Experience III, Lesson 15: Subjunctive Principles
Learning how the Subjunctive is used in Latin
Studying verbs so far we have focused primarily on the indicative, both active and passive, and also the imperative. Now we start new verb "mood" to learn:
The subjunctive, which is also called the conjunctive in Latin, German, Italian, and others?...
Basic principles of the Subjunctive:
- Most often the subjunctive is joined to a main / principal sentence (it is in what is technically called a subordinate clause).
- Corollary: Hence the name conjunctive - it is con+joined with another.
- The subjunctive is obscure / mystical / uncertain.
- Corollary: in Latin literature, you will never know the exact reason for many subjunctives (as there are multiple / various such reasons).
- The use of Latin subjunctives are infinite.
- Corollary: You can spend many years studying the Latin subjunctive.
- There are no future time forms in the subjunctive, just future ideas.
- Corollary: a problem with subjunctive is that it has only four times in Latin (there is no T.3 or T.6). [Unlike Greek, which has about 12 ways of expressing something, Latin is much more limited in its forms, so one form may have multiple meanings.]
- The forms of Latin subjunctives are extremely easy and regular.
- Corollary: The forms resemble the indicative, often with only a one letter difference.
- The subjunctive "sound" [vs. the indicative sound] translates in English: may, might, would, would have, may have, etc.
- Corollary: Most uneducated Latinists will take all subjunctives as sounding subjunctive. You will not make that mistake!
- The subjunctive can be used in two main ways / usages.
- Corollary: The sound it has depends on the kind of subjunctive it is.
- Independent = as the main or principal verb
When the subjunctive is independent, it must sound subjunctive (because otherwise there would be no need for it and the indicative form would have been used).
- Dependent = subordinate on another sentence / phrase
When dependent, it can sound either indicative or subjunctive, and 80% of dependent subjunctives will sound indicative.
- There are only three cases when dependent subjunctives sound subjunctive.
- Corollary: If its not one of these 3 cases, it must sound indicative (temporal, result, concessive, conditional, indirect question, etc.)
- Purpose or final sentences / clauses will sound subjunctive
- Some conditional sentences may sound subjunctive
- The natural subjunctive of a wish or command
In our class, as beginners in using the subjunctive: we shall give no special meaning/translation to the different subjunctive times. Rather we will just let it float for now.
Now go on to Lesson 16
Third Experience Latin - Fr. Reginald Foster
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