Brief Review of the Noun, Adjective and Pronouns

by William Harris
(the text is published with the permission of the author)


At this point you should stop and try to picture in your mind what we have been discussing , since only what is ionstantly available in your memory-bank is going to be useful in reading. Sooner or later the following statements should become pellucidly apparent to you, on a moment's notice.

The danger at this point is to adopt terminology for which the concepts are not completely clear, and there is that other danger of doubling all the data, the word itself and its parsing-terminology. Parsing or grammatical identification is a technique for when you get into trouble, but not for everyday reading use.

There are words as a carrier of meaning, but for each word a set of grammatical (parsing) terms which define the word. However the word also has a meaning aside from the terminology. It was precisely on this ground that Aristotle faulted Plato's theory of ideas on the ground that it doubled all the entries: the thing, and the idea for the thing.

One danger is clear: For centuries students have learn to parse and analyze Latin sentences, but not really to read them. Hence our ironclad rule:

See and hear words; grasp root meaning and function simultaneously; try to dismiss or at least de-emphasize terminology as a step toward directness in reading.

In fact you will want to know these formal terms too when you consult a reference-style Latin grammar, such as the five pound 600 page Lane Latin grammar or the standard Allen and Greenough, ed.. d'Ooge l906, both out of print! but copies turn up in used bookstores. Remember that there is a real use to such works, but at a much later point in your study. And behind this lie the massive German research-level handbooks for certain professional Classicists's uses. On still another level are historical analyses, such as Brugman's Kurze Vergleichende Grammatik.....usw.l904, but this becomes a different discipline in its own right as Linguistics.

* * *

NOUNS have functions as follows:

These cases can also be called:

Subject, Possessive, Indirect Object, Direct Object, Ablative, and (when it occurs) Vocative.

Or in traditional terms, to suit you or your conservative teacher or grammar book, we can call them:

Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative, Ablative, and Vocative

* * *

ADJECTIVES have two up-staged or intensified forms:

a) The "more" form (comparative always with -ior following noun Class III but with a neuter subj./obj. singular -ius. (There are irregular phenomena in this group, a word to the wise...)

b) The "most" form (Superlative) in -issimus -a -um, or a phonetic simplification of this, following Adjective Class I (or noun Classes I II and III.

* * *

ADVERBS are formed from adjectives either:

 a) Adding -~e" to a Class I adjective;

b) Adding -ter to a Class II adjective;

c) Going the way of all roots, and simply using a word without ending, which means for all purposes finding a dictionary item, not a form class.

When adverbs are upstaged to the Comparative state, they do this:

a) They use a form in -ius which is the neuter of the comparable stage of the adjective. E.g. tristius "mode sadly, rather sadly"

 b) They use the regular -e common to Class I adjectives stuck onto the -issimus of the "most" superlative grade, or whatever phonetic variant has seized upon it with deterioration of the -ss-. So fortissime, but acerrime.

* * *

PRONOUN is a general term covering words for" you me him", as well as "we and they", and also "this one here, that one over there, who, who? and whoever" and vartious other words which are found in this heterogeneous class. Words in this group are very much used, and very irregular, but it is not as desperate as it seems. Constant use confers practice, and the irregularities seem to smooth out with experience. Consult a dictionary carefully for Nom. and Gen. sg. forms which outline the paradigm fairly well, but do not expecting to "master" it all. Hold your breath until you get into reading some Latin prose, when the words in this class will crop up like dandelions in spring. You WILL recognize them.

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