Latin Language Blog

Gerunds vs. Gerundives Posted by on Feb 20, 2014 in Latin Language

Have you long struggled with knowing the exact forms and uses of the Latin Gerund or Gerundive? Well, this post was created in order to aid you in all your questions about forms, translations, and grammatical uses.


If you are studying Latin, I would recommend the following site for your references (the image is a link):



A gerund is a verbal noun.


The Gerunds ends in “-ing” and is usually translated as “walking,” “dancing,” “speaking.”



You may see the forms of the Gerund: here.


(1) GENERAL USE:  The gerund in Latin is used whenever you need to make a verb into a noun.

  • Ars amandi est difficilis. The art of loving is difficult.
  •  Puellae studiosae sunt amando. Girls are eager for loving. (studiosus takes a dative)
  •  Libri propensi sunt ad amandum. Children have a propensity toward loving.
  •  Amor crescit amando. Love grows by loving.

(2) OBJECTS:  When a gerund takes an object, the object is in the same case that the verb which the gerund comes from normally takes.

  • viros interficiendi causa: for the sake of killing men
  •  libris studendi causa: for the sake of studying books;

(3) PURPOSE:  The gerund can be used to express purpose with the prepositions ad or in.

  • Lego ad discendum. I read in order to learn. (I read toward learning.)



The gerundive is a verbal adjective:  a form of the verb that acts like an adjective. The gerundive is the adjectival form of the gerund. Remember:  gerundIVE = adjectIVE


There is no English equivalent to the gerundive. But, the best way would be as a passive form “to be ___,” but this again depends on the tense (as you will see in the grammatical uses).


You may see the forms of the Gerundive: here.


(1) PASSIVE PERIPHRASTIC:  The gerundive with a form of “sum” comprises the passive periphrastic (also called the gerundive of obligation).  It conveys a strong obligation in the past, present, or future, depending on the tense of “sum“.

  • amandus erat. He had to be loved. (past)
  • amandus est. He must be loved. (present)
  • amandus erit. He will have to be loved. (future)

Karthago delenda est!  Carthage must be destroyed!  (deleo, delere, delevi, deletus to destroy)

(2) DATIVE OF AGENT:  Because the gerundive is passive, there has to be a special way to show the agent.  Most passive verbs show agent with “ab + agent-in-the-ablative.”   The gerundive DOES NOT!  It shows agent with the DATIVE.  This is innovatively called a “dative of agent”.

  •   Ex.)  puella basiatur ab puero. The girl is kissed by the boy.
  •  Ex.) Puer amandus est puellae. The boy must be loved by the girl.

(3) REPLACE THE GERUND:  The gerundive is often used to replace the gerund, because the Romans found it prettier.  This can be tricky, so pay careful attention.

  •   gerund: Puer vivit puellas basiandi causa.  The boy lives for the sake of kissing girls.
  • gerundive: Puer vivit puellarum basiandarum causa. The boy lives for the sake of kissing girls.


I do hope this helps for all your Latin endeavors and needs.

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About the Author: Brittany Britanniae

Hello There! Please feel free to ask me anything about Latin Grammar, Syntax, or the Ancient World.


  1. Michael Fuller:

    I was confused about the verbs. You put the conjugated verbs and classified them as nom. gen. dat, etc. I have never seen this before. I understand that the gerunds are nouns but I still recognize these as the infinitives. Is there another source that you can point me to that can help me to deepen this new understanding of the gerund as being conjugated according to declensions?

    • Brittany Britanniae:

      @Michael Fuller If you are able to please, message our Facebook page (here) where we can discuss this in length and I can provide ample examples and websites.

  2. Bibiana:

    Hi Brittany,

    I liked the clear explanation – much better than what my textbook provides. Just one thing I would like to point out: In the example “Libri propensi sunt ad amandum. Children have a propensity toward loving.”, shouldn’t it be “liberi” instead of “libri” (since books don’t love…)?
    Thanks. Bibiana

  3. Chris curran:

    Thanks very much,B. I s tudied Latin at school nearly 50years ago and found that’s had forgotten the difference.s between these two. Your explanations rolled back the years.

  4. Paulina Gupta:

    Hey there! I’ve been following your web site for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Dallas Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the good work!

  5. felix kaiza:

    You have wound my memory back to the mid 1950s when we were learning the Latin grammar based on the verb “Amare”. Thanks for making me feel that much younger and livelier. Who said Latin is a dead language?

  6. Hardy Parkerson:

    “True Penance”

    Latin is a language
    As hard as it can be;
    You can speak it to your neighbor,
    You can speak it to a tree.

    Neither will understand you,
    No, not in the least;
    That is, unless your neighbor
    Is a Roman Catholic priest.

    Then you can tell him, MEA CULPA,
    That Latin confessional sentence;
    And he’ll tell you, “Go and sin no more,
    And read some Latin as your penance!”

    -by hardy parkerson