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  5. So... this came up in the rep…


So... this came up in the reports

Here I am clearing reports, and I see this come up in a sentence involving 'natus est'

'est is not past tense. this should be "bat". perfect active indictive of esse'


First of all, you're right, est is not past tense. est is present tense. But natus est is actually perfect passive indicative (well technically it's active because the verb is deponent). However -bat is not perfect either, it is the imperfect ending of verbs of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th conjugation. If you want the perfect active indicative of esse, that would be fuit, the imperfect (which I assume is maybe what you meant) would be erat however natus erat is pluperfect and would actually translate to he had been born.

If you have questions about why something is the way it is, please ask us. Post questions in the forums, I love to explain the how and why of Latin grammar.

September 24, 2019



"Post questions in the forums, I love to explain the how and why of Latin grammar"

That is so refreshing. Have a lingot!


"Why is Stephanus not translated to Stephan?"

Because his name is Stephanus, he doesn't like the name Stephan, can't stand to be called that. His older brother used to do it to tease him, it brings up bad memories.


Yes, but for Iuppiter!


"There is a typo. Est is present tense (is). Erat is the imperfect for she was."

Someone still hasn't seen this post.


'I would suggest using "Schola, -ae" for "school", since "Ludus" primarily means a form of game/jest.'

From the OLD: Ludus: A place of instruction or training; (esp.) an elementary school (in full -us litterarum, litterarius) (in full -us gladiatorius) a gladiatorial school.

While the first couple definitions refer to games (including festivals) the Romans used this term to describe what we would think of as primary school. Where young students were managed by magistri and taught the Alphabet, grammar, arithmetic, etc.

Schola: A place or establishment in which a teacher expounds his views, school: (of philosophy, science, etc.). (of rhetoric). (applied to a school run by a grammaticus or ludi magister).

Schola is more so a follow on school, more like a modern trade school.


L&S says:

  1. A place for learned conversation or instruction, a place of learning, a school (cf. ludus): “toto hoc de genere, de quaerendā, de collocandā pecuniā, commodius a quibusdam optimis viris ad Janum medium sedentibus quam ab ullis philosophis ullā in scholā disputatur,” Cic. Off. 2, 25, 90: “qui cum in scholā assedissent,” id. de Or. 1, 22, 102; 1, 13, 56; Suet. Gram. 17; Quint. 3, 11. 26: “politus e scholā,” Cic. Pis. 25, 59: “e philosophorum scholis tales fere evadunt,” id. Or. 27, 95; Quint. 1, prooem. § 17; “12, 3, 12: rhetorum,” id. 12, 2, 23: “potiorem in scholis eruditionem esse quam domi,” id. 2, 3, 10; 5, 13, 45; so (opp. forum) id. 5, 13, 36: “ut ab Homero in scholis,” Plin. Ep. 2, 14, 2.—


Lol. I love that is says (confer ludus) right in the entry, denoting Ludus is preferred


But preferred does not mean "is only possible", does it? I have never suggested it should be the main translation.


Very true. I'll investigate when the word became was used as such.


Hi i am in latin class. Thanks for the help!!


"The audio is clearly American"



As opposed to... Roman?


Poor fellow, I guess you must have a lot of those "life of Brian" moments. Latin seems to be perfect for things like that.


Romani ite domum. Now, write it out a hundred times. Hail Caesar.


I haven't progressed far enough down the tree yet but please tell me this sentence comes up...


People will tell you it's Romanes eunt domus.

Because TV never lies.


"Romae needs to be in the ablative (Roma) since its indicates rest rather than motion which would use the accusative."

Excellent point, except Romae is in the locative, denoting place where. It's an archaic Proto-Indo-European (PIE) case which is only used in city names and islands smaller than Rhodes. Also used in Domi (at home), Ruri (in the countryside, Humi (on the ground), Militae (in the military service) and foci (at the hearth).


I always report this phrase ;-)

Let me start by acknowledging that was born is a suitable and common translation for natus –a –um est. That's just the natural way English speakers would state the mere fact that someone was born in a particular country right now, days ago or years ago. There are only some situations where is born or has been born would sound about right. Hence it's absolutely reasonable to consider was born a correct translation.

That being said, I don't like that you don't accept has been born or even is born (which would be nascitur really) as an alternative. I'd argue both mirror the Latin perfect tense way better. And sometimes that's what you'd like to do: mirror the Latin tenses:

  • nascitur --> is born
  • natus est --> has been born
  • nascebaris --> was born
  • natus erat --> had been born

I know that's the old question: how close should one stick to the Latin tense structure? Plz consider to add alternatives here, though.


Well, your tense translations seem a little off compared to what I learned. i.e. Pluperfect: had been born, Perfect: was born, Imperfect: was being born, Present: is born, Future: will be born, Future Perfect: will have been born.

The difference between the imperfect and the perfect is that the perfect demonstrates a completed action (hence perfect) while the imperfect shows an ongoing action (but in the past).

It really shouldn't be present, as I've consulted the OLD to be sure, Natus -a -um (the 4th principle part separating and becoming an adjective) does not exist as it's own entry, meaning that in the Classical period, it was used only as part of the Perfect system of it's verb. (compare this to Paratus -a -um, which does have its own entry even though it comes from Paro, Parare, Paravi, Paratum).

And as far "I don't like that you don't accept has been born or even is born" Why should we put is born? That is an incorrect answer. puella in Germania nascitur is a different sentence than puella in Germania nata est.


The perfect tense in Latin can either be translated as a simple past (VERBed, did VERB, was VERBed) or as a present perfect (has/have VERBed etc.). The present perfect tense is technically still a present tense; that's why it is treated differently when you learn the sequence of tenses (perfect with has/have vs. perfect ending with "ed"). So, "natus est", a perfect tense verb, can translate to the present perfect in English, "has been born", which is a present tense. In Handel's Messiah he translates natus est as is born ("for unto us a child is born").


Hi ShanePatri14, I don't fully agree. But I won't comment on that further. I think you made your view clear.

However, I'm glad that someone else recognizes the close relation between perfect and simple present. Thus, I'm not totally mad, am I? This relation is - if not completely- widely lost if natum est is translated to was born. [I mean, as ColinJParry rightly explained, there's of course more complexity to it when translating to English since English adds extra layers such as the progressive aspect.] Hence I advocated has been born (at least you shouldn't totally rule this translation out). And this is why I acknowledge that there's sometimes (very rarely this is) maybe a good reason to consider even is born, although this is clearly not very accurate translation per se.

[PS: this is not an attempt to drag this issue back into the arena. I appreciate that Colin made the creators' view unambiguously clear - nothing to add here as far as I am concerned]


'has been born' is officially on my to do list. It'll be a while though.


So I have just spent an hour just checking into the last line of what you said. I found two(ish) instances of natus est being is born the first is Isaiah 9:6 and any derivations henceforth, all along the lines of 'puer natus est nobis' which is Medieval, and a tad poetic. The other instance is Seneca, Nemo tam pauper vivit quam natus est 'No one lives as poor as he is born' that being said the only appearance of that translation is in Cassell's Book of Quotations, Proverbs and Household words from 1914. So while it does occasionally appear as 'is born' that does not appear to be the norm outside of religious connotations speaking specifically about Jesus. (where time may be a little looser in interpretation).

I've looked in Wheelock's, the Oxford Latin Course, and Shelmerdine's Introduction to Latin, all which give the perfect as a completed past action, Bennett's grammar does not list any special circumstances for Nascor or Natus, and also lists the Perfect as a completed past action. So please rest assured this isn't a "I'm right, you're wrong" kind of thing.



Thank you for taking the time to read what users have to say in the sentence discussions, and to collect many of them together here to expound upon. Your service indeed goes "above and beyond."

Vita flumen est. Omnia mutantur, nihil interit.


In Handel's Messiah the translation "is born" is an archaic perfect construction. The use of the English verb to be as a perfect auxiliary was still current in seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Consider German er ist gegangen (he has walked) vs. ich habe gemacht (I have done). There's also the fact that a little bit of poetic license is required for text setting a translation to a melody.


Yep, isn't there an "I am come to save the world" in the King James Bible? Obviously a perfect tense, not a present ("I am (in the process of) coming"), illustrating perfectly what we teach our Latin students: that combining the present tense of "to be" with the perfect participle creates a completed, i.e. perfect, tense.


I agree. Nothing wrong on your side here. I actually never disputed any of the points you illustrate here in the first place (I guess). I support your idea how one can translate the imperfect passive in order to underline its non-perfect nature. I can see (now) that my tense scheme was a bit too abreviated and too schematic esp. regarding the latter tense. However, let's focus on the core issue and put the controversies around "natus as a possible independent adjective" [who's claiming this?] and whether is born is an exact translation for natus est [who's claiming that?] aside.

My core point is: most Latin/English grammars explicitly state that the perfect passive can also be translated to I have been killed/praised/.... (there are other possible translations - yours is among them). There's no one-fits-all translation given the somewhat considerable differences in how tenses in Latin and English work. That's all I wanted to say here. Consult a grammar and consider whether you want to stick to only one possible translation. That's fine if you do so. You're the course creator, everyone will get used to your translation and as long as the course doesn't introduce the full passive conjugation patterns (and perfect for that matter) this should be regarded as an idiom that means was born because that's the most frequent way of saying it in English.

Thanks for your opinion. Thanks for listening. Keep up the good work. Really happy what you folks have done here.... awesome course.


Oh, when we get into proper Passive uses, there will be a wide range of possible translations to use. I try to get more than once acceptable translation for every sentence in the course.



sorry........ I suspect you will find (or have found) that the Latin course attracts pedantry.


I don't mind a little bit of pedantry when it's correct. But pedantry by armchair latinists is frustrating. I never get mad correcting new Latin learners. If they use a 3rd plural instead of 1st singular its a simple mistake. But when you say that the course is plain wrong (when several of the contributors have their PhD in the Classics, or at the very least their BA) it's tiresome. Hence my now posting their incorrect pedantry for public perusal.


Well, yes, but they (at least me) often start from some actual Neo-Latin bit they did indeed encounter and which may turn out to be not applicable in classical times. However, the course did not really explicitly set its borders. At least I am not aware of that. That mainly concerns the vocabulary, not really the grammar.

Or they start from what they have been taught. My high school textbook definitely does teach schola to be school an institution of education. The same suggest the usage of this word by Comenius (schola ludus - education through a theatre play) - that is obviously very late Latin.


It could even be the case that PhD in the classics might be a cause of some narrow focus and some medievist (not Latin specialist) or a scholar working with some 17th century philosophical or scientific treatises might sometimes expand the region of possible translations of certain terms.


Over time, the course will expand greatly, but there are some users who insist on inserting their own bias and preference. When I was practicing Latin a few months ago using the Oxford Latin Course, Ludus was used for school and Schola was used for Lecture. So it just depends. I am fully confident over time the focus will narrow.


Having looked at the OLD, I realized. Schola began as lecture the musings of a teacher to students, but came to represent school. Going to lecture became, going to the place where the lecture was held.


I laughed out loud. Thank you so much.


'Shouldn't Linguae be Linguam - accusative singular, direct object of study?'

Excellent question, but studeo takes the dative case, ergo, it must be linguae (the dative singular), this is also why it's not languages, that would require linguis


I suggest the people saying that learn French, and they will understand why it's "est" in "est natus/il est né".

You should write a book, a blooper.


I have a question: could we hope for a level A1? (not now, but later)


Addendum: French and Italian have the same construction: "Je suis né ..." and "Sono nato ..." . And, actually Swedish: "Jag är född ..." . And German: "Ich bin in Deutschland geboren". Seems pretty widespread in other words.

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