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Discovering Ancient Greek and Latin
Discovering Ancient Greek and Latin

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4.2 The first conjugation

The endings of Latin verbs, like those of nouns, are predictable because verbs belong to one of four groups, known as conjugations. A conjugation is a pattern of verb endings, just as a declension is a pattern of noun endings.

The verb dōnō (‘I give’, ‘I present’) belongs to the first conjugation. It takes the following endings in the present tense (strictly speaking, the present indicative active):

Table 9 The endings of the verb dōnō (‘I give’) in the present indicative active
Number and personLatinEnglish equivalent
singular
1dōnōI give
2dōnāsyou (singular) give
3dōnathe / she / it gives
plural
1dōnāmuswe give
2dōnātisyou (plural) give
3dōnantthey give

Activity 20

Do English verbs change their endings?

a. 

Yes


b. 

No


The correct answer is a.

Answer

Yes, but nothing like to the same extent as Latin. With ‘he/she/it’ or a singular noun (e.g. ‘the dog’, ‘the cat’), English verbs in the present tense add ‘-s’ (‘she walks’ or ‘the cat skulks’ ).

Most English verbs also change their ending in the past tense (i.e. when describing events in the past) by adding ‘-ed’, thus ‘I walk’ becomes ‘I walked’. Some verbs undergo a more radical change, e.g. ‘I eat’ becomes ‘I ate’.

Practice

Activity 21

Using the conjugation table (repeated below), match the following first conjugation verbs with their English equivalents.

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. amant

  2. rogās

  3. ambulāmus

  4. festīnat

  • a.you (singular) ask

  • b.she hurries

  • c.they love

  • d.we walk

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = c
  • 2 = a
  • 3 = d
  • 4 = b
Table 10 The endings of the verb dōnō (‘I give’) in the present indicative active
Number and personLatinEnglish equivalent
singular
1dōnōI give
2dōnāsyou (singular) give
3dōnathe / she / it gives
plural
1dōnāmuswe give
2dōnātisyou (plural) give
3dōnantthey give