Latin practice 1- Present Verbs


I’ve found some free time at nights before bed, and I’ve decided to use that time to read through my copy of Wheelock’s Latin, a book that, until now, I’ve only been using as a reference on the rare occasion when I run into the language.

As I read through the book, I’ll write these posts as a way to document my progress and practice. Kind of like an online practice notebook of some sort (since I’m bad at keeping my physical notebooks). As a disclaimer, I’m not an expert in Latin, I’m merely a beginner; so the observations I make in these posts are merely what I understand from each chapter as I read it.

Today’s topic is Present Verbs, from Chapter 1 of the book.

Verbs in Latin are conjugated to denote person, number, tense, mood, and voice. Latin has three persons (1st, 2nd, 3rd), two numbers (singular, plural), six tenses (present, future, imperfect, perfect, future perfect, pluperfect), three moods (indicative, imperative, subjunctive), and two voices (active, passive).

Latin verbs are conjugated by changing the endings of verbs. For the active voice, the endings (according to person) are:

Person Singular Plural
1st -o, -m -mus
2nd -s -tis
3rd -t -nt

The ending for infinitive verbs is -re.

Latin has four types of conjugations, each ending with a different stem vowel. The stem vowels for the present tense (according to conjugation) are:

Conjugation 1st 2nd
Present -a -e

The following are two present stems for first and second conjugation verbs, respectively:

Conjugation 1st 2nd
Present laudā- monē-
Translation praise advise

The macrons (-) on top of the vowels mean that they are long vowels. If we add the infinitive ending -re to the present stems, we get:

Conjugation 1st 2nd
Present laudāre monēre
Translation to praise to advise


If we were to add the personal active voice endings instead, we’d get the present active indicative forms:

Person Singular Plural
1st laudō laudāmus
2nd laudās laudātis
3rd laudat laudant
Person Singular Plural
1st moneō monēmus
2nd monēs monētis
3rd monet monent

Note that the long vowels in the present stems are shortened when they are combined with some of the personal endings. A long vowel is shortened when it occurs:

  • before another vowel (e.g. moneō)
  • before -m, -r, or -t at the end of a word (e.g. laudat, monet)
  • before -nt or -nd (e.g. laudant, monent)

Note also that for first conjugation verbs (those that end in -a), the stem vowel disappears in the first person, when contracted  with -ō (e.g. laudō).


The imperative mood is identical to the present stem, and it can be made plural by adding the ending -te to the stem.

Person Singular Plural
2nd laudā laudāte
Person Singular Plural
1st monē monēte

#language-learning #Latin #foreign-language

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