This page will give you all the explanations and practice you need to understand this important topic: the first of the really big constructions that you will meet at GCSE.
As usual, find quick links in the box below to take you to particular sections of this page.
Also known as the ACCUSATIVE + INFINITIVE construction, this is another very common Latin clause, and one which is really unlike any of the other 'big' syntax topics.
As you can tell from the alternative name, it is important to be familiar with the INFINITIVES of the verb if you are going to deal successfully with this construction.
Here are some charts: firstly one to show you how they are formed, and then some examples to help you recognise them when they turn up in sentences.
CHART of INFINITIVES
The 2nd Principal Part:
-ARE, -ERE (long)
-ERE (short), -IRE
Replace Active endings with:
-ARI, -ERI (long 'e'),
- I, -IRI
Perfect STEM (take 3rd Principal Part and remove -i), + ----ISSE
Perfect Participle + ESSE (separate word)
Future Participle + ESSE
SUPINE + IRI
N.B. #1: With the Perfect Passive and Future Active infinitives, the participle ending often declines. This will be explained later.
N. B. #2: The Future Infinitive Passive is no longer required for GCSE (shame - it's one of the easiest and definitely the most amusing…!). It has been included anyway for the sake of completeness.
Examples of Infinitives : OPPUGNO (1, regular) and MITTO (3).
What IS an INDIRECT STATEMENT?
You are used to most of the sentences you've ever seen so far being DIRECT STATEMENTS:
"My brother was looking for his dog"
"We will arrive tomorrow"
"Dinner is ready"
An INDIRECT STATEMENT gives a 'reported' or 'second-hand' version, phrased as if someone else has told you about it (or you have said or thought it to yourself):
I saw that my brother was looking for his dog
Our friends said that they would arrive tomorrow
Mother shouted that dinner was ready
One fairly obvious pointer in English is the use of the word "…THAT…" (sometimes omitted in spoken English, but it is incorrect to leave it out when writing). It is used here after a particular type or group of verbs, often to do with the senses (old pupils may remember them referred to as the HEAR'SAY verbs!).
e.g. He SAID that…..
We SEE that……
I FEEL that……
Did you HEAR that….
(I suppose that you could even say "They could SMELL that dinner was ready"!)
It is convenient to remember the most common verbs in pairs:
SAY & THINK
SEE & HEAR
KNOW & BELIEVE
HOPE & PROMISE
THE CONSTRUCTION IN LATIN
Consider these two sentences:
I believe him to be my friend
I believe that he is my friend
Obviously, both these sentences have the same meaning. The second way of phrasing it (using "that") is much the more common method of expressing these ideas in English: in Latin however they ALWAYS expressed them using the FIRST way.
Even in English, this uses an ACCUSATIVE ("him")
and an INFINITIVE ("to be")
Spotting the equivalent ACCUSATIVE and INFINITIVE like this in a Latin sentence is the key way to identify an Indirect Statement in Latin.
TRANSLATING INDIRECT STATEMENTS
First of all, then, you need to be able to recognise that you've got one!
If you see an INFINITIVE (especially one of the more unusual ones rather than Present Active) at the END of a sentence or clause, this on its own is a good guide. Check then in front to see if you have one of the HEAR'SAY-type verbs.
In Latin, the most common include:
DICO - I say
CLAMO - I shout
NUNTIO - I announce
PUTO - I think
AUDIO - I hear
VIDEO - I see
SCIO - I know
COGNOSCO - I learn, get to know
CREDO - I believe
SPERO - I hope
PROMITTO - I promise
Finding a combination of these two elements together in a sentence will strongly indicate an INDIRECT STATEMENT.
As usual, I recommend splitting things down into a simple step-by-step procedure, as follows:
Step 1: Translate the MAIN CLAUSE, including the HEAR'SAY verb
Step 2: ADD IN the English word "THAT" (it won't be there in Latin)
Step 3: Find the FIRST NOUN (or Pronoun) in the ACC case, and translate it as the SUBJECT of the Indirect Statement clause
Step 4: Go NEXT to the INFINITIVE. Translate it as a normal MAIN VERB in English, taking careful notice of the TENSE and VOICE of the Latin Infinitive (see chart below)
Finally, add in any remaining words where they sound best.
This chart of suggested meanings may be useful; the best choice will depend on what tense the MAIN VERB is: the 'official' distinction is between a 'Primary' and a 'Historic' tense. This will be explained properly when we look at Purpose Clauses: for now, just remember that Imperfect, Pluperfect and Perfect without 'have' (Aorist) are the only Historic tenses (the true Past tenses): everything else is Primary.
Meaning if MAIN VERB is 'PRIMARY'
Meaning if MAIN VERB is
use "IS, ARE"
use "WAS, WERE"
use "HAS, HAVE"
e.g. He SAYS that he IS being asked…
he HAS been asked…
he WILL be asked…..
He SAID that he WAS being asked….
he HAD been asked…..
he WOULD be asked….
In general, if you aim for what sounds NATURAL in English, you should be right.
Here are some examples, bringing in increasingly difficult elements; they are set out using the 'steps' outlined above.
NUNTII CLAMAVERUNT CAESAREM URBEM APPROPINQUARE.
Spot that it's an Ind. Statement by the INFIN at the END of the sentence, and the Hear'Say main verb CLAMO.
Step 1) The messengers shouted….
2) …THAT… (don't leave out this crucial step!)
3) …CAESAR…. (important to choose the FIRST accusative as the subject)
4) ….WAS approaching… (a Pres Act infin with a Past main verb)
Answer: The messengers shouted that Caesar was approaching the city.
FRATER SCIEBAT ME EPISTULAM MISISSE.
Step 1) (My) brother knew….
3) ….I….(easy to miss that this tiny pronoun "me" is the FIRST ACCUSATIVE, but it is!)
4) …. HAD sent … (Perfect Act infin with a Past main verb)
Answer: My brother knew that I had sent the letter.
AMICI PROMITTUNT SE HODIE ADVENTUROS ESSE.
Step 1) The friends are promising…..
3) …..THEY… (the pronoun "se" is the first accusative: it always refers to the original subject of the sentence)
4) …..WILL arrive… (Fut Infin Act with a Present main verb)
Answer: The (Our?) friends are promising that they will arrive today.
Notice also that the Infinitive ADVENTUROS ESSE agrees in the accusative with "SE", the subject of the Infinitive. This also happens with the other Infinitive formed using a participle, namely the Perfect Passive.
This doesn't actually make any difference when you translate it into English.
SPERABAMUS NOS TE OCCIDERE NON IUSSUM IRI.
Step 1) We hoped/were hoping….
3) …WE…. ("nos" is the first accusative, not "te"!)
4) …WOULD not be ordered… (Fut Infin Pass with a Past main verb)
Answer: We were hoping that we would not be ordered to kill you.
Lots of pronouns and infinitives in this one!
How do you know to translate the infin "IUSSUM IRI" before "OCCIDERE"?
Partly because IUSSUM IRI came at the end of the sentence
Partly because the 'more unusual' infinitive tends to be the important one
But MOSTLY because this is the only way to get the sentence to make SENSE!
MILES NEGAVIT SE AB HOSTIBUS MISSUM ESSE.
Step 1) The soldier SAID……(not….) - see below!
3) …..HE… ("se", as always, referring to the "SE-me" (same!) person as the subject)
4) ….HAD not been sent… (Perf Infin Pass with a Past main verb)
Answer: The soldier said that he had not been sent by the enemy.
The Romans never said "DICO….NON…". They used this verb "NEGO" - I deny, say that something is not the case. No prizes for spotting the obvious English derivative!
'NEGO' is not a verb you are likely to be asked at GCSE, but I thought we ought to explore all the variations!
NOW SOME FOR YOU TO TRY…..
Try to follow the steps above as closely as you can. To see if you are right, highlight the 'Answer' line with your cursor.
1. PUERI CLAMABANT CANEM INGENTEM IN HORTUM INTRAVISSE.
Answer: The boys shouted that a huge dog had got into the garden.
2. CIVES SPERABANT ROMANOS AUXILIUM QUAM CELERRIME MISSUROS ESSE.
Answer: The citizens were hoping that the Romans would send help as quickly as possible.
3. AMICI SUBITO SENSERUNT SE IN MAXIMO PERICULO ESSE.
Answer: The friends suddenly realised that they were in extreme danger.
4. PUTO HUNC SENEM ME SEQUI.
Answer: I think that this old man is following me.
5. PUELLA PROMISIT SE ITERUM CRAS ME VISURAM ESSE.
Answer: The girl promised that she would see me again tomorrow.
6. NON CREDEBAMUS TE TAM STULTUM ESSE, MARCE!
Answer: We didn't believe that you were so stupid, Marcus!
7. GALLI VIDERUNT CAESAREM CUM EXERCITU MAGNO APPROPINQUARE.
Answer: The Gauls saw that Caesar was approaching with a big army.
8. HIC SERVUS DICIT DOMINUM SUUM MILITIBUS TRADI.
Answer: This slave says that his master is being handed over to the soldiers.
9. BREVI TEMPORE COGNOSCES MERCATOREM ILLUM DE PECUNIA TE FALLERE . (fallo (3) - I deceive)
Answer: It won't be long before you find out that that merchant is deceiving you about the money. (literally: 'In a short time you will learn….')
10. NAUTAE AUDIVERUNT OMNES NAVES TEMPESTATE DELETAS ESSE.
Answer: The sailors heard that all the ships had been destroyed by the storm.
11. CREDERE DEBETIS FILIAM VESTRAM MOX TUTAM INVENTUM IRI.
Answer: You must both believe that your daughter will soon be found safe.
12. SOROR PUTABAT SE LIBROS MIHI IAM DEDISSE.
Answer: My sister thought that she'd given me the books already.
JUST FOR FUN…..
Want to try to compose a couple into Latin yourself? It really helps to understand the technique of translating into English if you try to look at it from their point of view as well!
Basically, once you've translated the Main Clause with the Hear'Say verb, you need to just follow the steps 'doing the opposite' - i.e. removing the word "THAT", putting the Subject into the Accusative, etc.
I'll prompt you as we go along through a first one as an example:
We heard that the slaves had fled to Spartacus.
Step 1: Translate the Hear'Say clause (here, just the verb itself):
2: IGNORE THE WORD "THAT"
3: Find the SUBJECT of the Ind. Stat. clause and write it in the Accusative:
4: Look at the next verb: is it Present, Past or Future? Active or Passive? Use the appropriate INFINITIVE taken from the chart (here, you have a Past tense verb in the Active: so Perf. Infin. Act. needed):
5: In between 3 & 4, translate the remaining words, giving you the whole thing:
AUDIVIMUS SERVOS AD SPARTACUM FUGISSE.
Try to follow the steps as carefully as possible. As usual, run your cursor over the 'Answer' line to see if you're right.
1. The young man saw that the slave-girls had prepared the meal.
Answer: IUVENIS VIDIT ANCILLAS CENAM PARAVISSE.
2. The general hopes that the army is fighting well.
Answer: DUX SPERAT EXERCITUM BENE PUGNARE.
3. Why do you think that I have sold the house?
Answer: CUR PUTAS ME VILLAM VENDIDISSE?
4. The mother heard that (her) son had been sent to the war.
Answer: MATER AUDIVIT FILIUM AD BELLUM MISSUM ESSE. (v. tough to get the agreement right on that infin: 'missum' must agree with 'filium'. The next one needs an agreement too!)
5. The farmers shouted that the soldiers would never find the money.
Answer: AGRICOLAE CLAMABANT (or CLAMAVERUNT) MILITES PECUNIAM NUMQUAM INVENTUROS ESSE.
6. This boy says that he will not be forced to abandon (his) sister.
Answer: HIC PUER NEGAT SE SOROREM RELINQUERE COACTUM IRI.
Some of those were really tricky. If you got anywhere near those infinitive agreements in 4 & 5, or coped with the last one - which had at least 3 awkward parts: using 'Nego', 'se' and a Future Infin. Passive, not to mention an extra infinitive - way above GCSE level! - you may award yourself an immediate Scholarship to Oxford… and a large Mars Bar.
I HOPE THAT THIS HAS GIVEN YOU ENOUGH PRACTICE ON INDIRECT STATEMENTS NOW.
(..which, of course, is an Indirect Statement in itself!)