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Latin and English/Contrastive Grammar

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This page covers the differences between Latin and English.

Contents

Articles

The articles "a," "an," and "the" are used in English in conjunction with nouns to determine if the speaker is referring to a specific noun (in which case the speaker would use "the") or a nonspecific noun (in which case the speaker would use "a"/"an"). Latin does not use this part of speech, and instead requires more context to determine the properties of the noun.

Below are three different ways of translating the same Latin sentence into English.

  • Puella legit. - The girl reads.
  • Puella legit. - A girl reads.
  • Puella legit. - Girl reads. (Note: Because it lacks an article, this sentence is grammatically incorrect in English.)

Nouns

Gender

Declension

Verbs

Conjugation

Tenses

Word Order

In English, sentences are built around the SVO (Subject-Verb-Object) word order.

In Latin, although word order can be varied to emphasize different meanings, it is not a necessary component of comprehension. Instead, a word's function in a sentence is determined by its ending.

The following are sentences considered grammatically correct in Latin alongside literal English translations without word rearrangement.

  • Puella ascendit arborem. - The girl climbs the tree.
  • Puella arborem ascendit. - The girl the tree climbs.
  • Arborem ascendit puella. - The tree climbs the girl.
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