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Latin Grammar: Direct Objects

by James
(Lake Linden, Michigan)

Dear Latin Teacher,


I have a question about the Latin grammar of direct objects.

The phrase: "The beautiful girl" can be translated as Puella pulchra. If that phrase was placed into the accusative case, such as "Seize the beautiful girl," would Carpe puellam pulchram be grammatically correct?

In this instance, with "Carpe" being an imperative verb, would one still use the accusative case for the object being seized? Most highly-inflected languages would, but with Latin, I'm not sure. It seems the ablative case is used in many situations, where I would want to use the accusative, genitive & dative cases.

Thanks for offering this service!

Sincerely, James


Dear James,

Your examples are exactly right. In Latin the direct object will be in the accusative case whether the verb is in the indicative or imperative mood.

As you learn more and more Latin, you will definitely find verbs taking the genitive, dative, or ablative where you might expect an accusative direct object.

For example, while "seize the beautiful girl" is carpe puellam pulchram, "trust the beautiful girl" is crede puellae pulchrae, where puellae pulchrae is dative.

Where the verb "to trust" is transitive in English, the verb credere is intransitive in Latin. And so it takes a dative object.

Hope this helps, and thanks for asking a Latin teacher.

Sincerely,

John

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