Perfect and Imperfect

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
Somehow I only saw this now -- I found it very well-written and helpful (at least to me personally, and I'm sure to others as well!) Thank you Pacis puella for writing this! :)
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
We usually start out with texts focusing on Europe (Hyginus, Ovid, Boccaccio..) and then go on to analyze one or two outstanding Romans/Greeks.
After that we rush through Ovid's Ars and Catullus' poems and translate one complete speech by Cicero focusing on the figures of speech and such.Then on to Seneca's work.We usually end up with Cicero, de re publica.
Odd, I would've thought they'd find Seneca & most poetry harder than De re publica (at least the bit that I read...) :doh:

But on this forum, we do meet a few weirdos
Yep, that would be me ;)

:D
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Definitely one of the greatest kind!
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Thanks. :)
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
Yeah, out of the blue a long thread appears to which just the *pink members* wrote : P
Ohhhhhh...here I thought I'd just not checked the Latin Beginners forum enough or something. ;)
 
That was a great read, I learned a good bit from it myself and I applaud you for the effort you put into it. It's funny how your analogy to viewing described periods in "blocks" to determine if something is imperfect or perfect works better for me than all the time I spend on trying to remember all the nuances and rules.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I'm very glad if it helps.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
You are welcome :) although I am not sure who actually moved the thread ;)
Oh, so it wasn't you? I thought it was you because I saw you were viewing this forum ("Latin Grammar") when the thread was moved. Maybe it was Aurifex then... Anyway, thanks to whoever it was.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
I hope that it's ok to reply to this thread (if not, a moderator is welcome to move my post elsewhere.)

I've been working through the first few sets of Bradley's Arnold Latin Composition Exercises and, though their handling of perfect/imperfect for the most part makes sense to me, there is one situation that I'm unsure about; I think I see the author's reasoning, but I wanted to make sure (and I figured that if I found this confusing, others probably do too.)

As an example, one of the sentences in question, given for translation: "He was a most famous orator, and all the world admired him greatly."

Their suggested translation: Orator fuit praeclarissimus, quem omnes maxime admirabantur.

Now, I understand why the first verb is in perfect; we're looking back on the orator's life as a single block of time, in its entirety. But then I don't entirely understand why the second verb is in imperfect...is it because it doesn't make sense to talk about people "admiring" him a single time, i.e. they were admiring him continuously/repeatedly for a long period of time? But then, he lived continuously for a long period of time as well, and we're looking back on that as a single entity, not a repeated/continuous action...so I don't entirely get it.

Thanks in advance for your help! :)
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Either the perfect or the imperfect could be used there, but they have different nuances. Here with admirabantur we're like going back to some point during his life, describing what was going on when he was alive. With the perfect we'd be stating the fact that he was admired as a single event; we'd be looking at it from a different, more "detached" perspective, considering it in its entirety as one event, while with the imperfect we're describing what was going on at a certain point.

Orator fuit praeclarissimus, quem omnes maxime admirati sunt = He was a most famous orator. They admired him. These are two things that happened once, two punctual events that I'm reporting. Period.

Orator fuit praeclarissimus, quem omnes maxime admirabantur = He was a most famous orator. This is something that happened once, a punctual event I'm reporting. Something that was going on while he was alive is that he was admired.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
Either the perfect or the imperfect could be used there, but they have different nuances. Here with admirabantur we're like going back to some point during his life, describing what was going on when he was alive. With the perfect we'd be stating the fact that he was admired as a single event; we'd be looking at it from a different, more "detached" perspective, considering it in its entirety as one event, while with the imperfect we're describing what was going on at a certain point.

Orator fuit praeclarissimus, quem omnes maxime admirati sunt = He was a most famous orator. They admired him. These are two things that happened once, two punctual events that I'm reporting. Period.

Orator fuit praeclarissimus, quem omnes maxime admirabantur = He was a most famous orator. This is something that happened once, a punctual event I'm reporting. Something that was going on while he was alive is that he was admired.
Right, that's along the lines that I was thinking. So either could be right, then. It's too bad the author didn't make it clearer which he wanted (or give both in the answer key...)

Anyway, thanks :)
 

Godmy

A Monkey
Either the perfect or the imperfect could be used there, but they have different nuances. Here with admirabantur we're like going back to some point during his life, describing what was going on when he was alive. With the perfect we'd be stating the fact that he was admired as a single event; we'd be looking at it from a different, more "detached" perspective, considering it in its entirety as one event, while with the imperfect we're describing what was going on at a certain point.

Orator fuit praeclarissimus, quem omnes maxime admirati sunt = He was a most famous orator. They admired him. These are two things that happened once, two punctual events that I'm reporting. Period.

Orator fuit praeclarissimus, quem omnes maxime admirabantur = He was a most famous orator. This is something that happened once, a punctual event I'm reporting. Something that was going on while he was alive is that he was admired.
A brilliant answer! I would just add that I asked some Spanish guys out of curiosity (before we would get an answer from a native speaker of French here) and the first option they gave me was "Fue un orador brillante, quien todos admiraban." or "Fue un brillante orador, al que todos admiraban." <- which is pretty much the same Arnold proposed (fue = fuit; admiraban = admirabantur). And it seems PP would be rather inclined for that option too.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Yeah, maybe this is a case where the imperfect is "statistically" more likely even though the perfect could be found in some situations.
 

Godmy

A Monkey
I see. Could you think, PP, about some situation where you definitely use (given the right context, as when remembering a person during their funeral) the perfect in the main clause and then perfect also in a relative clause (connected to this main clause) where it would really be more likely to appear?
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
It surely could happen, but it's hard to think about a situation where it would absolutely have to be that way. It's all a question of perspective, so there are in fact many situations where neither would be wrong per se, but the speaker would use the one or the other depending on his frame of mind, so to speak...

Also, just by the way, French (at any rate colloquial French) would tend to use the imperfect for "was" here as well. If you'd given me the English sentence "He was a most famous orator, whom everyone admired greatly" alone without any context and asked me to translate it into French, my "default" translation would have used the imperfect in both parts. Now the perfect could definitely be used for "was" in a more literary style. As I've already mentioned somewhere, there are a few situations where French tends to prefer the imperfect where Latin (or Spanish for that matter) wouldn't necessarily.
 
Top