verbs to make some interesting sentences. You have probably picked up the fact that verbs change their endings to reflect the person or persons doing the action. These endings are called the “personal endings” because they communicate person (and number too). In this way a subject pronoun can be included in the verb itself, without having to use the extra word – e.g., Ego amo./ Amo. Both mean “I love,” whether the 1st person pronoun “ego” is used or not. In practice Latin tends not to use a separate subject pronoun unless there is a need for emphasis or possible confusion. So if the sentence contains no separately expressed subject noun or pronoun, look at the verb and use the included subject pronoun indicated by the verb ending. For the present tense, the personal endings and their pronouns are:
o/m – “I” (1st person singular) (n.b. “o” is the usual ending, “m” is used in some irregular verbs and the subjunctive mood)
s – “you” (2nd person singular)
t – “he/she/it” (3rd person singular)
mus – “we” (1st person plural)
tis – “you (all)” (2nd person plural)
nt – “they” (3rd person plural)
There are 4 conjugations of verbs in Latin. A conjugation is a classification or family grouping of verbs with similar forms, much as Latin nouns are grouped into declensions. Memorize the basic rules that apply to all verbs, then the ones that are specific to that conjugation. Make sure to memorize the conjugation that a verb belongs to when you learn that vocabulary word, and apply the rules consistently. It sounds simple, but verbs can be very complex. I personally prefer to learn similar words together, so this lesson will focus only on the 1st conjugation verbs, and we’ll get used to them before adding the other conjugations with their slightly different patterns. We already have used a few 1st conjugation verbs in previous lessons:
ambulo, 1 = walk
amo, 1 = love, like, am fond of
ceno, 1 = dine, eat dinner
do, dare, dedi, datus = give
gusto, 1 = taste, enjoy
habito, 1 = live, inhabit
laboro, 1 = work, labor
manduco, 1 = chew, eat, devour
navigo, 1 = sail
pugno, 1 (intr.) = fight
The 1st conjugation is characterized by the letter
A used as a combining vowel in most forms. There are four “principal parts” for a verb, and the a is present in the 2nd principal part, known as the infinitive. The majority of 1st conjugation verbs form their 4 principal parts like amo: amo, amare, amavi, amatus. The dictionary convention is to list such a typical 1st conjugation verb as “amo, 1” but if the principal parts do NOT follow the pattern “o, are, avi, atus” the dictionary will write them out like “do, dare, dedi, datus, 1.” (For now, we only need to be concerned with the 1st and 2nd principal parts. Any verb with a 2nd p.p. ending in –are is a 1st conjugation verb). Here’s how the verb “amo” would look when combined with the personal endings we reviewed above:
amo = I love
amas = you love
amat = he, she, it loves
amamus = we love
amatis = you (pl.) love
amant = they love
You’ll notice that the 1st person singular does not have the characteristic A; the O ending is dominant and takes over. But otherwise the 1st conjugation is quite straightforward. If you know any of the Romance languages descended from Latin you will most likely have no problem mastering the endings, and the vocabulary. In addition to the verbs that we’ve already used at least a few times in previous lessons, let’s add the following new 1st conjugation verbs:
clamo, 1 = shout, cry, proclaim
cogito, 1 = think, consider
desidero, 1 = want, desire, long for
laudo, 1 = praise
paro, 1 = prepare (for)
porto, 1 = carry
rogo, 1 = ask, request
sto, stare, steti, status, 1 = stand
voco, 1 = call
De linguā Latinā cogito. = I think about the Latin language.
Mater cenam parat. = Mother is preparing dinner.
Cibum in triclinium portas. = You carry the food into the dining room.
Frater tuus auxilium in culinā rogat. = Your brother asks for help in the kitchen.
Liberos ad mensam vocatis. = You (all) call the children to the table.
Omnes liberi caseum desiderant. = All the children want cheese.
Panem bonum laudamus. = We praise the good bread.
Gaius in viā difficili ambulat. = Gaius walks on a difficult road.
Lucia et Marcus cum agricolis in agris laborant. = Lucia and Marcus work with the farmers in the fields.
Paula nautam miserum amat. = Paula loves the poor sailor.
Ubi statis? = Where are you (all) standing?
Barbari fortes cum militibus Romanis pugnant. = The brave barbarians fight with the Roman soldiers.
Sto et clamo. = I stand and shout.
Discipuli in foro stant. = The students stand in the town square.
Viri dulciola equis non dant. = The men do not give candies to the horses.
Servus carnem leoni portat. = The slave carries meat to the lion.
Crustula puellis do. = I give cookies to the girls/ I give the girls cookies.
Nomen feminae rogas. = You ask the woman’s name.
Canem vocant. = They call the dog.
Magistra de libris et liberis cogitat. = The teacher thinks about books and children.
Amicum meum (per telephonum) voco. = I call my friend (on the phone).
Vinum omnibus nautis das. = You give wine to all the sailors.
Omne vinum nautis das. = You give all the wine to the sailors.
Cafeam rogamus. = We ask for coffee.
Cogito, ergo sum. = I think, therefore I am.
Next week, we’ll look at 2nd conjugation verbs and add them to the mix. Vobis gratias ago et habeatis bonam fortunam!
Hello there... I'm not learning Latin, just randomly clicked this out of curiousity, haha. But wow, I'm amazed how similar these conjugations are to Spanish! Amo, amas.... even the other ones aren't too far off.
That sentence order though... Oh my goodness! I think I would be able to get a handle on those simple sentences you have up there..... but I don't want to imagine the more complex sentences O.O
I thought that the word for book was the same as the word for child (both liber, second declension), but in light of this sentence -- "Magistra de libris et liberis cogitat" -- clearly I'm wrong. Why though? Why not both libris/liberis?
Also is there a good online dictionary you can recommend? English native speaker, misses WordReference.