Latin/Lesson 2-Adjectives

From Wikibooks, open books for an open world
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Intro: 12
Chapter 1 123456
Chapter 2 12345678
Chapter 3 12345678
Chapter 4 12345678910
Chapter 5 123456789


[edit | edit source]

Overview of Adjectives

[edit | edit source]

An adjective is simply any word that describes a noun, such as an object or subject in a sentence. Of course, whole phrases may be used to describe nouns, but adjectives are individual words. In English, for example:

The red dog attacked the crazy fox.

An adjective can also be used in a sentence opposite a form of "to be." (called a predicate adjective)

The boy is good.

In Latin, the same is true.

Adjectives in Latin

[edit | edit source]

Like nouns, adjectives in Latin are declined. The vast majority take either the first and second declension (antiquus -a -um) or the third declension (ferox, ferocis). All such adjectives must agree with the nouns they describe in gender, number, and case.

Most third declension adjectives do not have separate masculine and feminine forms. (Neuter adjectives follow the third declension neuter pattern.)

First and second declension adjectives have three distinct genders. Feminine adjectives require the first declension, masculine the second (masculine pattern), and neuter the second (neuter pattern).

These words will look like the adjective antiquus (old, ancient):

antiquus (masculine), antiqua (feminine), antiquum (neuter).

Third declension adjectives typically look more like ferox, ferocis (wild, bold).

Adjectives often come after the word they describe. Since word order is not central to the meaning of a Latin sentence the adjective may appear anywhere within the sentence. In poetry, for example, several words often separate an adjective from the noun it modifies.

For example:

Explanation- The good boy loves the wild dog.
Latin: Puer bonus amat(1) canem(2) (acc) ferocem(3) (acc).
English: [The] boy good [he] loves [the] dog wild.
  • (1) amāre, [to] love. amat, [he] loves.
  • (2) canis, dog (masc.)
  • (3) ferox, ferocis, wild. ferocem (acc.)

Bonus, a first and second declension adjective, is masculine, nominative, and singular to agree with puer, the word it is describing.

Ferocem, a third declension adjective, is masculine, accusative, and singular to agree with canem. Canem is accusative because it is the object of amat.

Here is an example of plural adjectives:

Explanation- The good boys love the wild dogs.
Latin: Puerī (plur) bonī (plur) amant (plur) canes (plur, acc) feroces (plur, acc).
English: [The] boys good [they] love [the] dogs wild.

The words bonus and ferocem become boni and feroces to agree with the plurals pueri and canes.

However, if a girl (puella) happened to love that boy:

Explanation- The good girl loves the good boy.
Latin: Puella bona amat puerum (acc) bonum (acc).
English: [The] girl good [she] loves [the] boy good.

Bonus must become bona in order to modify puella, which is feminine.

Finally, if the girl isn't good, but rather wild:

Explanation- The wild girl loves the good boy.
Latin: Puella ferox amat puerum (acc) bonum (acc).
English: [The] girl wild [she] loves [the] boy good.

Even though puella is first declension, ferox remains third declension. In the same way, a good lion would be bonus leo.

Adjectives must agree in gender, number, and case, but not necessarily in declension.

The Positive, Comparative, and Superlative Adjectives

[edit | edit source]

The positive form of the adjective is the plain form of the adjective (e.g. good), the comparative form is used to compare two things (e.g. better), and the superlative form is used to compare more than two things (e.g. best).

To make most Latin adjectives comparative you add -ior to the adjective. To translate back into English you would say either the adjective -er (e.g. taller) or more the adjective (e.g. more tall). To form the superlative you add -issmus. This translates to either the adjective -est (e.g. strongest) or most the adjective (e.g. most strong).

However not all adjectives follow this rule; the following are irregular adjectives and their English translations:

Irregular Adjectives
English Positive Comparative Superlative
good bonus melior optimus
bad malus peior pessimus
small parvus minor minimus
large magnus māior maximus
much multus plūs plūrimus
thrifty frūgī frūgālior frūgālissimus
worthless nēquam nēquior nēquissimus


[edit | edit source]
EXERCISE • Lesson 2-Adjectives • Translate
  1. est bonus
  2. sum ferox
  3. estis boni
  4. sunt bonae
SOLUTION • Latin/Lesson 2-Adjectives • Translate
  1. He is good
  2. I am wild
  3. You (pl.) are good
  4. They are good