In the thirteenth class of the Latin from Scratch course, we’ll study the perfect past indicative in the active voice (from now on, just perfect). This is the other one of the two main past tenses, along with the imperfect.
I explain everything in the following video ():
Morphology of the Latin perfect indicative
This tense is quite simple, as all the verbs are conjugated in the very same way regardless of their conjugation. It is made of just these two components:
- perfect stem
- special endings
Of course, the first thing we need to know is learn these special endings.
The perfect tense has its own special endings which are only used in the active indicative:
‑ērunt / ‑ēre
So this would be the result:
|1st conjugation||2nd conjugation||3rd conjugation||mixed conjugation||4th conjugation|
Most of the times we will encounter the ending ‑erunt, but poets and some authors such as Sallust can use the form ‑ere. In most verbs it cannot be mistaken for the present infinitive, since it has the present stem: monere / monuere; ducere / duxere. (However, in 2nd and 3rd conjugation verbs whose present and perfect stem are the same, the result is also the same: bibere can be both present infinitive and 3rd person plural perfect).
Perfect of the verb sum
Its perfect stem is fu‑, which will be used in all the other tenses with perfect stem.
Translation of the perfect tense into English
In Latin there is no distinction between I saw and I have seen, so a verb such as vidi can be translated as any of them, depending on the context.
We also need to take into account that the distribution of past tenses differs in Latin and in English. In English, I saw can be translated as vidi (perfect) or videbam (imperfect), while vidi can be translated as I saw or I have seen.
Only the context and what feels right will determine how to translate! So let’s go and put all of this into practice.