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Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar

Sequence of Tenses

483. The following is the general rule for the Sequence of Tenses:—1

In complex sentences a Primary tense in the main clause is followed by the Present or Perfect in the dependent clause, and a Secondary tense by the Imperfect or Pluperfect:—


rogō, I ask, am askingquid faciās, what you are doing.
rogābō,I shall ask quid fēceris, what you did, were doing,
rogāvī (sometimes),I have asked have done, have been doing.
rogāverō,I shall have askedquid factūrus sīs, what you will do.
scrībit,he writesut nōs moneat, to warn us.
scrībet,he will write
scrībe (scrībit),writeut nōs moneās, to warn us.
scrībit, he writesquasi oblītus sit, as if he had forgotten.


rogābam,I asked, was askingquid facerēs, what you were doing.
rogāvī,I asked, have askedquid fēcissēs, what you had done, had been doing.
rogāveram, I had askedquid factūrus essēs, what you would do.
scrīpsit,he wroteut nōs monēret, to warn us.
scrīpsit,he wrotequasi oblītus esset, as if he had forgotten.

XML File

The term is sometimes extended to certain relations between the tenses of subordinate verbs in the indicative and those of the main verb. These relations do not differ in principle from those which we are considering; but for convenience the term Sequence of Tenses is in this book restricted to subjunctives, in accordance with the usual practice.