Prepositions Posted by on Jun 25, 2010 in Latin Language

Can you spot the preposition in this sentence?

Nautae circum īnsulam nāvigant = The sailors are sailing around the island

The preposition here is circum. In this case, the word modified to circum is used in the accusative. That’s because cicum is one of those prepositions that use the accusative.

Now try spotting the prepostion in this sentence :

Prō scholā ambulāmus = We are walking in front of the school

The preposition is prō. In this instance, the word linked to the preposition prō is in the ablative. That’s because prō is one of those prepositions that use the ablative.

Now try spotting the preposition in this sentence :

Rēx oppidum gladiō servat. (servāre = to guard. oppidum = town. rēx = king. gladius = sword)

In English this sentence would mean, “The king is guarding the town with a sword.” When a sentence contains a means or an instrument of an action, no preposition is expressed in the sentence. In the sentence above, the instrument in which the king guards the town is the sword. However, “with” is not specifically expressed in the sentence, and that’s because prepostions where means or an instrument of an action are not deliberately expressed. Notice though, that even if the preposition “with” is not expressed, the word “sword” is still conjugated in the ablative.

Be careful because this does not apply to the preposition cum :

Magistrīs cum tabulās portatis = You all are carrying writing tablets with the teachers

In the sentence above, “with” is used in the sense of accompanying someone, not through an instrument of an action or through a means.

In English, the preposition of means or instrument can be expressed with “by” as well :

Nautae scaphā ad īnsulam nāvigant = The sailors are sailing to the island by boat

Translate the following sentences :

1) Rēx gladiō et scūtō pīrātam pugnat. (scūtum = shield)

2) Rēgīna venēnō bellum pugnat. (rēgīna = queen. bellum = war. venēnum = poison)

Answers :

1) The king is fighting the pirate with a sword and shield

2) The queen is fighting the war with poison

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