Latin Language Blog

Christmas carols and Latin verbs in imperative Posted by on Dec 29, 2011 in Latin Language


When we are in Christmas I remember my childhood (probably the same happens to most of you who were grown up in christian countries). We used to eat, drink and sing a lot ūüôā and one of the most famous Christmas carols was and still is Adeste Fideles (“Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” in Anglo-Saxon countries, “Venid Fieles” in Spanish-speaking countries, etc). As most popular songs, its origins are uncertain, but it is usually known as the Portuguese Hymn because it used to be sung at the Portuguese embassy in London in the late eighteenth century. The original verses in Latin were 4, but later they added four verses more, and nowadays this last version with 8 verses is the most popular.

Here you can read one of the Latin versions, anyways you can find more, but this is closest to the original one:

 Adeste Fideles

Adeste fideles, laeti triunfantes,

venite, venite in Bethlehem.

Natum videte Regem angelorum,

venite adoremus, venite adoremus,


En grege relicto humiles ad cunas

vocati pastores aproperant. Et nos

ovanti gradu festinemus. Venite


Aeterni Parentis splendorem aeternum

velatum sub carne videbimus, Deum

infantem pannis involutum, Venite


Pro nobis egenum et foeno cubantem

piis foveamus amplexibus; sic nos

amantem quis nos redamaret? Venite


Here you can enjoy the English version of this Christmas carol with a funny video:


Adeste fideles¬†means “Come faithful” and as you know, in this case the verb is in present, 2nd. person plural and imperative form. In Latin, imperative has only two tenses: present and future. The verb in infinitive is adesse (adsum, ades, adesse, adfui) and it means to atend. Venite, the oft-repeated word, is also a clear example of imperative formverb. The verb is venio, venis, venire, veni, ventum and it means to come.¬†



Only has 2nd person (singular and plural). Singular form usually is formed by the root of the verb and in some cases you must add -e. Plural form adds -te to the verb root.

1st conj. 2nd conj. 3rd conj. 4th conj. 
2nd person singular  Lauda  Habe  Mitte  Audi
2nd person plural  Laudate  Habete  Mittite  Audite


FUTURE IMPERATIVE (active voice)

Has 2nd and 3rd persons (singular and plural). It was commonly used in laws. Second and third person singular forms are formed by the root of the verb + -to. 2nd person plural adds -tote to the verb’s root. Third person plural adds -nto or -unto to the root.

1st conj. 2nd conj. 3rd conj. 4th conj.
2nd person singular  Laudato  Habeto  Mittito  Audito
3rd person singular  Laudato  Habeto  Mittito  Audito
2nd person plural  Laudatote  Habetote  Mittitote  Auditote
3rd person plural   Laudanto  Habento  Mittitunto  Audiunto



It can be expressed by the verb nolle (not wanting to) + infinitive.

You can also express ne + 2nd person singular or plural of the perfect subjunctive:

 Ne feceris / ne feceritis  (2nd person s./pl.) Do not
 Ne dixeris / ne dixeritis  (2nd person s./pl.) Do not say

With 1st and 3rd persons, you can use ne + present subjunctive:

 Ne dicamus  (1st person pl.) Do not say
 Ne dicat / ne dicant   (3rd person s./pl.) Do not say

Prohibition may also be expressed as a periphrasis with the imperative of a prohibitive verb or mandate with negation, and the prohibited action as its direct object:

 Fac ne quid aliud cures   Do not worry about anything else


There is also the passive voice of the imperative verbs,¬†but we will return to this¬†issue¬†in an upcoming post ūüėČ


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