Latin Conversational Phrases

Ecclesiastical Latin can be used in your daily speech. For centuries upon centuries it was used for conversation, all over Europe! Students at universities used it, besides the clergy and religious. Laypeople knew a lot of Latin, as even popular songs were partly or all in Latin during the Age of Faith.

So know that you can speak in Latin, too–it’s been done for thousands of years now. Here’s a short list of words and phrases you might like to use with your family.

Greetings and Farewells

Hello: Salve! (to one person) Salvete! (to two or more people–think, “Hi, y’all!”) (Also, Ave! and Avete! if you would like to use these, too!)

Goodbye: Vale!(to one person) Valete! (to two or more people–think, “Bye, y’all!”)

God love you: Deus te amet (to one person) Deus vos amet (to two or more people

P’s and Q’s

Please: quaeso

Thank you: Tibi gratias ago (to one person) or Vobis gratias ago (to two or more people) or just shorten it, like the Romans in Hispania must have, to “Gratias.”

Thanks be to God: “Deo Gratias.”

At Prayer

At the beginning of a family prayer: Oremus. “Let us pray.”

Asking a saint to “pray for us”: Ora pro nobis. Asking several saints to “pray for us”: Orate pro nobis.

Useful Little Words

Now: nunc — here: hic — there: ibi

Look!/See!: Ecce

never: numquam — always: semper — often: saepe

and: et not: non — why?: Cur? — because: quia or quod

that is: id est — and others: et cetera

Showing Affection

I love you: Te amo. (I love y’all: Vos amo.)

“Dearest!”: Carissime (masc.) and Carissima (fem.) “Dear ones!”: Carissimi


It may seem so simple, but this can add a lot to your family’s Latin-learning experience. Latin is and has been the language of Catholic prayer, thought, and life for nearly two centuries–and you will really feel that as you use it and pray with it together.

For much more of this, here is a treasure: Guide to Latin Conversation, containing a collection of useful words, a list of comparatives and of superlatives, familiar expressions and phrases, by Fr. Michel Lanusse, S.J., from 1892. It’s an absolutely SUPERB resource!

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