Latin Grammar I, Lesson 06. Of Positive, Comparative and Superlative Nouns

In this lesson, we study chapter 6 of Book I of the Latin Grammar of Emmanuel Alvarez. This is a translation of chapter 6 of Book I of the Latin Grammar of Rev. Emmanuel Alvarez, S.J., by William C. Michael

I. Nomen positivum sive absolutum est quod rem absolute simpliciterque significat, ut magnus. parvus.

I. A positive (or absolute) noun is that which a thing absolutely and simply signifie, as magnus (great), parvus (small).

II. Comparativum est quod rem vel attollit vel deprimit, ut major, minor.

II. A comparative noun is that which a thing either lifts up or sets down, as major (greater), minor (lesser).

III. Superlativum est quod rem vel in summo loco vel in infimo collocat, ut maximus, minimus.

III. A superlative noun is that which a thing either in the highest place or in the lowest place is set, as maximus (greatest), minimus (least).

IV. Nomina comparativa et superlativa fiunt a nominibus adjectivis, quibus adverbia magis et minus recte adjungi possunt, ut justus, fortis.

IV. Nouns comparative and superlative are made from nouns adjective, to which the adverbs magis (more) and minus (less) rightly to be joined are able, as justus (just), fortis (strong).

Exceptions

V. Nomina substantiva, pronomina, item interrogativa, relativa, redditiva, infinita, possessiva, patria, gentilia, partitiva, cardinalia, ordinalia, distributiva et quae materiam adsignificant, ut aureus, argenteus, cedrinus, ad haec errabundus, moribundus, fugitivus, almus, frugifer, mediocris, omnipotens, medius, modicus, hesternus et nonnulla alia neque comparativa neque superlativa pariunt.

V. Substantive nouns, pronouns, likewise interrogatives, relatives, redditives, infinites, possessives, patrials, gentiles, partitives, cardinals, ordinals, distributives and those which signify material, as aureus (of gold), argenteus (of silver), cedrinus (of cedar), besides these errabundus (wandering), moribundus (dying), fugitivus (fleeing), almus (nourishing), frugifer (fruit-bearing), mediocris (mediocre), omnipotens (almighty), medius (middle), modicus (modest), hesternus (of yesterday) and some others, neither comparatives nor superlatives produce.

Ne adjectiva quidem omnia comparantur, sed ea tantum, quorum significatio augeri potest aut imminui: ideo unicus, omnipotens, infinitus, mediocris et similia comparationem non admittunt. Macrobius tamen dixit Omnipotentissimus. Virgilius Ingentior, Cicero Infinitior; et Hoc vellem mediocrius.

Not even adjectives all are compared, but those only, of which the signification to be increased is able or to be diminished: therefore, unicus (unique), omnipotens (almighty), infinitus (infinite), mediocris (mediocre) and similar (adjectives) comparison do not admit. Macrobius, nevertheless, said “omnipotentissimus” (most omnipotent). Virgil (said) “ingentior” (more enormous), Cicero (said) “infinitior” (more infinite), and “This I might wish ‘mediocrius‘ (more moderately).”.

Memory Work

The following points provide a summary of the content of this lesson and should be memorized.

  1. A positive noun is that which a thing absolutely and simply signifies.
  2. A comparative noun is that which a thing either lifts up or sets down.
  3. A superlative noun is that which a thing either in the highest place or in the lowest place is set.
  4. Nouns comparative and superlative are made from nouns adjective, to which the adverbs “more” and “less” rightly to be joined are able.
  5. Many nouns, pronouns and adjectives neither comparatives nor superlatives produce, but only those of which the signification can be increased or diminished.

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