Latin Language Blog

Latin Sentence Structure Posted by on Mar 16, 2009 in Latin Language

We’re going to take a look at some subjects and verbs. I’ll try to make this as painless as possible 🙂

Let’s take a look at the sentence: Cicero is a farmer. In Latin this sentence would look like this: Cicerō  est agricola. In Latin, articles like the and a are omitted. That’s why in English, the sentence would translate as: Cicero is farmer.

Let’s take a look at another sentence: Cicerō ferit Corneliam. In English this would be Cicero hits Cornelia. Yes, I know, it’s a very abusive example, but hopefully it’ll be more memorable because it invokes a strong image. This sentence carries out the subjet-verb-object sentence structure. Cicerō is the subject because he’s doing the action (in this case, hitting) and ferit is the verb while Corneliam is the object because she’s being hit.

Compare this with a sentence like this: Cicerō Corneliam ferit. In English this would be Cicero hits Cornelia. This has the same meaning as the sentence Cicerō ferit Corneliam, but with a different sentence structure. Cicerō Corneliam ferit follows the subject-object-verb structure.

In Latin, word order is flexible. Either Cicerō Corneliam ferit and Cicerō ferit Corneliam will work. I should also mention that while both will work, the ancient Romans preferred that the verb be placed at the end of a sentence like Cicerō Corneliam ferit.

You’ll also see that in many ancient Latin texts, the object of the sentence follows the subject like the sentence: Agricola filiam amat. Which means: The farmer loves his daughter. In English this would be: farmer daughter he loves. Filiam = daughter. Filiam is the object of the sentence because she is the one being loved. Agricola = farmer. Agricola is the subject of the sentence because he is the one doing the loving.

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  1. mike:

    Could you explain the cases and the order of these in the structure. Ive been reading Wheellocks latin intro. V.3. Im also taking my time with this book chapter by chapter to insure that im understanding and not skipping steps. Im stumped… When and if you do this nice gesture could you please do it the way the Romans would? Thank You. Your help will prove in valuable to me.

  2. Mariana:

    This really helps clear up a few things in my head. I’m taking an online Latin course and the sentence structure always messed me up or i was just overthinking everything. Reading this and using comparisons to the English language helped set things clear in my head. Thanks!!!!