Latin/Adjectives 2 Lesson 2

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New Grammar

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This lesson introduces comparison of adjectives. We have studied many adjectives in the “positive degree”, or the basic form, such as

altus, a, um = high, deep (1st/2nd declension);
fortis, e = strong, brave (3rd declension).

The “comparative degree” refers to a comparison of two things: higher, stronger. To form it, take the stem of the positive degree and add –ior for m/f, -ius for n. :

altior, altius = higher;
fortior, fortius = stronger.

Comparative adjectives are declined similarly to 3rd declension adjectives, with a few slight differences. Translation of comparatives is usually with “more” or the –er ending in English; but depending on context altior can be translated “rather high” or “a little too high.” There are two ways of forming a comparison clause:

with quam (than) + a noun in the same case as the thing it is compared to;
or with the “ablative of comparison”, where the ablative alone expresses the thing compared to:
Mons altior est quam collis / Mons altior est colle. = The mountain is higher than the hill.

The “superlative degree” of our example adjectives in English would be highest, strongest, and implies a group of three or more things. Once again, we take the stem of the positive degree, and add –issimus, a, um :

altissimus, altissima, altissimum = highest;
fortissimus, fortissima, fortissimum = strongest.

This then becomes a new, 1st/2nd declension adjective that is declined exactly like any other. Superlative degree adjectives can also be translated as “very high; very strong.”

It would not be Latin if there weren’t several irregular comparisons, and some obscure rules (involving the formation of the superlative in some adjectives). We’ll cover some of them this lesson, and some next. A common grammar exercise at this point is to “compare” adjectives by writing out all three forms: altus, a, um / altior, altius / altissimus, a, um. For irregular comparisons I will write out a comparison for reference, but if it is a regularly-formed comparison I won’t. These irregular comparisons will eventually be added to the vocabulary file.

A good online summary of comparison of adjectives can be found here.

New Vocabulary/ Irregular Adjective Comparisons

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Latin English Audio (Classical) Notes
bonus, a, um/ melior, melius/ optimus, a, um good, better, best
juvenis, e/ junior, junius/ juvenissimus, a, um young, younger, youngest
malus, a, um/ pejor, pejus (peior, peius)/ pessimus, a, um bad, worse, worst

Other New Vocabulary

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Latin English Audio (Classical) Notes
beātus, a, um blessed, happy (compare felix, laetus)
quam (adv.) how, than
spērō, 1 hope, expect

New Sentences

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Latin English Notes
Mōns altior est quam collis. (Mons altior est colle.) The mountain is higher than the hill.
Altissimum mōntem videō. I see the highest mountain (a very high mountain).
Illī montēs altiorēs sunt. Those mountains are rather high (higher/ a little too high).
Ilī montēs altissimi sunt. Those mountains are very high (the highest).
Paula fortior est Lūciā. (Paula fortior est quam Lucia.) Paula is stronger than Lucia.
Mārcus fortissimus est. Marcus is very strong.
Sinistra via longior dexterā (quam dextera) est. The left road is longer than the right one.
Iter longissimum erat. The journey was very long.
Tūtius est manēre intus. It is safer to stay inside. (note neuter form to agree with infinitive)
Hic est locus tūtissimus. This is a very safe place.
Gāius brevior Mārcō (quam Marcus) est. Gaius is shorter than Marcus.
Brevissima puella in scholā sum. I am the shortest girl in the school.
Qui senātor est senior? Which senator is older?
Pater meus est jūnior mātre meā. My father is younger than my mother.
Mārcus juvenissimus trium fīliōrum est. Marcus is the youngest of three sons.
Gāius senissimus est. Gaius is very old (the oldest).
Computātrum melius volō. I want a better computer.
Pūtō Mārcum esse meliorem discipulum quam tē. I think that Marcus is a better student than you. note accusative with infinitive construction: literally, I think Marcus to be...
Hic liber optimus est! This book is very good/excellent/ the best!
Liber secundus pejor (peior) est quam prīmus (prīmō). The second book is worse than the first.
Hoc pessimum est! This is very bad (the worst)!
Optimam raedam habēs. You have a very good car.
Beātissimus / fēlicissimus / laetissimus sum. I am very happy.
Beātius est dare quam accipere. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Spērō meliora. I hope for better things.


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Practice and learn the words and phrases in this lesson
Step one First learn the words using this lesson:
Step two Next try learning and writing the sentencing using this:
Note that the Memrise stage covers the content for all lessons in each stage.
If you are skipping previous stages you may need to manually "ignore" the words in previous levels (use the 'select all' function)

We will learn more comparatives and superlatives next time. Grātiās et bonam fortūnam!