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Concepts for the Study of Latin

tiger mosaic, Basilica of Junius Bassus, Rome; photo J. Long 1 August 2006
Don't let confusion seize you.

Elementary Latin textbooks present concepts, patterns, and words of Latin, in a sequence that is intended to build up proficiency at using the language. This website offers explanations about some of the grammatical terms and concepts that come into play when you are learning Latin, supplementing the textbook.

Parts of speech:

What are the words doing? How do they get from being specific bunches of sound (or, for a further step, bunches of sound represented by little straight and curvy marks) to communicating thoughts?

Words can be classified by the types of job they do:

  • Verbs name actions - both physical actions like "explode" and states of being like "seem"
  • Nouns name things - both concrete, material things like a "wall" and abstract, immaterial things like "beauty"
    • Proper nouns name specific individuals with names that are distinctively their own, like "Nicholas Knight"
    • Common nouns name people or things generically, as belonging to a particular class, like "artists"
    • Pronouns substitute for nouns, like "them" or "its"
  • Adjectives describe nouns, as in "purple letters"
  • Adverbs
    • describe verbs, as in "the bicyclist careens dangerously"
    • describe adjectives, as in "dangerously delicious chocolate"
    • describe other adverbs, as in "a very dangerously ravenous tiger"
  • Prepositions put nouns (or pronouns or noun-phrases) in relationships with other nouns (or pronouns or noun-phrases), as in "in relationships" or "with other nouns"
  • Conjunctions connect nouns, verbs, or other elements of ideas
    • Coordinating conjunctions link the items at the same level of priority, like "and"
    • Subordinating conjunctions add an element at a lesser priority than the main idea, like "although"
  • Interjections don't really belong to the rest of the idea but are tossed into association with it, usually for emotional effect, like "Yippee!"

Nicholas Knight, Text/Texte


Johhny Hart, BC
Interjections don't necessarily need either words or grammar to be expressive. They are not functionally part of the rest of the utterance. They merely hang out with it, for effect.

For better or for worse, Latin interjections are just as arbitrary as English ones.



Conjunctions attach one element of a sentence to another.
  • Coordinating conjunctions link elements of the same kind at the same level of priority in the grammatical structure of the sentence, such as
    adjective + adjective The slow but steady tortoise won the race.
    subject + subject (+ subject...) Neither rain nor hail nor sleet nor snow nor heat of day nor dark of night shall keep these carriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
    prepositional phrase + prepositional phrase Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go!
    clause + clause Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
  • Subordinating conjunctions link elements so that the one introduced by the subordinating conjunction is grammatically dependent on the other: a subordinate clause cannot stand on its own as an independent sentence (even though, by definition, a clause contains both a subject and a predicate), because that subordinating conjunction tells you it needs another part of the thought to come take care of it. Grammatical dependence is structural. The idea conveyed by the dependent clause has to be bound up with the main clause because it applies a condition that limits the truth-value of the main clause.
    Whistle while you work.
    When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not.
    Wherever you wander, there's no place like home.

Nouns and related concepts Verbs and related concepts
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Revised 1 August 2012 by jlong1@luc.edu