IMPERSONAL VERBS MarshLatinIII.wordpress.com
What is an impersonal verb? There is a category of verbs in Latin that are often translated in English as impersonal, i.e. as not having a subject (translated with "it"). While these are often translated as impersonals, they often do have a subject in Latin, either unexpressed or something other than a noun.
When do we use impersonal verbs? • THE WEATHER • WITH AN INFINITIVE • TO EXPRESS EMOTION • WITH DATIVE OF REFERENCE
THE WEATHER Words describing the weather that have "caelum" as an unexpressed subject: EXAMPLES: • pluit, "it rains" • ningit, "it snows" • tonat, "it thunders"
WITH AN INFINITIVE • Words where an infinitive (a verbal noun/ infinitive) is used as the subject: EXAMPLES: • necesseest, "it is necessary" • fasest, "it is right“ • decorum est, “it is appropriate”
TO EXPRESS EMOTION • Some of these express emotion and work with an adverbial accusative that is similar in translation to a direct object (or a subject). The genitive is also used to express what the action is in reference to. EXAMPLES • oportet, "it behoves" ("I ought") • iuvat, "it delights" ("I like to") • taedet, "it wearies" ("I am tired of")
WITH DATIVES OF REFERENCE • Some of these express emotion and work with an dative of reference that is similar in translation to a direct object (or a subject). EXAMPLES: licet: "it is allowed" ("I may") placet: "it pleases" ("I decide")
LITERAL VS NATURAL • Often impersonal verbs can be translated literally and they make sense in English, but they can be a little awkward or wordy, so they can be translated more “naturally” as well. • Fasestiuvareparvosinfantes • LIT: it is right to help little babies • NAT: you should help little babies
Impersonal Verbs • The following verbs are always, or usually, Impersonal: • decet, it is fitting • libet, it is pleasing • licet, it is permitted • placet, it pleases • taedet, it disgusts • oportet, it is necessary
Translating Impersonal Verbs • More natural translations would be: • Decetmihi: I ought • Oportetmihi: I must • Libetmihi: I like • Placetmihi: I like • Licet: I am allowed • Taedetmihi: I am tired of
Selective Impersonals Many verbs are used impersonally only in certain senses • EXAMPLES INCLUDE: • placet, it pleases, is decided, • accidit. it happens.
Passive/Intransitive Verbs The Passive of intransitive verbs can be used only impersonally EXAMPLES INCLUDE: • itur, there is a going/someone goes, • curritur, there is a running/someone runs.