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Latin for Duolingo: Basics 2, Lesson 2

Please note this course is now available on Wikiversity

Salvete omnes! If you are among the many wanting to see Latin available on Duolingo, I aim to please. This is the 5th in a series of Latin lessons, Duo-style (but sadly without the interactive format we all love so much). You can catch up by checking this Directory for the previous lessons. The previous lesson is here

In this lesson, we cover singular and plural forms of 2 common verbs; various people will be drinking and reading. There will be a limited use of the accusative case for direct objects of these simple sentences. (I used as my template the Italian tree Basics 2 skill, combining half of lesson 2 with lesson 3).

New grammar: Nothing terribly new, but it is important to distinguish between cases of Latin nouns. So far we have learned that subjects and predicate nouns go in the nominative case, the same case they are given in in the vocabulary. But when used as a direct object, the nouns must (usually) be given a different ending. All of this is dependent on their individual "declension" or classification, and will have to be addressed in much greater detail later on. For now, we'll just follow Duo's more intuitive, repetitive format.

We have also learned the importance of subject-verb agreement; in other words, if the 1st person singular is used as subject, you need the 1st person singular ending for the verb, etc. Many Latin sentences have no expressed subject noun or pronoun, because the personal endings are included in the verbs. For this reason, I'll usually put subject pronouns in parentheses, because they are not strictly necessary.

New vocabulary:

bibo = I drink
bibis = you (s.) drink
bibit = he, she, it drinks

bibimus = we drink
bibitis = you (pl.) drink
bibunt = they drink

lego = I read
legis = you read
legit = he, she, it reads

legimus = we read
legitis = you (pl.) read
legunt = they read

Those are the two verbs. We will also learn one new noun:

liber, libri (m.) = book (accusative s. is librum)

et = and
non = not

New sentences:
Feminae = the women
Puellae aquam bibunt. = The girls drink water.
Aquam bibunt. = They drink water.
(Ei) aquam bibunt. = They (masculine) drink water.
(Eae) aquam bibunt. = They (f.) drink water.
Homines aquam bibunt. = The men drink water.
(Vos) aquam bibitis. = You (pl.) drink water.
(Vos) puellae estis. = You (pl.) are girls.
(Nos) aquam bibimus. = We drink water.
(Nos) sumus viri. = We are men.
Estis pueri. = You (pl.) are boys.
(Nos) bibimus. = We drink.
(Vos) homines estis. = You (pl.) are men.
Pueri et puellae aquam bibunt. = The boys and girls drink water.
Liber = the book
(Ego) lego. = I read.
Homines librum legunt. = The men read the book.
(Vos) legitis. = You (pl.) read.
Lucia legit. = Lucia reads.
Ea legit. = She reads.
(Tu) legis. = You read.
(Nos) librum legimus. = We read the book.
Marcus et Paula librum legunt. = Marcus and Paula read the book.
Klingones aquam non bibunt. = The Klingons do not drink water.
Pueri non legunt. = The boys do not read.
Non legimus. = We do not read.

That's all for now... those Klingons do keep slipping in. They make sample sentences fun. Valeas!

April 21, 2015




I might have missed an earlier lesson, but I was wondering if (subject-)object-verb order is mandatory or if word order is flexible.


As has been said by others, word order is very flexible.

Latin is an "inflected" language, so its endings tell you what each word is doing in the sentence. This is opposed to a "syntactic" language, like English, where word order gives you information about each word's function.


Subject-object-verb is the conventional order but it is very flexible. So you would most likely encounter "Puer aquam bibit," but "Puer bibit aquam" or "Aquam puer bibit" or even "Bibit aquam puer" all mean the same thing. The key thing, I believe, is to train yourself to observe the word endings very carefully. This is really frustrating at first but it helps you eventually to be able to see the logical relationships between the various parts of the sentence.


Words out of conventional order that appear at the beginning or the end of a clause are often treated as being emphasized, so e.g. Puer bibit aquam could emphasize that it’s water that the boy is drinking (rather than milk, or wine, or whatever Klingons drink).


Can you also say "Aquam bibit puer"?


Yes, in inflected language, word ENDING determines meaning (as opposed to English wish uses word ORDER to determine much of the meaning).


The Klingon parts really are fun :P .

Would it be possible to have a links to the next and previous lessons directly? When I go back to the directory I often have forgotten what was the last lesson.


That's a good idea. It's a little fiddly to go back and enter all the links, but I'll try to start doing that with the early lessons in the series as I'm able.


Have you considered making a Memrise course for Latin?


I'm not very familiar with Memrise, but I think they already have several Latin courses to choose from. There's even a Duolingo one there, and most of the standard textbooks. I'll have to find some time to familiarize myself with Memrise more before I could commit to that.


How are you going to go over the declensions and the cases? It's an interesting way to teach Latin.


For now I'm following the Duolingo Italian tree lessons at the basic level and just commenting on different cases as they come up. At some point it will be necessary to introduce each declension as a separate skill, and the same for the cases. I'm not claiming it's the "best" way to teach Latin and I don't think it will replace formal and traditional study, but if it becomes available in the interactive Duo format I think it would be an excellent supplement.


> Salvete omnes!


> Valeas!

Would "Valeatis" be more logical here?


Oh, very probably. I must have been thinking of a big internet full of readers when I started and by the time I was finished, maybe I was thinking it was time for the personal touch, or afraid all but one had wandered off!

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