"Do you come from the city?"
Translation:Venitis ab urbe?
Why is venitis ab urbe correct? I thought, we always need -ne in yes/no questions. Shouldn't "Venitis ab urbe" mean "You come from the city", while "Venitisne ab urbe" means "Do you come from the city"? So, I guess, it's possible to omit the -ne when you either pronounce the sentence like a question or write it with a question mark, isn't it?
While I don't disagree with you, earlier in this course Duolingo gave me a question with two answers to choose from: "Velis" and "Velisne."
"Velisne" was the correct answer, making me think that leaving off "-ne" is automatically incorrect.
But apparently that's not really the case.
It is not a definite rule that a yes-no question begins with the verb, although that is usual. So far as I know it is also possible to say, "Ab urbene venitis?", which one might translate as, "Is it from the city that you come?", or, "Vosne ab urbe venitis?" (Is it you who come from the city?).
All these questions about the necessity of the -ne suffix (or lack thereof) make me wonder about its presence in the 'Classical' period, specifically.
Is there evidence that Latin speakers/the Romans used intonation in speech to express questions when they wouldn't use the suffix? How else could they express questions (besides "question words" or interrogative pronouns and the like)?
In the case of written language, they didn't even have the modern question mark "?"...
Even the Greek question mark ; didn't appear until the 8th century (according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Question_mark#Greek_question_mark which gives Thompson, "An Introduction to Greek and Latin Palaiography" as reference)