he is my sine qua non, without him, I am nothing


New Member
this is for a tattoo for me. He uses the name sine qua non and that spelling. I do know the meaning but I want to make absolutely sure the whole sentence makes sense along with the grammar and exactly how it would have been written back in the day :)


Vemortuicida strenuus
Not sure if you can use a Latin phrase used in an English context back into a translation from English to Latin. I would use
for "without him I am nothing"


Civis Illustris
It's certainly paradoxical to say that a 'he' is a 'sine qua non', since 'qua' is feminine, and 'he' obviously masculine. The original phrase refers to a feminine noun: 'condicio sine qua non...', 'the condition without which...', a phrase which became such a cliche that it could be understood even with the 'condicio' missed out. Trouble is, once you say 'he is my sine qua non', you have filled in the gap with something else which has the wrong gender, and it kills the grammar of the thing.

You can fix the grammar with 'ille mihi est sine quo non...', but then it stops being a cliche, and you need to be explicit about what goes in the gaps: 'he is for me the one without whom...<what?>'. But of course, the rest of your sentence just repeats it. "He is for me the one without whom <...>, without him I am nothing."

You could fill in the missing 'condicio': ille mihi est condicio sine qua non... = he is for me the condition without which <what?>. But you're still repeating yourself a bit in the second half; and I'm still wondering what happens in the gap: without which what happens?

I hope some of that made sense. Basically I'm agreeing with Matthaeus that the best solution is to compress it into a single phrase.

Manus Correctrix

Hic vir est res sine qua non possum vivere.

But yeah, it's lame to try to shoehorn this Latinate English expression into a translation into Latin.


New Member
well... having read some other replies that bit map chap gave ( he does not seem in a happy place lol), Im grateful you others replied. Regardless of if its lame or not.. I'm on a mission to prove my worthiness as slave... yes you read correctly... hes a Master (check BDSM) anyways ,I liked the' ille mihi est condicio sine qua non'.. what about adding ' I am nothing' or 'I can not exist'.... I need to write whatever you decide goes on my skin for the rest of my life down very carefully... so please dont stitch me up for a laugh lol , with something like 'check out the ditzy bint with ' bob brush' tattooed on her inner left arm, cause no one understand it' hehe... seriously dont do that though.. Im most greatfully humbled by your collective knowledge and help


New Member
Adding .. I meant 'bog brush' not 'bob brush' but am regretting putting ideas into peoples heads already:/
Also lets stick with the 'quo' instead of the 'qua'...I'll tell him, I'm sure he wont object . I also dont care for cliches and don't want one on my arm, so don't worry about that. :)


Civis Illustris
ille mihi est condicio sine qua...
ille mihi est sine quo...

1) non possum vivere (I can't live)
2) non possum stare (I can't stand)
3) nihil sum (I am nothing -- a phrase I only find in Christian writers)
4) nihili sum (I am of no value -- ordinary Latin idiom)

You'll note that 3 and 4 require you to drop out 'non'.

For your reassurance, we have strong rules about offering fake and misleading translations, outlined here, but I quote the relevant bit:

Forum rules dixit:
Malicious or Intentionally False Translations (Added 5 Feb 2011)
Intentionally submitting a malicious or intentionally false translation will result in restriction of post privileges or even a permanent ban. It is perfectly acceptable to make a joke, however if you do so, you should make it obvious to the recipient that your translation is intended to be humorous. If the recipient doesn't speak Latin, you must therefore make the point in English!