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This is the 3rd of the ‘Indirect’ constructions. With this one fully covered, you will be able to feel confident with three of the biggest language topics you need for GCSE.
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WHAT IS AN INDIRECT QUESTION?
You are hopefully now used to the idea of 'reported speech'. This construction gives a 'second-hand' version of what was originally phrased as a Direct Question:
"Why are you laughing?"
"Do you want to come to town with me?"
"Who was that lady I saw you with last night?"
The 'Indirect' version of this comes out as follows:
I don't know why you are laughing.
He asked if I wanted to come to town with him.
My friend wanted to know who the lady was that he saw me with last night.
Notice in particular that the sentence is no longer actually a question; and the original 'Question word' has transferred into the middle of the sentence (the use of 'if' as a question word will be considered later on).
There are a very limited number of verbs that are likely to introduce this clause, mostly featuring the ideas of knowing or asking.
INDIRECT QUESTION IN LATIN
In fact, this is a very similar construction to that of a Result Clause. Instead of having the word "UT" to introduce the Indirect Question half of the sentence, however, you have a Question Word itself - the identical ones to those which would have introduced the original spoken Direct version (the only exception to this involves what replaces -NE, NONNE & NUM). Otherwise, you once again just need to use the equivalent English tense corresponding to the tense of the Subjunctive in Latin.
So, the 'RULE' can be phrased:
QUESTION WORD (in the middle of the sentence) + SUBJUNCTIVE, SAME TENSE AS ENGLISH.
Ahead of the question word you will find verbs such as:
ROGO - I ask
QUAERO A/AB - also with the meaning 'I ask' here
SCIO - I know
NESCIO - I don't know
COGNOSCO - I find out, learn
even AUDIO - I hear
All 4 of the normal Subjunctives are found in the clause itself - along with (at last!) the so-called FUTURE Subjunctive. This however is slightly odd in that although there are two versions of the tense, they are not distinguished by being Active or Passive, but instead correspond to whether in English we would want to say:
He is asking when we WILL arrive
or He was asking when we WOULD arrive.
(This is strictly a Sequence issue.)
We will set out the formation of these Future Subjunctives in a moment.
COMMON QUESTION WORDS
Most of these will be encountered actually within the Vocab lists, but it may be useful to set them out here all together:
QUIS/ QUI - WHO
QUID - WHAT
CUR - WHY
UBI - WHERE (it keeps this meaning, still connected to a question, even though it has lost its question mark!)
QUANDO - WHEN
QUANTUS -a -um - HOW BIG, HOW GREAT
QUOT - HOW MANY
QUALIS -is -e - WHAT SORT OF
QUOMODO - HOW
UNDE - FROM WHERE
QUO - TO WHERE, WHERE TO
There remains the single question word which does the job of standing in the sentence when the original question would have been asked using -NE, NONNE or NUM. All these types of questions become Indirect with the use of NUM - which is here translated as IF or WHETHER:
e.g. NONNE CANES AMAS?
Don't you like dogs/Surely you like…/You do like dogs, don't you?
EUM ROGAVI NUM CANES AMARET.
I asked him IF/WHETHER he liked dogs
It's difficult to know why NUM 'got the vote' to represent all three questions without actual question words. I can't offer any convincing explanation: probably most Romans wouldn't really have known either (or cared…!)
The FUTURE SUBJUNCTIVE
As already mentioned, this is the one construction where this is actually used. There are two formations (basically a Primary form and a Historic):
Both start by taking the Future Participle
e.g. OPPUGNATURUS or MISSURUS
and then adding, as separate words, the Present or Imperfect Subjunctives of 'SUM', namely SIM etc
So, for full examples you might have:
OPPUGNATURUS SIM MISSURUS ESSEM
OPPUGNATURUS SIS MISSURUS ESSES
OPPUGNATURUS SIT MISSURUS ESSET
OPPUGNATURI SIMUS MISSURI ESSEMUS
OPPUGNATURI SITIS MISSURI ESSETIS
OPPUGNATURI SINT MISSURI ESSENT
These are both ACTIVE tenses: Future Subjunctive Passive has not (yet!) been found.
You may notice that the formation of these is very similar to that of the Perfect and Pluperfect Subjunctive Passive: both start with a Participle, and add the Subjunctives of 'SUM'. It therefore seems a bit unfair that these Future tenses are not 'officially recognised' and given space in grammar books!
We have already mentioned how to translate these (above); it will make more sense when we see them in some examples (below!).
TRANSLATING INDIRECT QUESTIONS
As with Result Clauses, the key point is to recognise the TENSE of the Subjunctive, and then mirror this with the equivalent English Indicative. Apart from this, the sentences should cause few extra problems.
Firstly, let's look at a few straightforward examples:
e.g. VOLO SCIRE CUR AD URBEM VENERIS.
I want to know WHY you HAVE come to the city.
DIC MIHI QUIS IN SENATU HODIE LOQUERETUR.
Tell me WHO WAS speaking in the Senate today.
PATER FILIAM ROGAVIT QUID IN FORO EMISSET.
The father asked his daughter WHAT she HAD bought in the forum.
As you can see, it's just a question of identifying the tense of the Latin Subjunctive correctly.
Here are a couple more using the FUTURE subjunctive:
e.g. NESCIMUS QUANDO AMICI ADVENTURI SINT.
We don't know WHEN our friends WILL arrive.
DUX A CAPTIVIS COGNOVERAT UBI HOSTES CASTRA POSITURI ESSENT.
The general had found out from prisoners WHERE the enemy WOULD pitch their camp (or WERE GOING TO pitch…).
Finally, one with NUM:
e.g. CIVES COGNOSCERE VOLEBANT NUM EXERCITUS IN PROELIO VICISSET.
The citizens wanted to know IF/WHETHER their army HAD won the battle.
Time to try a few: as with Result Clauses, things should go fine as long as you are careful with the Subjunctive TENSE - and be warned, I have thrown in a couple of FUTURES!
1. MILITES AGRICOLAM ROGAVERUNT CUR UXOREM E FORO TRAHERET.
Answer: The soldiers asked the farmer why he was dragging his wife out of the forum.
2. DIC MIHI UBI GLADIUM MEUM POSUERIS!
Answer: Tell me where you've put my sword!
3. SCISNE CUR FRATER TUUS SAXA AD ILLUM CANEM IACIAT?
Answer: Do you know why your brother is throwing stones at that dog?
4. NESCIO NUM CRAS ADVENTURUS SIM.
Answer: I don't know if I'll get here tomorrow.
5. MATER IRATA AUDIVIT UNDE FILIA DONA ACCEPISSET.
Answer: The angry mother heard from where her daughter had received the presents.
6. BREVI TEMPORE OMNES SCIEMUS QUIS HANC PUELLAM PULCHRAM NECAVERIT.
Answer: In a moment we will all know who killed this beautiful girl.
7. DUX COGNOSCERE CONABATUR QUANTAE ESSENT COPIAE HOSTIUM.
Answer: The general was trying to find out how big the enemy forces were.
8. MILITES A IUVENE QUAEREBANT QUIS ESSET ET QUO IRET.
Answer: The soldiers were asking the young man who he was and where he was going.
9. OMNES SCIMUS QUALIS HOMO SIS, MARCE.
Answer: We all know what sort of man you are, Marcus.
10. HERI COGNOVI UNDE PARENTES HANC MENSAM EMERINT.
Answer: I found out yesterday where my parents bought this table (from).
11. AMICI SE ROGABANT QUANDO ITER LONGUM CONFECTURI ESSENT.
Answer: The friends were wondering when they would finish the long journey.
12. NONNE SCIS QUOT ANCILLAS HABEAS!
Answer: You must know how many slave-girls you've got...!
JUST FOR FUN….
No reason not to go straight for it and try some the other way round….
1. The soldiers asked the poet why he was lying in the middle of the road.
Answer: MILITES POETAM ROGAVERUNT CUR IN MEDIA VIA IACERET.
2. The Emperor wants to find out who (his) enemies are.
Answer: PRINCEPS COGNOSCERE VULT QUIS SINT INIMICI.
3. The master asked the slave why he was holding (his) shield.
Answer: DOMINUS SERVUM ROGAVIT CUR SCUTUM TENERET.
4. The inhabitants didn't know when (their) city had been built.
Answer: INCOLAE NESCIEBANT QUANDO URBS AEDIFICATA ESSET.
5. Ask your son if he has had enough dinner. (say 'he has eaten enough')
Answer: ROGA TUUM FILIUM NUM SATIS CENAVERIT (or CONSUMPSERIT).
6. I don't know how we will ever escape from this danger.
Answer: NESCIO QUOMODO EX HOC PERICULO UMQUAM EFFUGITURI SIMUS.
7. Don't ask me what you ought to do!
Answer: NOLI ME ROGARE QUID FACERE DEBEAS!
8. Didn't you know when the ship was going to set off? (use Proficiscor)
Answer: NONNE SCIEBAS QUANDO NAVIS PROFECTURA ESSET?
Sorry - they're not getting any easier, are they….
On average, of the 3 'Indirect' constructions, this is probably the second most common (after Indirect Statement and before Indirect Command).
Hopefully now you will know if you've got one in your translation passage (and you won't have to ask….)!