Latin/Lesson 7-The Gerund and Participles

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Participles are verbs which function grammatically like adjectives. English, aided by auxiliary participles, is able have participle phrases in many tenses. Latin has participles that do not have auxiliary supplementary participles. This limits the usage of the participle in Latin, according to some wiki-scholars of Classical Studies.

Example 1
English (the) walking man
Latin ambulans vir
Present Participle Substantive

Present Active Participles

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Present participles are formed by adding -ns to the stem of the verb.

Forming the Present Imperfect Participle
1st Conjugation Infinitive: amare
Stem: ama
Present Imperfect Participle: amans
2nd Conjugation Infitive: monere
Stem: mone
Present Imperfect Participle: monens
3rd Conjugation Infinitive: regere
Stem: rege
Present Imperfect Participle: regens
4th Conjugation Infinitive: audire
Present Imperfect Participle:audiens

Present Participles are declined like 3rd declension adjectives. In cases besides the nominative, the -s becomes -t.


1. ferens, ferentis 2. capiens, capientis 3. ens, entis


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Form the Present Participle and translate of the following Latin verbs:

  • meto, messui, messum, ere
  • metuo, metum, ui, ere
  • milito, avi, atum, are
  • postulo, avi, atum, are
  • sulco, avi, sulcum, are
  • iacio, ieci, iactum, ere

The examples will show participles of the verb amo, amare, amavi, amatum (to love).

  • present active: base + 'ns.' This forms a two-termination 3rd declension adjective. In the case of amare, the participle is amans, amantis (loving).
  • perfect passive: fourth principle part, with appropriate first or second declension endings: amatus, -a, -um.
  • future active: fourth principle part, minus 'm', add 'rus, -a, -um' This forms a 1st-2nd declension adjective: amaturus, -a, -um (about to love).

In deponent verbs, the perfect passive participle is formed in the same way as in regular verbs. However, since the nature of the deponent verb is passive in form and active in meaning, the participle is translated actively.

Remember that participles are adjectives, and therefore must be declined to agree with the noun which they modify in case, number and gender.


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The gerund is a verbal noun which is used to refer to the action of a verb. For example: ars scribendi = the art of writing. The gerund is declined as a second declension neuter noun. It is formed by taking the present stem and adding -ndum.

Verb amo, amare video, videre rego, regere capio, capere audio, audire
Gerund amandum videndum regendum capiendum audiendum

Meanings of the gerund

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  • Genitive: ars legendi - The art of reading / to read
  • Accusative: ad puniendum - to punish, for punishing
  • Ablative: saepe canendo - through frequently singing; in legendo: while reading
  • Genitive with causa: puniendi causa - in order to punish


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The gerundive is a 1st/2nd declension adjective formed the same way as the gerund, and its function overlaps somewhat with the gerund, but otherwise differs. The literal translation of the gerundive is with "to be", eg. defendendus, -a, -um = "to be defended".

  • Accusative: ad ludos fruendos - to the games to be enjoyed - to enjoy the games (Note that if this were a gerund construction, it would be ad ludis fruendum since fruor, -i takes the ablative case. In the gerundive construction, both noun and gerundive are governed by the preposition ad)
  • Gerundive of obligation, which is constructed with the verb 'est' or 'sunt', according to the subject's number: Carthago delenda est - Carthage is to be destroyed - Carthage must be destroyed. Note that if there is an object (eg. Carthage is to be destroyed by us), it goes into the dative case (eg. Carthago delenda nobis est).


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1. Convert the following subjunctive purpose clauses into gerund or gerundive clauses with the same meaning. For example: militabat ut patriam defenderet → militabat ad patriam defendendum or militabat patriam defendendi causa or militabat ad patriam defendendam. Try to use each construction twice.

  • casam exit ut patrem adiuvet
  • mater in casam rediit ut cenam pararet
  • hostes vincebant ergo scutum abieci (I threw away my shield) ut celerius fugerem
  • in silvas currimus ut nos celemus
  • hostes in silvas ineunt ut nos invenirent
  • Brutus Iulium Caesarem occidit ut Romam liberaret

2. Translate into Latin. For example: I must see the temple -> templum mihi videndum est

  • We must build a large city.
  • Julius Caesar must lead an army into Greece.
  • Scipio (Scipio, -ionis) must defeat Hannibal.