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Lesson 11: Gerunds and Gerundives - part 1 | 1 2


A gerundive is what is called a verbal adjective. This means that it occupies a middle ground between a verb and an adjectiveView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window and shows characteristics of both. It is passiveView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window in meaning and exists in both the singular and plural form.

Gerundive: Verbal adjective

Verb properties Noun properties

A gerundive is formed from a verb.

A gerundive changes in form to agree in gender, number and case with the noun it is associated with.

The gerundive is formed by removing the '-m' from the gerund and adding '-s'.

Gerund Gerundive
Latin English Latin English
vocandum calling vocandus, -a, -um to be called
habendum having habendus, -a, -um to be had
mittendum sending mittendus, -a, -um to be sent
audiendum hearing audiendus, -a, -um to be heard

The gerundive has the same endings as a Group 1 and 2 adjective, such as ‘bonus, -a, -um’View this term in the Grammar table - this link opens in a new window, and is usually translated into English with the words ‘to be’ followed by the past participleView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window.

Handy hint

It is important to note that the gerundive does not have an exact translation into English, and in order to convey the idea of obligation or suitability inherent in its meaning, translations can include such forms as 'fit to be', 'must be' and 'ought to be'.

Uses of the gerundive

(1) One of the most common uses of the gerundive in medieval documents is the phrase 'habendum et tenendum', which you may well come across abbreviated to 'habend et tenend'.

For example:

Dedit messuagium habendum et tenendum Barnabe
He gave the messuage to be had and to be held to Barnabas

Or in a more recognisable construction:

He gave the messuage to have and to hold to Barnabas

(2) It is often used with the verb 'esse' to convey necessity or obligation.

For example:

Cultura danda est
The furlong must be/should be/ought to be given

Handy hint

You will notice examples of Latin gerundives still in use in modern English today.

For example:

Amanda – (a girl) fit to be loved
Miranda – (a girl) fit to be admired
Memoranda – things to be remembered
Agenda – things to be done


Are you confident with:

  • The meaning of a gerundive?
  • The form of a gerundive?
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