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  5. "I would like red wine."

"I would like red wine."

Translation:Vinum rubrum velim.

August 28, 2019



Again, classical Latin does not use the subjunctive in this way. Volo should be the correct verb here. Independent uses of the subjunctive do not show politeness.


Volo vinum rubrum. Now is accepted.


It's the potential subjunctive, which Allen and Greenough describe as being used in like cases for "cautious or modest assertions".

Edit: I am wrong. The Latin is wrong. MagistraKate and SusanneNussbaum are right.


Do the cautious or modest assertions involve other verbal structures ("I would like you to do this "), or do they involve food items as direct objects ("I would like red wine ") ?


Well, this is exactly what started to play on my mind as I read through some other discussions associated with this series of exercises. I should have returned here and edited my comment to express my doubts on the matter.

Finding the grammars a little brief on this subject, I just looked through Lewis and Short's entry for "volo". It goes through its "potential" uses in a very systematic fashion (in section II B), divided up according to what structure depends on it, and all these structures are, as you suggest, verbal. It also says that it is very rarely encountered in the other persons.

In my mind, the matter is settled, and these exercises are simply wrong, being founded on the same misunderstanding that I had myself, and that I think is unfortunately quite common among Latinists, if we deserve the name.

I'm very grateful to you and MagistraKate for disabusing me of this false notion that I have probably been passing on to my students.


To me, it's a really interesting question: where & when did the "politeness" factors, like "I would like" vs. "I want," and the use of (plural) "you" for (singular) "you" to show deference, develop? We see them in the Romance languages, but, so far as I'm aware, in classical Latin, they didn't ask for bread politely (with a velim instead of a volo), and they didn't call the Emperor vos , but rather tu , like the 'singular' fellow he was.


I wonder if this is perhaps a feature of Medieval Latin that we're being introduced to.


Yes and no. In my manuscripts mostly the subjunctive remains the old way, but got very popular also to replace the infinitive in AcI constructions.

I was rather wondering whether "vellem" could be fine for the conjunctive is famous for polite statements (cf. German, french conditionnel etc). But I guess, in classical Latin the Potentialis is too strong for that usage and "volo" still is the best option.


In classical Latin, at least, the imperfect subjunctive (like vellem ) was used to express a "wish that can't be realized in present time," in other words, "(if only) I would want ..." It doesn't make too much sense with this verb, but there's a good example in Catullus (Poem 2): tēcum lūdere sicut ipsa possem . "If only I could play with you, just as she [does]." (possem is the imperfect subjunctive of possum, posse, potuī , "to be able")


Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be an option to report this: only "The English sentence is unnatural or has an error", which is not appropriate.


Vinum rubrum velim = Velim vinum rubrum


Why is "Velisne velum rubrum," wrong?...Is it becuae of the adjective?


Velisne? means "Do you want?" Verb forms that end in -s have "you, singular" (represented by the subject pronoun tu ) as their subject.

(the -ne element is a marker added to the first word in the sentence, commonly the verb, to indicate "I'm asking a question." So, the verb form you're using here is velis .)

The sentence is supposed to mean "I want," a 1st-person verb (and subject), so you need to use either "volo" (with the ending -o) or "velim" (with the ending -m).

Some 1st-person-singular verbs use -o for their ending (like present indicatives such as venio, "I come" and eo "I go"), but some use -m (like sum, "I am," possum, "I am able", and velim, "I would like").


I'm no expert but it seems a little wierd that the 1st person verb isn't something like 'velio'. What's up with that 'm' at the end?


There are three different endings corresponding to 'I': '-ō', '-m', and '-ī'. Which is used depends upon the tense and the 'mood' of the verb: 'dīcō', 'I say'; 'dīcam', 'I may say'; 'dīxī', 'I said'.

In the present tense, 'I want' is simply 'volō', as is typical in Latin. 'Velim' is a present subjunctive form, and these all end with an '-m' in the first person singular.

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