From here on, I will use the traditional term Subjunctive, although I would prefer to call it a Conditional as used in most modern foreign languages. I want to impress on your mind the sense of these new forms rather than their formal traditional title. When I say Conditional, I am calling forth all the associations that go with unreality, possibility, potentiality, in the English words "may" and "might" and "could be" and " if it were...". These are in a different world from the world of fact, where things "are", where "is" can be counted upon to "be", where facts are facts when you get down to brass tacks.
In short the Indicative is the world of Western Civilization and American practical hardheaded ability to take the world as fact. In contradistinction, what we are going to discuss is the shadowy world of the unknown, the unreal and the un-factual.
It feels good to take a positive, factual view of the world, but no one can go very far into living without observing that there are various levels of reliability and truthfulness. On a scale of one to ten I could outline the following:
1 2 5 6 7 8 9 0 Engl.= is perhaps maybe just possibly might be might possibly be could possibly bePut this scale into Latin terms and you get this series:
indicative fortasse + Indicative Pres. condit. Impf. condit. (Perf. condit.) off scale--- Plup. condit.Greek has a parallel set of non-real situations, outlined thus:
Greek indic. Greek subjunctive Greek OptativeIn English we do really have the nuances I am talking about, but we have to express them by conglomerates of words, that is they are not old, basic forms in the language, but necessities of the situation. In Latin they are built in, as in many languages, and form a more conspicuous part of the mental attitudes of the speakers toward "fact".
Let us get the forms out on screen, so we have something finite to talk
The Present Subjunctive
I II III IV Sg. amem moneam ducam audiam ames mones ducas audias amet moneat ducat audiat Pl. amemus moneamus ducamus audiamus ametis moneatis ducatis audiatis ament moneant ducant audiantThe pattern of the forms is not immediately apparent, but perhaps we can simplify it thus:
In general the sign of the -present conditional is the vowel -a- where you would not normally have it.
In Class III the vowel -a- is right after the root, in Classes II and IV it is added to the root vowel.
But in Class I, which always has a root ending in the vowel -a- already, the vowel is changed to -e-. to show a difference. Thus:
I II III IV -e- e-a- -a- -i-a-Perhaps the most basic way of recognizing a present Conditional is noting that it looks like a regular indicative present, but something went wrong with the last vowel ----a rule of thumb to be used only in cases of desperation--- but it works.
The Imperfect Subjunctive
The Imperfect is easier to recognize:
Add to the infinitive the personal endings, and you get:
I II III IV Sg. amarem monerem ducerem audirem amares moneres duceres audires amaret moneret duceret audiret Pl. amaremus moneremus duceremus audiremus amaretis moneretis duceretis audiretis amarent monerent ducerent audirentThis is possibly the easiest tense to grasp in the Latin verbal system, one rule for all classes and no variations.
Note: There is no Future Subjunctive or Future Perfect Subjunctive,
for a perfectly logical reason: The idea of the Future is part of a quasi-real
set of parameters (Past Present Future), whereas the basic idea of the
Subjunctive is vested in "Un-reality". In the realm of the Future the idea
of Subjunctivity or un-reality simply does not fit!
The Perfect Subjunctive
I II III IV Sg. amaverim monuerim duxerim audiverim amaveris monueris duxeris audiveris amaverit monuerit duxerit audiverit Pl. amaverimus monuerimus duxerimus audiverimus amaveritis monueritis duxeritis audiveritis amaverint monuerint duxerint audiverintCompare this group with the Future Perfect Indicative...where most of the forms are identical! Since the Future Perfect Act. Ind. is not used a great deal, confusion will be rare.
The Pluperfect Subjunctive
Sg. I II III IV amavissem monuissem duxussem audivissem amavisses monuisses duxisses audivisses amavisset monuisset duxisset audivisset Pl. amavissemus monuissemus duxissemus audivissemus amavissetis monuissetis duxissetis audivissetis amavissent monuissent duxissent audivissentThis Pluperfect Subjunctive is used very often, in fact is has a special meaning in conditions, which we rightly (if somewhat cumbersomely) call the Contrary-To-Fact-Condition. We will discuss this later under Syntax.
Latin Descrptive Grammar Main Page
Language Main Page
Orbis Latinus Main Page
This page is part of Orbis
© Zdravko Batzarov