I received this question:

Hi Dwane!

Hope you are well. Getting along well with Lingua Latina at the moment.

I have two questions:

1. How do you say the word “must” in Latin? (i.e. I must go to school, he must change his clothes.)

2. What is a deponent verb? (Explain like I’m 5 years old!)


Here is my reply:

Hi, John!

Glad you are enjoying Lingua Latina!  I love that book.  It isn’t easy.  But, it is immensely worth it. 

In some ways… you don’t say the word must in Latin.  But, to do what you are trying to do, you would use the word debere followed by an infinitive.  An infinitive is “to” + a verb.   To run, to swim, to read… etc.

So, to say, “I must go.” you would say “Debeo ire.”

I must read.  Debeo legere.

I must see.  Debeo videre.

He must go to school.  Ad ludum debet ire.

He must change his clothes.  Vestimenta sua debet mutare. 

As for deponent verbs, just try to enamor something.  It doesn’t work.

You can’t enamor nature.   You can’t enamor life.  You can’t enamor that cute girl down the street.  Enamor is the only English deponent verb I know of.

When you use the word enamor, the action happens to you.  You are enamored by nature, life, or the cute girl down the street. 

In Latin, there are a lot more deponent verbs.  Deponent verbs have passive endings, but they have active meanings. 

So, while loquor looks like, “I am spoken”, it actually means, “I speak.”

Deponent verbs are annoying.  Fortunately, there are not a lot of them.  Here is a list of the major deponent verbs:


Scroll down to page 2.  There are about 30 deponent verbs there.  Likely these are all you will ever encounter.

Hope your day is going well!

Dwane Thomas