Disputatio Usoris:Nickshanks/Idiot's Guide to Latin

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Nick: you wrote "Perfect: verbs will usually have -vi- or at least a -v- towards the end..." This is not quite true, even from the standpoint of a quick and dirty summary Here's a more detailed explanation that you may use (or not) as you see fit:

  • There are four or five classes of regular verbs in Latin, depending on how you count them. These are usually refered to as "conjugations." They are:
    • First Conjugation: -ō -āre
    • Second Conjugation: -eō -ēre
    • Third Conjugation: -ō -ere
    • Fourth Conjugation: -iō -īre
    • (see below): -iō -ere
      • This last group is called "third Conjugation i-stems" (grouped with III) by some, and "mixed conjugation" by others.
  • Every verb has four Principal Parts.
    • The Principal Parts are the minimum information you need to derive every form of a regular verb.
    • Since you use the principal parts to derive all the other forms, when you learn a new Latin verb you should try to learn all four parts. (For many verbs it will be impossible to guess them)
    • The first two principal parts are the first person singular present active indicative (e.g. amō) and the present active infinitive (e.g. amāre).
      • In other words, the two forms I just used to explain the different conjugation classes.
    • The last two forms are the first person singular perfect active indicative, and the perfect passive participle.
      • Since the perfect is in and of itself a principal part, it may be impossible to predict!
        • That being said, there are some rules of thumb you can use to guess the third and fourth principal parts, if you really need to:
        • For the first conjugation, they will almost always be -āvī, -ātum. Exceptions are very rare.
        • For the fourth conjugation, they will usually be -i(v)ī, -ītum (generally -iī and -ivī are interchangeable). Exceptions are frequent.
        • For the second conjugation, they will often be -uī, -itum. Exceptions are frequent.
        • For the third conjugation (including the "mixed" variety) all bets are off. Look it up. I mean it.
          • Some examples: the perfect of dico is dixi, the perfect of ago is egi, the perfect of curro is cucuri, the perfect of trado is tradidi, the perfect of tollo is substuli. Most grammar books will not count any of these verbs as irregular, because the four principal parts are sufficient information to predict all the forms!

I have to admit, I am probably too hungry right now to be writing this. So I hope it makes sense, and is helpful ;) --Iustinus 02:34 ian 8, 2005 (UTC)

Er, to put what I am trying to say more succinctly: -vi- is common in all the conjugations except 3 (if you count -ui- as a form of the same thing that is), but perfects with no v/u are so common (3rd conjugation seems to be disproportionately frequent) that it is misleading to give the v/u infix as the usual mark of the perfect. Think of what Caesar said: veni vidi vici': three perfects, all in just plain -i. --Iustinus 08:04 ian 8, 2005 (UTC)