Elements of Latin Lesson 20
Past Indicative Active of First Conjugation

Nīl dēspērandum — There's no such word as fail
From Horace, a Roman poet. Literally, In nothing must it be despaired.

175. Formation of Tenses. Instead of using auxiliary verbs, like was, shall, will, etc., to express differences in tense, Latin adds to the verb stem certain elements that have the force of auxiliary verbs. These are called tense signs.

176. The tense sign of the imperfect is -bā-, which is added to the present stem. The imperfect consists, therefore, of three parts:

Present Stem
Tense Sign
Personal Ending

  a. Note that the Latin verb is translated from right to left, so that English I was calling is in Latin vocābam, calling-was-I.

177. Inflection of Imperfect Indicative Active. The personal endings of the imperfect are the same as those of the present, except that -m is used instead of in the first person singular.
  1. vocābam, I was calling or I called
  2. vocābās, you were calling or you called
  3. vocābat, he was calling or he called
  1. vocābāmus, we were calling or we called
  2. vocābātis, you were calling or you called
  3. vocābant, they were calling or they called

  a. Note that the inflection above is somewhat like that of eram (170), the imperfect tense of sum, and that the long ā of the tense sign -bā- is shortened before final -m, -t, and -nt. A long vowel is regularly shortened before -nt and final -m or -t. Learn this rule now.

178. Meaning of Imperfect Tense. The Latin imperfect tense has two uses.

  a. It may represent an action as going on in past time and not yet completed, and is then translated by the English past progressive: as, vocābam, I was calling. For this reason this tense is often called the imperfect.

  b. It usually describes a past situation, and is then translated by the English past: as, vocābam, I called. For this reason this tense is often called the past descriptive.


Print Lesson 20 Exercises

179. Inflect in the imperfect indicative active the verbs given in 161.


180. Translate from Latin to English:

1. Nārrās, nārrābās, parāmus, parābāmus.   2. Pugnātis, portābat, occupant, dabam.   3. Occupābātis, nāvigātis, labōrābās, habitant.   4. Datis, pugnābam, properātis, occupābāmus.


Latin Word Meaning Related Words
amīcitia, -ae (f) friendship amity.
See also amīcus, lesson 9
barbarus, -a, -um savage, uncivilized barbarous, barbarian
Britannī, -ōrum (m) the Britons
Britannia, -ae (f) Britain, England
itaque and so, therefore
silva, -ae (f) forest silvan, Pennsylvania

181. Britannia, terra Britannōrum, est īnsula magna. Britannī erant barbarī et in silvīs magnīs et oppidīs parvīs habitābant. Britannia est proxima Galliae et Britannī erant amīcī Gallōrum. In longīs bellīs Gallōrum et Rōmānōrum Britannī sociīs suīs auxilium saepe dabant. Iam nōta populō Rōmānō erat Britannia. Sed amīcitia Britannōrum et Gallōrum populō Rōmānō grāta nōn erat. Itaque Rōmānī cōpiās convocābant et arma sua et magnam cōpiam frūmentī parābant. Magnā cum dīligentiā labōrābant. Tum cum multīs virīs ad īnsulam Britanniam nāvigābant. Īnsula erat crēbra silvīs et viae nōn bonae erant. Itaque Rōmānī in perīculō saepe erant. Britannī ex castrīs suīs properābant et cum Rōmānīs pugnābant. Sed victōria Rōmānōrum erat, et Rōmānī cōpiīs suīs multa oppida Britannōrum occupābant.

182. 1. The Romans were-fighting in the forest with the savage Britons.   2. The Britons carried grain to the camp with-their horses.   3. Your friendship will-be known to-the-Romans.   4. Because-of-the-danger1 of-war the Britons were already calling-together their forces.   5. The Romans sailed through the deep waters with great danger.

1. Ablative of cause, 165.

Review Vocabulary Lessons 12-20


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