Latin For Everywhere

A little while ago I spoke about a simple trick to practise Latin every day without carving out any study time. Today I want to expand on that just a little bit, and hopefully encourage you to keep growing in your Latin learning.

So, if you’ve learnt the Latin names of most things you see regularly (train, door, sugar, cat, and so on) and you’re used to associating them with that name by saying or thinking ‘ecce’ followed by the name, then you’re ready. By this stage you should be pretty comfortable with the Latin names, and naming them shouldn’t be too difficult.

But, at the end of the day, language is about way more than just saying ‘here is a cat’ to people, right? So how do we expand our fluency using the same approach?

Actually, it’s pretty simple, and you can move as fast or as slow as you like. The next obvious phase is to describe as well as name. I suggest starting with just two adjectives: magnus (big; feminine is magna, neuter is magnum) and parvus (small; feminine is parva, neuter is parvum). Then when you see the same things simply add one of those adjectives after the name, and you’ve started accustoming yourself to putting the adjective after the noun instinctively.

Once you’re happy with this, you have two ways to improve further (you can definitely do both, but I’d recommend doing them one at a time): the first option is to expand by learning more adjectives, and it’s pretty clear how you’d go about doing that. The second option is to shift the phrase from a simple ‘here is a whatever’ to ‘this is a whatever’. This brings in the verb esse, and the extremely common pronoun for ‘this’ (hic for masculine, haec for feminine, and hoc for neuter).

For those of you who like infographics, here’s one of the first step. I find it’s useful to save it as the lock screen on your phone to remind yourself to do it!

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This will take you a long way, and I’ll post another step to advance further in the future! Good luck!

Alexander WestenbergComment