How to Read the Bible in Latin | JSBachFOA.Org

How to Read the Bible in Latin

Part 1

First, second, and third declension, pronouns, first and second conjugation, Gloria Patri, Psalm 116

Here's the good news. It's a lot easier to read Latin than it is to write it. In fact, if you have a good English vocabulary, you already know a surprising number of Latin-based words, although you might not use them in ordinary conversation.

Our Latin didn't come to us straight from the Romans. After all, they've been dead for 1500 years. In fact, our Latin was still spoken and written in George Washington's time. It came to us from England and from France, and from Italy and Spain and Ireland and Germany. It came to us through their churches and their schools, through their prayers, their writings, and their songs. And it came to them through the Vulgate.

Jerome played a large part in passing down to us the Vulgate, for centuries the official Latin translation of the Bible, and we owe him a huge debt for the care he took with his work. Latin is a fluid language which can express an idea abstrusely and concisely or clearly and verbosely. Jerome deliberately used simple words and simple grammar to make his work accessible and he succeeded brilliantly We'll use him as our teacher and his masterpiece, the Clementine Vulgate, as our textbook.

If Mankind were to award a Medal for Lifetime Achievement, First Place should go to Saint Jerome, Father of the Language, Scholar and Poet.

The Vulgate has several advantages over traditional text books. Its language is simple and vivid and its content is fascinating. My sister once pointed out to me that the Bible is a how-to-do-it book for living. It's a cookbook, a law book, a history book and a civics book. It's a prayer book and the source of the world's greatest literature. It has excellent advice for daily living and guidelines for establishing a civilized government. It's a constitution with basic laws which can not be denied or abrogated by the whims of a fickle ruler. It teaches good behavior and hard work, the cornerstones of a successful society. It preaches frugality, and on a more practical note, the Vulgate itself is free, at least on the internet, and so is a good translation, Challoner's edition of the Douay Rheims.

Pronunciation - I'll post an audio so you can hear what Latin sounds like, or at least the way I remember it sounding more than fifty years ago. If you want a second opinion on pronunciation, I found one by Winston Churchill. The following wonderful quote is from his autobiography My Early Life (sometimes titled A Roving Commission or Young Winston, and in any case a very good book), which not only gives his opinion of the "other" pronunciation, but also implies a time frame for its introduction. The quote is found early on, when his teachers were trying to convince him of the utility of Latin, evidently no easy task. Here it is.

"I was fain to admit a practical value. But now even this has been swept away. The foreigners and the Scotch have joined together to introduce a pronunciation of Latin which divorces it finally from the English tongue. They tell us to pronounce 'audience' 'owdience'; and 'civil' 'keyweel'. They have distorted one of my most serviceable and impressive quotations into the ridiculous booby 'Wainy, Weedy, Weeky'. Punishment should be reserved for those who have spread this evil."

Almost all vowels are pronounced as separate syllables and the accent usually, but by no means always, falls on the third syllable from the end. One of the advantages of learning a dead language is that you won't find yourself trying to speak to someone whose native tongue is Latin. You can mangle it and no one will know the difference. Just say it's a regional dialect.

I include the corresponding Challoner translation with the Latin text of each Psalm, but sooner or later you'll want your own Latin dictionary. Cassell's Latin Dictionary is a good general purpose dictionary, Leo Stelten's Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin includes many liturgical words, and includes the accent marks. Whitaker's Words is a very good, free, downloadable dictionary. The Liber Usualis has most of the Psalms, all of the accents, and rules for pronunciation, as well as music and many old liturgies.

The Gloria Patri
The Gloria Patri is not part of the Vulgate, but is strongly associated with the Psalms. In monastic practice, it was often included at the end of a Psalm, and its English version is as well known in the Christian world as its Latin version used to be.

Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Latin uses several versions of the same word to express the different ways the word is used (it's on something, it's in something, it was given to someone, it's owned by someone). These versions come from the endings which are added to the stem of the verb or to the root of the noun. We'll look at them carefully later on, but for now we'll simply note their presence. Latin uses endings the way English uses helper words like in or to. Endings are required even when Latin uses its own helper words.

Gloria Patri - glory be to the Father.

No verb, it's implied (Let there be), just glory and father. The to_the part is built into the word for father (pater) by the letter i.

et Filio - and to the son. The to_the part comes from the letter o in the word for son, filius. How come an o here, but an i there? We'll see.

et Spiritui Sancto - and to the Holy Spirit. More to_the's, but we have an ui (it's not just the i) and an o. Now we've seen i, ui, and o all saying the same thing, to_the. What's going on? Let's see what other surprises Latin has in store.

Sicut erat in principio - as it was in (the) beginning. In says in, as you might have guessed, and requires the o at the end of principio. In can also mean into, with a different ending to show the different meaning.

et nunc - and (is) now

et semper - and (will be) always

et in saecula saeculorum - and (will be) into (the) ages of ages, for which Henry VIII gave us the much more euphonious World without End.

What Have We Learned, or at least What Might We Suspect?

  1. Latin doesn't always include verbs, especially forms of the verb To Be. The verb is sometimes assumed and its meaning inferred.
  2. Latin isn't much of a fan of The either, but it does have words for This one or That one.
  3. The nouns and adjectives (sancto is an adjective, from sanctus, holy) have endings which follow the rules of grammar, even though the specific ending of an adjective might not be the same letter or combination of letters as the ending of the noun it modifies.

    The endings on nouns are determined by the gender, number, and case of the noun. A noun's gender is determined by the noun itself. Gloria was born first declension feminine, and first declension feminine it will stay. A noun's number is almost always determined by the writer - if there is only one thing, the writer uses a singular noun, if more than one, a plural noun. A very few nouns are used only in the singular or only in the plural. A noun's case is determined by its use in a sentence and by the rules of grammar.

    The ending on an adjective that modifies a noun is determined by the gender, number, and case of the noun. The ending on the adjective might or might not look like the ending on the noun (example: ui and o). Don't panic - things are easier than they look.

    1. Verbs have endings too.
    2. There are lots of different verb endings.
    3. A different ending can drastically alter the sense of the verb.
  4. The word order in the Gloria Patri is the same in Latin as it is in English. But, as a general rule, the word order in Latin can differ completely from the word order in English. It doesn't have to, but it can. If you are doing the writing, and you're not trying to impress anybody, you can use almost any word order you want and still be correct. If you're doing the reading, you're stuck with whatever word order is already there. This can be very confusing, especially when the author wants to show his mastery of the language. Jerome wrote for you. He used simple grammar and word order and ended up writing for posterity.
  5. Writing Latin elegantly requires a great deal of skill and practice.
  6. Reading is not as complicated as writing, because whoever wrote it already did the heavy lifting, matching up endings, choosing the right form of the verbs, and arranging words to look good and sound good. You still need vocabulary, but unless you're in a hurry, you can look up words up one at a time. (Note - Whitaker allows you to input and output ASCII (the old DOS style) text files if you want to work with groups of words.)

My sister, Kathleen Canning, has put together a series of articles called Color Coded Latin, which we'll refer to as CCL, with charts which show and explain the endings. I won't attempt to duplicate them here, except that when we run into something new, I'll give you enough detail to get you started and to point you to the right color coded page.

We'll translate Psalm 116 and then check our translation with Challoner. Note that Psalm numbers in the Vulgate might not be the same as in other bibles. Vulgate numbers are generally the same for low numbered and high numbered Psalms, and are generally off by one for Psalms in between. We'll take our Psalm apart word by word, and by the time we're finished, you should have a pretty good idea of how Latin works. A word of warning: I ramble, so feel free to skip ahead. You probably won't miss much.

116:1 Laudate Dominum, omnes gentes, laudate eum, omnes populi.
116:2 Quoniam confirmata est super nos misericordia ejus, et veritas Domini manet in aeternum.

116:1 O Praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.
116:2 For his mercy is confirmed upon us: and the truth of the Lord remaineth for ever.

Hint: Once you can pronounce the words, you should try to memorize the Psalm in Latin, although if reciting these things out loud could get your head chopped off, maybe you should stick to the classics. I prefer not using vocabulary cards, and in fact not even trying to memorize individual words, but instead looking a word up over and over until it finally sinks in. For some reason, this works better for me, but only with Latin.

Verbs are a heck of a place to begin, but Laudate is a verb, so here we go.

Laudate Dominum means You (plural), praise the Lord. It's a direct order, and it's addressed to more than one listener. If the Psalm were ordering you as an individual (singular) to do some praising, it would say Lauda Dominum, leaving off the te, and would mean You, Joe, Praise the Lord. This form of the verb is called the Imperative, and it's used to give a command.

Reading the Psalms means you don't have to worry about forming the imperative, but you do have to recognize it. Most of the time it will be plural and it will be a truncated infinitive with te or ite on the end. Let's see if laudate is imperative. But not quite yet. This is as good a time as any to introduce you to the family of verb forms and endings, so let's start with two of your new best friends, the verb charts.

Verb Charts
The Latin main page for Color Coded Latin on contains both general information about verbs, listed by conjugation, and also a set of intimidatingly detailed verb charts which show the forms and endings for regular verbs of all conjugations. Don't try to learn everything the first time through. Just get the flavor of how verbs are put together, and then the charts will begin to make sense. Once you're comfortable with them, they can save you lots of time and effort.

For now, go to the Latin page and take a quick look at the section on First Conjugation Verbs. The sample verb is Amo, which has the same forms and endings as our verb Laudo. The first two tables have the 4 principal parts of the are verbs (amo, amare, amavi, amatus, a, um). Get a feeling for how things work and then take a look at the full First Conjugation Verb Chart, which uses Laudo as the sample.

Laudate? See how easy it is when you know where to look? But you still need to know what a Latin word means. Here's your third friend.

How to Read a Latin Dictionary
Laudate has te on the end, so that's a good sign. But if you're just starting out, you don't have a clue about lauda - you don't know what it means or what kind of a word it is, and when you try to look it up in a dictionary you won't find it. At least not exactly it. That's because dictionaries don't list verbs by their stem, or by the specific form of the verb you see in front of you. Instead, they list it by the first principal part, the I do it part. Here's our verb from Stelten's Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin - lau'do -a're: (1): praise, glorify, commend

The little tick mark between lau and do is an accent mark. People with a higher budget than mine show it above the au, instead of after the au. It tells you to put the stress on the lau part, not on the do part. Next, the -a're tells you that the infinitive form is laudare, and that the stress is put on the dah part of the dah ray. The dictionary doesn't tell you - it assumes that you already know - that the stress in Latin usually goes on the third vowel from the end, but often on the second. Finally, the (1) let's you know that laudo is a first conjugation verb, although the are infinitive for our verb tells us the same thing. The number is helpful for certain verbs whose endings look like the endings from another conjugation. The last two principal parts are laudavi and laudatus, a, um (lauda'vi, lauda'tus) because that's the way all regular first conjugation verbs are formed. The CCL page gives you this information and more. Unfortunately for book lovers, there's an easier way. Whitaker returns most of it when you type in laudate, which is easier but not as much fun because it doesn't give you the chance to browse nearby words.

Laudate comes from the verb laudo, laudare, laudavi, laudatus, a, um. This, by the way, is how you should memorize your verbs. Say out loud the four principle parts, including the three endings of the fourth part (us, a, and um in our example).

The stem of laudo is lauda (laudare without the re). The singular active imperative for first conjugation verbs is simply the stem, lauda. The plural imperative is lauda plus te, laudate. Other conjugations use rules which are similar. Our Psalm's Laudate is in fact the imperative.

Conjugations and Declensions
There are words which all follow the same rules. Grouping these words together means that you don't have to memorize every rule each time you learn one new word. Of course you still have to learn the rules for each group, and you have to remember which group your word is in. There are groups for verbs, groups for nouns, and groups for adjectives. In fact, there are more groups than you can shake a stick at, but many groups share rules with other groups, making things a little easier. We'll start with verbs.

Most Latin verbs can be placed in one of four main groups called conjugations. This is an important word and you need to memorize it so that you can talk to your friends about conjugating a verb. It's absolutely necessary to remember that you Conjugate a Verb and you Decline a Noun. (As I was writing this, it struck me for the first time that although there are words in Latin which are called conjunctions, you don't conjugate them.) We'll talk about declensions later, but don't mix up the terms or you'll sound like a fool. Sorry for the language, but that's the way it is with things Roman. If you think the Romans were just like us except for wearing funny clothes, think again.

The Romans didn't fool around, no sir, not in those days. When they decided to take on the Carthaginians, the Romans didn't have a navy so they built one. While they were waiting for their first real ships, they put benches at the edge of the sea, sat their crews down, and made them practice by rowing against the sand.

When the Romans needed to tunnel through a mountain, they'd take two armies, put them on opposite sides of the mountain, and tell them to start digging. Three years later, the two groups would meet in the middle. Welcome to Latin. Your new language expects great things from you.

First Conjugation
Verbs in each conjugation generally have similar forms and endings. Laudo belongs to the First Conjugation. The first principal part is called the Present Indicative, and ends with an o, which says that I, and not you or someone else, is doing whatever it is that the verb does. Laudo means I Praise. The au is pronounced like the ow in cow. The o at the end is long, like in Oh My. Put the accent on Lau.

Verbs have a second principal part called an Infinitive, which in the First Conjugation ends in are, pronounced ah ray, as in ah look at that ray of light. For our example laudare, it's lau like in cow, da like d with an ah as in ah I see, and the long e at the end like the name of the English letter a, or like a ray of light. The infinitive corresponds to the English phrase To Praise, or To Run, or To Be, or To whatever. English uses helper words like to, or have, or had, or might to indicate what the verb is saying. Latin can often do it without helper words by using specific endings which are added to each of the four principal parts. In this aspect, English is easier, because it only needs a few helper words, without endings. Jerome kept things as simple as he could, but there are lots of endings in Latin. Again, as a reader, you don't have to chose them, you only have to recognize them.

Laudavi is the I Did It form of the third principal part, the Perfect Indicative. Perfect does not mean without flaw. It's the term used to say that the action took place in the past. In laudavi, the v does not sound like an English w. Take it from Churchill. The vi sounds like the name of the English letter v, not vih as in victory but vee as in q r s t u v. Put the accent on da. Laudavi translates as I praised, or I have praised. As a little gem of knowledge, the second person singular perfect laudavisti is often abbreviated to laudasti, which might not show up in your table of endings.

The fourth and final principal part is called the Perfect Passive Participle and it has three versions, ending with either us, a, or um. For our verb, the three versions are laudatus, laudata, and laudatum. If it sounds a little complicated to have three different endings, us, a, and um, it is, but these three are just the tip of the iceberg. The us, a, um are placeholders for the full set, which has thirty endings. This set of endings is called the first and second declension endings, and is used for a large group of nouns and adjectives. The fourth principal part is frequently shown with just the um ending, called the Supine.

I like the full set and we'll get into it shortly, but let's finish the pronunciation so you can start memorizing. The a (in us, a, um) is pronounced ah, like Ah, I Understand, and the us and um share the same u pronunciation, like the ou sound in would or could. We're going to run into us, a, um again, so make friends with them. The fourth part is passive, as in Having Been Praised. For example, if you were playing baseball and the pitcher threw wild and the ball struck you, you could say The Ball Hit Me, which is active, or I Was Hit by the Ball, which is passive.

Latin uses the perfect passive participle to express many tenses in the passive voice, including the simple past tense, but uses specialized endings on the main verb stem to express other tenses, the present, the future, and the imperfect. If this weren't complicated enough, there's a strange set of verbs called deponent verbs which, for the most part, look passive but which in fact are active. We'll go over these things as we encounter them.

The perfect passive participle of the verb to_hit along with sum says I was hit (by the ball). Sum says I am, but if you wanted to say I am hit in Latin, you apply a special ending to the verb itself, without using a helper verb. This sounds complicated but it's not that bad, and we'll look at examples as we encounter them.

There are other participles besides the perfect passive participle, and we'll also look at them as they pop up. For now, let's just say that participles are often used in Latin as substitutes for what we might call ordinary verbs, besides being substitutes for adjectives and sometimes for nouns. For example, you won't ordinarily see anything like John Running The Dog Chased Him in English, but this John Running form is fairly common in Latin.

All this just to read the first word. It's a good thing that this is the shortest Psalm. On to Dominum, and to nouns and declensions.

Dominum is the Accusative form of Dominus, a second declension noun meaning Lord.

We mentioned Declensions earlier. You decline things that are in declensions, just like you conjugate things that are in conjugations. The question is What Kind of Words do you group into declensions.

I think of Nouns, not adjectives, as being separated into Declensions. Nouns which share the same characteristics are grouped together in the same declension where they share a characteristic set of endings. There are other words, lots of them, which are not nouns, which also have their own characteristic endings, which are sometimes the same endings as the endings of the nouns. These sets of non-nouns include the adjectives, the pronouns, and some of the verb forms.

I'm now going to describe how I think about endings, which is not something I recommend to the ordinary reader. Here's the summary, in case you want to skip ahead: some adjectives use the same endings as first and second declension nouns; other adjectives use the same endings as third declension nouns; all adjectives match their noun in gender, number, and case.

The Grammar Street Crowd
Last Warning: This is a ramble, and you might want to skip ahead for now.

I think of a declension as being a house where certain nouns live, the Noun House, and I like to think of adjectives which have the same endings as these nouns living not with the nouns, but in their own separate houses, the Adjective Houses across the street. I memorize one set of endings, the noun endings, and apply them to an adjective as necessary.

Here's my picture: All the first declension nouns live together in the First Declension Noun House on Grammar Street. Right next to the front door is a closet, and in the closet are rows of coat hangers, upon which hang the individual endings like a, ae, ae, am, a, the singular endings, and ae, arum, is, as, is, the plural endings.

All the second declension nouns live together in the Second Declension Noun House, next to their first declension neighbors. The Second Declension Noun House is arranged the same way as the first house, except its endings are the second declension endings, and it has separate closets for masculine and for neuter endings.

The third, fourth, and fifth declension nouns all have their own houses, set up the same way, and are next door to the first and second declension houses. All the Noun Houses keep their door locked, so you need a key to get in.

Across the street are the two adjective houses. One house is for the group of adjectives known as the first and second declension adjectives, the ones which use the endings of the first (a) and second (us, um) declension nouns. The other house is for the third declension adjectives, the ones which use the same endings as the third declension nouns.

The adjective houses don't have any closets, because all the endings are kept in the noun houses, but the adjective houses do have key racks. One adjective house, the First and Second Declension (us, a, um) Adjective House has individual keys for the first declension noun house and for second declension noun house, but does not have keys for the third declension noun house. The other adjective house, the Third Declension Adjective House, has keys for the third declension noun house, but not for the first or second declension noun houses.

The key system requires the adjective to get the right type of ending (first-second or third). For example, a third declension adjective can't get to the us, a, um noun endings, and a first and second declension adjective can't get to the third declension noun endings.

Whenever a noun wants to go out, say to join a sentence which is forming out in the street, that noun stops by the closet and picks up the right ending and then calls the adjective and tells that adjective what kind of ending to wear. For example, the noun might ask the adjective to put on something singular, masculine, and nominative. The noun doesn't really need to know which house the adjective lives in as long as the noun has a good phone book and can talk to the adjective.

When an us, a, um adjective needs a feminine ending it picks up a key to the first declension noun house and then heads across the street. It goes in and picks out an ending which has the right gender, number, and case, and then goes back out to join the noun. Only feminine gender endings are stocked in the first declension noun house, so our adjective really only has to worry about number and case. Note that the noun doesn't simply bring along an extra ending for the adjective, because the noun might be from the third declension and its ending won't fit on an us, a, um adjective. The adjective has to wear its own ending.

When an us, a, um adjective needs a masculine or neuter ending, it picks up a key to the second declension noun house and again heads across the street. This time it goes in, finds the right closet (masculine gender or neuter gender) and then picks out an ending which has the right number, and case.

The same thing happens when a third declension adjective gets a call, except the third declension adjective only has a key to the third declension noun house. The third declension adjective can't get at the us, a, um endings, but instead has to go to the third declension noun house, choose between the regular and the i-root master closets, next between the masculine, feminine, or neuter sub-closets, and finally choose the right ending for number and case.

The fourth and fifth declension noun houses are set up like the other three, with closets which contain the fourth or fifth declension endings. When a fourth or fifth declension noun needs an adjective, the noun calls the adjective and tells the adjective what gender, number, and case to wear. If the adjective is a first or second declension adjective, the adjective goes to the first or second declension noun house or, if a third declension adjective, to the third declension noun house, and once there picks out the proper ending. Adjectives don't use fourth or fifth declension endings.

Pronouns are a little more complicated. I picture them living together up the street from the nouns, with each pronoun considered to be an individual with one, and only one form (example ego, mei, mihi, me, and me ( twins) - there are five of them, not one with different endings). As your CCL pronoun sheet will tell you, ego, mei mihi, me, me are the names for I, mine, to me, me, and me, the nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, and ablative. Here's the difference between nouns and pronouns. I am not you, and you are not they. I, you, and they are all separate people. But, of the people, by the people and for the people all involve the same noun, people, in several forms, each shown in Latin by its own ending.

The pronouns each have their own form, and it never changes. Each pronoun lives in its own private room and doesn't share endings with any other pronoun, although if you were to walk down the hall and read out loud the name on each door, you will sound just as though you were reading from a table of pronouns (ego, mei, mihi, me, me).

I think of mei (mine) as being a single word which takes the place of some missing noun, as in It is mine, standing for It is my book. Mei doesn't change. It is a single form. Mine, as a preposition, takes the place of book. We don't say mine book (Shakespeare might, but we don't), you say my book. My is meus, a, um and my money (pecunia mea) says meus is an adjective.

Ejus is a pronoun, actually three pronouns, ejus, ejus, and ejus (masculine his, feminine hers, and neuter its) that happen to look alike. Ejus is the genitive of is, ea, id (he, she, it), and for some reason is used both as a pronoun, and as what to me has always looked suspiciously like an adjective, or as an equivalent of meus, a, um except without endings. Latin does have an adjective that says his, her, it's something or other, suus, a, um, which is used to denote more clearly just who something belongs to. Suus says his in the sense of belonging to the fellow we just mentioned, and not to someone mentioned a couple of phrases back. Suus avoids the ambiguity of a simple ejus.

The verbs live next door to the adjectives, and take up several Verb Houses. We've already visited one verb house, where the first conjugation verbs live, but we've only seen a small part of it. Besides closet fulls of normal verb endings (lots of them), some of the verb forms take noun endings, and to make matters worse, depending on the particular form, these special forms take either the first and second declension us, a, um endings or the third declension endings. If you wander around in a verb house, you can get lost. We'll go back to the verbs, one verb at a time, but for now let's move on.

P.S. You probably shouldn't tell your friends about visiting Grammar Street.

End of Ramble.

A while ago, I referred to us, a, um as placeholders for a full set of thirty endings. Well, here we go. Nouns all are considered to have a gender, a kind of sexless sex thing, Masculine, Feminine, and Neuter. Men are masculine and Women are feminine. So far, just like English. But in English, most non human things like a tree or a road are neuter. Not so in Latin. The word for road or way is via, and it's feminine. The word for day is dies, and most of the time it's masculine. If you were using pronouns, you would refer to via as a she and to day as a he. Dominus is masculine. You would refer to dominus as a he.

Only one word comes to mind in English where an inanimate object is always referred to as a she, and that word is ship, although I guess a car could be included, as in Oh, she'll do 60 in 5 seconds. In Latin, every noun has a gender, which you'll have to learn when you learn the word. Often, but not always, words of the same gender look alike, and sometimes, but not always, you can guess the gender by the meaning.

First Declension Nouns
We've run across two first declension nouns so far, Gloria (glory) from the Gloria Patri (which we have talked about), and misericordia (mercy) from the Psalm (which we haven't - yet). We've also seen a couple of words that look like first declension nouns, but are not. We'll get to these in a minute.

Head back to Color Coded Latin (CCL) and take a quick look at First Declension Nouns. For the moment, ignore the color part, and ignore the exceptions. You will see six cases.

Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative, Ablative, and Vocative.

Memorize the names. You should have been taught them in third grade, but that's probably been out of the curriculum for 50 years. English grammar comes from Latin grammar, which shouldn't be too surprising, considering that most knowledge was passed along to us by teachers who were fluent in Latin, and some of the Latin just rubbed off.

From English to Latin, to buy a fat pig
Let's go through a sample English sentence which uses the five main cases (Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative, Ablative). We'll turn it into Latin and then back into English.

All of the nouns are in the first declension, making it a little easier for you to get familiar with how the endings are used. The usage is the same in other declensions, although the endings are different.

The woman saw the ball on the table and gave it to the little girl's aunt.

Let's start by getting rid of the the's, which Latin doesn't need or want, and rephrase things a bit.

woman saw ball on table and gave it (to) aunt (of) little girl

I put ( to ), and ( of ) in parentheses because we often don't need helper words in Latin, although we can generally include them if we want to. In any event, we still need a way to let people know that they were there in the English. Latin doesn't use the quote mark for possession. It does so with the genitive endings. Genitive designates possession.

woman - the woman is doing something. Woman is the subject, and so is put into the Nominative.

she saw something - from the verb to see - she saw is vidit in Latin. We'll come back to verbs later.

ball - ball is the direct object of the verb saw. The object of most, although not all, verbs takes the Accusative case.

table - but not simply table - more like (which_was_on_the_ ) table. We need to indicate where the ball was, and putting table into the Ablative is the way to do it. The ablative is used for several purposes, but a common one is to indicate that something is just sitting there (where it's sitting is what goes into the Ablative, not the thing doing the sitting). We'll combine the Latin preposition in and the ablative version of the noun for table. If someone were putting the ball onto the table, the usage would be in with the accusative. The ablative can often be used by itself without any preposition and still give the necessary information.

gave - another verb - in Latin, dedit means she gave. We'll come back to verbs.

it - a pronoun which refers to the ball. We treat a pronoun partly like the noun to which it refers, and partly as an independent word. Our pronoun It refers to ball, which is feminine and singular. Our Latin It will also be feminine and singular. But our pronoun It is also the direct object of the verb gave, and so is put in the Accusative (this is the independent part). If our ball happened for some reason or other not to be accusative, our Latin pronoun It would still be accusative because direct objects are accusative.

to the) aunt - two helper words in English, none in Latin. When somebody gave something to someone, in that exact, active usage, the something that he or she gave is accusative, and the person or thing to whom or to which he or she gave it is Dative. Another way of looking at this is to say that the verb To Give (do, dare, dedi, datus) takes the dative, meaning that it will have, besides a direct object in the accusative, something else, nearby, called an indirect object, in the Dative. There are a few more verbs that act this way.

(of the) little girl - again two helper words in English. We're going to use a single Latin word for little girl (for our own convenience), but our word will have its own built in of_the, to indicate possession. The important part is this - we have possession - the aunt belongs to the little girl in a grammatical way. Our little girl shows ownership by being in the Genitive.

This covers five of the six Cases - the Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative, and the Ablative, which by now you should have memorized. We mentioned the vocative above, and I left it out of our ball on the table on purpose, because I want to combine an example of the vocative with an invitation to a good read.

The sixth case, the Vocative is used to speak directly to someone or something, for example to address a table (mensa - O, Table), should you ever need to do so. Winston Churchill did, as he was being introduced to Latin. He describes the experience wonderfully in My Early Life, sometimes called A Roving Commission, and Young Winston (the movie version). He was seven years old and had just been shipped off to a savage boarding school, and this whole first declension thing, and especially the vocative, didn't make much sense to him. Worse, he had the impertinence to ask his teacher why anyone would want to talk directly to a table, saying that he himself never did. This book, by the way, is the source for Churchill's observations on Veni Vidi Vici and on academic pronunciation of foreign languages. We'll find our own vocatives in the Psalm.

Look at the First Declension Color Coded Latin, and you'll see two columns of endings. The left column has the singular endings a ae, ae, am, a (ignore the vocative for now) and the right column has the plural endings ae, arum, is, as, is. Memorize them, just the way I gave them to you, ah aye aye ahm ah, aye ah-rum ees ahs ees. The ah's and the aye's are just like we described above (remember the English aye sounds like the English letter a, or a as in say, not the word eye like eye and nose. The ahm is the ah sound with an m at the end, nothing new. The ah-rum is ah with an r and a um that is a little darker than room and a little lighter than rum, more like the um sound in run, some, or bum. The i in is sounds like the English letter e as in see the bee. Pronounce but don't overdo the s. It's a low pressure sound, and it's not a z. The ah in as is the same as the ah in am.

Note that ae is one of the few times that two vowels are pronounced together as one, in this case like the English letter a, and not like the English letter i (eye). Sometimes oe is used in place of ae. They are the same. Now let's put our sentence into Latin.

woman saw ball (on) table and gave it (to) aunt (of) little girl.

Memorize all your nouns with the Nominative and Genitive endings, and with the declension. Almost all first declension nouns are feminine and end with a, -ae. Things are not as easy for the other declensions. All the nouns below are first declension.

Woman femina, -aeNominative and Genitive of a first declension noun. We want the nominative.
saw vidit(we'll do the verbs next - vidit means he, she, or it saw something)
ball pila, -aeThere are other words for a ball, but this one is good and it's first declension.
We want the singular accusative, pilam.
table mensa, -aeWe want the Ablative with the Latin preposition in, so we get In Mensa.
and etThe most common form of and. There are others with shades in meaning.
gave deditSee vidit above. The Latin for he, she, or it gave is Dedit.
it eamThe pronoun matches the ball in gender (feminine) and number (singular).
Eam is the accusative form of feminine singular English she (it). It's accusative because it's the direct object of gave.
aunt amita, -aeWe want amitae, the dative singular of amita. The aunt (to the aunt) is the indirect object of gave and goes in the dative. Note that ending ae of amitae looks just like the one for the genitive singular or the nominative plural. We know what ae stands for, because we picked it. The reader, though, will have to figure it out.
little girl puella, -aeWe're looking for the form that says -of the little girl- to indicate possession
That form is the genitive, puellae, and the comment about identical endings applies.

Now, let's string our Latin words together, in the order of our English, and see how things look.

Femina vidit pilam in mensa et dedit eam amitae puellae.

We know what this means, because we wrote it. But first, would Jerome understand it, and second, would he write it the same way? Probably yes and probably no. Assuming that we used the right words and the right endings, there are two things that need improvement, style and clarity. Let's make it look good first, and then come back and fix whatever else needs fixing.

Latin Style
First, let's change the order of the verb - object pairs, putting each verb at the end of its phrase.

Femina pilam in mensa vidit et eam amitae puellae dedit.

This sounds much better. And there is no question of who does the viditing and and what she vidited, because Femina is nominative and pilam is accusative, clearly telling us which is the subject and which is the object. The first phrase looks good. How about the second phrase?

Well, it sounds good, but it's a little ambiguous. Note the endings on amitae and puellae. They're both ae. Let's start with the verb dedit, meaning he, she, or it gave something. There aren't any he's involved, and there aren't any it's there either, at least no it's in the nominative. That narrows the field down to she gave something. Neither the aunt nor the little girl are in the nominative, so neither of them did the giving. How about the ball, in the form of its pronoun eam? No, because eam is the accusative of ea, and as an accusative, won't be a subject.

We haven't looked at pronouns yet, but you can check out the Color Coded Latin pronoun page. Find is, ea, id - he, she, it (I'd break down and call it a declension, like the declensions of the nouns, if I weren't stubborn). Anyway, eam has to refer to the ball from the first phrase, which is now going to be given to somebody. But to whom?

Grammatically, our sentence could have the ball being given to the little girl of the aunt, or to the aunt of the little girl. So, which is it? The way it's written, it could be either, so how do we fix it? Let's move the aunt over a little to the left, so that it reads, in English, And to the Aunt It of the Little Girl she Gave, which is terrible in English, but pretty good in Latin.

Femina pilam in mensa vidit et amitae eam puellae dedit.

This is what Vulgate Latin looks like. In classical Latin, a skilled writer might be able to say the same thing in four or five words, but it would take you or me all day to figure out what they meant.

Home again, home again, jigity jig
Let's turn it back into English and see if we end up where we started.

Woman (a, the) Ball on (a, the) Table Saw And of / to Aunt It of / to Little Girl (she) Gave.

The first phrase translates back about as accurately as you could expect, but even so, we have lost a little bit of information. English told us there was only one ball on one table - The ball, and The table. Our Latin doesn't. There might have been more than one ball (a pill), and there might have been more than one table (a table).

The second phrase is similar to the first in the sense of the only aunt, or an aunt (one of many aunts), and the same for a little girl or the little girl. We do know that only one ball was given, so we can assume that there was only one aunt, one little girl, and most likely one woman and one table.

How about the genitive / dative (ae / ae) ambiguity? There are four combinations: Of the aunt of the little girl, Of the aunt to the little girl, To the aunt of the little girl, and To the aunt to the little girl.

Of - of doesn't look right. Neither does Of - to. To - of looks good. To - to looks not so good. The most likely version is To the aunt of the little girl, which is good enough for our purposes. We've been able to turn a sentence from English into Latin, and then back into English, although we can't be sure it's exactly the original English.

We're going to see a different version of this phenomenom in Part 2, where the Latin is crystal clear, but the three hundred year old English translation now means just the opposite of what it used to mean.

Back to our Psalm
We're making progress. We've only done one word of our Psalm, but now we know how nouns work, and we've learned the endings of one of the five declensions. We've also gotten a little feel for verbs, and things should go faster.

Here's the first line from our Psalm again, so you don't have to go back. We got as far as Dominum.

Laudate Dominum, omnes gentes, laudate eum, omnes populi.

Dominum is from Dominus, a second declension, masculine noun. The second declension is mostly masculine or neuter nouns, unlike the first declension, whose nouns whose nouns are mostly feminine.

Head back to Color Coded Latin, which we'll call CCL from here on in, and look at the Second Declension file. It talks about Second Declension nouns and adjectives, but for a minute or so, ignore the adjective part. We'll find some good adjectives after we're finished here.

If you didn't know what dominum meant, and tried to find it in a dictionary, you wouldn't be able to. Dictionaries don't list all the forms a noun can take. (Note: you can find dominum in Whitaker, but for now, don't. Instead spend a little time learning how to use the dictionary.) I'm looking at my Cassell's Latin Dictionary, and I see several words beginning with domin, but no dominum, although there is a dominus -i, m which is promising.

Dictionaries list nouns more or less like they list verbs, giving only a couple of the endings. Our entry, dominus -i, m tells us that it's a second declension noun, although it doesn't show us any number. Instead, it tells us that the nominative singular is dominus, the genitive singular is domini, and it's a masculine word. The second declension is not the only declension to have us as a nominative singular, but it is the only declension to have both us in the nominative singular and i in the genitive singular, so with the benefit of this background information, we can figure things out for ourselves.

Be careful with the Second Declension - it has three sets of nouns, each with its own endings. For now let's just concentrate on dominum.

Look at your CCL entries for the us, i words and you'll find that the accusative is um, so our dominum looks like the accusative of dominus and in fact it is - we've figured out that Laudate Dominum means Praise the Lord. Not only that, but we just found the origin of a common English expression, along with the origins of the English words laudatory and dominate.

And speaking of word origins, how about glory, paternal, filial, spirit, sanctified, principal (from the Latin princeps, first and foremost - a cousin of principio, semper (pure Latin, but a Marine would recognize it, as would a fan of Sousa), gentrify, population, confirm, super (the expression, not a misspelled meal), veritable, remain, eternity. And if we want to include our little composed sentence, there's feminine, pill (those little round things), table, video, puerile (puer is the boy or child version of puella. For some reason, acting like a little girl doesn't seem to have made it into our language. Donation (dedi is the third part of do -are to give, donate is the Imperative of the related Latin word dono -are, and means to give a gift or a present, which makes donate mandatory in Latin but voluntary in English).

That's a lot of words, and we only mentioned the ones which were in Latin. Now read the paragraph again, this time concentrating on the English words that were not mentioned as coming from Latin. Words like origins, pure, Marine, recognize, expression (think of expressing milk), include, compose, sentence, acting, part, mandatory, and you guessed it, voluntary. And a few first cousins.

One final thought regarding word origins. When someone tells you Oh, no, that word doesn't come from Latin - it comes from French (or Italian, or Spanish), don't argue - just smile. French has tons of Latin words too, so whether one of our words comes via French or directly from Latin, it doesn't really matter. If the right one doesn't get you then the left one will. After all, France and England have been next door to each other for centuries, and the French invaded England and the English invaded France, and while English was never the official language of France, French was, at least for a time, the de facto official language of England. The Latin, quotidie means the same as the French quotidien, daily. Where are we? Just the third word? Sacrebleu!

Praise the Lord, omnes gentes, praise eum, omnes populi.

Omnes Gentes. Finally we have an adjective, omnis -e, but we're going to start with the noun, gentes. It's a third declension noun, whose nominative singular is gens, and whose genitive singular is gentis. The little f after its dictionary entry tells us that it's feminine. Gens means a people or a nation. Once more, open up your CCL, this time for third declension nouns. Do you remember the good old days of the first declension? The Third looks much more complicated. And it is, but it's not bad if we go one word at a time.

Here's what your CCL tells you: 1) the third declension can have masculine, feminine, or neuter nouns, and these have different endings. We learned from the dictionary that Gens is feminine.

2) The endings we're looking for are in one of those charts, but which one? Look in the third table, the one with 3rd-M&F in the upper left hand corner. The table contains four groups of two columns each. The two columns in each group are the endings for the particular type of noun that fits that group. The first of the two columns is the set of five singular endings, starting as usual with nominative and going down to the ablative (I wasn't kidding about memorizing those names). The second of the two columns is the matching set of five plural endings. Note the blank line in the nominative singular. It means that the nominative singular has whatever ending that particular word comes with. It's not fixed, like the a in the first declension or the us or the um in the second declension. Now we know that Gens, besides being a feminine noun, is the nominative singular form.

3) Third declension masculine and feminine nouns, both singular and plural, share the same endings, the endings in the first column if singular, and the endings in the second column if plural.

4) The vocative is the same as the nominative, singular and plural. We're addressing the nations - omnes (all of) them. Remember way back, two words ago? Laudate. Imperative, plural, but addressing whom? Now we know, gentes, which looks like a perfectly reasonable vocative plural. So far, so good. We have Praise the Lord, omnes nations. Makes sense. Now, let's talk adjectives.

Important - Remember, there are two general classes of adjective - adjectives which take the same endings as first and second declension nouns, and adjectives which take the same endings as third declension nouns. This is a very important distinction, so don't forget it.

Depending on the particular adjective, it will take either the us, a, um endings (a from the first declension, us and um from the second), or else it will take the endings shown in the third declension table we've been looking at. Adjectives don't switch back and forth between first-second endings and third endings. They take one or the other, always.

Bonus is an adjective meaning good. It takes the us, a, um endings, the masculine, feminine, and neuter endings of the first two declensions, and it will never have a third declension ending. Omnis takes the third declension endings, and it will never show up with an us, a, um ending.

We don't have just gentes, we have omnes gentes. Omnes is the first adjective we've run across. Omnes is a form of omnis which means all or every. Omnis -e is a third declension adjective, which means that omnis uses third declension endings, and it's just a coincidence that omnis and gens both use the same set of endings.

All adjectives must agree with the noun they modify. They must agree in gender (masculine, feminine, neuter), number (singular or plural), and case (if the noun is nominative, the adjective must also be nominative, if genitive, then genitive, and so forth). Adjectives which take third declension endings can modify nouns which themselves are in the first or second declension, just as adjectives which take first or second declension endings can modify third declension nouns. For example, in Latin we can say The Prudent Woman as Prudens Femina (or Femina Prudens). The two words are from different declensions, but they agree in gender (a and ens are feminine), number (both are singular), and case (both are nominative).

So, what do we know so far about third declension endings? In the first place, if you want to be a real Latin scholar, you're going to have to memorize them (but for now don't rush). Next, picking the right ending, even with the table, looks like it could be confusing. It is. Besides the worries of masculine, feminine, neuter, singular and plural, third declension endings also depend in part on the way the word is spelled. They can be a real handful. But here's the good news, one more time. Because we're trying to read Latin and not write it, we don't need to pick the ends of the words at all. The old writer has wisely picked the ends out for us, so all we have to do is to ask ourselves, if the wise old writer wrote a ream of end-wise writings, how many reams of end-wise writings did the wise old writer write?

All we have to do is to make sense out of what someone else wrote. Well, that and drop a little hint, so it won't come as shock later, that several verb forms take noun endings, too, like adjectives. Here's where we are.

Praise the Lord, all you nations, praise eum, all you populi.

We know laudate, omnes, and gentes. We need eum and populi. Let's do the populi first. Populi is a noun, populus, -i, m. We don't need that m any more, but it came with the rest of it. We know what declension the us, -i words belong to, and we know whether populus is masculine, feminine, or neuter. Another quick detour. Omnes is the Nominative Plural for both masculine and feminine. Gentes is feminine, populi is masculine, omnes works for both.

Second declension, masculine. Now we have a choice. Populi might be genitive singular (of the people) but omnes isn't, so let's keep looking. Populi could also be nominative plural - or, even better, the vocative plural, addressed by laudate. Vocative it is. (The nominative form would be used if the people are praising someone, but then the verb would be laudant - the form that says they praise).

Praise the Lord, all you nations, praise eum, all you people.

Eum is a pronoun, one of the forms of is, ea, id, meaning he, she, or it.

Step One - go to CCL and look at the Pronoun file, then at the second table is - ea - id he - she - it.

There's only one eum in the bunch, the accusative singular of he. Eum means him in English. That was easy.

Now we have the entire first line: Praise the Lord, all you nations, praise him, all you people.

Let's see what the second line says.

Quoniam confirmata est super nos misericordia ejus, et veritas Domini manet in aeternum.

Quoniam is a conjunction. A Conjunction joins things together. It is a beautiful piece of grammar which does not need any kind of ending. You use it right out of the box, and you conjugate verbs, not conjunctions (I just wanted to remind you about the verbs). Quoniam means because.

Confirmata (est) is a form of the verb confirmo, -are, to make firm, to strengthen (confirmation). Quiz time. 1) What conjugation is this verb? 2) What principal part is confirmata (est)? 3) Remember the us, a, um endings? Well we need them now. Est is the Latin for It Is, the third person singular of the verb To Be. The e in est (and in es and estis) is pronounced the same way as the e in bed. It's a short e. Back in the day, a long e was shown with a little bar over it, but not so much any more. While we're at it, the i in estis is pronounced like the i in the English word in or hit, not like the English letter e like leave it to me.

Head once more to CCL and look at a copy of the Irregular Verbs (Sum - to be). Memorize, right now, sum, es, est, sumus, estis, sunt. I am, you are, he she or it is, we are, you are, they are. It's the most important verb in the world.

Confirmata is the fourth principal part of confirmo, a first conjugation verb, whose fourth principal part uses the endings from the us, a, um family of endings. The fourth principal part of all verbs uses the same endings as the us, a, um family of adjectives, which is the same as the endings of first and second declension nouns. We talked about this form earlier, the perfect passive, and now we're going to see how it's used. Est is singular so the a in confirmata is singular which rules out a possible second declension neuter plural a. Our confirmata is feminine singular. Something feminine singular is confirmed super nos.

Super is a preposition and means above, over, on top of. Nos is a pronoun meaning we (nominative) or us (accusative). Super nos means over us, not over we, but not because over we sounds funny. Super is like the Latin preposition in. Both take either the ablative or the accusative, depending on whether something is just sitting there or is being put there. The man went into the ship would require ship to be in the accusative, while the man is (already) in the ship (and not doing anything) would require ship to be in the ablative. Just so super nos. Something (misericordia) is being strengthened or has just been strengthened over (super) us, and hasn't just been sitting there all this time as a static feature of wherever we are. Our super requires the accusative form, in English us, in Latin nos.

Remember that the fourth principal part is the perfect passive participle. The perfect form of the verb I run is I ran or I have run (but I'm not running right now). Confirmata says that whatever was strengthened was strengthened in the past, but the strengthening is complete.

Let's stop here for a second to look at active and passive and compare them.

The boy hits the ball.

Boy is the subject of the active verb hit. The subject goes in the nominative. Boy has to be nominative Hits is the verb and is singular. They (plural) don't hits a ball, they hit a ball, but he (singular) hits a ball. The ball is the object of hits, and is accusative. This is about as much as we can get out of English, because English doesn't have masculine, feminine, neuter endings to show other information.

The ball was hit by the boy.

Now, the ball is the subject, and is nominative. Was Hit is a passive form of hit, and I've put it in the past tense, or as they say in Latin, into the perfect. The boy is the object of the preposition by. We don't have endings in English to show that the boy is a direct object of the preposition by, but if we were in Latin, the preposition per would do for our by, and boy would end up in the accusative.

We don't have confirmatus, a, um in the sentence, we have the specific form confirmata. What form is it? Well we know the ending is in the first or second declension, because all fourth principal parts have us, a, um endings. Next, we have an a ending, but there a couple of a endings in the second declension (plural neuter) and in the first declension (feminine singular). But, if our a in confirmata were a plural neuter a (and in a different sentence it might well be) we would need a plural neuter noun for it to agree with. Do we have one? No. All we have available is misericordia, which is feminine singular. This means that misericordia must be the thing that's confirmata est over us.

Because strengthened it is over us misericordia ejus.

Just what is it that's being strengthened over us? It's misericordia, which as you might guess from the a ending (you would be right, but, as we've just seen, under other circumstances you might be wrong), is a first declension feminine singular noun, meaning mercy. Ejus means his, hers, or it's. In this case, His (referring to God's) mercy. Ejus is another great word that's used as-is. It's the genitive singular of the pronoun is ea id and is the same for masculine, feminine, and neuter. Also, ejus is often, these days, spelled eius, because classical Latin didn't have any j. It's pronounced with the long e sound like the a in play, pray, or day and yus with the y as in yes, and the us with the would or could u sound, added to a little bit of s.

Ejus with the j is a good medieval form, which like good money and good music, has been driven out by the bad, a grammatical Lex Greshamis.

Because strengthened it is over us mercy his, or re-arranging,

Because his mercy is strengthened over us.

We're almost done. Let's finish it up.

et veritas Domini manet in aeternum

Et means and, Domini is the genitive singular of Dominus, indicating possession (of the Lord).

(Manet, as we'll see below, is the third person singular form of the verb maneo, so Domini is not a plural subject, which leaves the genitive singular, of the Lord.)

And veritas of the Lord manet in aeternum.

We'll look up veritas. What do we see? Veritas -atis, f, truth. First, let's figure out what declension we're dealing with so we can check the endings. We haven't looked at the fourth or fifth declension, but I can tell you that it's not one of them. That leaves first, second, or third. It's not the second, because there aren't any as endings in the second declension. There are a couple of a endings, but no as. That leaves the first and the third. Now there is an as ending in the first declension, just one, the accusative plural, which is bad on two counts. Veritas is the subject of manet, so we want a nominative and we want it singular.

Here's what all this has to do with God's mercy.

Veritas was strengthened over us. The boy was hit by the ball. Veritas and Boy are both subjects of a passive verb form and both, as subjects, are in the nominative case. Veritas is nominative.

Is or are? We have confirmata est (is), not confirmata sunt (are). Est is singular. He, she, or it is. Some singular thing is strengthened. He, she, or it is strengthened, not they is strengthened. That plus the fact that we need a subject in the nominative singular, rules out our first declension as because as is accusative plural.

That leaves the third declension, and veritas is a good candidate. Veritas, veritatis shouts third declension (to be honest, the genitive singular is a dead give away but I wanted to go through the exercise). Now we know what nominative, singular, feminine word is strengthened over us - veritas. Whose veritas? Veritas Domini - truth of the Lord manet in aeternum.

In aeternum is a set phrase which occurs over and over in the Vulgate. Aeternum is the accusative singular form of the adjective (which is used as a noun) aeternus, a, um. In is used in the sense of into aeternum. Aeternus means forever, or eternity, so we have into eternity.

Manet is a form of the the second conjugation verb maneo, -ere meaning to stay or remain. The eo and ere endings of second conjugation verbs are pronounced like the English letters a (say) and o (oh). Maneo is pronounced like the English word man, the English letter a, and the English word oh. The accents go on man' e o and man e' re. The example in CCL is moneo (to warn) but the first two principal parts are similar, and maneo follows the same rules as moneo. CCL's monet and our manet correspond to Present indicative, third person, singular he, she, it warns (monet in CCL) or our verb he, she, it remains (manet).

So, truth Domini remains into eternity.

We met Dominus back a while back. Remember? Dominus is a second declension masculine noun meaning Lord or Master, and according to our CCL second declension masculine endings chart, Domini could be nominative plural or genitive singular. We don't have a plural verb to match a plural Domini, so the meaning is now obvious. Domini is singular and used in the sense of possession, genitive singular, of the Lord. Let's substitute forever for the into eternity phrase, and we have The truth of the Lord remains forever.

116:1 Laudate Dominum, omnes gentes, laudate eum, omnes populi.
116:2 Quoniam confirmata est super nos misericordia ejus, et veritas Domini manet in aeternum.

116:1 O Praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.
116:2 For his mercy is confirmed upon us: and the truth of the Lord remaineth for ever.

Do you need to go through an exercise like this every time you look at a new Latin word? No, of course not, not after you gain a little experience and build your vocabulary. In simple cases, you won't even need to look for words, they'll jump out at you. For example, you might have used up all the other words, and only have one viable candidate left. But even when things are straightforward, a little practice with the rules never hurts.

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