The National Archives - Lesson 9 - Subjunctive - Latin (2023)

So far all of the verbs that we have encountered have been in what is called the indicative mood. However three moods of a verb exist in Latin.

The indicative mood expresses facts.
The imperative mood expresses commands.
The subjunctive expresses an element of uncertainty, often a wish, desire, doubt or hope.

For example:

I am happyIndicative
Be happyImperative
I wish I were happySubjunctive

Whereas other modern languages such as Spanish and Italian have retained this subjunctive mood, it exists in modern English only rarely, primarily in old phrases and mottos.

For example:

Requiescat in pace – May (s)he rest in peace
Floreat Etona – Let Eton flourish

The subjunctive exists in four tenses: the present, imperfect, perfect and pluperfect. It occurs in both the active and passive voice. In addition to this, the endings of subjunctive verbs can alter across the conjugations. It is very important therefore to use the grammar tablesfrequently until you become more familiar with them.

Handy hint

Two common, irregular verbs in the subjunctive are ‘esse,’ -to beand ‘posse’, -‘to be able’and it is well worth spending some time looking at the forms these take in the grammar table.

Active tenses

In the subjunctive mood, all of the active tenses share the following endings:

LatinEnglish
-mI
-syou (singular)
-the/she/it
-muswe
-tisyou (plural)
-ntthey

Present tense

First conjugation

Remove ‘-are’ from the present infinitive, add ‘-e’ and then the relevant ending above.

For example:

voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1) to call

+ e + relevant ending
voc + e + m = vocem – I may call

Second conjugation

Remove ‘-re’ from the present infinitive of the verb to get the stem, add ‘-a’ and then the relevant endings above.

For example:

habeo, habere, habui, habitum (2) to have

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stem + a + relevant ending
habe + a + m = habeam – I may have

Third conjugation

Remove ‘-ere’ from the present infinitive to get the stem, add ‘-a’ and then the relevant endings above.

For example:

solvo, solvere, solvi, solutum (3) to pay

stem + a + relevant ending
solv + a + m = solvam – I may pay

Fourth conjugation

Remove ‘-re’ from the present infinitive to get the stem, add ‘-a’ and then the relevant endings above.

For example:

scio, sciire, scivi, scitum (4)

stem + a + relevant ending
sci + a + m = sciam – I may know

Handy hint

In the present tense, the subjunctive can be spotted by the ‘-e’ in the first conjugations, and the ‘-a’ in the second, third and fourth.

Imperfect tense

All conjugations

Add the relevant endings above to the present infinitive form of the verb.

For example:

voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1) to call

present infinitive + relevant ending
vocare + m = vocarem – I might call

Perfect tense

All conjugations

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Remove ‘-i’ from the perfect tense of the verb to get the stem ‘-eri’ and then the relevant endings above.

For example:

voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1) to call

stem + eri + relevant ending
vocav + eri+ m = vocaverim – I may have called

Pluperfect tense

All conjugations

Add ‘-sse’ to the perfect root of the verb (this gives you the perfect infinitive form) and then the relevant endings above.

For example:

voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1)

perfect stem + sse + relevant ending
vocavi + sse + m = vocavissem – I might have called

Passive tenses

In the subjunctive mood, the present and imperfect passive tenses share the following endings:

LatinEnglish
-rI
-risyou (singular)
-turhe/she/it
-murwe
-miniyou (plural)
-nturthey

Present tense

First conjugation

Remove ‘-are’ from the present infinitive to get the stem, add ‘-e’ and then the relevant ending above.

For example:

voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1) to call

stem + e + relevant ending
voc + e + r = vocer – I may be called

Second conjugation

Remove ‘-re’ from the present infinitive of the verb to get the stem, add ‘-a’ to the stem and then the relevant endings above.

For example:

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habeo, habere, habui, habitum (2) to have

stem + a + relevant ending
habe + a + r = habear – I may be had

Third conjugation

Remove ‘-ere’ from the present infinitive to get the stem, add ‘-a’ and then the relevant endings above.

For example:

solvo, solvere, solvi, solutum (3) to pay

stem + a + relevant ending
solv + a + r = solvar – I may be paid / handed over as money

Fourth conjugation

Remove ‘-re’ from the present infinitive to get the stem, add ‘-a’ and then the relevant endings above.

For example:

scio, scire, scivi, scitum (4)

stem + a + relevant ending
sci + a + r = sciar – I may be known

Imperfect tense

All conjugations

Add the relevant endings above to the present infinitive form of the verb.

For example:

voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1) to call

present infinitive + relevant ending
vocare + r = vocarer – I might be called

Perfect tense

In the subjunctive mood, the perfect and pluperfect tenses are formed by adding the relevant form of ‘esse’, – ‘to be’ – to the past participle of the verb.

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Remember

The past participle acts as an adjective and therefore agrees with the subject.

LatinEnglish
simI may have been
sisyou may have been
sithe/she/it may have been
simuswe may have been
sitisyou may have been
sintthey may have been

For example:

voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1) to call

past participle + relevant part of ‘esse’
vocatus, -a, -um + sim = vocatus sim – I may have been called

Pluperfect tense

LatinEnglish
essemI might have been
essesyou might have been
essethe/she/it might have been
essemuswe might have been
essetisyou might have been
essentthey might have been

Handy hint

You may also come across the alternative ‘fuissem’ for ‘essem’.

For example:

voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1) to call

past participle + relevant part of ‘esse’
vocatus, -a, -um + essem = vocatus essem – I might have been called

Passive tenses

When you will encounter the subjunctive

  1. Desires, wishes, proclamations:The most common use of the subjunctive is to express someone’s hope for an action to occur, particularly if there is an element of uncertainty attached to that action.You will find this use throughout the documentation you look at, particularly in charters and deeds, where it often occurs at the beginning of the text.For example:Pateat universis…
    Let it be known to all…Sciant presentes et future…
    Know [men] present and future…Scias…
    Know you…
    (May you know that…)
  2. ‘Ut’ and ‘ne’:You will often notice ‘ut’ and ‘ne’ introducing a subjunctive clause.
    1. One occasion where you will see this happening is when a subjunctive is used to express a command or order rather than an imperative. This is called the jussive subjunctive (from the verb jubeo, jubere, jussi, jussum (2) – to order). In this case, you will notice that ‘ut’ introduces a positive command and ‘ne’ introduces a negative one.

    For example:

    Preceptum est ut Adam commune habeat
    It is ordered that Adam should have common land

    Preceptum est ne Adam commune habeat
    It is ordered that Adam should not have common land

    A negative order or command can also be expressed using ‘quod’ and ‘nullus, -a, -um’ with the subjunctive.

    For example:

    Preceptum est quod Adam habeat nullum commune
    It is ordered that Adam should have no common land

    1. A second occasion where you will see this happening is when ‘ut’ and ‘ne’ are used to introduce purpose. Just as before, ‘ut’ is used to indicate a positive purpose and ‘ne’ a negative purpose.

    In this case, ‘ut’ is translated as ‘in order that’ or ‘so that’.

    For example:

    Et ut audiret communicacionem…
    And in order that he might hear the communication…

    Ne’ is translated ‘in order that…not’, ‘so that…not’, ‘lest, ‘to avoid’, ‘to prevent’.

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    Et ne audiret communicacionem…
    And in order that he might not hear the communication…
    And so that he might not hear the communication…
    And lest he might hear the communication…

  3. Conditions:You will encounter this use of the subjunctive frequently in wills and deeds, to express what should happen in the event of a death.One of the most common examples is:Si contingat…
    If it should happen…contingo, contingere, contigi, contactum (3) to happen, befall, come to pass
  4. After ‘cum’:The subjunctive often appears in clauses where ‘cum’ means ‘although’, ‘since’ or ‘whereas’.For example, in court rolls such a clause often appears in entries where a reference to an event at the previous court is included.For example:Cum Simo ad ultimam curiam apparuerit, ad istam curiam venit…
    Whereas Simon appeared [literally ‘he may have appeared’] at the last court, he has come to this court…
    Simo, Simonis (m.) Simon
    appareo, apparere, apparui, apparitum (2) to appear
  5. Concealed questionsYou will probably encounter this in documents relating to inquiries, with a form of
    ‘An inquiry is to be held’ + question word (when/where/if/whether/why/how etc.).For example:Lucia rogat pro inquisitione habenda si sit uxor NicholaiLucy asks for an inquiry to be held [as to] whether she is the wife of Nicholas

Checklist

Are you confident with

  • the meaning of active subjunctive tenses?
  • the form of active subjunctive tenses?
  • the meaning of passive subjunctive tenses?
  • the form of passive subjunctive tenses?
  • when you will encounter the subjunctive?
  • how to translate the subjunctive?

What next?

  • Go to Lesson 22

FAQs

How do you identify the subjunctive clause in Latin? ›

'Ut' and 'ne': You will often notice 'ut' and 'ne' introducing a subjunctive clause. One occasion where you will see this happening is when a subjunctive is used to express a command or order rather than an imperative. This is called the jussive subjunctive (from the verb jubeo, jubere, jussi, jussum (2) – to order).

What are the four types of subjunctive? ›

The 4 subjunctive tenses that we will cover are the present subjunctive, the imperfect (past) subjunctive, the present perfect subjunctive, and the pluperfect subjunctive.

What are 5 uses of the subjunctive Latin? ›

The subjunctive is used independently to express:
  • An exhortation or command (Hortatory Subjunctive § 439).
  • A concession (Concessive Subjunctive § 440).
  • A wish (Optative Subjunctive § 441).
  • A question of doubt etc. (Deliberative Subjunctive § 444).
  • A possibility or contingency (Potential Subjunctive § 446).

What are the 3 requirements for subjunctive? ›

There are often three main parts to a subjunctive sentence:
  • Two Different Subjects. Subjunctive sentences often have one subject in the main/independent clause and one in the noun/dependent clause. ...
  • A Relative Pronoun. ...
  • Two Verbs: One WEIRDO and One Subjunctive.

What are subjunctive examples? ›

In the subjunctive mood, the verb remains in its bare form, rather than changing to reflect the tense. Here are two examples: Our teacher suggested that we finish our work early. If the shop were like other shops in town, it would take credit cards.

What is a subjunctive clause example? ›

The subjunctive mood expresses wishes, suggestions, demands, or desires in a sentence with usually two clauses, with a verb such as wish (or suggest, demand, etc.) in one clause and a second verb in the subjunctive mood. In the sentence 'I wish I were the president' the verb 'were' is in the subjunctive mood.

What is subjunctive form example? ›

The subjunctive form is the verb form used to explore a hypothetical situation (for example, If I were you) or to express a wish, a demand, or a suggestion (For example, I demand he be present).

How many Subjunctives are there in Latin? ›

There are four subjunctives: present, imperfect, perfect, and pluperfect.

Is Esta seguro que subjunctive? ›

Es seguro may require the subjunctive, depending on whether it is used affirmatively, negatively, or interrogatively: Por ejemplo … Es seguro que vuelven hoy. It's certain that they're returning today.

Do you use subjunctive with es bueno que? ›

Yes, es bueno requires the subjunctive: Por ejemplo … En verdad, es bueno que viajen juntos. In fact, it's good that they're traveling together.

What are the subjunctive rules? ›

In most cases, the subjunctive form of a verb is usually the third-person form of the verb with the ‑s dropped, but the verb to be is a special case. The subjunctive is used after certain expressions that contain an order or a request, a hypothetical, or a wish.

What are the 6 irregular verbs in the subjunctive? ›

Irregulars
  • Ser: sea, seas, sea, seamos, sean.
  • Haber: haya.
  • Estar: esté, estés, esté, estemos, estén.
  • Ir: vaya, vayas, vaya, vayamos, vayan.
  • Saber: sepa, sepas, sepa, sepamos, sepan.
  • Dar: dé, des, de, demos, den.

What's the opposite of subjunctive? ›

The subjunctive is one of the irrealis moods, which refer to what is not necessarily real. It is often contrasted with the indicative, a realis mood which is used principally to indicate that something is a statement of fact.

Why is subjunctive important? ›

The Subjunctive is used to emphasise urgency or importance. The Subjunctive form is used with the simple form of the verb i.e. the infinitive without 'to'; to go is 'go'. The Subjunctive is only used with certain verbs and in certain forms.

What triggers a subjunctive? ›

Subjunctive triggers are words that force the verb in a sentence to be used in its subjunctive form. Sometimes, these subjunctive triggers already contain the subjunctive verb within them. In other words, when you see one of these subjunctive triggers, you must use the subjunctive.

What attracts the subjunctive mood? ›

The following verbs often attract the subjunctive mood: "to ask," "to command," "to demand," "to insist," "to order," "to recommend," "to suggest," and "to wish."

Is subjunctive difficult? ›

Don't Wait to Study the Subjunctive

Yes, it is a grammar topic that doesn't have a direct parallel in English, but it is a necessary and conquerable one. If you have learned at least one past tense and one future tense, you can probably already start with the subjunctive. Don't let anyone tell you it is too hard.

Do emotions trigger subjunctive? ›

The subjunctive is most often used in complex sentences in which the subject in the main clause expresses an emotion or opinion about the action in the subordinant clause. The emotion, volition, doubt or uncertainty expressed in the main clause requires that the verb in the sorbordinant clause be subjunctive.

How do you remember the subjunctive verbs? ›

Another student uses a similar rhyme to remember how to form the subjunctive.
...
Go yo, drop -o, add opp
  1. go to the yo form,
  2. drop the -o ending*, and *(or for verbs like estoy, the –oy)
  3. add the opposite ending.
10 Feb 2021

Why is it called subjunctive? ›

The subjunctive mood was so called because it was regarded as specially appropriate to 'subjoined' or subordinate clauses. In the Latin grammarians the more common term for subjunctive was post-classical Latin coniunctivus conjunctive adj.; subiunctivus is the term favoured by Priscian (5th-6th cent.).

What does subjunctive mean? ›

The subjunctive is a verb form or mood used to express things that could or should happen. It is used to express wishes, hopes, commands, demands or suggestions.

Is the subjunctive a mood or a voice? ›

The Subjunctive mood is used in dependent clauses using the passive voice following main clauses expressing necessity, demand, request, urging, or resolution. It always involves the use of "be" where some other form of the verb "to be" would be used in the passive voice construction.

What verbs are used in subjunctive mood? ›

Common verbs and phrases used with the subjunctive mood

Some common verbs are often used with the subjunctive mood. These include to wish, to command, to order, to recommend, to suggest, and to ask. If you see or use any of these verbs in a sentence, you might be dealing with the subjunctive mood.

Does subjunctive need 2 subjects? ›

We always use subjunctive in phrases with two subjects. Generally, these phrases follow the sequence: Verb 1 + QUE + Verb 2 (in Subjunctive).

What is the difference between subjunctive 1 and 2? ›

Konjunktiv I is used for the 2nd and 3rd person singular and 2nd person plural, the Konjunktiv II for the 1st person singular and the 1st and 3rd person plural to avoid confusion.

Is there a future subjunctive in Latin? ›

So, to answer your question, there are no future subjunctive forms in Latin, but there is a decent replacement. In the passive voice you have to use the present tense instead — or the perfect tense to replace future perfect.

Is Vamos a subjunctive? ›

vamos was in medieval Spanish another form for first person plural of present of subjunctive. that is to say: both vamos and vayamos were used in that case. vamos was also used (as well as today) as first person plural of present of indicative.

Does refuser que take subjunctive? ›

Does refuser require the subjunctive? Yes, refuser requires the subjunctive. Je refuse que le chien soit dans la maison.

Is sans que trigger subjunctive? ›

Yes, sans que requires the subjunctive. Je peux y aller sans qu'elle le sache. I can go without her knowing.

Is subjunctive used after hasta que? ›

When the main clause is a command or in the (potential) future, hasta que requires the subjunctive: Hasta que Tom vuelva del trabajo, queda conmigo. Until Tom returns from work, stay with me. Hasta que Tom vuelva del trabajo, puedes quedar conmigo.

Do you use subjunctive after Como? ›

In Spanish the conjunction como si (as if/like) is used to form subordinate clauses. These clauses express the way something is done. It is always followed by the subjunctive.

Is a menos que always subjunctive? ›

Does a menos de que require the subjunctive? Yes, a menos de que requires the subjunctive: Por ejemplo … A menos que Juan tome alcohol.

What is the first step to conjugate in subjunctive? ›

The first step in conjugating most verbs in the present subjunctive is to recall the present indicative yo (I) form of the verb.

How do you know if something is subjunctive? ›

The subjunctive is used to talk about things that are subjective and/or possible, but not certain. This includes things like doubts, wishes, recommendations, unknowns, and opinions about the likelihood of other events occurring.

What are the 25 irregular verbs? ›

Top 25 irregular verbs
Present SimplePast SimplePast Participle
taketooktaken
telltoldtold
thinkthoughtthought
writewrotewritten
21 more rows

What are the 20 examples of irregular verb? ›

Irregular Verbs List
V1 Base FormV2 Past SimpleV3 Past Participle
drivedrovedriven
drinkdrankdrunk
eatateeaten
fallfellfallen
89 more rows

Do all languages have a subjunctive mood? ›

Note, however, that the subjunctive itself is tenseless; we use the phrase “subjunctive mood,” not “subjunctive tense.” The subjunctive mood is common in the English language but also appears in many of the world's languages, including Spanish, French, German, Polish, Arabic, and Hebrew.

What are the 4 types of moods? ›

English verbs have four moods: indicative, imperative, subjunctive, and infinitive. Mood is the form of the verb that shows the mode or manner in which a thought is expressed.

Why is there no subjunctive future? ›

The subjunctive mood deals with things that may not actually happen or have happened; since there's no way of knowing whether something will or won't happen in the future, the idea of subjunctivity—of possibility rather than certainty—is already inherent in the future tense.

How do you conjugate the subjunctive? ›

To conjugate regular verbs into the present subjunctive form, we use the 3rd person plural form (ils) of the present indicative tense. We then remove the -ent ending and add -e, -es, -e, -ions, -iez, and -ent.

How do you express the subjunctive mood? ›

The subjunctive mood expresses wishes, suggestions, demands, or desires in a sentence with usually two clauses, with a verb such as wish (or suggest, demand, etc.) in one clause and a second verb in the subjunctive mood. In the sentence 'I wish I were the president' the verb 'were' is in the subjunctive mood.

Does Google Translate use subjunctive? ›

When it comes to the subjunctive mood, Google Translate mostly just dismisses it. The formal “you” that many languages have is also ignored in Google's translations. Furthermore, many languages have several past tenses.

How do you identify a subjunctive verb? ›

In most cases, the subjunctive form of a verb is usually the third-person form of the verb with the ‑s dropped, but the verb to be is a special case. The subjunctive is used after certain expressions that contain an order or a request, a hypothetical, or a wish.

What are subjunctive trigger phrases? ›

What Is a Subjunctive Trigger? Subjunctive triggers are words that force the verb in a sentence to be used in its subjunctive form. Sometimes, these subjunctive triggers already contain the subjunctive verb within them. In other words, when you see one of these subjunctive triggers, you must use the subjunctive.

Does J aime que use subjunctive? ›

Note that aimer que and détester que are followed by Subjonctif, in BOTH affirmative and negative sentences.

Is it cheating if I use Google Translate? ›

If the material is being translated solely for research reasons, using Google Translate to complete assignments isn't considered cheating. It is considered plagiarism if you pass the translated work off as your own. It is not unethical to use GT.

Is no es seguro subjunctive? ›

Does es seguro require the subjunctive? Es seguro may require the subjunctive, depending on whether it is used affirmatively, negatively, or interrogatively: Por ejemplo … Es seguro que vuelven hoy.

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