Tag Archives: Latin grammar

Finally back at it…

Over the weekend, I ended up sick.  I’ve been sleeping in and as a result, my productivity has plummeted.  If there is one silver bullet to my productivity is it summed up in the Spanish proverb:

“A quien madrugada, Dios lo ayuda.”

God helps those who are up crazy early.  Or, something like that.

My second secret would be this.  Never start responding to email (my biggest work time commitment) until you have moved the needle forward.  In other words, do something that moves you forward personally, invest in yourself, before responding to other people’s emergencies.

These days, that’s pretty simple for me.  Before starting on email, I have to spend time studying Italian and Greek.

Found this video this morning.  This is more for me than anyone else, by the way.  I use my blog as a way to keep up with my own progress.

Of course, if you are studying a language, and you already know another one, you can double up.  For example, in the following video, she is teaching Latin grammar… in Italian.



A grammar a month?!?

I received this comment:

Quick question: I’m reading your book, Via, and I’m wondering what you mean by reading a grammar per month. Do you mean something like “Wheelock’s Latin”? That seems like a tall order each month! Could you please give an example of what you mean here?

Here is my reply:

Yes.  This is very difficult in the beginning.  But, eventually, you realize all of the books are saying the same thing.  The process becomes rapid.  I can read a Latin grammar in a week now.  I learned Anglo-Saxon grammar in two days about a month ago.  

When you begin, reading a grammar a month is almost impossible.  By the end of a year, it should be rather easy.

Will Latin grammar help me with Spanish grammar?

I received this question:

I’m 26 and currently learning French and later want to learn Spanish.  The only problem is that I have quite a bit of trouble with grammar. Do you think the visual Latin course would be helpful to learn French and Spanish?

 Here is my reply:

It’s certainly possible.  It sure helped me.

The grammar of Latin is far more behaved than the grammar of Spanish and French.  I have found the grammars of modern languages much easier to understand due to my study of Latin grammar.  

I actually failed English grammar in school.  On multiple occasions.  I also struggled with German grammar.  It was not until I studied Latin that it all came together.  

The nice thing about Latin is that it is essentially frozen in time.  The grammar is manageable because it does not change.  The grammars of modern languages are in constant flux.  

Let me know if you need more help!

Struggling with verb tenses?

I received this question from one of my online students:

“I seem to be having difficulty with the proper usage of most of these verbals/verb equivalents. Do you have any suggestions?”


 Here is my reply:

I actually think you are doing quite well.    Your work is rather impressive.  

There comes a break point when you a learning Latin.  At that point, the only thing you can do to achieve fluency is read extensively.

 Listen to the foreigners in your own life.  Listen to them as they speak English.  Do they get every verb tense correct?  No, of course, they don’t.  

That’s where you are.  

Honestly, that’s where I am.  

You can read in Latin.  You understand most of what you read.  Of course, you have to look words up as you read, but that is nothing new.  You are reading the literature of an ancient people.  Get used to looking things up.  I still do after decades of learning Latin.  

The only people who are going to get on your case for using the wrong verb tense are academics.   Don’t let it get to you. Academics generally don’t live in the real world.  

My advice?   Keep reading.   If you haven’t read Lingua Latina by Hans Ørberg, start there.  You will love it.

Oh, C’mon.

I received this email:

Yesterday, a tutor talked to the parents about the importance of reviewing English grammar no matter what language they are studying.  

She told us that our kids can’t give the ‘logical’ grammar terms. For example, verbs don’t just show action.  There are helping verbs, transitive, intransitive.  Verbs have many different functions and without that knowledge these students will never get a foreign language.

These kids are intimated by her and I’m not sure how much I need to add of this to make sure she’s going to “get” Latin.

Can you speak into this, please?

Here is my whack at the hornet’s nest:

Complicated topic.  I need to blog about this.  I’ve actually thought of creating a grammar course (like Visual Latin) that explains English Grammar.  Maybe I will someday.  

The instructor is partially right.  Understanding English grammar certainly helps as you learn another language.  This is especially true with Henle Latin as Henle Latin is really an English grammar book posing as a Latin book.

On the other hand, I have several multilingual friends and many multilingual students who wouldn’t know a verb if it chased them through the streets and tackled them.  Meaning no disrespect… How in the world would her instructor explain that?   

And then there is this disastrous example.  I graduated from high school one month before my 20th birthday.  Embarrassing.  So, what happened?  I failed English three times.  Couldn’t identify verbs, nouns, adjectives, or adverbs under threat of torture.  I just didn’t get it.  My poor mother.  

Here’s the funny thing.  I spoke German.  Loved it.  Couldn’t wait to learn more. 

One month before I graduated from college, I discovered Latin.  As soon as college was over, I began teaching myself Latin.  No exaggeration, it was Latin that taught me grammar.  Latin taught me Latin grammar, obviously.  But, it also taught me English grammar.  Suddenly, English grammar started making sense.  

Sometimes you can’t appreciate your own town until you leave.  You have to visit other towns to appreciate your own.  It works the same with languages.  To understand English, I had to leave English for a while.  

English is easily my favorite language these days.  I love the words, the grammar, and all the nutty exceptions to every rule.  I once hated the language.  After all, it kept me in school longer than I wanted to stay.

I don’t agree with the teacher.  You don’t learn grammar in order to learn Latin.  You learn Latin, or other languages, in order to finally learn English grammar.