Latin Hacks: Verbs

in Latin, Tips

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third conjugation
I stumbled upon a “hack” while teaching my kids that I just have to share.  It may not continue to be useful, but it’s been super-helpful so far.

I tell them that every Latin verb has three parts:  what, when, and who.

It’s exactly backwards from how we would say it in English.

“He will eat.”   in Latin is Eat will he (ed e t).  So, we do our translations in reverse order.


Caesar was conquering.

1.  Conquer  = vincere.
We only need this guy for a second.

The “re” means  no one’s doing this, I just am, man. Cross him out.
That “e” in the stem means we’re in 3rd conjugation (chart above).
Now cross it out! “Bye, E!  Thank you for your information.”

2.  Caesar is a dude.  HE was conquering. = t

________    _____ _____ _t_

3.  WAS conquering is past tense. = eba

________    _____ _eba_ _t_

4.  What was he doing?  conquering – vinc

________    _vinc_ _eba_ _t_

5.  We have a noun.  He’s the boss in this sentence = first form

Caesar  vincebat.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Molly April 20, 2017

First, I love your website. It has been amazing and so helpful to me. So, thank you! Second, ‘m wondering if you could give me your advice/input on the Latin books? I was going to do Latina Christiana as it has a teaching DVD that accompanies it. But, I know that MODG now uses Hayden Latin. Do you have a preference?


2 admin April 20, 2017

I like Hayden’s a lot. But, I already had some Latin experience. If you are willing to reach out and ask questions if you get lost, then you’ll be fine. Here are some really cute videos made by a MoDG teacher.


3 Lauren October 1, 2016

This is brilliant, and really helpful for me as we start to get into the meat of Beginning Latin I.


4 admin October 3, 2016

She does a lot of ID the stem and then “change” it. My kids do best with thanking the “e” for its service, cross it out, and rebooting the vowel entirely. For the “i” conjugation verbs, we thank the “i” but he just WON’T LEAVE. Anyway, you’ll see.


5 Cecilia September 19, 2016

Hmm…if that helps, great! But…I’ve never thought of Latin verbs (not that I spend a whole lot of time contemplating Latin verbs) apart from their personal endings. I have students (ones I’ve taught or my children) memorize verb forms by chanting (bam, bas, bat, bamus, batis, bant/ bo, bis, bit, bimus, bitis, bunt) so they wouldn’t ever think of the tense part of the verb without the ending. That may not make any sense though, so by all means do what works!! I also teach them that in Latin we use one word where we’d use 3 or so in English (he was praising…).


6 Cynthia September 16, 2016

I like it! Thanks for sharing your insights!


7 Amy September 16, 2016

You rock! This is uber helpful – can’t wait to see the rest of the hack!


8 Deb from RI September 16, 2016

I am just starting out Latin with kids an this is really helpful!! Thanks!


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