The Ablative Case : From Posted by on Apr 25, 2010 in Latin Language

ā or ab can mean “from”. Can you tell when to use which from the two examples below?

(1) Fēmina ā casā ad castrum aquam portat = The woman is carrying water from the house to the castle.

(2) Puella ab īnsulā ad actam natat = The girl is swimming from the island to the seashore.

In the first sentence “from” is indicated by an “ā”, but in the second sentence “from” is indicated by an “ab”. With the first sentence, “ā” comes before a word starting with a consonant. This isn’t true for the second sentence. The second sentence has “ab” preceding a word that begins with a vowel. Therefore, if the word that comes after “from” ends in a consonant, “ā” will be used. If the word comes after a vowel, “ab” will be used.

Did you also notice that the nouns in the ablative case all ended in ā? For example, the first sentence had “casā” end in “ā” and the second sentence had “īnsulā” end in ā. We learned awhile back, that “ad” means “to” or “toward”. The “ad” is not going to be in the ablative, but the accusative. As you can see, the sentences are becoming much more complicated. Don’t worry, through practice, it’ll all be a piece of cake!

Now try translating these sentences for practice :

(1) Magistrī a scholā ad casam ambulant. (schola = school)

(2) A fossā ad terram aquam trānsportātis. (fossa = ditch, trench)

(3) Ab īnsulā ad castrum nāvigās.

And now the answers :

(1) The teachers are walking from the school to the house.

(2) You all are transporting water from the ditch to the soil.

(3) You are sailing from the island to the castle.

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