Defective Verbs

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205. Some verbs have lost the present system, and use only tenses of the perfect, in which they are inflected regularly.

defective verb coepī perfect paradigm

defective verb coepī pluperfect paradigm

defective verb coepī future perfect paradigm

a. The passive of coepī is often used with the passive infinitive.

Coeptus sum vocārī. I began to be called.

Coepī vocāre. I began to call.

For the present system incipiō is used.

Note— Early and rare forms are coepiō, coepiam, coeperet, coepere.

b. The Perfect, Pluperfect, and Future Perfect of ō and meminī have the meanings of a Present, Imperfect, and Future respectively.

Ōdī. I hate. 
Ōderam. I hated. (was hating)
Ōderō. I shall hate.

Note 1— A present participle meminēns is early and late.

Note 2— Nōvī and cōnsuēvī (usually referred to nōscō and cōnsuēscō) are often used in the sense of I know (have learned) and I am accustomed (have become accustomed) as preteritive verbs. Many other verbs are occasionally used in the same way (see § 476, Note).

206. Many verbs are found only in the present system.

maereō, -ēre be sorrowful (cf. maestus sad)
feriō, -īre strike

In many the simple verb is incomplete, but the missing parts occur in its compounds.

vādō, vādere
in-vāsī, in-vāsum

Some verbs occur very commonly, but only in a few forms.

a. Âiō (I say)

defective verb âiō present system synopsis

The vowels a and i are pronounced separately (a-is, a-it) except sometimes in old or colloquial Latin. Before a vowel, one i stands for two (see § 6.c); thus, âiō was pronounced ai-yō and was sometimes written aiiō.

b. Inquam (I say), is used only in direct quotations, except in poetry (cf. the English quoth).

defective verb inquam verb synopsis

The only common forms are inquam, inquis, inquit, inquiunt, and the future forms īnquiēs, inquiet.

c. The deponent fārī (to speak) has the following forms.

defective deponent fārī verb synopsis

Several forms compounded with the prepositions ex, prae, prō, inter, occur.

praefātur, praefāmur, affārī, prōfātus, interfātur, etc.

The compound īnfāns is regularly used as a noun (child). īnfandus, nefandus, are used as adjectives (unspeakable, abominable).

d. Queō (I can) and nequeō (I cannot) are conjugated like . They are rarely used except in the present. Queō is regularly accompanied by a negative. The forms given below occur, those in bold-faced type in classic prose. The Imperative, Gerund, and Supine are wanting.

defective verb queō present system synopsis

defective verb queō perfect system synopsis

defective verb nequeō present system synopsis

defective verb nequeō perfect system synopsis

Note— A few passive forms are used with passive infinitives.

quītur, queuntur, quitus sum, queātur, queantur
nequītur, nequitum

   But, none of these occurs in classic prose.

e. Quaesō (I ask, beg; original form of quaerō), has the following forms.

PRES. INDIC. quaesō, quaesŭmus

Note—Other forms of quaesō are found occasionally in early Latin. For the perfect system (quaesīvī, etc.), see quaerō (§ 211.d).

f. Ovāre (to triumph) has the following forms.

defective verb ovāre verb synopsis

g. A few verbs are found chiefly in the Imperative.

PRES. singular salvē, plural salvēte
FUT. salvētō hail! (from salvus safe and sound).
An Infinitive salvēre and the indicative forms salveōsalvētis, salvēbis, are rare.

PRES. singular avē (or havē), plural avēte
FUT. avētō hail (or farewell)
An infinitive avēre also occurs.

PRES. singular cĕdo, plural cĕdite (cettegive, tell

PRES. singular apage begone (properly a Greek word).

Suggested Citation

Meagan Ayer, Allen and Greenough’s New Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-947822-04-7.