Elements of Latin Lesson 44
Use and Inflection of the Perfect Indicative Active

Nōn ministrārī, sed ministrāre — Not to be ministered unto, but to minister
Motto of Wellesley College.

311. Use of the Perfect. The perfect indicative has two distinct meanings; according to its translation, it is called the present perfect or the past absolute.

312. As Present perfect, the perfect is translated by the English present perfect with have, and denotes the action as completed at the time of speaking: as, I have now finished my work.

313. As past absolute, the perfect is translated by the English past tense, and denotes that the action took place sometime in the past: as, I finished my work.

314. Translation of the English past. The English past is expressed sometimes by the Latin perfect and sometimes by the Latin imperfect. In telling a story the perfect is used to mark its successive forward steps, and the imperfect to describe past situations and past circumstances that attended those steps.

What tense would be used in a Latin translation of the following passage?

I sailed the seas for many years. Once a school of whales surrounded our ship. The whales were swimming slowly along and were not terrified by our presence. Spouts of water arose on every side and some of the passengers were greatly alarmed. Then the monsters suddenly vanished.

315. Inflection of the Perfect. The perfect indicative active of the four conjugations is inflected like fuī (cf. 308), and is as follows:

Subject 1st Conjugation 2nd Conjugation 3rd Conjugation 4th Conjugation
(Stem: vocāv-)
I have called, I called
(Stem: monu-)
I have advised, I advised
(Stem: rēx-)
I have ruled, I ruled
(Stem: audīv-)
I have heard, I heard
ego vocāvī monuī rēxī audīvī
vocāvistī monuistī rēxistī audīvistī
is vocāvit monuit rēxit audīvit
nōs vocāvimus monuimus rēximus audīvimus
vōs vocāvistis monuistis rēxistis audīvistis
vocāvērunt /
monuērunt /
rēxērunt /
audīvērunt /

a. In vocabularies the first person of the perfect is always given as the third of the principal parts. Principal parts must be learned thoroughly. With principal parts and the rules for tense formation well in mind, the conjugation of verbs becomes easy.


Print Lesson 44 Exercises

316. Nearly all perfects of the first conjugation are formed by adding -vī to the present stem. Like vocāvī, inflect amāvī, nārrāvī, pācāvī.

317. Like monuī, inflect habuī, tenuī, patuī.

318. Like rēxī, inflect dīxī (perfect of dīcō), dūxī (perfect of dūcō), mīsī (perfect of mittō), and cēpī, (perfect of capiō).

319. Like audīvī, inflect mūnīvī.


Special Vocabulary

Latin Word Meaning Related Words
integer, integra, integrum whole, fresh, pure integer, integrity
lēgātus, -ī (m) ambassador, lieutenant, envoy legate, delegate, delegation
pūblicus, -a, -um public, official publicity, publication
vērus, -a, -um true, genuine veracity, verity

Curius Dentatus and the Samnite Ambassadors

320. In numerō clārōrum Rōmānōrum erat Curius Dentātus. Saepe magna proelia faciēbat, saepe inimīca castra oppidaque capiēbat. Sed in mediīs victōriīs vīta eius erat vēra et integra. Nec in vīllā amplā, sed in casā parvā habitābat, et cum officia pūblica nōn prohibēbant, magnā dīligentiā in parvō agrō labōrābat. Ōlim Samnītēs,1 fīnitimī Rōmānōrum, quī amīcitiam Dentātī petēbant, ad eum lēgātōs mīsērunt. Lēgātī multa praemia pulchra et cōpiam aurī2 portābant et ad agrum Dentātī properāvērunt.

1 The Samnites, living east and south of Latium, conquered by the Romans after a great struggle, in which Dentatus played a prominent part. 2 aurum, -ī (n) gold

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