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IMPERSONAL VERBS. MarshLatinIII.wordpress.com. What is an impersonal verb?.

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impersonal verbs

IMPERSONAL VERBS

MarshLatinIII.wordpress.com

what is an impersonal verb
What is an impersonal verb?

There is a category of verbs in Latin that are often translated in English as impersonal, i.e. as not having a subject (translated with "it").  While these are often translated as impersonals, they often do have a subject in Latin, either unexpressed or something other than a noun.

when do we use impersonal verbs
When do we use impersonal verbs?
  • THE WEATHER
  • WITH AN INFINITIVE
  • TO EXPRESS EMOTION
  • WITH DATIVE OF REFERENCE
the weather
THE WEATHER

Words describing the weather that have "caelum" as an unexpressed subject:

EXAMPLES:

  • pluit, "it rains"
  • ningit, "it snows"
  • tonat, "it thunders"
with an infinitive
WITH AN INFINITIVE
  • Words where an infinitive (a verbal noun/ infinitive) is used as the subject:

EXAMPLES:

  • necesseest, "it is necessary"
  • fasest, "it is right“
  • decorum est, “it is appropriate”
to express emotion
TO EXPRESS EMOTION
  • Some of these express emotion and work with an adverbial accusative that is similar in translation to a direct object (or a subject).  The genitive is also used to express what the action is in reference to.

EXAMPLES

    • oportet, "it behoves" ("I ought")
    • iuvat, "it delights" ("I like to")
    • taedet, "it wearies" ("I am tired of")
with datives of reference
WITH DATIVES OF REFERENCE
  • Some of these express emotion and work with an dative of reference that is similar in translation to a direct object (or a subject). 

EXAMPLES:

licet: "it is allowed" ("I may")

placet: "it pleases" ("I decide")

literal vs natural
LITERAL VS NATURAL
  • Often impersonal verbs can be translated literally and they make sense in English, but they can be a little awkward or wordy, so they can be translated more “naturally” as well.
  • Fasestiuvareparvosinfantes
    • LIT: it is right to help little babies
    • NAT: you should help little babies
impersonal verbs1
Impersonal Verbs
  • The following verbs are always, or usually, Impersonal:
    • decet, it is fitting
    • libet, it is pleasing
    • licet, it is permitted
    • placet, it pleases
    • taedet, it disgusts
    • oportet, it is necessary
translating impersonal verbs
Translating Impersonal Verbs
  • More natural translations would be:
    • Decetmihi: I ought
    • Oportetmihi: I must
    • Libetmihi: I like
    • Placetmihi: I like
    • Licet: I am allowed
    • Taedetmihi: I am tired of
selective impersonals
Selective Impersonals

Many verbs are used impersonally only in certain senses

  • EXAMPLES INCLUDE:
    • placet, it pleases, is decided,
    • accidit. it happens.
passive intransitive verbs
Passive/Intransitive Verbs

The Passive of intransitive verbs can be used only impersonally

EXAMPLES INCLUDE:

  • itur, there is a going/someone goes,
  • curritur, there is a running/someone runs.
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