Subjunctive Sentences

  • Subjunctive Sentences

     Shiloh updated 3 months ago 2 Members · 3 Posts
  • Shiloh

    February 27, 2023 at 2:04 pm

    So I’m doing 54B right now, and for #41 I translated it as “Mom warns her son so he is happy” instead of “Mom warns her son to be happy”. Is this still acceptable? I thought it was okay because sit is the subjunctive from of ‘he is’ but I understand if it should be ‘to be’. Thank you!

  • Ben Crist

    March 1, 2023 at 8:41 am

    Hi Shiloh,

    Great question. Short answer: your translation is fine; there is no actual infinitive “to be” in the original Latin.

    For everyone’s benefit, here is the full sentence: Mater filium suum monet ut laetus sit.

    Whenever ut is followed by a verb in the subjunctive (as opposed to ut meaning “like/as” in a simile), you can break the sentence into two clauses:

    1. Mater filium suum monet
    2. ut laetus sit

    a/the mother…a/the son…her own…is warning/advising, warns/advises

    in order that, so that…happy…he/she/it is

    The flexible part is that “he is” in the subjunctive form needs to be able to express hypothetical, potential action. So not “he is” as in the state of happiness is actually achieved, but “he could be,” “he might be,” or “he may be.” Think of ut meaning “in order that” even if you don’t translate it that way. Why did mom warn her son? So that he would become (another subjunctive translation) happy. The act of warning was real—the state of becoming happy was what she hoped would happen as a result.

    Man, I love the subjunctive. As you move forward, you’ll see why the present tense of the subjunctive is used. Sneak peek: if mom’s action was in the past, the subjunctive form would need to change to express that. “She warned her son so that (at the time she warned him—not necessarily now—he would be happy.”

    Fun stuff!

  • Shiloh

    March 1, 2023 at 12:15 pm

    Thank you! Your explanation makes a lot of sense about it not being what the son is right now, but what is a potential or hoped for result.

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