Intermediate Students: Latin Composition Checklist

There’s so much to remember about Latin–I really have to commend each and every person who makes it past Lesson 3 in any Latin textbook. But a special recognition goes out to those brave few who have persisted through the levels of all verb tenses, know the depths of Latin moodiness, can sling around 6 cases of nouns in 5 declensions, and can unravel purpose clauses with–or without!–gerundives. Here’s to you Champions of Linguistic Legerdemain–and in hopes that it will help you do your work a little more easily, may I present a checklist of things to keep in mind when rendering your thoughts into Latin:

Latin Composition Checklist

Verbs:

  • Main verb (and any subordinate verbs):
    • Should it be Indicative?  (Real-world scenarios & conditions)
    • Subjunctive?
      • Hortatory subjunctive,
      • in a subjunctive clause (see below),
      • or hypothetical/contemplated/idealized situations and conditions
      • Sequence of tenses: Main verb Primary or Secondary? Dependent verb a) completed action or b) incomplete action in reference to main verb? Primary sequence takes for a) perfect and for b) present. Secondary sequence takes for a) pluperfect and for b) imperfect.
    • Imperative?
    • Passive or deponent?
      • Passive form needing to modify subject in gender, case, number?
      • Passive imperative needed?
      • (Passive imperative needed because it’s deponent?)
  • (Verb is usually plural if there are two or more subjects)
  • Present, Future, or Past tense(s)?
  • Participles used for any verbal phrases? Respect gender, case, and number with endings, and remember the proper form of “esse” with perfect passives and future actives.
  • Are there special verbs that take the dative? (Verbs of commanding, obeying, etc.)
  • Any rare verbs that take the abl.? (E.g., Vesci, uti, frui, fungi, potiri)

Nouns/Pronouns

  • Anything needing the Vocative?
  • Subject, in nominative case?
  • Names indeclinable, declinable, or partially-declinable?
  • Is there a direct object that should be in the Accusative Case? 
  • Does a verb in a sentence or clause take the Dative?
  • Is there an indirect object? (Dative)
  • Could you use a Dative of Possession?
  • Double Datives (of Purpose and of Reference)?
  • Double accusatives (Predicate Accusative or Secondary Object)?
  • Do any nouns/pronouns need to be in the Possessive case?
  • Anything in Locative?
  • Relative pronouns modify antecedent ONLY in gender and number!

Prepositions

  • Take the ablative?
  • Take the objective?
  • Not actually needed because of going/coming to towns and cities?
  • Not needed because of Ablative of Instrument, Means, or Accusative of Duration of Time, etc.?

Adjectives

  • Does each adjective modify its antecedent in gender, case, and number?
  • Can you use an adjective form to stand for a noun–especially a neuter to talk about unspecified things in general? E.g., “Milites cepit multa bona
  • Comparison in sentence? Either “quam + both nominative” or Ablative of Comparison for second item
  • Remember the UNUS NAUTA irregular pronoun-adjectives are unusual in the gen. and dat. sing.

Clauses & Constructions

  • Will this sentence need an “ut-/result clause” in the subjunctive?
  • Will this sentence need a “cum-clause” in the subjunctive?
  • Purpose Clause using gerundive?
  • Is an Ablative Absolute appropriate anywhere?
  • Indirect statements or questions? Inf. + obj. forumula preferable
  • Both/and? Etet Either/or? Autaut

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This is a first draft of a work in progress that will continue to improve–particularly as I get feedback from my students and from readers. I hope that it will prove useful for many of you! Let me know.

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