Proposal: Latin Language

Asking questions in Latin is a great way for beginners to get accustomed to expressing themselves in Latin and understanding someone communicating directly to them in Latin. But how do you phrase common beginners' questions in Latin? Having tried it myself a few times now, I've encountered some tricky things, like how to fit a quoted word (presumably indeclinable) into the question and make its case clear, and how to distinguish a "word" from a "verb" (since verbum seems to mean both!).

Here are some common question types that I see on ELL, adjusted to take forms that I imagine might suit Latin:

What word does ⎯⎯⎯⎯ modify in this line from Vergil?

In this sentence, what is the subject of the verb ⎯⎯⎯⎯ ?

In this sentence, why is ⎯⎯⎯⎯ in the ablative? Shouldn't it be genitive?

What is the difference in meaning between ⎯⎯⎯⎯ and ⎯⎯⎯⎯ ?

What does William of Sherwood mean by ⎯⎯⎯⎯ ?

What difference in emphasis does Jerome create by sticking eum way over there in ⎯⎯⎯⎯ ?

How do you scan this line of hexameter?

In the meta section, we should have some guidelines for how to express common questions like these in Latin. That'll help beginners get started and get into the spirit. It'll also help beginners understand questions posted by others.

And it might suggest ideas for really good questions to post here in the proposal. If you know Latin well—or even if you don’t—how’d you like to try your hand at phrasing some ordinary Latin questions and post them in an answer here? The worst that can happen is someone more knowledgeable will show you how to phrase them better.

  • 4
    Just to make sure I understood you correctly: are you talking about a guide on meta "How to ask your questions in Latin"? I think you are and I think this is a great idea!
    – Earthliŋ
    Feb 26, 2015 at 21:21
  • @Earthliŋ Yep! Specifically, how to phrase typical beginners' questions (of the sort that I might ask!). I'll edit the question to clarify.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Feb 26, 2015 at 22:59
  • 3
    By the way: Asking how to distinguish verb and word in Latin is also a good question for the main site.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Feb 6, 2016 at 13:00
  • @Wrzlprmft Good point! That might be my first question. :)
    – Ben Kovitz
    Feb 6, 2016 at 15:31

2 Answers 2


I'm only a journeyman, so though I can construct sentences for all of the example questions you pose, I can't guarantee that most of them would be idiomatic.

I can do a couple, though:

In this sentence, what is the subject of the verb ⎯⎯⎯⎯ ?

would be

Quid hác in sententiá verbí ⎯⎯⎯⎯ subjectum est?


What is the difference in meaning between ⎯⎯⎯⎯ and ⎯⎯⎯⎯ ?

would be

Quid interest sígnificátióne inter ⎯⎯⎯⎯ and ⎯⎯⎯⎯ ? (Though probably it would be more idiomatic just to say Quid interest inter ⎯⎯⎯⎯ and ⎯⎯⎯⎯?)


I recently came across verbum temporis to mean "verb", as opposed to verbum to mean "word". I'd love to see more of this kind of thing in some kind of FAQ or post on the meta site.

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