Chapter 9: The Latin Verb System
In a course of this kind, where the sole objective is gaining insight into English words, it may not be crucially important to remember Latin verbs by conjugation number; that knowledge is admittedly of less practical value than remembering the declension groups of Latin nouns. However, when we come to look at other Latin verb forms, such as present participles and gerundives, you will probably find it helpful to be able to associate Latin verb vocabulary with these numbered categories.
The Latin 4th conjugation always has an infinitive in –i̅re, like audíre or veníre. This easily recognized form, therefore, makes it parallel to the 1st in -āre and the 2nd in –ēre. Once again, unhappily, there is no predictable perfect participle. What is most noticeable about the fourth conjugation is the persistence of that vowel -i- in many of its forms—in audi̠o (“I hear”), for instance, and the English words audi̠ence, sali̠ent, or conveni̠ence.
There is a small but important subtype of 3rd conjugation verbs that can be described as having an “i-stem,” because they also show that same persistent vowel. To judge them by the evidence of their English derivatives, they appear more closely associated with the 4th conjugation than with the 3rd. For this reason, they are included on Table 9.4 with the 4th conjugation type. They include capere and facere , which may be the most productive of all Latin verbs, from the standpoint of English vocabulary. The “i-stem” deponent verbs gradi and pati are also very important; it may help to remember them with words like gradient, aggression and patient, passion.
- If we were learning all four principal parts, the contrast between the regular 3rd conjugation verb and this special subtype would be more apparent. Compare the first principal part of ago, agere, egi, actus with that of capio, capere, cepi, captus, or facio, facere, feci, factus. ↵