Latin syntax is the part of Latin grammar that covers such matters as word order, the use of cases, tenses and moods, and the construction of simple and compound sentences, also known as periods.
The study of Latin syntax in a systematic way was particularly a feature of the late 19th century, especially in Germany. For example, in the 3rd edition of Gildersleeve's Latin Grammar (1895), the reviser, Gonzalez Lodge, mentions 38 scholars whose works have been used in its revision; of these 31 wrote in German, five in English and two in French. (The English scholars include Roby and Lindsay).
In the twentieth century, the German tradition was continued with the publication of two very comprehensive grammars: the Ausführliche Grammatik der lateinischen Sprache by Raphael Kühner and Karl Stegmann (1912, first edition 1879), and the Lateinische Grammatik by Manu Leumann, J.B. Hofmann, and Anton Szantyr (revised edition Munich 1977, first edition 1926). Among works published in English may be mentioned E.C. Woodcock's A New Latin Syntax (1959). More recently, taking advantage of computerised texts, three major works have been published on Latin word order, one by the American scholars Andrew Devine and Laurence Stephens (2006), and two (adopting a different approach) by the Czech scholar Olga Spevak (2010 and 2014).
Main article: Latin word order
Latin word order is relatively free. The verb may be found at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a sentence; an adjective may precede or follow its noun (vir bonus or bonus vir both mean 'a good man'); and a genitive may precede or follow its noun ('the enemies' camp' can be both hostium castra and castra hostium; the latter is more common). There are also stylistic differences between Latin authors; for example, while Caesar always writes castra pōnit 'he sets up camp', Livy more often writes pōnit castra.
There are however certain constraints; for example, in prose a monosyllabic preposition such as in 'in' generally precedes its noun (e.g. in Italiā 'in Italy'). Moreover, even though adjectives can both precede and follow the noun, there is a tendency for different kinds of adjectives to take different positions; for example adjectives of size usually come before the noun (magnā vōce 'in a loud voice', rarely vōce magnā), while 'modifiers that are more important than their noun or that specify it' (e.g. Via Appia 'the Appian Way') usually follow it.
To explain Latin word order there are two main schools of thought. One, represented by Devine and Stephens (2006), argues from the point of view of generative grammar, and maintains that Latin prose has a basic underlying "neutral" word order, from which authors deviate for reasons of emphasis, topicalisation, rhythm, and so on. According to Devine and Stephens, the basic order in broad scope focus sentences is as follows:
The other approach, represented by Panhuis (1982) and Olga Spevak (2010), examines Latin word order from the point of view of functional grammar. Rejecting the idea that there is a basic word order, this approach seeks to explain word order in terms of pragmatic factors, such as topic and focus, and semantic ones (1st person before 2nd, human before animals or things, agent before patient, etc.).
Further information: Hyperbaton
The order of words is often chosen according to the emphasis required by the author. One way of emphasising a word is to reverse the usual order. For example, in the opening sentence of Caesar's Gallic War, the usual order of numeral and noun trīs partīs 'three parts' is reversed to emphasise the number 'three':
Another technique used by Latin authors is to separate a phrase and put another word or phrase in the middle, for example:
The technical term for this kind of separation is "hyperbaton" (Greek for 'stepping over'); it is described by Devine and Stephens as 'perhaps the most distinctively alien feature of Latin word order'.
Placing the verb at or near the beginning of a clause sometimes indicates that the action is sudden or unexpected:
Splitting up an adjective-noun phrase and bringing the adjective to the beginning of the sentence can highlight it. In the following example from Cicero, the splitting of cruentum 'blood-stained' and pugiōnem 'dagger' creates a dramatic effect:
Considerations of rhythm and elegance also play a part in Latin word order. For example, Pliny the Younger begins a letter as follows:
In this sentence, the object (magnum prōventum poētārum 'a great crop of poets') has been brought forward to highlight it. The other striking feature is the order annus hic for the more usual hic annus 'this year'. Two reasons which might be suggested are Pliny's fondness for ending a sentence with the rhythm − u − − u − and also no doubt because of the elegant assonance of the vowels a-u-i a-u-i in the last three words.
Latin has three genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter) and two numbers (singular and plural). Pronouns, adjectives, participles, and the numbers one to three have to agree in gender and number with the noun they refer to:
The same three genders are also found in the plural:
In Latin, words referring to males are always masculine, words referring to females are usually feminine. (An exception is scortum (neuter) 'a whore'.) Words referring to things can be any of the three genders, for example mōns 'mountain' (masculine), arbor 'tree' (feminine), nōmen 'name' (neuter). However, there are certain rules; for example, nouns with the suffixes -a (unless referring to men), -tiō, -tās are feminine; the names of trees, islands, and countries, such as pīnus 'pine', Cyprus 'Cyprus', and Aegyptus 'Egypt' are also usually feminine, and so on. Some nouns such as parēns 'parent' can vary between masculine and feminine and are called of "common" gender.
When words of different genders are combined, the adjective is usually masculine if referring to people, neuter if referring to things:
However, sometimes the adjective may agree with the nearest noun.
Further information: Latin declension
Nouns, pronouns, and adjectives in Latin change their endings according to their function in the sentence. The different endings are called different 'cases'. Case endings of a similar kind are also found in other languages, such as Ancient and Modern Greek, German, Russian, Hungarian, Finnish, Sanskrit, Armenian, Classical Arabic, and Turkish.
The six cases most commonly used in Latin and their main meanings are given below. The cases are presented here in the order Nom, Voc, Acc, Gen, Dat, Abl, which has been used in Britain and countries influenced by Britain ever since the publication of Kennedy's Latin Primer in the 19th century. A different order – Nom, Gen, Dat, Acc, Voc, Abl, or its variation Nom, Gen, Dat, Acc, Abl, Voc – is used in many European countries and the United States.
(A small line, called a macron, over a vowel indicates that it is pronounced long.)
Another case is the locative, which is used mostly with the names of cities (e.g. Rōmae 'in Rome') and a very limited number of ordinary nouns (e.g. domī 'at home').
The following examples from Caesar show the cases used in a basic sense:
Here Caesar is the subject of the sentence, and so nominative case; mīlitibus 'to the soldiers' is dative case, a case typically used with the verb dō 'I give' (hence the name 'dative'); while signum is the direct object, and so accusative case.
Here Cūriō as subject of the verb is nominative, Mārcium as direct object is accusative; Uticam is also accusative as it is the goal or object of motion; and nāvibus 'with the ships' has the ablative ending. Although the ending -ibus is the same for both dative and ablative plural, the ablative meaning 'with' is more appropriate in this context.
Here Pompeius is subject (Nom.), Lūceriā shows another meaning of the ablative ending, namely 'from', and Canusium is again accusative of goal. With names of cities there is no need to add a preposition such as ad 'to', but the accusative case alone indicates 'to'.
An example illustrating the genitive case is the following:
Here castra, the goal of motion, is in the accusative following the preposition ad 'to' or 'towards'; Caesaris 'of Caesar' or 'Caesar's' is in the genitive case; and omnibus cōpiīs 'with all their forces' is in the ablative case, with the meaning 'with'.
The description of the use of cases is not always straightforward. The classification of the uses of the dative alone takes up nearly twelve pages in Woodcock's A New Latin Syntax and ten pages in Gildersleeve and Lodge. For example, when asking someone's name, a Roman would say:
This is an example of the dative of possession, as in:
Another idiomatic use is the "dative of the person affected":
The dative is also used with verbs of fighting with someone:
Another idiom is the "predicative dative" used with the verb 'to be' in phrases such as ūsuī esse 'to be of use', labōrī esse 'to be a trouble (to someone)':
Many verbs which in English take a direct object are used in Latin intransitively with a dative noun or pronoun, e.g. persuādeō 'I persuade', crēdō 'I believe', resistō 'I resist'.
Frequently, to make the meaning more precise, a noun in the accusative or ablative is preceded by a preposition such as in 'in, into', ad 'to', cum 'with', or ex 'out of'. This is especially so if the noun refers to a person. For example:
However, when the meaning of an accusative or an ablative is clear (for example Canusium (Acc) 'to Canusium', nāvibus (Abl) 'with the ships', posterō diē (Abl) 'on the following day'), the case ending alone is sufficient to give the meaning. Unlike in Greek, prepositions are not used in Latin with the dative or genitive.
Four prepositions can be followed by more than one case (very similar to usage of these and other prepositions in German), depending on their meaning. These are in 'in' (Abl), 'into' (Acc.); sub 'under' (Abl.), 'to the foot of' (Acc.); super 'over, above' (Acc.), 'concerning' (Abl.); and subter 'under' (usually with Acc.)
Prepositions almost always precede their noun or pronoun, except that cum 'with' follows a personal pronoun, e.g. mēcum 'with me' and sometimes a relative pronoun (quīcum, quōcum and cum quō are all possible for 'with whom'). There are occasional exceptions, especially with two-syllable prepositions after pronouns, e.g. haec inter (Virgil) 'in the midst of these'.
Sometimes when the noun has an adjective it is placed before the preposition for emphasis, e.g. magnā cum cūrā 'with great care' (Cicero), but this is not an invariable rule. Occasionally also the opposite order (noun-preposition-adjective) may be used in poetry and later prose, e.g. silvā lupus in Sabīnā (Horace) 'a wolf in the Sabine forest', or metū in magnō (Livy) 'in great fear'.
Further information: Latin tenses and Latin conjugation
Latin has six main tenses in the indicative mood, which are illustrated below using the verb facere 'to make' or 'to do':
The verb sum 'I am', which is irregular, has the tenses sum, erō, eram, fuī, fuerō, fueram. Some verbs (conjugations 1 and 2) instead of the Future -am, -ēs, -et etc. have a different future ending in -bō, -bis, -bit, e.g. amābō 'I will love'.
To these six ordinary tenses may be added various "periphrastic" tenses, made from a participle and part of the verb sum 'I am', such as factūrus eram 'I was about to do'.
For the most part these tenses are used in a fairly straightforward way; however, there are certain idiomatic uses that may be noted. Note in particular that the Latin perfect tense combines the English simple past ("I did") with the present perfect ("I have done") into a single form; this can make the perfect verb "feel" like it is set in the present ("Now I have done (it)") for the purpose of grammatical sequence of tenses.
In addition to the active voice tenses listed above, Latin has a set of passive voice tenses as follows:
The three perfect tenses (Perfect, Future Perfect, and Pluperfect) are formed using the perfect participle together with part of the verb sum 'I am'. The ending of the participle changes according to the gender and number of the subject: captus est 'he was captured'; capta est 'she was captured'; captī sunt 'they were captured', and so on.
Deponent verbs have exactly the same form as passive verbs except that the meaning is active, not passive:
A passive verb is generally used when it is unnecessary to indicate who did the action:
An intransitive verb can also be made passive, provided it is used impersonally in the neuter singular:
When it is desired to show the agent or person(s) by whom the action was done, Latin uses the preposition ab or ā with the ablative case:
When the agent is not a person but a thing, no preposition is used, but simply the ablative case:
In Latin, unlike English, only the direct object (not the indirect object) of an active verb can be made the subject of a passive verb. It is not correct to say in Latin 'the soldiers were being given their pay' but only 'pay was being given to the soldiers':
Another unusual feature of Latin, compared with English, is that intransitive verbs such as eō 'I go', veniō 'I come', pugnō 'I fight' and persuādeō (+ dative) 'I persuade' can be made passive, but only in a 3rd person singular impersonal form:
The infinitive of a passive verb ends in -ī (3rd conjugation) or -rī (other conjugations): capī 'to be captured, audīrī 'to be heard', etc.
The Perfect passive has an infinitive captus esse 'to have been captured', and there is also a rarely used Future passive infinitive made using the supine (captum) plus the passive infinitive īrī: captum īrī 'to be going to be captured'. It is typically used in indirect statements:
Most of the verbs ending in -or are true passives in meaning (i.e. they represent actions which are done by someone or by something). However, there are a few which are ambivalent and can be either active or passive in meaning, such as vertor 'I turn' (intransitive) or 'I am turned', volvor 'I revolve' (intransitive) or 'I am rolled':
In addition, there are a few verbs such as proficīscor 'I set out', polliceor 'I promise', cōnor 'I try' which despite their passive endings have an active meaning. These verbs (which have no active counterpart) are called deponent verbs:
Although most deponent verbs are intransitive, some of them such as sequor 'I follow' can take a direct object:
Deponent verbs are frequently used in their perfect participle form (e.g. profectus 'having set out'):
As well as the indicative mood illustrated above, which is used for stating and asking facts, and an imperative mood, used for direct commands, Latin has a subjunctive mood, used to express nuances of meaning such as 'would', 'could', 'should', 'may' etc. (The word mood in a grammatical sense comes from the Latin modus, and has no connection with the other meaning of 'mood', in the sense of 'emotional state', which comes from a Germanic root.)
There are four tenses of the subjunctive, which in the verb faciō are as follows:
The present subjunctive of 1st conjugation verbs ends in -em instead of -am: amem 'I may love, I would love'.
The present subjunctive of the verbs sum 'I am', possum 'I am able', volō 'I want', nōlō 'I don't want' and mālō 'I prefer', ends in -im: sim 'I may be, I would be', possim 'I may be able', velim 'I would like, I may wish', etc.
The imperfect subjunctive of every verb has the same form as the infinitive + -m: essem, possem, vellem, amārem, vidērem, īrem etc.
The subjunctive has numerous uses, ranging from what potentially might be true to what the speaker wishes or commands should happen. It is often translated with 'should', 'could', 'would', 'may' and so on, but in certain contexts, for example indirect questions or after the conjunction cum 'when' or 'since', it is translated as if it were an ordinary indicative verb.
Often in English the subjunctive can be translated by an infinitive; for example, imperāvit ut īret (literally, 'he ordered that he should go') becomes in more idiomatic English 'he ordered him to go'.
The 'potential' subjunctive is used when the speaker imagines what potentially may, might, would, or could happen in the present or future or might have happened in the past. The negative of this kind is nōn:
Another use is for what the speaker wishes may happen, or wishes had happened (the 'optative' subjunctive). The negative of this kind is nē:
It can also represent what the speaker commands or suggests should happen (the 'jussive' subjunctive). The negative is again nē:
Further information: Latin indirect speech § Indirect questions
One important use of the subjunctive mood in Latin is to indicate that the words are quoted; this applies for example to subordinate clauses in indirect speech:
It also applies to all indirect questions:
When used in indirect speech or in an indirect question, the subjunctive is translated as if were the corresponding tense of the indicative.
The subjunctive mood is very frequently used in subordinate clauses following conjunctions.
Further information: Temporal clause (Latin)
Used with the indicative, the conjunction cum means 'at that time when', or 'whenever':
Used with the subjunctive, however, it frequently means 'at a time when'. When cum is used with the Imperfect subjunctive, a common way of translating it is 'while':
With the Pluperfect subjunctive, it often means 'after X happened':
It can also mean 'in view of the fact that' or 'since':
Another, less common, meaning is 'though':
When followed by the indicative, the conjunction ut can mean 'as' (e.g. ut fit 'as generally happens') or 'as soon as' or 'when' (ut vēnī 'as soon as I came'). But with the subjunctive ut has the meaning 'that' or 'so that'.
It can represent purpose ('so that he could...'):
It can also be used to introduce an indirect command ('that he should...'):
It can also represent result (making what is known as a "consecutive" clause):
Occasionally ut with the subjunctive can mean 'although'.
Main article: Latin conditional clauses
After sī 'if', the subjunctive expresses an imagined or unreal situation:
After nē 'that not', the subjunctive can express a negative purpose:
It can also introduce a negative indirect command:
The conjunction nē can also express a fear; in this case, the word 'not' must be omitted from the English translation:
When used with the indicative, dum means 'while' or 'as long as'. But when followed by the subjunctive, it often means 'until':
Another meaning is 'provided that':
The conjunctions priusquam and antequam both mean 'before (something happened)'. If the event actually happened, the verb is usually in the indicative mood; but when the meaning is 'before there was a chance for it to happen', the verb is subjunctive:
The conjunction quīn (literally, 'how should it not be?') is always used after a negative verb or the equivalent, typically 'there is no doubt that', 'who does not know that...?', and so on. The words following quīn are always positive and usually state what was actually the case:
Another usage is after a negative verb such as 'I can't help doing' or 'he did not refrain from doing':
Equally it can be used in sentences of the kind 'A didn't happen without B also happening':
In sentences like the following, there is potential for confusion, since the quīn clause, though positive in Latin, is translated in English with a negative:
In the following context, the words after quīn express not what actually happened but what very nearly happened:
The pronoun quī 'who' or 'which', when followed by a subjunctive, can mean 'a person such as' (generic):
It can also mean 'in order to' (purpose):
Another meaning is 'in view of the fact that' (giving an explanation), as in the following example, said jokingly of a consul who was elected on the last day of the year:
Another reason for using the subjunctive after quī is to show that the words of the quī clause are quoted or part of indirect speech:
Clearly here Paetus had written or stated "I am giving you all the books which my brother left me", and Cicero is quoting his words indirectly to Atticus.
The imperative mood is used for giving direct orders. The active form can be made plural by adding -te:
Deponent verbs such as proficīscor 'I set out' or sequor 'I follow' have an imperative ending in -re or -minī (plural):
The passive imperative is almost never found. It has the same endings as the deponent imperative:
An imperative is usually made negative by using nōlī(te) (literally, 'be unwilling!') plus the infinitive. However, in poetry an imperative can sometimes be made negative with the particle nē:
A negative order can also use the perfect subjunctive:
Latin also has a future imperative or 2nd imperative, ending in -tō (pl. -tōte), which is used to request someone to do something at a future time, or if something else happens first:
This imperative is very common in early writers such as Plautus and Cato, but it is also found in later writers such as Martial:
Some verbs have only the second imperative, for example scītō 'know', mementō 'remember'.
A 3rd person imperative also ending in -tō, plural -ntō exists in Latin. It is used in very formal contexts such as laws:
Other requests are made with expressions such as cūrā ut 'take care to...', fac ut 'see to it that...' or cavē nē 'be careful that you don't...'
The future indicative can be used for polite commands:
Further information: Latin tenses § The infinitive
Although often referred to as a 'mood', the Latin infinitive is usually considered to be a verbal noun rather than a mood.
Latin has three infinitives in the active voice, and three passive. Since faciō is irregular in the passive ('to be done' is fierī, taken from the verb fīō 'I become'), they are here shown using the verb capiō 'I capture':
The infinitives of sum 'I am' are esse, fuisse, and futūrus esse (often shortened to fore). Possum 'I am able' has infinitives posse and potuisse, and volō 'I want' has velle and voluisse. Neither of these verbs has a Future infinitive, and the Present infinitive is used instead.
The Future infinitive is used only for indirect statements (see below).
The passive Future infinitive is rare, and is frequently replaced with a phrase using fore ut.
Rarer tenses of the infinitive, for example captus fore or captūrus fuisse, are sometimes found in indirect speech.
The infinitive can be used as the subject, complement, or the object of a verb:
It can also be used, as in English, dependent on an adjective, or with verbs such as possum 'I am able' or volō 'I want':
It is likewise used, as in English, with verbs such as iubeō 'I order', vetō 'I forbid', patior 'I allow', volō 'I want' and so on, where the subject of the complement clause (sometimes mistakenly referred as an object) is in the accusative case:
However, other verbs of similar meaning, such as imperō 'I order', persuādeō 'I persuade', and hortor 'I urge', are not used with an infinitive, but with ut and the subjunctive mood:
An infinitive is sometimes used to represent a series of repeated actions:
Further information: Latin tenses § Indirect statement, and Latin indirect speech
A very common use of the infinitive in Latin, in which it differs from English, is its use for indirect statements, that is for sentences where a subordinate clause is dependent on a main verb meaning 'he says', 'he knows', 'he pretends', 'he believes', 'he thinks', 'he finds out' and so on. In Latin, instead of 'they pretend that they want', the idiom is to say 'they pretend themselves to want':
Similarly 'I'm glad you've arrived safely' becomes 'I am glad you to have arrived safe':
In this construction, the subject of the infinitive (sē, tē in the above examples) is in the accusative case.
So common is this construction in Latin, that often the verb 'he said' is simply omitted if it is clear from the context, the accusative and infinitive alone making it clear that the statement is reported:
The rule of tense in an accusative and infinitive construction is that the present infinitive is generally used for actions contemporary with the main verb, the perfect for actions which preceded it, and the future for actions which followed it. An example of the future infinitive using the future participle is the following:
Often the esse part of a future active or perfect passive infinitive is omitted:
Less common is the periphrastic perfect infinitive, used when a potential pluperfect subjunctive is converted into an indirect statement:
The above example also illustrates another feature of indirect statement, that a negative indirect statement ('they say that ... not') is usually represented by the use of the main verb negō 'I deny'.
Not every subordinate clause which starts with the conjunction 'that' in English is translated with an accusative and infinitive. In some contexts ut with the subjunctive is required, for example after a verb of happening:
In other circumstances a clause with quod 'the fact that' is used with the indicative:
In less educated authors quod could even substitute for the accusative an infinitive, though this did not become common until the second century:
This type of clause with quod (which became que in modern French, Portuguese and Spanish and che in Italian) gradually took over from the Accusative and infinitive construction and became the usual way of expressing indirect speech in modern Romance languages which are descended from Latin.
Unlike Greek, Latin is deficient in participles, having only three, as follows:
The Romans themselves considered the gerundive (see below) also to be a participle, but most modern grammars treat it as a separate part of speech:
There is no active perfect participle in most verbs, but in deponent verbs, the perfect participle is active in meaning, e.g. profectus, 'having set out'.
The verb sum 'I am' has no present or perfect participle, but only the Future participle futūrus 'going to be'. However the derived verb absum 'I am absent' has a present participle absēns 'absent'.
Participles have endings like those of adjectives, and occasionally they are used as though they were adjectives. If so, they refer to the state or condition that a thing or person is in:
More frequently, however, a participle is more like a verb, and if one action follows another, it can often replace the first of two verbs in a sentence:
Literally, 'Caesar with writing instrument (graphiō) pierced (trāiēcit) for Casca (Cascae) the grabbed (arreptum) arm (bracchium)'
Participles can frequently be translated into English using a clause with 'when':
'-ing' and 'who' are other possible translations:
Apart from 'when' and 'who', other translations are possible, such as 'if', 'since', or 'although':
A participle phrase can also stand for a noun clause, as in the following example:
Normally a Present participle represents an action which is simultaneous with the main event ('he came running'), and a Perfect participle represents one which has already happened ('after drawing his sword'). In the following example, however, the Perfect participle represents the result following the main action:
Participles are much commoner in Latin than in English. Sometimes multiple participles can be used in a single sentence:
The phrase strīctō gladiō (lit. 'with drawn sword') above is an example of a common idiom in which a noun and participle are put in the ablative case to represent the circumstances of the main event. This absolute construction in Latin is called an "ablative absolute" and is comparable to the Greek genitive absolute or the English nominative absolute. Other examples are:
The present participle can also be used in an ablative absolute:
The verb sum ('I am') has no participle, except in the compound forms absēns 'absent' and praesēns 'present'. To make an ablative absolute with 'to be', the words are put in the ablative, and the verb is simply omitted:
Further information: Latin tenses § Periphrastic tenses
The gerundive is a verbal adjective ending in -ndus (-nda etc. if feminine). It is usually passive in meaning (although a few deponent verbs can form an active gerund, such as secundus 'following' from sequor 'I follow'). The usual meaning of the gerundive is that it is necessary for something to be done. Often the word 'must' is a suitable translation:
If a word is added to show by whom the action must be done, this word is put in the dative case (e.g. nōbīs 'for us').
Because it is passive in meaning, the gerundive is usually formed from transitive verbs. However, intransitive verbs such as eō 'I go' and persuādeō 'I persuade', which can be used passively in an impersonal construction, can also have an impersonal gerundive, ending in -um:
The gerundive after ad can also be used to express purpose (a use which it shares with the gerund, see below):
The gerund is a verbal noun ending in -ndum (accusative), -ndī (genitive), or -ndō (dative or ablative). Although identical in form to a neuter gerundive, and overlapping the gerundive in some of its uses, it is possible that it has a different origin.
Gerunds are usually formed from intransitive verbs, and are mainly used in sentences such as the following where the meaning is 'by doing something', 'of doing something', or 'for the purpose of doing something'. A gerund is never used as the subject or direct object of a verb (the infinitive is used instead).
Occasionally a gerund can be made from a transitive verb and can take a direct object:
They can also be formed from deponent verbs such as ingredior 'I enter':
However, if the verb is transitive, a phrase made of noun + gerundive is often substituted for the gerund:
The supine is a rarely used part of the verb ending in -tum or (in some verbs) -sum. When a verb is given in a dictionary with its four principal parts, such as ferō, ferre, tulī, lātum 'I bring' or mittō, mittere, mīsī, missum 'I send', the supine is the fourth part.
The supine is identical in form with the accusative case of 4th declension verbal nouns such as adventus 'arrival', mōtus 'movement', reditus 'return', etc., but it differs from them in that it is a verb as well as a noun, and can sometimes take a direct object.
The supine is normally used to express purpose, when combined with a verb of movement such as eō 'I go' or mittō 'I send':
In the following example it takes a direct object:
The accusative of the supine is also used to make the rare future passive infinitive, for example, captum īrī 'to be going to be captured', which can be used in indirect statements referring to the future (see above):
There is another form of the supine, an Ablative in -ū, found with certain verbs only. But this cannot take an object. It is used in phrases such as mīrābile dictū 'amazing to say', facile factū 'easy to do':