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Latin for Duolingo: Basics, Lesson 1

Salvete omnes! (Hello everyone!)

If you are one of the many interested in learning the ancient and beautiful Latin language but sad because it's not on Duolingo yet, here is a starter lesson for you. I've been teaching Latin to middle-school kids for 15 years now and I would love to see it added as well. I took the basic questions from Lesson 1 of the Italian tree and adapted them.

You'll have to imagine the images, bell sounds and any clever technical things that I can't figure out how to put in. I should probably add the disclaimer that I'm not doing this for Duolingo, just as an interested member of the community, and I'm not taking a position on how or when Latin should be added. If there's enough interest I could follow this up with other "lessons" in the future.

girl = puella

woman = femina

boy = puer

man = homo, vir (either is acceptable; homo has a more universal usage (human) as opposed to vir (biologically male human).

puer = the boy, a boy (no article adjectives in Latin)

unus puer = one boy

una femina = one woman (introducing the adjective unus,a,um to mean one, modifying a masculine or feminine noun)

illa puella = that girl, THE girl (again, Latin doesn't have article adjectives but may use demonstrative adjectives/pronouns for a similar purpose, adding emphasis -- this could easily be reserved for a more advanced lesson, though)

ille homo = that man, the man

ille vir = that man

Sum femina = I am a woman/I am the woman/I am woman ("hear me roar!" later, maybe in imperatives).

Ego femina sum. = I am a woman/ I am the woman. (introducing subject pronoun Ego = I and the flexible word order of Latin sentences).

Vir sum = I am a man/I am the man.

Ego sum puer (Sum puer) (Puer sum). = I am a boy.

Puella sum. = I am a girl.

Ille homo sum. = I am that human being/ man.

Sum illa femina = I am that woman.

Sum una puella (Una puella sum) (Ego una puella sum) (Ego sum una puella) (Ego sum puella una). = I am one girl.

As you can see if you made it this far, Latin has an incredibly flexible word order within sentences. It makes up for this flexibility with a very rigid and absolute requirement for the correct grammatical endings for nouns and verbs, as becomes very obvious within the first few days of study. This is precisely why I think it would be a good fit for Duolingo; turning grammar-learning mistakes into a game automatically makes it fun and would be a fantastic resource to add to any learning situation.

Thanks for reading and... Habeatis bonam fortunam!

Directory of Latin lessons
Memrise course
Next lesson: Basics, Lesson 2

Note: as of March 2019, this course is available on Wikiversity. All are welcome!

March 25, 2015



I just checked http://incubator.duolingo.com/apply and saw that Klingon was a course available for anybody willing to contribute to it's development but not Latin...
Latin would be fascinating.


I can't believe they have Dothraki and no Latin.


They have High-Valerian not Dothraki.


The Klingons probably put them up to it!


I still wonder how fictious languages can be on Duolingo but neither latin or ancient greek in any language... I find it simply fascinating.


I know this comment is 5 months old, but I wonder if Duolingo gets an incentive from HBO to add Dothraki or something. It seems so weird that they would go through the trouble to add it but not latin.


Nah I think it's an interest thing. Plus you have to have enough experts willing to put in the time. You should be happy to know however that Latin is now in the cooker! It just went in a few weeks ago with an estimated release of about a year from now. That could go faster if the single person working on the project gets help. I wish I could help but sadly I can only wait and hope for a speedy completion.

Update.. I just checked again and there are now 17 contributors so that's good. They haven't updated the estimated time of completion though.


It would be great if Duolingo would include Latin, especially as it is the foundation of all Latin based languages. All of which are offered by Duolingo. And I believe they also offer Greek so why not Latin. I wish I knew How to start a petition requesting them to include Latin.


They don’t have Romanian, Romansh, Ladin, Friulian, Faetar, Sicilian, Sardinian, Corsican, Provençal, Catalan, Asturian, or Galician, among other offshoots of Latin. :)

But Romance languages are well represented on Duolingo.


They do have Romanian from English, but you're correct about the others. Although they MIGHT have a Sardinian course coming soon, or something. If you click on Add new Course and scroll down to where it says Contribute to a Course, you can find Sardinian listed there, I think.


They do have Catalan, which is offered from Spanish. Not available for English speakers however.


They offer modern Greek, not Ancient, sadly. But now here we go :)


So, Latin is in the Incubator...

[deactivated user]

    That’s great - will sign up for that. Such a beautiful language.


    I can’t wait to try this out! I find it has lots of benefits to attain.


    Latin, would be fascinating and moreover it would increase their business because here in the EU it is a required language for students to learn. We need a petition, but how does one start an online petition. Unfortunately, I’m not compute savvy, at least not enough to start such a project. But that’s what’s needed.


    It is not a required language to learn!


    It is here in Bavaria, Germany!


    It was in when I was in school in England!


    Latin is a required language if you wish to consider yourself educated, whether or not it is "required" in any particular school system.

    [deactivated user]

      Which languages would you like to be added to the Duolingo Incubator in 2019?



      That must be an older survey. Latin is already in the incubator....


      letterseeker, there have been many petitions. It appears Latin is in the works.. I've only waited about 5 years for it here. That said, don't be petitioning Duo. Experience which I see you have with your number count greater than mine, should have taught you that.




      As of today, Estimated Completion Date: September 15, 2019 for Phase 1 incubation, and moving into Phase 2. https://incubator.duolingo.com/courses/la/en/status


      Nunc Duolingo Latinam habet! :-D


      Can't wait to learn it ! Such an interesting 'lingua'

      Vir = Man / Virilité = Manhood (French)

      Una = a, one (feminine) / same usage in Spanish

      Ego = I / very similar meaning in English


      But the words order seems to be almost random.. Is there specific rules about it?


      Word order is very flexible in Latin, because of all the word endings, which specify how the words form a sentence. For example, "Thank you" is "gratias ago tibi", but the three words can be in any order. The main reason for any particular order is sometimes emphasis, like putting the most emphasized word first.


      The word order commonly taught, and the one that you'll finds most Latin writings in though is Subject / Object / Verb. e.g: I the man see


      Salve, o Catherina, optima Latinitatis fautrix! Optimum consilium cepisti, cum linguam Latinam ad alias linguas in Duolingo praesentes addere decerneres, nam ut videtur, nonnulli sodales huius Interretialis loci eam pulcherrimam linguam discere volunt. Utinam mox et aulam Latinam virtualem hic habeamus. Interim, vale quam optime!


      Yep! Would have said the same thing myself! (I wonder what it all means??)


      Would definitely do Latin if it were offered! :))


      Benignus es! Tibi multas gratias ago.

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      Best wishes...I hope your efforts are rewarded by Duolingo, and they adopt your lessons for a "formal" Duolingo Latin course! Thanks for making these lessons available!


      i wish latin was a course


      Also not to forget my draft of several skills here :)



      Bene fecisti! You did a great job... thanks for sharing that link!


      thank's, Duolingo needs a latin course.


      This is so nice, it is a shame that I'm so used to the amazing Duolingo way of teaching progresively that it is hard for me to try to do it from other resources when starting. I hope the course will be added in the near future.

      [deactivated user]

        Whoa. Totally awesome.


        Hi, thank you for posting these lessons ! I would like to see some excercises in the end of them so that we could practice a little bit for ourselves. Would you recommend any Latin workbook from Amazon while waiting for Duolingo to add it? -Grateful and anxious about Latín from Buenos Aires!




        And there is one colaborator accepted! I wish carpelanam should be accepted too


        Gratias tibi ago! Sed, hoc verba scriptoriis, Anglicus est, non legitur.


        This was really great! If you have the time/energy, please continue with more :)


        Thank you so much for doing this. Every time they do a survey for languages for the incubator, I vote for Latin. It's been 40+ years since I took Latin in high school. I can't say that I enjoyed studying Latin, but it helped with English, and my attempts at learning Spanish and French. And, I still remember some of the basics.


        I love the idea, and hope it won't get buried! I need this in my life!


        I've been waiting and watching for years. Here's hoping your work gets the learning "live action" treatment. Thank you. Does anyone know if there might be another way to further show our support and desire for Latin on the platform?


        Yes, please keep posting. I took Latin years ago in school, and I so want to refresh what I learned. Here's several lingots in thanks!


        This was great, I've been learning latin on and off for a few months. I would be interested in more lessons.


        Thanks; very interesting!


        I was under the impression that Latin word order is flexible, but not quite as willy-nilly, loosey-goosey as you imply. In prose, there are few sentences that do not conform to Subject-Object-Verb, i.e., "The dog eats the man" = "Dog man eats" = Canis virum edit. Poetry word order can be a little (sometimes MUCH) more fluid, usually for some kind of rhetorical or poetic effect.


        DOMINUS ANCILLAM AMAT is not the same as ANCILLA DOMINUM AMAT. Those of you who have studied LATIN ( as I did many years ago), know that,as with all languages with declentions, you MUST know grammar.. If you don´t know it, it will be very difficult to learn the language. ( same for German,Russian,Greek, etc ) In LATIN, since there are NO articles, it is the ENDING of the words which indicates their grammatical function in the sentence. My exemple is very simple. DOMINUS ANCILLAM AMAT means THE MASTER LOVES THE SERVANT... ANCILLA DOMINUM AMAT means THE SERVANT LOVES THE MASTER. ) i can change the position of the words in the sentence and the meaning remains exactly the same because, in Latin, it is NOT the position of the words in the sentence which indicates their function, IT IS THEIR ENDING. I wish - though my mother tongue is French, that DUO would start a LATIN course. I would take it with pleasure. I am still reading CAESAR's DE BELLO CIVILE, VIRGIL's ENEIDA, CICERON 's ORATIO IN CATILINAM...etc.


        You're right, the SOV word order is fairly conventional in Latin, with the glaring exception of poetry. But since English speakers are so conditioned to a specific word order and need to be trained repeatedly to observe the word endings rather than word order, most Latin teachers emphasize that difference by highlighting it. ❤❤❤❤❤-trapping a sentence by placing the direct object before the subject is the oldest trick in the Latin book, and most students fall for it repeatedly before wising up. It's a different way of thinking about sentence structure than we are used to.


        Tús maith leath na hoibre!(ga) Bonum initium est dimidium laboris! (la)


        I think that Hans Ørberg’s 'Lingua Latina per se illustrata' is the best series of textbooks etc for learning Latin via the Natural Method. Students first learn grammar and vocabulary intuitively through extended contextual reading and an innovative system of marginal notes. It is the only textbook currently available that gives students the opportunity to learn Latin without resorting to translation, but allows them to think in the language. It is also the most popular text for teachers, at both the secondary and collegiate levels, who wish to incorporate conversational skills into their classroom practice.

        I hope Duolingo will follow Ørberg’s example!


        Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge with us. :)


        Carpelanam why don't you try and contribute to a latin course on duolingo?


        You are wonderful! I've been trying to learn Latin since middle school and all I've had to use is Google Translate and songs by Enya and Magna Canta. Thank you so much for this!!


        Yes, please add Latin! Duolingo


        Okay, if it were up to me, I'd drop the pseudo-articles unus,-a,-um and ille,-la,-lud, considering they will never be found as articles in real Latin texts. If I remember correctly, their adaptation into articles by the Roman citizens outside the city was one of the reasons that it was called "Vulgar" Latin.


        I agree, those qualifiers should probably be introduced later. That and many other decisions would be the call of the Latin team, if and when it is added to the incubator. But I'm a plebeian myself and have no problem with Vulgar Latin being offered to the masses. It was a common language for more than 2 millennia, and there are bound to be a lot of variations in usage over that time.


        I myself am very interested in learning Vulgar Latin, but I agree that it would be better to teach standard Classical Latin, that is, the language spoken around the Augustan Age. For most students, the goal of learning Latin is to read unabridged texts, and to do so, one needs a mastery of the Latin standard to the major authors such as Virgil, Ovid, and Catullus.


        So what does this mean? That it's useless for me to learn this because it's not Classical Latin? Where then can I learn Classical Latin?


        I am teaching standard Classical Latin in this (unofficial) course, adapted as close as I can get it to the Duolingo format. But like any teacher, I make choices in method that reflect my own training and style, and not everyone will agree with them. I do have confidence that you could learn Latin to the intermediate level with this course (presuming I am able to keep posting lessons regularly, or it eventually gets put into the incubator), though I don't think I would or could take it all the way to the advanced level of Virgil. For that, I would recommend a more traditional Latin course at university level, or the equivalent in independent study. Bonam fortunam!

        • 346

        I would be interested in Latin because I have long been interested in Gregorian chant, and studying the middle ages. For example, I would like to read the text of the Bayeux Tapestry.


        thank you so much for this course i will use it and enjoy it, thank you so much :)


        woman is actually mulier, -eris, not femina, -ae...


        Both are acceptable for "woman," even if mulier was used more commonly in classical times... but femina has the advantage of being a 1st declension noun and therefore easier to tackle in the first lesson. For a fascinating, but NSFW scholarly discussion of the Indo-European roots of femina see this link: http://www.europaic.com/Etymology%20of%20L.%20femina%20and%20L.%20fellare.htm


        Thank you! Just from this short lesson I feel like I learned a lot... lately I've been learning more about indo-european languages and now I'm getting why Russian, like Latin, doesn't have articles but has "this" and "that" (apparently every language does, but not all have definite and indefinite articles), but I can clearly see how these developed into uno, una, un, il, and la as articles... very cool.

        BTW, does your username mean "seize wool"?


        I just started latin this year, and I'm very happy that there is Latin on Duolingo :)


        Very cool! Love it! May this language find its way into official lessons on Duolingo! Keep fighting boys! Deus vult!


        Thank you! As an Italian teacher-to be, I totally support your efforts! Let's hope Duolingo could help us with Latin too!!


        I'd love to learn Latin I'm all into the greek and Roman stuff It will be amazing to learn Latin to lean vow the Roman's spoke


        I've just realized there are two seemingly similar Latin courses on Memrise based on these postings.

        1) https://www.memrise.com/course/748509/latin-for-duolingo/ by CarpeLanam 2) https://www.memrise.com/course/906792/carpelanams-duolingo-latin-sentences/ by zsocipuszmak

        I had initially found (2) and so have been working through that for the past 2 months.

        How do the two memrise courses relate, if at all?


        CarpeLanam's own Memrise course (1) focuses on the vocabulary used in the example sentences, and the one I created (2) contains the sentences themselves. (The lessons are always first posted here in the Duolingo forum by CarpeLanam, I just copy them into the Memrise course and add some alternative word order solutions, so that we can actively practice them in a Duolingo-like manner there.)


        Thanks, soci! I think I will stick with (2) full sentences. Cheers!


        Fascinating. Hope Duolingo decides to go ahead with Latin. A great help with other popular languages


        From 2019 and I think Latin is still not available for English speakers...smh


        Hey it's that pronunciation of latin is not known?


        I took about 5 years of latin (4 in HS, one year in middle school) I don't remember much, but I do remember those endings were the hardest. They would just throw words around "randomly" and translating it was always bleh. It would be fun to study it again though :)


        I've always think puella is nice and cute sounding word. I never thought it was Latin until now. The Anime title Puella Magi Madoka Magica makes a lot of sense now as it means Magical Girl Madoka Magica.


        The cutest Latin word I've ever seen is 'pipio/pipiare/pipiavi/pipiatus' and it means 'to chirp.' I found it first in Catullus's work and it's just so adorable.


        I still am learning my way around Memrise, but I did revise the first lesson a bit. I hope it makes it easier. Vir and homo are used interchangeably, but vir has more of a definitely masculine meaning, whereas homo means man in the sense of human being.


        Might be good to use just one word, like "vir", so that people don't get confused about the two different meanings.


        when will we get into pronunciation?


        The pronunciation for Latin is pretty much exactly the same as Italian, as the latter came directly from the former. When in doubt, try looking up the word on any dictionary or translator site that has pronunciation help.


        is the pronoun 'ego' in ancient Latin as well as modern?


        I think there is a mistake on Memrise. You have “bracchium”. Shouldn’t it be “brachium”?


        Is this in the "corpus humanum" lesson? I find "bracchium" is considered more correct than "brachium" in the sources I checked. I listed the -cc- version in the Memrise course, but the other should be an acceptable alternate, although it is not visible.


        Thanks for the Latin course in Memrise.Really enjoying it.


        I'm a composer. I'd like to be able to write in Latin for choir, haha


        I agree! I would definitely learn it.


        Usually the problem with starting a new course is the lack of people willing to do it. I assume one of you has already volunteered right?


        Gratias vobis conservis


        If we were to add Latin, which pronunciation would we use? Classical or Ecclesiastical? I personally prefer Ecclesiastical but understand that both have their advantages and disadvantages.


        I think this is not as big a decision as all that. Essentially, the pronunciation is the accent that the computer-generated voice will have. We recognize and adapt to variations in regional accent in our native languages without much trouble, and spoken Latin picks up the regional accent of wherever its speakers are from. The biggest differences in pronunciation between Classical and Ecclesiastical are the sounds for V, AE, C-before-I/E. No one is a native speaker of Latin, but the Classical pronunciation comes closest to the ancient sounds, we think. So it should probably be chosen. I still prefer the Ecclesiastical because of my background in choral singing; I just think it is beautiful. But when speaking Latin my own pronunciation is a mash-up of Classical, Ecclesiastical, and Anglicized. I just hope we get to the point on Duolingo where this becomes a real question! At the moment, I can only offer written, non-interactive lessons.


        There is somebody who knows Latin? Can you make Latin language course for duolingo community? Because a lot of people want to learn this ancient language. Teaching people is the greatest good.


        Does the ll in Latin make the same sound as ll (eyye) in Spanish?

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        "illa" and "ille". Do you pronounce these with a "y" as in French, or or "L" as in English?


        I found this piece really interesting; it certainly supports the Duolingo style approach to Latin that CarpeLanam takes:



        I study Latin in school and still remember some.


        Awesome! Thanks


        Latin would be great!


        Volo discere linguam Latinam. Duolingo necesse est surgere et in pavonem olfacies!


        It would be great if DuoLingo offered Latin (and Ancient Greek as well!)


        Has been any update to this? Carprlanam, why you are not able to start a duolingo course all by youtself (even if it take million years to be done) ? When people with latin knowledge see there is already an incubator going on, they will join up the team.


        Latin has been in the incubator since Jan 2019. https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/30201028/Latin-coursed-has-entered-the-incubator

        A course based on carpelanam's excellent lesson sketches is over here on memrise: https://www.memrise.com/course/906792/carpelanams-duolingo-latin-sentences/


        The course of Latin is almost been launched as a beta course for English speakers. Please help them to finish it!


        That is where I got stuck when learning Latin the first time....the many changes of verb and noun endings particularly the Genitive. Am hoping Duolingo, if up and running with Latin soon, will help me overcome this barrier.


        Can't wait. I will use it to supplement my Lingva Latina course!


        Nuntempe ni povas lerni la latinan interrete, gratias a Duolingo!


        I studied Latin for seven years and studied it again when my children did it themselves. I'd like to keep it in touch.

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