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

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IMPERSONAL VERBS

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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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