To help study with Latin translation work, I’d like to share a chart I made back in 2009, which shows all forms of Latin regular verbs. This chart is very helpful if used regularly as it provides you with a system that can be memorized and visualized as you gain experience with it. By simply knowing were forms are on the chart, you can remember their charcateristics. Often, this is all that’s needed to make a good translation.
What You Need to Know
In order to use this chart, you must understand and be able to use the four principal parts of a regular verb to quickly identify the general characteristics of a particular verb. For example, if I encounter the verb amaverunt in my reading and look for this verb in a Latin dictionary, I will find:
amo, avi, atus, are: to love
This little bit of information tells me everything I need to know to identify the form of this verb. It shows me the following forms:
amo – the 1st person, singular, present, indicative form.
amavi – the 1st person, singular, perfect, indicative form (drop -i to find the perfect stem).
amatus – the perfect, passive participle
amare – the present, infinitive form (drop -re to find the present stem)
If you’ve learned your Latin verb grammar, that’s all you need to know to use this verb summary chart.
How to Use the Chart
- Moods: When you view the chart, you will see that the top third of the chart shows verb forms of the Indicative Mood. The middle third shows verbs of the Subjunctive Moods. The bottom third shows the forms of the Infinitive Mood and Participles.
- Tenses: Under the Indicative and Subjunctive Moods, on the left side of the chart, you will see the five tenses listed: Present, Imperfect, Future, Perfect, Pluperfect with their forms listed across the rows to the right of them.
- Conjugations: On the top of the chart, you will see the example verbs of the four regular verb conjugations–amo, doceo, lego and audio–with all of their forms listed below them.
- Voice: The form of the Active voice is listed in black print, and the Passive voice in red print for each tense in each mood.
- Person/Number: The persons are identified by their Latin pronouns: EGO (1st Singular), TU (2nd Singular), ILLE (3rd Singular), NOS (1st Plural), VOS (2nd Plural), ILLI (3rd Plural).
Try Some Examples
1. In John 1:7, we read the verb crederent.
This is a form of the verb credo, credere, and is, therefore conjugated like lego, legere, of the third conjugation. So, we simply look through the forms of lego, legere until we find legerent.
Can you find it?
It will be found in the: (1) Subjunctive mood, (2) Imperfect tense, (3) Active voice, in the (4) Plural, Third person.
Looking over to the left column, under the tense name, we see that crederent should be translated “(they) might believe”–and that is its translation in the reading.
2. Let’s try another. In John 1:21, we read the verb interrogaverunt.
This is a form of the verb interrogo, interrogare, so it is declined like amo, amare. Looking at the verb, we can see that it actually uses the perfect tense stem, interrogav-, so we know it will be perfect or pluperfect.
See if you can find the verb amaverunt on the chart, for this will tell us all we need to know about interrogaverunt.
It will be found in the: (1) Indicative mood, (2) Perfect tense, (3) Active voice, in the (4) Plural, Third person. The verb will be translated, “(they) have asked” or simply, “(they) asked”.
That’s how it works.
Note that the forms of the Subjunctive Mood are shared by the Optative and Permissive moods, which will lead us to adjust the translation as needed. There will always be other issues to consider that might affect our translation, but this chart gives us all we need to identify the characteristics of any regular Latin verb we encounter in our reading. Once you get used to it, you will find it very helpful–especially if you memorize it.
Mr. William C. Michael is the founding headmaster of the Classical Liberal Arts Academy. He graduated from Rutgers University with an honors degree in Classics & Ancient History and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Mr. Michael has worked in private education as a Classics teacher and administrator for over 20 years. He is a Roman Catholic homeschooling father of ten children, and keeper of a quiet family farm in North Carolina. Mr. Michael enjoys studying ancient natural philosophy, gardening, and running.