Accusative with Infinitive

By sapz, in 'Latin Beginners', Apr 19, 2012.

  1. sapz New Member


    In LLPSI, Cap. XI the notion of accusatives with infinitives is introduced, for example:
    "Puer medicum adesse videt", "Pueri Iuliam canere audiunt", "Dominus servum discedere iubet", "Quintus pedem dolere dicit", "Puerum dormire necesse est".

    I seem to find three groups in those examples, perhaps by mistake.
    In the first group, the infinitive simply "describes" the accusative, like an "active" adjective - however grammatically-speaking not true, for example: "Puer medicum adesse videt", "Pueri Iuliam canere audiunt".

    In the second group, the infinitive describes, or adds to the verb. Like in "Dominus servum discedere iubet".

    But the third group is what I can't seem to fully understand. Is this a "that" clause, in "Quintus pedem dolere dicit" or "Puerum dormire necesse est"? "Quintus says THAT the foot hurts", "It is a necessity THAT the boy sleeps"?

    How do you differentiate between those three groups when meeting new verbs?

    Thank you!
  2. Godmy A Monkey

    • Civis Illustris
    For the "native-like" understanding (not using translations) they all work exactly the same in your mind (and in that state, you don't think in "THAT" clauses anymore).

    And yes you are right, the translation of yours in the third group is precise (not good for mental associations when you want to operate with the sentences without mental translations, but correct). I'm thinking what I should add to this (because I'm not absolutely sure I have understood your problem). I might edit this later and add something ;)

    Edit1: Now some tips how to operate with "Accusative+Infinitive" in your mind: For many verbs you can very well imagine the accusatives (which work as subject for the infinitive) as objects to the indicative verbs themselves and the infinitives as undeclined adjectives connected to these accusatives, describing them.
    You can pretty well imagine something like "He sees the boy to sleep" or maybe better "He sees the sleeping(inf/acc.adj.) boy(acc.)" (He sees whom....). (Acc.adj. would be in this case a present active participle dormientem which you will see later in LLPSI and which is after "audit, videt" an alternative to infinitive).

    This largely depends on your native language: usually many indoeuropean languages still use accusative+infinitive with verba sentiendi (to see, to hear... etc).
    Of course these "mental operations" get much more worse for acc+inf structure binding itself to "est" like in necesse est (it is necessary...etc). (I'm still describing how to work with it in your mind, I'm NOT talking about translations). Because "est" in latin has around itself only nominatives and never accusative (unless it is this structure).

    You can insert there (for mental acceptance of the structure) invisible word "video/vides/videt" (I see, you see, he sees...etc) and then it is much easier for your brain to accept it: "It is necessary -I see- the sleeping(inf./adj.acc) boy(acc.)" -> "It is necessary that the boy sleeps" = Necesse est -video-puerum dormire. -> Necesse est puerum dormire. Of course that I changed now radically the semantics adding verb "to see". So, in your mind, you have to omit the meaning of the inserted "I see" and use just its power to bind to itself an accusative.

    (btw: I believe that mental "silent" understanding is much more satisfactory and more useful for a latinist who is going to read and write, than to know just "exactly" how it translates without a deep understanding at all + to have understood means that you can express it in any other language without knowing beforehand "how to translate it")

    Eh... I have no idea if I helped you at all. I'm basing all of this mainly on a slavic language which still uses declensions and some basic acc+inf structures... but maybe it can help you. Anyway your translation was correct. It works like this with almost any verb: adding what somebody has reportedly said or just whatever possible THAT clause (in translation).
  3. Decimvs Aedilis

    • Aedilis
  4. Godmy A Monkey

    • Civis Illustris
    I edited now my message but it might be useless anyway ;) (You can follow Decimus's link)
  5. sapz New Member

    Thank you very much Decimus and Godmy!
    Godmy, I found your advices about how to mentally-"think" about the sentences very very helpful :D

    And finally I realized that I could think of an indirect clause (iulis says that ... (acc.)) as a structure derived from Iulius verbum dicit, where verbum is replaced by the contents... "Iulius Iuliam dormire dicit".

    By the way, I just saw that "imperat" and "paret" accept a dative after them, like "Dux exercitui imperat" or "Iulius servo imperat", where the dative declares the recipient of the order (nominative gives an order to dative), so I was wondering: does it apply to "iubet" or "dicit" as well?
    It seems logical that "Iulius filio dormire dicit" would be a correct structure, but in the case of "iubet" I've seen the sentence "Dominus servum discedere iubet", where "servum" takes the accusative.

    Any thoughts are much appreciated! :D
  6. Godmy A Monkey

    • Civis Illustris
    Hi again! I'm glad if I could give you some maybe useful tips.

    Now about imperat and paret.
    They take dative object instead of accusative. So you can remember them at this tage at LLPSI as kind of exceptions. The other verbs will be taking quite regularly accusatives. (In later stages you will get acquainted with some places where you can find out which case would be the best and for which meaning. Now it is more than enough for you to remember these two as exceptions with datives instead of accusatives).

    If you want some help how to mentally assign imperat with dative then you can imagine it as imperat exercitui = gives a command to-an-army (Because to-something is quite universal translation of any dative. Also imperat virtually means "to do an action using some imperium". And imperium,i in its most basic sense means "an order, a command" (Mercius imperia deorum dat) , then metaphorically it also means "a place of somebody's command/an area of somebody's influence" <- whence "empire".)
    Pareo can be imagined (to make yourself mentally compatible with the dative) as: duci paret = is oboedient to-the-leader - These "helpful" constructions will get you used to datives with these verbs very quickly. You might be able to make similar (with this kind of compatibility) also in your maternal tongue.

    Now about "Dicere". In the basic sense "to say something/to tell" it can take two kind of cases:
    1) accusative "saying what" - verbum dicit
    2) dative "saying to whom" (+accusative) - verbum filio dicit
    (just as English telling him the story)

    Now those differences:
    1) Iulius filium dormire dicit - [Julius is saying his son to sleep / his son sleeping] --> Julius is saying that his son sleeps.
    2) Iulius filio dormire dicit - [Julius is saying to his son [that] [somebody unmentioned] sleeps]
    like in sentence Iulius filio matrem dormire dicit. - Iulius is saying to his son that his mother sleeps (convert it in your head to some more brain-acceptable latin-like structure :p)

    So in the second case (Iulius filio dormire dicit) we miss one accusative which would work as subject to the infinitive. When it is missing we usually think there is "se" which was not mentioned: Iulius filio se dormire dicit = [Julius is saying to his son himself=Iulium to sleep/sleeping] --> Julius is saying to his son that he (Julius) himself sleeps (which is weird :) ).

    A type of command of the sort: "Julius is saying to his son to sleep" would be constructed differently. (You will see in another chapters).
    Right now, at this chapter, you can make any command using infinitive just with "iubet". (Because imperat usually also uses the type of construction you do not know yet.) Latin infinitives per se do not express command or purpose. You can see something like that just with the iubet +acc-inf construction where the "commanding" power stems from the "iubet". (Same with "vult" - from the things you know now.)

    - There are more verbs like this: which take normal accusative object and also dative case of the person (usually) the action is directed to. (Iulius filio pirum dat)

    Iubet takes either just accusative ("ordering somebody") but more often accusative with infinitive. (matrem dormire iubet - he orders his mother to sleep).

    Ok, that is probably all. Tell me if I omitted something or if something is still unclear. (By the way, my latin is from LLPSI too ;))
    bedtime likes this.
  7. sapz New Member

    Thank you very much Godmy! This helps a lot. It's very nice to see someone who got his Latin from LLPSI, it's somewhat encouraging... :)

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