Lesson 24 – Infinitives, accusative and infinitive clause

An infinitive is the part of a verb which is unaffected by person or number. In English this part of a verb is easily recognised as it is preceded by ‘to’. For example: ‘to call’.

Active infinitives

In Latin there are three infinitive forms in the active voice.

1. Present active

In a dictionary, the present active infinitive form of a verb is shown as the second principal part and we have come across it several times already.

voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1) to call

Normally the ending for first conjugation verbs is ‘-are’, second conjugation verbs ‘–ere’, third conjugation verbs ‘-ere’, and fourth conjugation verbs ‘-ire’.

For example:

Verb Present active infinitive
Latin Latin English
clamo, clamare, clamavi, clamatum (1) clamare to claim
habeo, habere, habui, habitum (2) habere to have
mitto, mittere, misi, missum (3) mittere to send
servio, servire, servivi, servitum (4) servire to serve

2. Perfect active

To form the perfect active infinitive of a verb, add ‘-sse’ to the third principal part of the verb.

For example:

Verb Perfect active infinitive
Latin Latin English
clamo, clamare, clamavi, clamatum (1) clamavisse to have claimed
habeo, habere, habui, habitum (2) habuisse to have had
mitto, mittere, misi, missum (3) misisse to have sent
servio, servire, servivi, servitum (4) servivisse to have served

Handy hint

If there is a ‘-v’ at the end of the stem, there is sometimes an abbreviated form of the infinitive which excludes the ‘-vi’.

For example:

clamavisse can become clamasse
servivisse can become servisse

3. Future active

To form the future active infinitive of a verb, use the future participle (formed by removing the ‘-m’ from the supine and adding ‘-rus’) and add ‘esse’.

For example:

Verb Future active infinitive
Latin Latin English
clamo, clamare, clamavi, clamatum (1) clamaturus esse to be about to claim
habeo, habere, habui, habitum (2) habiturus esse to be about to have
mitto, mittere, misi, missum (3) missurus esse to be about to send
servio, servire, servivi, servitum (4) serviturus esse to be about to serve

Remember

The future participle acts like an adjective, agreeing with the subject of the verb, and declines like ‘bonus, -a, -um’.

Passive infinitives

In Latin there are also three infinitive forms in the passive voice.

1. Present passive

To form the present passive infinitive of a verb of the first, second or fourth conjugation, remove the ‘-e’ ending from the present infinitive and add ‘-i’.

For example:

voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1) to call
vocari to be called

To form the present passive infinitive of a verb of the third conjugation, remove the ‘-ere’ ending from the present infinitive and add ‘-i’.

For example:

dico, dicere, dixi, dictum (3) to say
dici to be said

Thus:

Verb Present passive infinitive
Latin Latin English
clamo, clamare, clamavi, clamatum (1) clamari to be claimed
habeo, habere, habui, habitum (2) haberi to be had
mitto, mittere, misi, missum (3) mitti to be sent
servio, servire, servivi, servitum (4) serviri to be served

2. Perfect passive

To form the perfect passive infinitive of a verb, remove the ‘-m’ of the supine, add ‘-s’ to get the past participle and then add ‘esse’.

For example:

Verb Perfect passive infinitive
Latin Latin English
clamo, clamare, clamavi, clamatum (1) clamatus esse to have been claimed
habeo, habere, habui, habitum (2) habitus esse to have been had
mitto, mittere, misi, missum (3) missus esse to have been sent
servio, servire, servivi, servitum (4) servitus esse to have been served

3. Future passive

To form the future passive infinitive of a verb, remove the ‘-m’ of the supine and add ‘-s’ to get the past participle and then add ‘fore’.

Handy hint

If you have studied Classical Latin before, you will notice that instead of the supine + ‘iri’, Medieval Latin uses the past participle + ‘fore’ to form the future passive infinitive.

For example:

Verb Future passive infinitive
Latin Latin English
clamo, clamare, clamavi, clamatum (1) clamatus fore to be about to be claimed
habeo, habere, habui, habitum (2) habitus fore to be about to be had
mitto, mittere, misi, missum (3) missus fore to be about to be sent
servio, servire, servivi, servitum (4) servitus fore to be about to be served

Remember

The past participle acts like an adjective, agreeing with the subject of the verb, and declines like ‘bonus, -a, -um’.

Deponent infinitives

The infinitives of deponent verbs follow the rules for passive infinitives, as demonstrated above.

Accusative and infinitive clause

In the medieval documents you come across, you will frequently see the infinitive being used in conjunction with the accusative. This is called an accusative and infinitive clause, or an indirect statement, and is translated in a particular way.

For example:
Credo Johannem dedisse Matheo terram.
I believe that John has given the land to Matthew. (Literally – I believe John to have given to Matthew the land.)

Handy hint

You will often be able to spot an accusative and infinitive clause coming up from the type of verb which precedes it.

For example:

to hear audio, audire, audivi, auditum (4)
to say dico, dicere, dixi, dictum (3)
to think puto, putare, putavi, putatum (1)
to believe credo, credere, credidi, creditum (3)
to know scio, scire, scivi, scitum (4)

Checklist

Are you confident with

  • the meaning of an active infinitive?
  • the form of an active infinitive?
  • the meaning of a passive infinitive?
  • the form of a passive infinitive?
  • the meaning of an accusative and infinitive clause?
  • the form of an accusative and infinitive clause?

What next?