Conditional mood

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DareRyan

Senior Member
United States - English
Is there any way to render the conditional mood in Latin as in other modern romance languages or would you merely use the indictive or subjunctive based on context?
 
  • Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    There is no conditional in Latin. It's a Romance invention. I imagine that you'll normally use the subjunctive instead of it, but wait for more replies.
     

    DareRyan

    Senior Member
    United States - English
    I had a feeling as I've never seen the subject come up in Latin. My question then becomes: Is there a verb construction that has the same function as the conditional might? I know in the case of most Romance languages the conditional began as a modified form of the verb "to have" and an infinitive which eventually morphed into a single verb conjugation.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    And that construction originated in medieval popular Latin, of course. In classical Latin, however, I don't think there's any verb form or structure with the same specific function as the conditional. Needless to say, you can always find some less-specific tense that does the job.
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    DareRyan, it would be more helpful to give us a French or Spanish sentence you've had in mind. Maybe even English would work. I'm not quite sure what exactly you mean by "conditional mood." Would this be the so-called conditional mood:

    Si j'étais toi, j'arrêterais de travailler.
    Si yo fuera tú, dejaría de trabajar.
    Se eu fosse você, pararia de trabalhar.

    If so, you would use the subjunctive in Latin:

    Si ego tu essem, laborare desisterem.

    Tell me if I'm right or wrong. :)
     

    DareRyan

    Senior Member
    United States - English
    An example of a phrase (In Italian) might be,

    Se lui fosse più astuto, non sarebbe così povero.
    (If he were more astute, he wouldn't be so poor.)

    Would you use the subjunctive twice in latin?

    Si non esset stultus, sit(?) beatus.
     

    modus.irrealis

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    With that construction, you'd use the subjunctive twice but both would be imperfect subjunctives:

    Si non esset stultus, esset beatus.

    Edited to add: this means that if he weren't a fool (but he is), he would be happy. If the condition could possibly be true, you'd use the present subjunctive in both:

    Si non sit stultus, sit beatus

    which I believe (in French at least) also uses the conditional:

    Si il n'était pas idiot, il serait content.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Modus, there is only an apparent difference between your example and DareRyan's. What happens is that spoken French replaces the imperfect subjunctive with the indicative. But the sentence is a counterfactual conditional in both cases. Here it is in Portuguese:

    Se ele não fosse um idiota, ficaria contente. --> "fosse" is the imperfect subjunctive

    And here's a different situation:

    S'il n'est pas un idiot, il sera content.
    If he isn't an idiot, he will be glad.

    In this case, the "then"-clause is in the future indicative tense.
     

    modus.irrealis

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    Outsider, I realize now that French would translate both sentences the same way, even if the first but not the second is counterfactual (the second one would be in English "if he were to not be foolish, he would be happy"), so it wasn't the best choice. But the French doesn't have to be interpreted as counterfactual -- how do the other Romance languages translate these "future-less-vivid" conditional sentences?

    And here's a different situation:

    S'il n'est pas un idiot, il sera content.
    If he isn't an idiot, he will be glad.

    In this case, the "then"-clause is in the future indicative tense.
    That would be the "future-more-vivid" conditional sentence and would only have indicatives in Latin as well.
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Let's take the three forms of conditional clauses and analyze them for Latin:

    If he isn't an idiot, he will be glad.
    Si is idiota non est, felix erit.

    If he wasn't an idiot, he would be glad.
    Si is idiota non esset, felix esset.

    If he hadn't been an idiot, he would have been glad.
    Si is idiota non fuisset, felix fuisset.

    For the realis (conditional I), you use the indicative present for the si-clause and the indicative future for the second clause. This is logical, because the indicative shows us that it might be possible, so it is used.

    For the present irrealis (conditional II), you have to take the subjunctive imperfect in both clauses, because it is impossible.

    The past irrealis (conditional III) is used with the subjunctive pluperfect, because it is not possible anymore that the action takes place. In Latin, it is totally logical.


    Let's take the other sentence in all three conditional forms:

    If he's more astute, he won't be so poor.
    Si is astutior est, tam pauper non erit.

    If he was more astute, he wouldn't be so poor.
    Si is astutior esset, tam pauper non esset.

    If he'd been more astute, he wouldn't have been so poor.
    Si is astutior fuisset, tam pauper non fuisset.


    And here's a rather longer sentence being a bit tricky:

    If it wasn't my fault, then I don't understand why you wouldn't want to believe me.
    Si mea culpa non erat, non ita percipio cur tu mihi credere non velles.

    Let's see if the other Latin learners like my version. ;)
     

    jazyk

    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    Excellent, except for:

    If it wasn't my fault, then I don't understand why you wouldn't want to believe me.
    Si mea culpa non erat, non ita percipio cur tu mihi credere non velles.

    Si mea culpa non fuit, non ita percipio cur tu mihi credere non volueris.

    You must use the perfect subjunctive (volueris) when it refers to an action previous to another one in the present (percipio).

    Regarding fuit/erat, I can't explain why, it's my Romance background that says erat is out of place there.

    Jazyk
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Excellent, except for:

    Si mea culpa non fuit, non ita percipio cur tu mihi credere non volueris.

    [/i]You must use the perfect subjunctive (volueris) when it refers to an action previous to another one in the present (percipio).
    Thanks. Yes, that makes sense.

    Regarding fuit/erat, I can't explain why, it's my Romance background that says erat is out of place there.
    I never feel very comfortable with the difference between "fuit" and "erat." But I think you know it better, so I accept the correction. :)

    I think Latin requires the future indicative in both, so:

    Si is idiota non erit (or fuerit), felix erit.
    I don't think that is correct. According to my grammar book you can't use the future tense in the si-clause. Is it just your gut feeling or do you any background information that makes you question my sentence?
     

    modus.irrealis

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    I don't think that is correct. According to my grammar book you can't use the future tense in the si-clause. Is it just your gut feeling or do you any background information that makes you question my sentence?
    Odd -- my Latin book (Wheelock's Latin) says
    Simple fact future ... : Si id faciet, prudens erit. ... Future indicative in both clauses;
    and the reference grammar I look these questions up in says (the relevant section is online at http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0001&query=head=#277)
    B. FUTURE CONDITIONS (as yet unfulfilled)

    More Vivid
    a. Future Indicative in both clauses:--b. Future Perfect Indicative in protasis, Future Indicative in apodosis:--
    although it does mention that the present indicative can be used in the protasis as well. And just looking through the google results for "Latin conditional clauses" I'm pretty sure that the standard construction is with the future indicative for both verbs.
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    I must apologize, modus. :eek: Since I'm not that familiar with the Latin conditional clauses, I looked it up in my Latin grammar book (in German), and look what I found there:

    Conditional clauses are introduced by si (if); negated nisi (if not/unless) using the indicative:

    Si naturam sequeris, numquam errabis.
    If you follow the nature, you will never err.

    That example is really bad, because "sequeris" looks the same in the present and future tense, which depends on the length of the second e! :eek:
     

    virgilio

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Dare Ryan,
    In Latin the rather misnamed 'conditional' tense would be covered by the imperfect subjunctive, and the 'conditional perfect' would be the past perfect (aka "pluperfect") subjunctive.
    The so-called 'conditional' tense is badly named because it (a) it does not appear in all conditional sentences and (b) frequently appears in sentences which are not conditional. As tenses go, it is a newcomer, having only 'gel'led into a tense in Europe in the late Middle Ages.
    Hope this helps
    Best wishes
    Virgilio
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    The so-called 'conditional' tense is badly named because it (a) it does not appear in all conditional sentences and (b) frequently appears in sentences which are not conditional.
    (a) is true, but (b) is very arguable. I can't think of any conditional verb which can't be interpreted as part of an elliptic conditional sentence. Which makes (a) a moot point.
    What else are you going to call a tense that was devised specifically for conditional sentences?
     

    virgilio

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Outsider,
    Thank you for your reply. Re (a) The 'conditional'tense does not to my knowledge occur in conditional sentences which are not hypothetical. Re (b) how about sentences like:
    I knew that they would come (oratio obliqua statement)
    Actually your point has made me realise a mistake in my earlier post, which I shall attempt now to correct in a separate post.

    Thank you
    Virgilio
     

    virgilio

    Senior Member
    English UK
    CORRECTION OF EARLIER POSTING:
    My earlier suggestions for Latin equivalents of the modern conditional tense EXCLUDE any conditional used in Indirect Statements or Indirect Questions.
    Sorry about the omission
    Virgilio
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Re (a) The 'conditional'tense does not to my knowledge occur in conditional sentences which are not hypothetical.
    There is no tense (or mood) that can cover every verb in every conditional sentence, in the Romance languages. However, the conditional is the one that has the strongest association with them; indicatives and subjunctives have many other uses.

    Besides, the name of a tense doesn't have to be a full descriptor of its (normally multiple) functions. For example, there's nothing in the words "infinitive" or "future tense" to warn us that they can be used to give commands. We just have to learn it.

    Re (b) how about sentences like:
    I knew that they would come (oratio obliqua statement)
    ...if I were right? :)

    I admit that it's a stretch. It's one of those future-in-the-past conditionals. But "conditional" is so much quicker to say than "future-in-the-past". ;)
     

    virgilio

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Outsider,
    I take your point about nomenclature but shouldn't your coda to my "I knew that they would come" be rather "if I was right". The sentence is not in the least hypothetical, as your "were" suggets. Quite the reverse, in fact, for "I knew that they would come".
    Any Procrustean attempt to make that hypothetical smacks of some of the less inspired thoughts on language of Bertrand Russell.

    Best wishes
    Virgilio
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    [...] shouldn't your coda to my "I knew that they would come" be rather "if I was right". The sentence is not in the least hypothetical, as your "were" suggets. Quite the reverse, in fact, for "I knew that they would come".
    Yes, that does make more sense. :thumbsup:

    Regards,
    Outsider :cool:
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Re (b) how about sentences like:
    I knew that they would come (oratio obliqua statement)
    And since we are in the Latin forum: How would you translate that sentence?

    If you used an "ut" clause, you would have to use the subjunctive. If you preferred the infinitive construction (accusativus cum infinitivo), there would be no conditional/subjunctive, and I think you wouldn't choose a "quod" clause. So, the sentence isn't very relevant for the topic conditional/subjunctive, in my opinion. :)
     

    virgilio

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Whodunit,
    SH-sh-sh! please! You'll get us both thrown out for being 'off-topic'!
    But, since you ask, I deny that it was actually 'off-topic'. The original query asked what would be the Latin equivalent of the conditional tense. I gave an answer, which I was obliged to modify by saying that my answer did not apply to conditional tenses used in modern European languages in either indirect statements (of which the sentence you quote contains an example) or indirect questions.
    As for how I would translate the sentence you quote:
    "sciebam eos esse venturos"
    would be one possibility.
    I wouldn't rule out "quod" clauses altogether myself. Some of Cicero's in his letters come pretty close to indirect statements, it seems to me.

    Best wishes
    Virgilio
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Whodunit,
    SH-sh-sh! please! You'll get us both thrown out for being 'off-topic'!
    Actually, it's still (a bit) about the conditional mood ... and even if! :D (moderatorem nobiscum patientem habemus ;))

    But, since you ask, I deny that it was actually 'off-topic'. The original query asked what would be the Latin equivalent of the conditional tense. I gave an answer, which I was obliged to modify by saying that my answer did not apply to conditional tenses used in modern European languages in either indirect statements (of which the sentence you quote contains an example) or indirect questions.
    As for how I would translate the sentence you quote:
    "sciebam eos esse venturos"
    would be one possibility.
    Would you call that a conditional or subjunctive? Actually, it is the future infinitive that is often translated as a conditional into modern languages, but what would be in Latin except an infinitive? I would have translated it the same as you did, but "Sciebam, ut ii veniant" would have been my choice for an ut-clause. Of course, that would be ambiguous, as it could be understood as a clause in the simultaneity and in the posteriority. Therefore, the infinitive construction (as you used it) is always the better choice for indirect future statements.
     

    virgilio

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Whodunit,
    Your translation (""Sciebam, ut ii veniant") is interesting in that it seems to support a theory I once had about the English subjunctive. Pondering on the adjective "subjunctive" itself I reached the conclusion that any verb in a subordinate clause could be called "subjunctive" in that it subjoined its clause to a major clause. This is indeed a tenable theory and uses the term "subjunctive"as describing a verb's function rather than as describing its form - which is what most Britons tend to do.
    But, even if you accept that theory - and I think from what you say that you might - you should avoid the logical blunder of arguing that a form of the verb universally recognisable as "subjunctive" may therefore be used in any subordinate clause, for recognisable subjunctive forms (such as "sim, essem, veniant") have been made recognisable for a purpose- or rather for several purposes. This is demonstrated by the frequent appearance of recognisably indicative forms in Latin subordinate clauses.
    Such a logical error falls foul of "usage", which according to Quintus Horatius Flaccus was what counted in the final analysis:
    "multa renascentur quae jam cecidere, cadentque
    quae nunc sunt in honore vocabula, si volet usus,
    quem penes arbitrium est et jus et norma loquendi"

    In other words, I'm afraid you're translation - though interesting - is wrong. It contravenes "usage", unless, of course, you can quote a publicly recognised Latin author who expressed indirect statement by a subjunctive clause. I'm always open to new material.
    Man lernt nie aus.
    Best wishes
    Virgilio
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Pondering on the adjective "subjunctive" itself I reached the conclusion that any verb in a subordinate clause could be called "subjunctive" in that it subjoined its clause to a major clause. This is indeed a tenable theory and uses the term "subjunctive"as describing a verb's function rather than as describing its form - which is what most Britons tend to do.
    I'm not sure I understand your theory. Would you say this is a subjunctive as well?

    I knew the ones who came with my friend, but I wasn't sure whether they knew me, too.

    In German (which uses the subjunctive not because it is grammatically required, but because we feel it is necessary, since the sentence is hypothetical), you wouldn't use the subjunctive for such a clause, because there's nothing hypothetical in it.

    In other words, I'm afraid you're translation - though interesting - is wrong. It contravenes "usage", unless, of course, you can quote a publicly recognised Latin author who expressed indirect statement by a subjunctive clause. I'm always open to new material.
    Let's regard what Cicero wrote:

    In cotidianis autem commentationibus equidem mihi adulescentulus proponere solebam illam exercitationem maxime, qua C. Carbonem nostrum illum inimicum solitum esse uti sciebam, ut aut versibus propositis quam maxime gravibus aut oratione aliqua lecta ad eum finem, quem memoria possem comprehendere, eam rem ipsam, quam legissem, verbis aliis quam maxime possem lectis, pronuntiarem; ... Source, 154
    And Socrates said Scio, ut nescio, if I remember well. :)

    Man lernt nie aus.
    Yep, live and learn! :)
     

    virgilio

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Whodunit,
    (1) Was die in meinen Jugendjahren ausgedachte Konjunktivtheorie betrifft, muß man sie keineswegs mit den normalen Konjuntivformen der europäischen Sprachen verwechseln.
    Re:" I knew the ones who came with my friend, but I wasn't sure whether they knew me, too."
    Of course, no subjunctives here.
    Thank you for the Cicero quote. As you will, of course, know the juxtaposition of "sciebam" and "ut" is quite fortuitous, since the clause introduced by the conjunction "ut" is not the object of "sciebam".
    The object of "sciebam" is, of course, the phrase "qua (exercitatione)C. Carbonem nostrum illum inimicum solitum esse uti" and the clause extending from "ut" to " "pronuntiarem" is the object of the verbal element within the infinitive "proponere" in the phrase "proponere solebam".

    It is extremely improbable that Socrates should ever have written anything in Latin. If you'd like to quote me the Greek, I'd be obliged but in any case it can hardly be germane to the issue.

    Best wishes
    Virgilio
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Of course, no subjunctives here.
    Then I must have misunderstood you. What else did you mean by any verb in a subordinate clause could be called "subjunctive" in that it subjoined its clause to a major clause. Please elaborate upon that theory for classical languages or open a new thread for it. :)

    Thank you for the Cicero quote. As you will, of course, know the juxtaposition of "sciebam" and "ut" is quite fortuitous, since the clause introduced by the conjunction "ut" is not the object of "sciebam".
    Well, you might be right. I didn't have much time yesterday and didn't check if sciebam and ut belonged together. I apologize for that counterproductive quote. In the meantime, I have checked if it was possible at all to use ut after scire as a conjunction for an object clause. And what I have gathered from some websites (unfortunately my book nor my dictionary elaborate upon this issue) is that ut + subjunctive can only be used after verbs of command, wish etc. So, scire needs an accusativus cum infinitivo as you chose it.

    It is extremely improbable that Socrates should ever have written anything in Latin. If you'd like to quote me the Greek, I'd be obliged but in any case it can hardly be germane to the issue.
    I just checked it and I think they used the infinitive construction in Greek for the phrase, too. Scio me nescire, however, is more common than my Scio, ut nesciam. (I just saw that I wrote nescio!). Thus, I think you are correct about that my ut-clause was wrong. ;)
     

    virgilio

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Whodunit,
    Re your:" Scio me nescire, however, is more common than my Scio, ut nesciam."
    It's 'more common' for a good reason. In the sense you intended "Scio me nescire", is right wheras "Scio, ut nesciam." is wrong. And the only possible translations of "scio ut nesciam" would in any case be pretty crazy!
    What kind of philosopher would seek ignorance, after all? Certainly not old '50 crates'

    Best wishes
    Virgilio
     

    modus.irrealis

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    I just checked it and I think they used the infinitive construction in Greek for the phrase, too.
    This is off-topic but in Greek it depended on the verb what construction you used, but the thing Socrates is often said to have said uses οἶδα for "know" which I don't think can take the infinitive -- often you see the paraphrase Ἓν οἶδα ὅτι ουδὲν οἶδα, literally means "one I-know that nothing I-know."
     

    virgilio

    Senior Member
    English UK
    modus.irrealis,
    Yes, of course. Classical Greek does use the equivalents of what Whodunit was suggesting for Latin. But even classical Greek avoided the Subjunctive in indirect statements, possibly - as in Latin - because of the likelihood of confusion with other subjunctive constructions.
    Classical Greek did however make wide use of the Optative in oratio obliqua. If Latin had an Optative like Greek, Whodunit's idea would probably work.

    Best wishes
    Virgilio
     

    relativamente

    Senior Member
    catalan and spanish
    Some more examples with si...
    Si vis me flere, dolendum est / primum ipsi tibi. If you want me to weep, you must feel sorrow first.
    Haec si fecissent incepta prospera futura.If they did that, they. would achieve what intendet.
    Si quis, qui, quid agam, forte requirat erit...If there's is somebody who ask by chance how I am... (Ovide)
    Ad extremum, si cum turba indignissima tanta dea (FElicitas) colenda visa est, cur non vel illustrius ceteris colebatur.And finally, if they deemed sensible to worship such an important godess (Hapiness)between this infamous multitude ¿Why at least didn't worshipped her in a more distinguished way?(De civitate Dei from Agustine)
     

    Mairlon Silveira

    New Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    Is there any way to render the conditional mood in Latin as in other modern romance languages or would you merely use the indictive or subjunctive based on context?
    I think you should use the "Imperfect active of the subjunctive" to form a conditional mood in Latin, due to the fact that this conjugation represents something that is not real, but could be, such as a desire.

    e.g.: conservārem (I might save) ; conservāret (He might save)

    "Caesar patriam conservARET"

    ("Caesar MIGHT SAVE the country/homeland", which could also be translated into "Caesar WOULD SAVE the country/homeland).
    😉
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    saluete omnes!

    It must be confessed that I am finding this (from 2007) resurrected conversation rather perplexing (as perplexing as I found conditional sentences when I was learning Latin in my teens!).

    Such sentences can be real or unreal, and past, present or future (or a mixture of tenses):

    I realis:

    'If he was ill, he stayed at home'
    si aeger erat, domi manebat

    'If he is ill, he is staying at home'
    si aeger est, domi manet

    'If he is ill [tomorrow] he will stay at home'
    si [mane] aeger erit, domi manebit

    II Irrealiis

    'If he had been ill, he would have stayed at home'
    si aeger fuisset, domi mansisset

    'If he were ill [today], he would be staying at home'
    si [hodie] aeger esset, domi maneret

    'Should he be ill [tomorrow], he will be found staying at home'
    [mane] si aeger sit, domi manserit.

    III Mixed

    'If he had been ill, I would not be here [now]'
    si aeger fuisset, hic non adessem

    &c.

    Σ
     
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