Latin future tense - why do 3rd and 4th differ from 1st and 2nd?

By Lonsdale, in 'Latin Grammar Questions', Nov 26, 2017.

  1. Lonsdale New Member

    Okay, I get that first and second conjugation verbs form their future tenses in one fashion while those of second and third do so in another. What I don't understand is "why?"

    There must be some reason that this distinction arose - I mean why not say "Regebo" or Audior"? Some much simpler!

    If anyone knows, I'd love to hear the answer.
  2. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    in orbe lacteo
    I don't know exactly, but something interesting is that 3rd-io and 4th conjugation verbs used to form the future and imperfect tenses with -ibam and -ibo.
    So in archaic texts you'll see things like "audibam" and "condibo". Also, the irregular verb eo, ire has the future tense "ibo, ibis, ibit".
    Even more rarely, you'll see things like "dicebo" and "vivebo".
    However, I don't know why this changed.
  3. Imperfacundus Reprobatissimus

    • Civis Illustris
  4. Imperfacundus Reprobatissimus

    • Civis Illustris
    If you'd like to go one ''Why?'' deeper, things get exponentially more complicated. I'm not sure what to call this phenomenon, but it's more or less the grammatical equivalent to suppletion.
  5. john abshire Member

    I also posed the "why question" not long ago; 'why the different declensions and conjugations, when 1 or 2 would work?' The answer i got was that there were several languages in the provinces around Latium. Together they made up the Latin language.
  6. Imperfacundus Reprobatissimus

    • Civis Illustris
    That's one possible explanation (dialect mixture). But it's also possible, judging by what Dantius said, that at first the two constructions coexisted in free variation in one dialect, only to later collapse into each other to make the hybrid system we observe in Classical Latin.
  7. Iáson Cívis Illústris

    • Civis Illustris
    That seems more likely to me. Languages are naturally internally variable. I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that the first and second conjugations are contracted forms.

    Noun declensions are somewhat easier to explain. They were inherited from an ancestral language before Latin became Latin. Often declensional differences have their root in phonology. For example, the accusative singular appears different across the declensions:
    ménsa-m, annu-m, but rég-em - originally the ending was m, but this turned out differently depending on whether the stem ends in a vowel or consonant (essentially because of the difficulty in pronouncing *régm).

    The Latin declensions reflect different stem terminations: the a-stems (ménsa), o-stems (annus < earlier *annos), i-stems (puppis), consonant stems (réx), u-stems (senátus), e-stems (diés).

    Of course, another possible response is 'why not?'. All natural languages tend to exhibit irregularities and apparently redundant complexity.
  8. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    in orbe lacteo
    Could you elaborate on this?
  9. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    E.g. amo is contracted from amao. But Iáson must mean something else because e.g. doleo is, well, not contracted from doleo...
  10. Abbatiſſæ Scriptor Senex

    • Civis Illustris
    If a good deal of ſimplification be acknowledged, it may be ſaid that Latin reporpoſed the original ſubjunctive as a ſimple predictive future, and the old optative as a general ſubjunctive. Well as this might have done for the 3rd and 4th conjugations, however, it would have cauſed confuſion in the 1st and 2nd. The alternative future, which agglutinated forms related to 'fuo' and 'fio' by analogy with the imperfect ſuffixes, might be no leſs ancient, however, as it would ſeem to come from a time before the 'bh' phoneme ſplit to become 'f' at the beginning of words, and 'b' elſewhere.
    Last edited by Abbatiſſæ Scriptor, Nov 28, 2017
    Pacifica likes this.
  11. leonhartu Member

    Well, one may say that you would want at least 3 declensions for the three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter (not exclusively, but in general). And you can say that the fourth and fifth declension are just variations of the others, as if you compare the third to the fourth you will see only minor changes like: is -> ūs, ī -> uī, ēs -> ūs, um -> uum, em -> um (although this similarity in the acc. sg. works for all). Also the fifth with the others as: Nom. sg. and Acc. sg. identicals to the third, and again, just as in the fourth, an addition of vowel and minor changes: (3rd -> 5th Dat. Sg.) ī -> eī, (3rd -> 5th Abl. Sg.) e -> ē, (2nd -> 5th Gen. Sg.) ī -> eī, (3rd/4th -> 5th Dat./ Abl. Pl.) ibus -> ēbus, (3rd/4th -> 5th Dat. Pl.) um/uum -> ērum.

    And I also don't understand why only an active present, only an passive past, and then a future participle passive and active.
    Last edited by leonhartu, Nov 29, 2017
  12. Abbatiſſæ Scriptor Senex

    • Civis Illustris
    At a deeper and more ancient level, the nominals, whether ſubſtantive or adjective, can be ſorted into two more primitive categories, which ſeem to present two rather different ſystems of gender. The nouns we all learn firſt are thoſe in the 'thematic' category, all of which have a thematic vowel between the root and the caſe ſuffix. In the first declenſion the thematic vowel is 'a', and in the ſecond declenſion it is an 'o' which changes to 'u' before 'm' or 's'. Becauſe one of the ancient purpoſes of this thematic 'a' was to deſignate femininity (the other main purpoſe being to form a noun of agency that was indifferent to the ſex of the agent) the thematic nouns and adjectives came to be ſeen as expreſſing three sex baſed 'genders', to wit: maſculine, feminine, or neuter. The other category of nouns were thoſe in the 'athematic' category. Theſe had no ſtem vowel, but appended their caſe ſuffixes directly to the final conſonant of the root or to an intermediate formative ſuffix ending in a conſonant (if that final conſonant were a ſemivowel like 'j' or 'w', it would ſhew up as 'i' or 'u', but neither or theſe would count as thematic vowels). The athematic nouns, which form the third and fourth declenſions (The fifth declenſion must, by this reckoning, be ſeen as a bit of a baſtard)
    reflect a more ancient ſystem of gender which did not conſider sex, but had only animate and inanimate categories. The animate athematic nouns would later be arbitrarily deſignated as either maſculine or feminine, but only to allow them to agree, in ſome agreed way, with thematic adjectives.
    An old perfect participle active may have exiſted, but abandon'd its declenſional endings and ſimply agglutinated with forms of 'eſſe' to produce the paradigm we know.

    leonhartu likes this.

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