Latin Grammar I, Lesson 02. The Parts of Speech

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Introduction

In our first lesson, we studied the letters and sounds of the Latin language. At the end of that lesson, we learned that letters are used to make syllables, syllables are used to make words, and words are used to make sentences, or speech (oratio). Words are the “parts of speech”, and to make sentences, we must learn how to use words correctly. We study this in “Etymology”, which is the second part of Grammar.

Unfortunately, there are thousands of words, and this is no easy task. Thankfully, though there are thousands of words, they can all be divided into just eight different classes. By learning about these eight different classes of words, we can know something about all of the words in each class. This allows us to learn about words quickly.

Lesson

10. Partes orationis sunt octo: Nomen, Pronomen, Verbum, Participium; Praepositio, Adverbium, Interjectio et Conjunctio.

(The) Parts of speech are eight: Noun, Pronoun, Verb, Participle; Preposition, Adverb, Interjection, Conjunction.

In this rule, we learn that there are eight parts of speech in Latin. The names of the eight parts of speech are Nomen (noun), Pronomen (pronoun), Verbum (verb), Participium (participle), Praepositio (preposition), Adverbium (adverb), Interjectio (interjection) and Conjunction (conjunctio). Every word on this page can be placed into one of these eight classes. We will spend all of Latin Grammar I learning about the eight parts of speech, that is, the eight classes of words used in Latin.

11. Harum quatuor Nomen, Pronomen, Verbum, Participium declinantur: Praepositio, Adverbium, Interjectio, Conjunctio declinationis sunt expertes.

Of these, Noun, Pronoun, Verb, Participle are declined; Preposition, Adverb, Interjection, Conjunction of declension are free.

The eight parts of speech, can be divided into two groups. The first group contains Nouns, Pronouns, Verbs and Participles. The second group contains Prepositions, Adverbs, Interjections and Conjunctions. What divides these two groups is that words that belong to the first group are said to be “declined”, while the words of the second group are “free of declension”.

When we say that the words in the first group are “declined”, we means that the words are used in different forms to express different ideas. For example, the Latin noun deus means “God”. However, when we read Latin, we will also see the forms dei, deo, deum, dii, deorum, diis and deos. These are not seven different words, but seven different forms of the word deus, which express different ideas. These different forms of a word are called “cases”, and all of the cases taken together make a “declension”.

Thus, when we study nouns, pronouns, verbs and participles in Latin, we will learn a number of different forms of each word. We will spend most of Latin Grammar I studying these forms.

The last four parts of speech–prepositions, adverbs, intejections and conjunctions–are “free of declension”. That means they do not have different forms or “cases”. When we learn these words, there is simply one form to learn. For example, the preposition ex means “out of” and that is the only form there is for this word. These words and their meanings are learned like simple vocabulary items.

Conclusion

In this lesson, we are introduced to the eight parts of speech in Latin. We see that the first four parts of speech are “declined” and will have different forms that need to be learned. The last four parts of speech are free of declension and have only one form. We will be studying all of the details of these eight parts of speech for the rest of Latin Grammar I.

I hope that you have found this lesson helpful. You must study this lesson as I explain in the article, “How to Study for Mastery“. If you have any questions or need help, please contact me.

God bless your studies,
William C. Michael, Headmaster
Classical Liberal Arts Academy

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