1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Latin
  4. >
  5. "I should visit mother."

"I should visit mother."

Translation:Matrem visitare debeo.

October 12, 2019



Why is it "visitare" instead of "visito", when adding debeo for should/must?


It is because "debere" is a modal verb, and in Latin when you have a modal verb, the main verb must be in its infinitive form.

This is like in English: when you have a modal verb (e.g. can, must, shall) the next verb (e.g. play, eat, drink) must be in its infinitive form. Example: "He can play the guitar." and not "He can plays the guitar." or "He can playing the guitar."


Because debeo is the verb of the sentence and you can't have two conjugated verbs following each other.


The other two answers are perfectly correct. To add to this, note that a verb in infinitive (‘without [temporal] ending’, the ‘in’ here being similar in function to ‘un’) can function like a noun. Compare this to the difference between ‘to work is good’ and ‘you should work well’.


Does debere mean "should" or "must" in the present tense? In Spanish, deber in the present usually implies obligation (more like "must"), while in the conditional it is "should". Is it the same in Latin?


It can be translated as "should" or "must" in the present. The translation I like to use is ought, because it does a good job of paralleling the verb in translation (i.e. debeo dormire - "I ought to sleep" vs. I should sleep"). Also, debeo is related to the Latin word for debt, and ought is related to the English word "owe", so I like how they both have the image of someone owing something.


I had been thinking along the lines of "I am obligated to visit" but 'ought' is perfect.


Are there any syntactical rules regarding auxiliary verbs, or can we place them wherever we want?


Would there be any difference between ‘mātrem vīsitāre debeō’ and ‘mātrem vīsitandam est’? Could one perhaps say ‘mātrem est mihī vīsitandam’?

Learn Latin in just 5 minutes a day. For free.