Elements of Latin Lesson 52
The Conjugation of POSSUM

Dulce et decōrum est prō patriā morī — Sweet and fitting it is to die for one's country
From one of the odes of Horace, Rome's greatest lyric poet.

362. Possum, I am able, I can, is a compound of the adjective potis, able, and sum, I am. It is inflected in the indicative and infinitive as follows:

Principal Parts: possum, posse, potuī, ------



possum I am able possumus we are able
potes you are able potestis you (all) are able
potest he/she/it is able possunt they are able


poteram I was able poterāmus we were able
poterās you were able poterātis you (all) were able
poterat he/she/it was able poterant they were able


poterō I shall be able poterimus we shall be able
poteris you will be able poteritis you (all) will be able
poterit he/she/it will be able poterunt they will be able


potuī I was able potuimus we were able
potuistī you were able potuistis you (all) were able
potuit he/she/it was able potuērunt they were able


potueram I had been able potuerāmus we had been able
potuerās you had been able potuerātis you (all) had been able
potuerat he/she/it had been able potuerant they had been able

Future Perfect

potuerō I shall have been able potuerimus we shall have been able
potueris you will have been able potueritis you (all) will have been able
potuerit he/she/it will have been able potuerint they will have been able


Present posse to be able
Perfect potuisse to have been able

    a. This verb has no imperative and no future infinitive. The perfect infinitive, as in all verbs, is formed by adding -isse to the perfect stem (§ 332).


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Special Vocabulary

Latin Word Meaning Related Words
inopia, -ae (f) want, need, scarcity
interficiō, -ere, -fēcī, -fectus to kill, do in
negōtium, negōtiī (n) business, affair, matter negotiate
obtineō, -ēre, -uī, -tentus to possess, keep, gain obtain
prōcēdō, -ere, -cessī, -cessūrus to go forward, advance proceed, procession
prōdūcō, -ere, -dūxī, -ductus to lead forward produce, production
suscipiō, -ere, -cēpī, -ceptus to undertake, assume

363. Ōlim Porsenna, quī rēgnum Etrūscōrum1 tum obtinēbat, cum Rōmānīs dē imperiō Italiae pugnāvit et Rōmam magnīs cōpiīs oppugnāvit. Iam Rōmānī inopiā frūmentī labōrābant2 et magnopere perterrēbantur. Erat in numerō Rōmānōrum ēgregius iuvenis3 Mūcius Scaevola. Is timidōs animōs eōrum cōnfīrmāvit atque dīxit: "In castra Etrūscōrum prōcēdam et Porsennam interficiam. Itaque patriam perīculō līberābō." Fortiter negōtium suscēpit, sed vīsus captusque est. Tum ante Porsennam prōductus est.

1Etrūscī, -ōrum, M., the Etruscans, neighbors of the Romans to the north and their most powerful enemies in the early years of the city. 2 Used here in the sense of suffer. 3 Youth. 4 The English pronunciation is Sevola.

364. 1. They had held the sovereignty across the Rhine for1 many years. 2. Because of the scarcity of grain the men had not advanced. 3. That matter had been undertaken by Mucius. 4. The captives had been led before your camp. 5. After the battle a large supply of money was found there.

1 Use per, i.e. through many years.

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