The Info List - Latin Language

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LATIN (Latin: lingua latīna, IPA: ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages . The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets , and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet
Phoenician alphabet

was originally spoken in Latium
, in the Italian Peninsula
Italian Peninsula
. Through the power of the Roman Republic , it became the dominant language, initially in Italy and subsequently throughout the Roman Empire . Vulgar Latin developed into the Romance languages
Romance languages
, such as Italian , Portuguese , Spanish , French , and Romanian . Latin
, Italian and French have contributed many words to the English language . Latin
and Ancient Greek roots are used in theology , biology , and medicine .

By the late Roman Republic (75 BC), Old Latin had been standardised into Classical Latin
Classical Latin
. Vulgar Latin was the colloquial form spoken during the same time and attested in inscriptions and the works of comic playwrights like Plautus
and Terence
. Late Latin is the written language from the 3rd century, and Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin
the language used from the 9th century to the Renaissance
which used Renaissance Latin
. Later, Early Modern Latin
and Modern Latin
evolved. Latin
was used as the language of international communication, scholarship, and science until well into the 18th century, when it began to be supplanted by vernaculars . Ecclesiastical Latin remains the official language of the Holy See and the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church
Catholic Church

Today, many students, scholars and members of the Catholic clergy speak Latin
fluently as a liturgical language . It is taught in primary, secondary and postsecondary educational institutions around the world.

is a highly inflected language , with three distinct genders , seven noun cases , four verb conjugations , four verb principal parts, six tenses , three persons , three moods , two voices , two aspects and two numbers .


* 1 Legacy

* 1.1 Inscriptions * 1.2 Literature * 1.3 Influence on present-day languages * 1.4 Education * 1.5 Official status

* 2 History

* 2.1 Old Latin * 2.2 Classical Latin
Classical Latin
* 2.3 Vulgar Latin * 2.4 Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin
* 2.5 Renaissance Latin
Renaissance Latin
* 2.6 New Latin * 2.7 Contemporary Latin
Contemporary Latin

* 3 Phonology

* 3.1 Consonants

* 3.2 Vowels

* 3.2.1 Simple vowels * 3.2.2 Diphthongs

* 4 Orthography

* 4.1 Alternate scripts

* 5 Grammar

* 5.1 Nouns

* 5.2 Adjectives

* 5.2.1 First- and second-declension adjectives * 5.2.2 Third-declension adjectives * 5.2.3 Participles

* 5.3 Prepositions

* 5.4 Verbs

* 5.4.1 Deponent verbs

* 6 Vocabulary * 7 Phrases * 8 Numbers * 9 Example text * 10 See also * 11 Notes * 12 References

* 13 External links

* 13.1 Language tools * 13.2 Courses * 13.3 Grammar and study * 13.4 Phonetics * 13.5 Latin
language news and audio * 13.6 Latin
language online communities


The language has been passed down through various forms.


Some inscriptions have been published in an internationally agreed, monumental, multivolume series, the "Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL)". Authors and publishers vary, but the format is about the same: volumes detailing inscriptions with a critical apparatus stating the provenance and relevant information. The reading and interpretation of these inscriptions is the subject matter of the field of epigraphy . About 270,000 inscriptions are known.


Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
's Commentarii de Bello Gallico
Commentarii de Bello Gallico
is one of the most famous classical Latin
texts of the Golden Age of Latin. The unvarnished, journalistic style of this patrician general has long been taught as a model of the urbane Latin
officially spoken and written in the floruit of the Roman Republic .

The works of several hundred ancient authors who wrote in Latin
have survived in whole or in part, in substantial works or in fragments to be analyzed in philology . They are in part the subject matter of the field of classics . Their works were published in manuscript form before the invention of printing and are now published in carefully annotated printed editions, such as the Loeb Classical Library , published by Harvard University Press , or the Oxford Classical Texts , published by Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press

Latin translations of modern literature such as The Hobbit
The Hobbit
, Treasure Island , Robinson Crusoe
Robinson Crusoe
, Paddington Bear
Paddington Bear
, Winnie the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh
, The Adventures of Tintin , Asterix , Harry Potter , Walter the Farting Dog , Le Petit Prince , Max and Moritz
Max and Moritz
, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
, The Cat in the Hat
The Cat in the Hat
, and a book of fairy tales, "fabulae mirabiles," are intended to garner popular interest in the language. Additional resources include phrasebooks and resources for rendering everyday phrases and concepts into Latin, such as Meissner\'s Latin
Phrasebook .


The Latin influence in English has been significant at all stages of its insular development. In the Middle Ages , borrowing from Latin occurred from ecclesiastical usage established by Saint Augustine of Canterbury in the 6th century or indirectly after the Norman Conquest , through the Anglo-Norman language . From the 16th to the 18th centuries, English writers cobbled together huge numbers of new words from Latin
and Greek words, dubbed "inkhorn terms ", as if they had spilled from a pot of ink. Many of these words were used once by the author and then forgotten, but some useful ones survived, such as 'imbibe' and 'extrapolate'. Many of the most common polysyllabic English words are of Latin
origin through the medium of Old French
Old French
. Romance words make respectively 59%, 20% and 14% of English , German and Dutch vocabularies. Those figures can rise dramatically when only non-compound and non-derived words are included. Accordingly, Romance words make roughly 35% of the vocabulary of Dutch.

The influence of Roman governance and Roman technology on the less-developed nations under Roman dominion led to the adoption of Latin
phraseology in some specialized areas, such as science, technology, medicine, and law. For example, the Linnaean system of plant and animal classification was heavily influenced by Historia Naturalis , an encyclopedia of people, places, plants, animals, and things published by Pliny the Elder . Roman medicine, recorded in the works of such physicians as Galen , established that today's medical terminology would be primarily derived from Latin
and Greek words, the Greek being filtered through the Latin. Roman engineering
Roman engineering
had the same effect on scientific terminology as a whole. Latin
law principles have survived partly in a long list of Latin
legal terms .

A few international auxiliary languages have been heavily influenced by Latin. Interlingua
is sometimes considered a simplified, modern version of the language. Latino sine Flexione , popular in the early 20th century, is Latin
with its inflections stripped away, among other grammatical changes.

One study analyzing the degree of differentiation of Romance languages in comparison to Latin
(comparing phonology , inflection , discourse , syntax , vocabulary , and intonation ) indicated the following percentages (the higher the percentage, the greater the distance from Latin): Sardinian 8%, Italian 12%, Spanish 20%, Romanian 23.5%, Occitan 25%, Portuguese 31%, and French 44%.


A multivolume Latin
dictionary in the University Library of Graz .

Throughout European history, an education in the classics was considered crucial for those who wished to join literate circles. Instruction in Latin is an essential aspect. In today's world, a large number of Latin
students in the US learn from Wheelock's Latin: The Classic Introductory Latin
Course, Based on Ancient Authors. This book, first published in 1956, was written by Frederic M. Wheelock , who received a PhD from Harvard University. Wheelock's Latin
has become the standard text for many American introductory Latin

The Living Latin movement attempts to teach Latin
in the same way that living languages are taught, as a means of both spoken and written communication. It is available at the Vatican and at some institutions in the US, such as the University of Kentucky
University of Kentucky
and Iowa State University . The British Cambridge University Press is a major supplier of Latin
textbooks for all levels, such as the Cambridge Latin
Course series. It has also published a subseries of children's texts in Latin
by Bell "> Latin
and Ancient Greek at Duke University , 2014.

In the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
, the Classical Association encourages the study of antiquity through various means, such as publications and grants. The University of Cambridge , the Open University , a number of prestigious independent schools, for example Eton , Harrow , Haberdashers\' Aske\'s Boys\' School and Via Facilis, a London-based charity, run Latin
courses. In the United States
United States
and in Canada
, the American Classical League supports every effort to further the study of classics. Its subsidiaries include the National Junior Classical League (with more than 50,000 members), which encourages high school students to pursue the study of Latin, and the National Senior Classical League , which encourages students to continue their study of the classics into college. The league also sponsors the National Latin
Exam . Classicist Mary Beard wrote in The Times Literary Supplement in 2006 that the reason for learning Latin
is because of what was written in it.


was or is the official language of European states:

* Holy See – used in the diocese , with Italian being the official language of Vatican City
Vatican City
* Hungary
- Latin
was the sole official language of the Kingdom of Hungary
from the 11th century to the mid 19th century, when it was replaced by Hungarian in 1844. The best known Latin
language poet originating from Hungary
was Janus Pannonius
Janus Pannonius
. * Croatia
was the official language of Croatian Parliament (Sabor) from the 13th to the 19th century (1847). The oldest preserved records of the parliamentary sessions (Congregatio Regni totius Sclavonie generalis) – held in Zagreb (Zagabria), Croatia
– date from 19 April 1273. An extensive Croatian Latin literature exists. * Poland
– officially recognised and widely used between the 10th and 18th centuries, commonly used in foreign relations and popular as a second language among some of the nobility


Main article: History of Latin The linguistic landscape of Central Italy at the beginning of Roman expansion

A number of historical phases of the language have been recognised, each distinguished by subtle differences in vocabulary, usage, spelling, morphology, and syntax. There are no hard and fast rules of classification; different scholars emphasise different features. As a result, the list has variants, as well as alternative names. In addition to the historical phases, Ecclesiastical Latin refers to the styles used by the writers of the Roman Catholic Church
Catholic Church
as well as by Protestant scholars from Late Antiquity onward.

After the Western Roman Empire
Roman Empire
fell in 476, and Germanic kingdoms took its place, the Germanic people adopted Latin
as a language more suitable for legal and other formal uses.


Main article: Old Latin

The earliest known form of Latin
is Old Latin, which was spoken from the Roman Kingdom to the middle of the Roman Republic period. It is attested both in inscriptions and in some of the earliest extant Latin literary works, such as the comedies of Plautus
and Terence
. The Latin alphabet was devised from the Etruscan alphabet
Etruscan alphabet
. The writing later changed from an initial right-to-left or boustrophedon to a left-to-right script.


Main article: Classical Latin
Classical Latin

During the late republic and into the first years of the empire, a new Classical Latin
Classical Latin
arose, a conscious creation of the orators, poets, historians and other literate men, who wrote the great works of classical literature , which were taught in grammar and rhetoric schools. Today's instructional grammars trace their roots to such schools , which served as a sort of informal language academy dedicated to maintaining and perpetuating educated speech.


Main articles: Vulgar Latin and Late Latin

Philological analysis of Archaic Latin
works, such as those of Plautus
, which contain snippets of everyday speech, indicates that a spoken language, Vulgar Latin (termed sermo vulgi, "the speech of the masses", by Cicero
), existed concurrently with literate Classical Latin. The informal language was rarely written, so philologists have been left with only individual words and phrases cited by classical authors and those found as graffiti.

As it was free to develop on its own, there is no reason to suppose that the speech was uniform either diachronically or geographically. On the contrary, romanised European populations developed their own dialects of the language, which eventually led to the differentiation of Romance languages
Romance languages
. The Decline of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
meant a deterioration in educational standards that brought about Late Latin, a postclassical stage of the language seen in Christian writings of the time. It was more in line with everyday speech, not only because of a decline in education but also because of a desire to spread the word to the masses.

Despite dialectal variation, which is found in any widespread language, the languages of Spain, France, Portugal, and Italy retained a remarkable unity in phonological forms and developments, bolstered by the stabilising influence of their common Christian (Roman Catholic) culture. It was not until the Moorish conquest of Spain in 711 cut off communications between the major Romance regions that the languages began to diverge seriously. The Vulgar Latin dialect that would later become Romanian diverged somewhat more from the other varieties, as it was largely cut off from the unifying influences in the western part of the Empire.

One key marker of whether a Romance feature was in Vulgar Latin is to compare it with its parallel in Classical Latin. If it was not preferred in Classical Latin, then it most likely came from the undocumented contemporaneous Vulgar Latin. For example, the Romance for "horse" (Italian cavallo, French cheval, Spanish caballo and Portuguese cavalo) came from Latin
caballus. However, Classical Latin used equus. Therefore caballus was most likely the spoken form.

Vulgar Latin began to diverge into distinct languages by the 9th century at the latest, when the earliest extant Romance writings begin to appear. They were, throughout the period, confined to everyday speech, as Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin
was used for writing.


Main article: Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin
The Latin
Malmesbury Bible
from 1407.

Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin
is the written Latin
in use during that portion of the postclassical period when no corresponding Latin
vernacular existed. The spoken language had developed into the various incipient Romance languages; however, in the educated and official world Latin
continued without its natural spoken base. Moreover, this Latin
spread into lands that had never spoken Latin, such as the Germanic and Slavic nations. It became useful for international communication between the member states of the Holy Roman Empire
Roman Empire
and its allies.

Without the institutions of the Roman empire that had supported its uniformity, medieval Latin
lost its linguistic cohesion: for example, in classical Latin
sum and eram are used as auxiliary verbs in the perfect and pluperfect passive, which are compound tenses. Medieval Latin
might use fui and fueram instead. Furthermore, the meanings of many words have been changed and new vocabularies have been introduced from the vernacular. Identifiable individual styles of classically incorrect Latin


Main article: Renaissance Latin
Renaissance Latin
Most 15th century printed books (incunabula ) were in Latin, with the vernacular languages playing only a secondary role.

The Renaissance briefly reinforced the position of Latin
as a spoken language by its adoption by the Renaissance
Humanists . Often led by members of the clergy, they were shocked by the accelerated dismantling of the vestiges of the classical world and the rapid loss of its literature. They strove to preserve what they could and restore Latin
to what it had been and introduced the practice of producing revised editions of the literary works that remained by comparing surviving manuscripts. By no later than the 15th century they had replaced Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin
with versions supported by the scholars of the rising universities, who attempted, by scholarship, to discover what the classical language had been.


Main article: New Latin

During the Early Modern Age, Latin
still was the most important language of culture in Europe. Therefore, until the end of the 17th century the majority of books and almost all diplomatic documents were written in Latin. Afterwards, most diplomatic documents were written in French and later just native or other languages.


Main article: Contemporary Latin
Contemporary Latin
The signs at Wallsend Metro station are in English and Latin
as a tribute to Wallsend's role as one of the outposts of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire

The largest organisation that retains Latin
in official and quasi-official contexts is the Catholic Church
Catholic Church
. Latin
remains the language of the Roman Rite ; the Tridentine Mass
Tridentine Mass
is celebrated in Latin. Although the Mass of Paul VI is usually celebrated in the local vernacular language , it can be and often is said in Latin, in part or whole, especially at multilingual gatherings. It is the official language of the Holy See , the primary language of its public journal , the Acta Apostolicae Sedis , and the working language of the Roman Rota . Vatican City
Vatican City
is also home to the world's only automatic teller machine that gives instructions in Latin. In the pontifical universities postgraduate courses of Canon law are taught in Latin, and papers are written in the same language.

In the Anglican Church
Anglican Church
, after the publication of the Book of Common Prayer of 1559, a Latin
edition was published in 1560 for use at universities such as Oxford and the leading "public schools" (English private academies), where the liturgy was still permitted to be conducted in Latin
and there have been several Latin
translations since. Most recently, a Latin
edition of the 1979 USA Anglican Book of Common Prayer has appeared.

Some films of ancient settings, such as Sebastiane
and The Passion of the Christ , have been made with dialogue in Latin
for the sake of realism. Occasionally, Latin
dialogue is used because of its association with religion or philosophy, in such film/television series as The Exorcist and Lost ("Jughead "). Subtitles are usually shown for the benefit of those who do not understand Latin. There are also songs written with Latin
lyrics . The libretto for the opera-oratorio Oedipus rex (opera) by Igor Stravinsky is in Latin.

adopts the country's Latin
short name Helvetia on coins and stamps since there is no room to use all of the nation's four official languages . For a similar reason, it adopted the international vehicle and internet code CH, which stands for Confoederatio Helvetica, the country's full Latin
name. The polyglot European Union has adopted Latin
names in the logos of some of its institutions for the sake of linguistic compromise, an "ecumenical nationalism" common to most of the continent and as a sign of the continent's heritage (such as the EU Council : Consilium)

Many organizations today have Latin
mottos, such as "Semper paratus " (always ready), the motto of the United States
United States
Coast Guard , and "Semper fidelis " (always faithful), the motto of the United States Marine Corps . Several of the states of the United States
United States
also have Latin
mottos, such as "Qui transtulit sustinet" ("He who transplanted still sustains"), the state motto of Connecticut
; "Ad astra per aspera " ("To the stars through hardships"), that of Kansas
; "Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice" ("If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you"), that of Michigan
; "Salus populi suprema lex esto " ("The health of the people should be the highest law"), that of Missouri
; "Esse quam videri " (To be rather than to seem), that of North Carolina ; " Sic semper tyrannis
Sic semper tyrannis
" (Thus always for tyrants), that of Virginia
; and "Montani semper liberi " (Mountaineers are always free), that of West Virginia
. Another Latin motto is " Per ardua ad astra
Per ardua ad astra
" (Through adversity/struggle to the stars), the motto of the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
(RAF) . Some schools adopt Latin
mottos, for example Harvard University
Harvard University
's motto is " Veritas
" meaning (truth). Veritas
was the goddess of truth, a daughter of Saturn, and the mother of Virtue.

Similarly Canada
's motto "A mari usque ad mare" (from sea to sea) and most provincial mottos are also in Latin
( British Columbia 's is Splendor Sine Occasu (splendor without diminishment)).

Occasionally, some media outlets broadcast in Latin, which is targeted at enthusiasts. Notable examples include Radio Bremen in Germany
radio in Finland
, and Vatican Radio among the data used for reconstruction are explicit statements about pronunciation by ancient authors, misspellings, puns, ancient etymologies, and the spelling of Latin
loanwords in other languages.


The consonant phonemes of Classical Latin
Classical Latin
are shown in the following table:




ɡ ɡʷ


k kʷ










l j


In Old and Classical Latin, the Latin alphabet had no distinction between uppercase and lowercase , and the letters ⟨J U W⟩ did not exist. In place of ⟨J U⟩, ⟨I V⟩ were used. ⟨I V⟩ represented both vowels and consonants. Most of the letterforms were similar to modern uppercase, as can be seen in the inscription from the Colosseum
shown at the top of the article.

The spelling systems used in Latin
dictionaries and modern editions of Latin
texts, however, normally use ⟨i u⟩ in place of Classical-era ⟨i v⟩. Some systems use ⟨j v⟩ for the consonant sounds /j w/ except in the combinations ⟨gu su qu⟩ for which ⟨v⟩ is never used.

Some notes concerning the mapping of Latin
phonemes to English graphemes are given below:

Notes Latin grapheme Latin phone ENGLISH EXAMPLES

⟨C⟩, ⟨K⟩

Always hard as k in sky, never soft as in central, cello, or social


As t in stay, never as t in nation


As s in say, never as s in rise or issue


Always hard as g in good, never soft as g in gem

Before ⟨n⟩, as ng in sing


As n in man

Before ⟨c⟩, ⟨x⟩, and ⟨g⟩, as ng in sing


When doubled ⟨ll⟩ and before ⟨i⟩, as clear l in link (l exilis)

In all other positions, as dark l in bowl (l pinguis)


Similar to qu in quick, never as qu in antique


Sometimes at the beginning of a syllable, or after ⟨g⟩ and ⟨s⟩, as w in wine, never as v in vine


Sometimes at the beginning of a syllable, as y in yard, never as j in just

Doubled between vowels, as y y in toy yacht


A letter representing ⟨c⟩ + ⟨s⟩: as x in English axe, never as x in example

In Classical Latin, as in modern Italian, double consonant letters were pronounced as long consonant sounds distinct from short versions of the same consonants. Thus the nn in Classical Latin
Classical Latin
annus, year, (and in Italian /anno/) is pronounced as a doubled /nn/ as in English unnamed. (In English, distinctive consonant length or doubling occurs only at the boundary between two words or morphemes , as in that example.)


Simple Vowels


CLOSE iː ɪ

ʊ uː

MID eː ɛ

ɔ oː


a aː

In Classical Latin, ⟨U⟩ did not exist as a letter distinct from V; the written form ⟨V⟩ was used to represent both a vowel and a consonant. ⟨Y⟩ was adopted to represent upsilon in loanwords from Greek, but it was pronounced like ⟨u⟩ and ⟨i⟩ by some speakers. It was also used in native Latin
words by confusion with Greek words of similar meaning, such as sylva and ὕλη.

Classical Latin
Classical Latin
distinguished between long and short vowels . Then, long vowels, except for ⟨I⟩, were frequently marked using the apex , which was sometimes similar to an acute accent ⟨Á É Ó V́ Ý⟩. Long /iː/ was written using a taller version of ⟨I⟩, called i longa "long I": ⟨ꟾ⟩. In modern texts, long vowels are often indicated by a macron ⟨ā ē ī ō ū⟩, and short vowels are usually unmarked except when it is necessary to distinguish between words, when they are marked with a breve : ⟨ă ĕ ĭ ŏ ŭ⟩.

Long vowels in Classical Latin
Classical Latin
were pronounced with a different quality from short vowels and also were longer. The difference is described in table below:

Pronunciation of Latin
vowels Latin grapheme Latin phone MODERN EXAMPLES


similar to u in cut when short

similar to a in father when long


as e in pet when short

similar to ey in they when long


as i in sit when short

similar to i in machine when long


as o in sort when short

similar to o in holy when long


similar to u in put when short

similar to u in true when long


as in German Stück when short (or as short u or i)

as in German früh when long (or as long u or i)

A vowel letter followed by ⟨m⟩ at the end of a word, or a vowel letter followed by ⟨n⟩ before ⟨s⟩ or ⟨f⟩, represented a long nasal vowel , as in monstrum /mõːstrũː/.


Classical Latin
Classical Latin
had several diphthongs . The two most common were ⟨ae au⟩. ⟨oe⟩ was fairly rare, and ⟨ui eu ei ou⟩ were very rare, at least in native Latin

The sequences sometimes did not represent diphthongs. ⟨ae⟩ and ⟨oe⟩ also represented a sequence of two vowels in different syllables in aēnus "of bronze" and coēpit "began", and ⟨au ui eu ei ou⟩ represented sequences of two vowels or of a vowel and one of the semivowels /j w/, in cavē "beware!", cuius "whose", monuī "I warned", solvī "I released", dēlēvī "I destroyed", eius "his", and novus "new".

Old Latin had more diphthongs, but most of them changed into long vowels in Classical Latin. The Old Latin diphthong ⟨ai⟩ and the sequence ⟨āī⟩ became Classical ⟨ae⟩. Old Latin ⟨oi⟩ and ⟨ou⟩ changed to Classical ⟨ū⟩, except in a few words whose ⟨oi⟩ became Classical ⟨oe⟩. These two developments sometimes occurred in different words from the same root: for instance, Classical poena "punishment" and pūnīre "to punish". Early Old Latin
⟨ei⟩ usually changed to Classical ⟨ī⟩.

In Vulgar Latin and the Romance languages, ⟨ae au oe⟩ merged with ⟨e ō ē⟩. A similar pronunciation also existed during the Classical Latin
Classical Latin
period for less-educated speakers.

Diphthongs classified by beginning sound



ui /ui̯/

MID ei /ei̯/ eu/eu̯/ oe /oe̯/ ou /ou̯/

OPEN ae /ae̯/ au /au̯/


Main article: Latin alphabet The Duenos Inscription
Duenos Inscription
, from the 6th century BC, is one of the earliest known Old Latin texts.

was written in the Latin
alphabet, derived from the Old Italic script , which was in turn drawn from the Greek alphabet and ultimately the Phoenician alphabet
Phoenician alphabet
. This alphabet has continued to be used over the centuries as the script for the Romance, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, Finnic, and many Slavic languages (Polish , Slovak , Slovene , Croatian and Czech ); and it has been adopted by many languages around the world, including Vietnamese , the Austronesian languages , many Turkic languages , and most languages in sub-Saharan Africa , the Americas , and Oceania
, making it by far the world's single most widely used writing system.

The number of letters in the Latin alphabet has varied. When it was first derived from the Etruscan alphabet, it contained only 21 letters. Later, G was added to represent /ɡ/, which had previously been spelled C, and Z ceased to be included in the alphabet, as the language then had no voiced alveolar fricative . The letters Y and Z were later added to represent Greek letters, upsilon and zeta respectively, in Greek loanwords.

W was created in the 11th century from VV. It represented /w/ in Germanic languages, not Latin, which still uses V for the purpose. J was distinguished from the original I only during the late Middle Ages, as was the letter U from V. Although some Latin
dictionaries use J, it is rarely used for Latin
text, as it was not used in classical times, but many other languages use it.

Classical Latin
Classical Latin
did not contain sentence punctuation , letter case, or interword spacing , but apices were sometimes used to distinguish length in vowels and the interpunct was used at times to separate words. The first line of Catullus
3, originally written as LV́GÉTEÓVENERÉSCVPÍDINÉSQVE ("Mourn, O Venuses and Cupids ")

or with interpunct as LV́GÉTE·Ó·VENERÉS·CVPÍDINÉSQVE

would be rendered in a modern edition as Lugete, o Veneres Cupidinesque

or with macrons Lūgēte, ō Venerēs Cupīdinēsque. A replica of the Old Roman Cursive inspired by the Vindolanda tablets
Vindolanda tablets
, the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain.

The Roman cursive script is commonly found on the many wax tablets excavated at sites such as forts, an especially extensive set having been discovered at Vindolanda on Hadrian\'s Wall in Britain . Curiously enough, most of the Vindolanda tablets
Vindolanda tablets
show spaces between words, but spaces were avoided in monumental inscriptions from that era.


Occasionally, Latin
has been written in other scripts:

* The Praeneste fibula
Praeneste fibula
is a 7th-century BC pin with an Old Latin inscription written using the Etruscan script. * The rear panel of the early 8th-century Franks Casket
Franks Casket
has an inscription that switches from Old English in Anglo-Saxon runes
Anglo-Saxon runes
to Latin
in Latin
script and to Latin
in runes.


Main articles: Latin grammar and Latin syntax

is a synthetic , fusional language in the terminology of linguistic typology. In more traditional terminology, it is an inflected language, but typologists are apt to say "inflecting". Words include an objective semantic element and markers specifying the grammatical use of the word. The fusion of root meaning and markers produces very compact sentence elements: amō, "I love," is produced from a semantic element, ama-, "love," to which -ō, a first person singular marker, is suffixed.

The grammatical function can be changed by changing the markers: the word is "inflected" to express different grammatical functions, but the semantic element does not change. ( Inflection uses affixing and infixing. Affixing is prefixing and suffixing. Latin
inflections are never prefixed.)

For example, amābit, "he or she or it will love", is formed from the same stem, amā-, to which a future tense marker, -bi-, is suffixed, and a third person singular marker, -t, is suffixed. There is an inherent ambiguity: -t may denote more than one grammatical category: masculine, feminine, or neuter gender. A major task in understanding Latin
phrases and clauses is to clarify such ambiguities by an analysis of context. All natural languages contain ambiguities of one sort or another.

The inflections express gender , number , and case in adjectives , nouns , and pronouns , a process called declension . Markers are also attached to fixed stems of verbs, to denote person , number, tense , voice , mood , and aspect , a process called conjugation . Some words are uninflected and undergo neither process, such as adverbs, prepositions, and interjections.


Main article: Latin declension

A regular Latin
noun belongs to one of five main declensions, a group of nouns with similar inflected forms. The declensions are identified by the genitive singular form of the noun. The first declension, with a predominant ending letter of a, is signified by the genitive singular ending of -ae. The second declension, with a predominant ending letter of o, is signified by the genitive singular ending of -i. The third declension, with a predominant ending letter of i, is signified by the genitive singular ending of -is. The fourth declension, with a predominant ending letter of u, is signified by the genitive singular ending of -ūs. The fifth declension, with a predominant ending letter of e, is signified by the genitive singular ending of -ei.

There are seven Latin
noun cases, which also apply to adjectives and pronouns and mark a noun's syntactic role in the sentence by means of inflections. Thus, word order is not as important in Latin
as it is in English, which is less inflected. The general structure and word order of a Latin
sentence can therefore vary. The cases are as follows:

* NOMINATIVE – used when the noun is the subject or a predicate nominative . The thing or person acting: the GIRL ran: PUELLA cucurrit, or cucurrit PUELLA * GENITIVE – used when the noun is the possessor of or connected with an object: "the horse of the man", or "the man's horse"; in both instances, the word man would be in the genitive case when it is translated into Latin). It also indicates the partitive , in which the material is quantified: "a group of people"; "a number of gifts": people and gifts would be in the genitive case). Some nouns are genitive with special verbs and adjectives: The cup is full of WINE. Poculum plēnum VīNī est. The master of the SLAVE had beaten him. Dominus SERVī eum verberāverat. * DATIVE – used when the noun is the indirect object of the sentence, with special verbs, with certain prepositions, and if it is used as agent, reference, or even possessor: The merchant hands the stola TO THE WOMAN. Mercātor FēMINAE stolam trādit.) * ACCUSATIVE – used when the noun is the direct object of the subject and as the object of a preposition demonstrating place to which.: The man killed THE BOY. Vir necāvit PUERUM. * ABLATIVE – used when the noun demonstrates separation or movement from a source, cause, agent or instrument or when the noun is used as the object of certain prepositions; adverbial: You walked WITH THE BOY. Cum PUERō ambulāvistī. * VOCATIVE – used when the noun is used in a direct address. The vocative form of a noun is often the same as the nominative, but exceptions include second-declension nouns ending in -us. The -us becomes an -e in the vocative singular. If it ends in -ius (such as fīlius), the ending is just -ī (filī), as distinct from the nominative plural (filiī) in the vocative singular: "MASTER!" shouted the slave. "DOMINE!" clāmāvit servus. * LOCATIVE – used to indicate a location (corresponding to the English "in" or "at"). It is far less common than the other six cases of Latin
nouns and usually applies to cities and small towns and islands along with a few common nouns, such as the word domus (house). In the singular of the first and second declensions, its form coincides with the genitive (Roma becomes Romae, "in Rome"). In the plural of all declensions and the singular of the other declensions, it coincides with the ablative (Athēnae becomes Athēnīs, "at Athens"). In the fourth-declension word domus, the locative form, domī ("at home") differs from the standard form of all other cases.

lacks both definite and indefinite articles so puer currit can mean either "the boy is running" or "a boy is running".


Main article: Latin declension

There are two types of regular Latin
adjectives: first- and second- declension and third-declension. They are so-called because their forms are similar or identical to first- and second-declension and third-declension nouns, respectively. Latin
adjectives also have comparative (more --, -er) and superlative (most --, est) forms. There are also a number of Latin

numbers are sometimes declined. See Numbers below.

First- And Second-declension Adjectives

First- and second-declension adjectives are declined like first-declension nouns for the feminine forms and like second-declension nouns for the masculine and neuter forms. For example, for mortuus, mortua, mortuum (dead), mortua is declined like a regular first-declension noun (such as puella (girl)), mortuus is declined like a regular second-declension masculine noun (such as dominus (lord, master)), and mortuum is declined like a regular second-declension neuter noun (such as auxilium (help)).


Some first- and second-declension adjectives have an -er as the masculine nominative singular form and are declined like regular first- and second-declension adjectives. Some but not all adjectives keep the e for all of the forms.

Third-declension Adjectives

Third-declension adjectives are mostly declined like normal third-declension nouns, with a few exceptions. In the plural nominative neuter, for example, the ending is -ia (omnia (all, everything)), and for third-declension nouns, the plural nominative neuter ending is -a or -ia (capita (heads), animalia (animals)) They can have one, two or three forms for the masculine, feminine, and neuter nominative singular.


participles, like English participles, are formed from a verb. There are a few main types of participles: Present Active Participles, Perfect Passive Participles, Future Active Participles, and Future Passive Participles.


sometimes uses prepositions, depending on the type of prepositional phrase being used. Prepositions can take two cases for their object: the accusative ("apud puerum" (with the boy), with "puerum" being the accusative form of "puer", boy) and the ablative ("sine puero" (without the boy), "puero" being the ablative form of "puer", boy).


Main article: Latin conjugation

A regular verb in Latin
belongs to one of four main conjugations . A conjugation is "a class of verbs with similar inflected forms." The conjugations are identified by the last letter of the verb's present stem. The present stem can be found by omitting the -re (-rī in deponent verbs) ending from the present infinitive form. The infinitive of the first conjugation ends in -ā-re or -ā-ri (active and passive respectively): amāre, "to love," hortārī, "to exhort"; of the second conjugation by -ē-re or -ē-rī: monēre, "to warn", verērī, "to fear;" of the third conjugation by -ere, -ī: dūcere, "to lead," ūtī, "to use"; of the fourth by -ī-re, -ī-rī: audīre, "to hear," experīrī, "to attempt".

Irregular verbs may not follow the types or may be marked in a different way. The "endings" presented above are not the suffixed infinitive markers. The first letter in each case is the last of the stem so the conjugations are also called a-conjugation, e-conjugation and i-conjugation. The fused infinitive ending is -re or -rī. Third-conjugation stems end in a consonant: the consonant conjugation. Further, there is a subset of the third conjugation, the i-stems, which behave somewhat like the fourth conjugation, as they are both i-stems, one short and the other long. The stem categories descend from Indo-European and can therefore be compared to similar conjugations in other Indo-European languages.

There are six general tenses in Latin
(present, imperfect, future, perfect, pluperfect and future perfect), three moods (indicative, imperative and subjunctive, in addition to the infinitive , participle , gerund , gerundive and supine ), three persons (first, second and third), two numbers (singular and plural), two voices (active and passive) and three aspects (perfective, imperfective , and stative ). Verbs are described by four principal parts:

* The first principal part is the first-person singular, present tense, indicative mood, active voice form of the verb. If the verb is impersonal, the first principal part will be in the third-person singular. * The second principal part is the present infinitive active. * The third principal part is the first-person singular, perfect indicative active form. Like the first principal part, if the verb is impersonal, the third principal part will be in the third-person singular. * The fourth principal part is the supine form, or alternatively, the nominative singular, perfect passive participle form of the verb. The fourth principal part can show one gender of the participle or all three genders (-us for masculine, -a for feminine and -m for neuter) in the nominative singular. The fourth principal part will be the future participle if the verb cannot be made passive. Most modern Latin
dictionaries, if they show only one gender, tend to show the masculine; but many older dictionaries instead show the neuter, as it coincides with the supine. The fourth principal part is sometimes omitted for intransitive verbs, but strictly in Latin, they can be made passive if they are used impersonally, and the supine exists for such verbs.

There are six tenses in the Latin
language. These are divided into two tense systems: the present system, which is made up of the present, imperfect and future tenses, and the perfect system, which is made up of the perfect, pluperfect and future perfect tenses. Each tense has a set of endings corresponding to the person and number referred to. Subject (nominative) pronouns are generally omitted for the first (I, we) and second (you) persons unless emphasis on the subject is desired.

The table below displays the common inflected endings for the indicative mood in the active voice in all six tenses. For the future tense, the first listed endings are for the first and second conjugations, and the second listed endings are for the third and fourth conjugations:


Present -ō/m -s -t -mus -tis -nt

Future -bō, -am -bis, -ēs -bit, -et -bimus, -ēmus -bitis, -ētis -bunt, -ent

Imperfect -bam -bās -bat -bāmus -bātis -bant

Perfect -ī -istī -it -imus -istis -ērunt

Future Perfect -erō -eris -erit -erimus -eritis -erint

Pluperfect -eram -erās -erat -erāmus -erātis -erant

The future perfect endings are identical to the future forms of sum (with the exception of erint) and that the pluperfect endings are identical to the imperfect forms of sum.

Deponent Verbs

Some Latin
verbs are deponent , causing their forms to be in the passive voice but retain an active meaning: hortor, hortārī, hortātus sum (to urge).


As Latin
is an Italic language, most of its vocabulary is likewise Italic, ultimately from the ancestral Proto-Indo-European language . However, because of close cultural interaction, the Romans not only adapted the Etruscan alphabet
Etruscan alphabet
to form the Latin alphabet but also borrowed some Etruscan words into their language, including persona "mask" and histrio "actor". Latin
also included vocabulary borrowed from Oscan , another Italic language.

After the Fall of Tarentum (272 BC), the Romans began hellenizing, or adopting features of Greek culture, including the borrowing of Greek words, such as camera (vaulted roof), sumbolum (symbol), and balineum (bath). This hellenization led to the addition of "Y" and "Z" to the alphabet to represent Greek sounds. Subsequently the Romans transplanted Greek art
Greek art
, medicine , science and philosophy to Italy, paying almost any price to entice Greek skilled and educated persons to Rome
and sending their youth to be educated in Greece. Thus, many Latin
scientific and philosophical words were Greek loanwords or had their meanings expanded by association with Greek words, as ars (craft) and τέχνη (art).

Because of the Roman Empire's expansion and subsequent trade with outlying European tribes, the Romans borrowed some northern and central European words, such as beber (beaver), of Germanic origin, and bracae (breeches), of Celtic origin. The specific dialects of Latin
across Latin-speaking regions of the former Roman Empire
Roman Empire
after its fall were influenced by languages specific to the regions. The dialects of Latin
evolved into different Romance languages.

During and after the adoption of Christianity into Roman society, Christian vocabulary became a part of the language, either from Greek or Hebrew borrowings or as Latin
neologisms. Continuing into the Middle Ages, Latin
incorporated many more words from surrounding languages, including Old English and other Germanic languages
Germanic languages

Over the ages, Latin-speaking populations produced new adjectives, nouns, and verbs by affixing or compounding meaningful segments . For example, the compound adjective, omnipotens, "all-powerful," was produced from the adjectives omnis, "all", and potens, "powerful", by dropping the final s of omnis and concatenating. Often, the concatenation changed the part of speech, and nouns were produced from verb segments or verbs from nouns and adjectives.


The phrases are mentioned with accents to show where stress is placed. In Latin, most words are stressed at the second-last (penultimate) syllable , called in Latin
paenultima or syllaba paenultima. A few words are stressed at the third-last syllable, called in Latin
antepaenultima or syllaba antepaenultima.

SáLVE to one person / SALVéTE to more than one person - hello

áVE to one person / AVéTE to more than one person - greetings

VáLE to one person / VALéTE to more than one person - goodbye

CúRA UT VáLEAS - take care

EXOPTáTUS to male / EXOPTáTA to female, OPTáTUS to male / OPTáTA to female, GRáTUS to male / GRáTA to female, ACCéPTUS to male / ACCéPTA to female - welcome

QUóMODO VáLES?, UT VáLES? - how are you?

BéNE - good

AMABO TE - please

BéNE VáLEO - I'm fine

MáLE - bad

MáLE VáLEO - I'm not good

QUáESO (/) - please



GRáTIAS TíBI, GRáTIAS TíBI áGO - thank you

MáGNAS GRáTIAS, MáGNAS GRáTIAS áGO - many thanks


ACCíPE SIS to one person / ACCíPITE SíTIS to more than one person, LIBéNTER - you're welcome

QUA AETáTE ES? - how old are you?

25 áNNOS NáTUS to male / 25 áNNOS NáTA to female - 25 years old

LOQUERíSNE ... - do you speak ...

* LATíNE? - Latin? * GRáECE? (/) - Greek? * ÁNGLICE? () - English? * ITALIáNE? - Italian? * GALLICE? - French? * HISPáNICE? - Spanish? * LUSITáNICE? - Portuguese? * THEODíSCE? () - German? * SíNICE? - Chinese? * JAPóNICE? () - Japanese? * COREANE? - Korean? * ARáBICE? - Arabic? * PéRSICE? - Persian? * INDICE? - Hindi? * RúSSICE? - Russian?

úBI LATRíNA EST? - where is the toilet?

áMO TE / TE áMO - I love you


In ancient times, numbers in Latin
were written only with letters. Today, the numbers can be written with the Arabic numbers as well as with Roman numerals . The numbers 1, 2 and 3 and every whole hundred from 200 to 900 are declined as nouns and adjectives, with some differences.

ūnus, ūna, ūnum (masculine, feminine, neuter)



duo, duae, duo (m., f., n.)



trēs, tria (m./f., n.)





























one hundred



five hundred



one thousand

The numbers from 4 to 100 often do not change their endings.


Commentarii de Bello Gallico
Commentarii de Bello Gallico
, also called De Bello Gallico (The Gallic War), written by Gaius Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
, begins with the following passage:

Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Belgae, aliam Aquitani, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli appellantur. Hi omnes lingua, institutis, legibus inter se differunt. Gallos ab Aquitanis Garumna flumen, a Belgis Matrona et Sequana dividit. Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae, propterea quod a cultu atque humanitate provinciae longissime absunt, minimeque ad eos mercatores saepe commeant atque ea quae ad effeminandos animos pertinent important, proximique sunt Germanis, qui trans Rhenum incolunt, quibuscum continenter bellum gerunt. Qua de causa Helvetii quoque reliquos Gallos virtute praecedunt, quod fere cotidianis proeliis cum Germanis contendunt, cum aut suis finibus eos prohibent aut ipsi in eorum finibus bellum gerunt. Eorum una pars, quam Gallos obtinere dictum est, initium capit a flumine Rhodano, continetur Garumna flumine, Oceano, finibus Belgarum; attingit etiam ab Sequanis et Helvetiis flumen Rhenum; vergit ad septentriones. Belgae ab extremis Galliae finibus oriuntur; pertinent ad inferiorem partem fluminis Rheni; spectant in septentrionem et orientem solem. Aquitania a Garumna flumine ad Pyrenaeos montes et eam partem Oceani quae est ad Hispaniam pertinet; spectat inter occasum solis et septentriones.


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