Ego Lucie nuntium do – I give a message to Lucy
We also looked at verbs in the past tense
Past tense (perfect)
Ego Lucie nuntium dedi – I gave a message to Lucy
This kind of past tense is called a perfect tense. It is used to describe an action in the past which is completed.
To describe a past action or state which is incomplete, we use an imperfect tense. This tense indicates an action which has gone on over a period time or has happened frequently. It is translated into English by ‘was/were’ + ‘-ing’ or ‘used to’.
Past tense (imperfect)
Ego Lucie nuntium dabam – I was giving a message to Lucy
Just as with the present and perfect tenses, we need to know the conjugation a verb belongs to in order to make an imperfect tense.
Latin verbs are divided into four groups, or conjugations.
In each conjugation, the verbs share the same endings:
An example of a first conjugation verb is: confirmo, confirmare, confirmavi, confirmatum (1) – to confirm.
An example of a second conjugation verb is: habeo, habere, habui, habitum (2) – to have
An example of a third conjugation verb is: duco, ducere, duxi, ductum (3) – to lead
An example of a fourth conjugation verb is: audio, audire, audivi, auditum (4) – to hear
The endings for the imperfect tense are similar to those of the present tense.
|Present tense endings|
|-o||I||(first person singular)|
|-s||you||(second person singular)|
|-t||he/she/it||(third person singular)|
|-mus||we||(first person plural)|
|-tis||you||(second person plural)|
|-nt||they||(third person plural)|
The difference is that they are preceded by ‘ba-’ and, in the first person singular, the characteristic ‘-o’ of the present changes to ‘-m’ in the imperfect.
|Imperfect tense endings|
To form the imperfect tense, remove ‘-re’ from the infinitive form of the verb and add the relevant ending above. However, if the verb is in the fourth conjugation, you will need to add an ‘-e’ before adding the relevant ending.
Imperfect tense of do, dare, dedi, datum (1) to give
|dabam||I was giving, I used to give|
|dabas||you were giving, you used to give|
|dabat||he/she/it was giving, he/she/it used to give|
|dabamus||we were giving, we used to give|
|dabatis||you were giving, you used to give|
|dabant||they were giving, they used to give|
Imperfect tense of audio, audire, audivi, auditum (4) to hear
|audiebam||I was hearing, I used to hear|
|audiebas||you were hearing, you used to hear|
|audiebat||he/she/it was hearing, he/she/it used to hear|
|audiebamus||we were hearing, we used to hear|
|audiebatis||you were hearing, you used to hear|
|audibant||they were hearing, they used to hear|
Two irregular verbs you will frequently come across are ‘esse’, ‘to be’, and ‘ire’, ‘to go’. It is well worth learning their imperfect forms.
The imperfect tense of sum, esse, fui, -, ‘to be’ is formed as follows:
The imperfect tense of eo, ire, ivi, itum ‘to go’ is formed as follows:
|ibam||I was going, I used to go|
|ibas||you were going, you used to go|
|ibat||he/she/it was going, he/she/it used to go|
|ibamus||we were going, we used to go|
|ibatis||you were going, you used to go|
|ibant||they were going, they used to go|
Are you confident with
- the meaning of an imperfect tense?
- the form of an imperfect tense?
- the meaning of the irregular verbs ‘esse’ and ‘ire’ in the imperfect tense?
- the form of the irregular verbs ‘esse’ and ‘ire’ in the imperfect tense?