WHAT IS A PURPOSE CLAUSE?
Not surprisingly, a Purpose Clause defines what someone is intending to achieve by a particular course of action - their PURPOSE! This 'defining' quality is also reflected in the alternative name you may see, namely a 'FINAL' Clause.
e.g. The slaves went to the forum IN ORDER TO BUY FOOD.
In English we have various ways of expressing or introducing these ideas of Purpose: the example above could also be phrased:
The slaves went to the forum SO AS TO BUY FOOD
SO THAT THEY COULD BUY….
or simply TO BUY…..
There may, of course, be a NEGATIVE idea to the Purpose:
The boys hid in the wood IN ORDER NOT TO BE FOUND by the master
SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT BE FOUND….
SO AS NOT TO BE FOUND…..
IN CASE THEY WERE FOUND….
Any of these variations still express the same idea of someone's PURPOSE.
THE CLAUSE IN LATIN
There are other ways used (which we will describe later) but by far the most common way to express Purpose in Latin is to use the following construction:
UT or NE followed by the Present or Imperfect Subjunctive
This part of the sentence will be dependent on a separate Main Clause outlining what was originally done to achieve the Purpose.
Splitting the Main Clause and the Purpose Clause apart is generally easy enough:
The MAIN CLAUSE will contain a normal (non-subjunctive) verb, usually Indicative;
The PURPOSE CLAUSE will contain the Subjunctive, following either UT or NE.
e.g. SERVI AD FORUM IERUNT // UT CIBUM EMERENT.
PUERI IN SILVA SE CELAVERUNT // NE A MAGISTRO INVENIRENTUR.
Within the Purpose Clause, the subject may remain the same as that of the Main Clause, or it may change and introduce a new subject, written as normal in the Nominative case:
e.g. AMICUS MEUS ROMAE NUNC HABITAT // UT FILII A MAGISTRO MELIORE DOCEANTUR.
MY FRIEND is living in Rome now so that HIS SONS may be taught by a better master.
TRANSLATING PURPOSE CLAUSES
Once you have identified the two clauses in the sentence, translating them is in fact pretty straightforward (compared, say, with an Indirect Statement!).
Follow this example through:
e.g. MILITES VILLAM INTRAVERUNT // UT SENIS PECUNIAM PETERENT.
FIRSTLY: Translate the MAIN CLAUSE normally:
"The soldiers went into the villa....."
NEXT, WHEN YOU REACH 'UT or 'NE', choose an appropriate translation (notice , for example, that 'in order to...' won't work if you have a new SUBJECT in the Purpose Clause) :
"....in order to....", "...to....", or "...so that...."
NOW, TRANSLATE THE SUBJUNCTIVE VERB in any way that sounds natural in English - don't try to force in a 'may' or 'might'! After 'in order to…', for instance, all you actually need is the VOCAB MEANING of the verb itself:
"...in order to LOOK FOR...."
"...so that they COULD LOOK FOR...."
"....to LOOK FOR....."
FINALLY, add in the remaining words in the Purpose Clause:
"The soldiers went into the villa to look for the old man's money."
Here's another one (N.B. the verb "miror" is deponent, and so has person endings which look Passive, even though the meaning is Active)
e.g.: PUELLAE AD AMPHITHEATRUM CONTENDERUNT // UT GLADIATORES MIRARENTUR.
FIRSTLY: Translate the MAIN CLAUSE normally:
"The girls hurried off to the amphitheatre….."
NEXT, WHEN YOU REACH 'UT or 'NE', choose an appropriate translation:
"…..in order to…..", or "….so that….."
NOW, TRANSLATE THE SUBJUNCTIVE VERB in a way that sounds natural in English:
" ….in order to ADMIRE….."
"……so that THEY COULD ADMIRE….."
FINALLY, add in the remaining words in the Purpose Clause:
"The girls hurried off to the amphitheatre in order to ogle the gladiators."
OR: " …so that they could ogle….."
Here's one more example, this time with 'NE' and a different subject:
e.g. PUER EPISTULAM CELAVIT NE MATER EAM VIDERET
"The boy hid the letter / so that / his mother wouldn't see it"
or " …. / in case / his mother saw it"
BEWARE OF "UT"!
In fact, a Purpose Clause is by no means the only construction introduced by 'UT' (or 'NE'!)…. We will explain the others over the next few pages of this site: for now, just remember that in the OTHER USES, there is always some other 'SIGN-POST' word in the sentence by which you can tell them apart.
A PURPOSE CLAUSE IS THE ONLY ONE WHERE UT or NE APPEARS WITH NO OTHER SPECIAL 'INGREDIENT'.
ONE TINY COMPLICATION…"SEQUENCE"!
When the Romans used a Purpose Clause with UT/NE, they actually followed (automatically) a slightly more complicated "rule" than I have so far mentioned. You may, for example, be wondering when they use the Present Subjunctive, and when the Imperfect.
The answer is the "SEQUENCE of TENSES" rule.
There is actually only one occasion, as you translate into English, when this is going to make any difference, but since (no doubt!) you will want to try your hand (for fun….) at composing one or two Purpose Clauses yourself later on, I shall set out here what this rule involves.
'SEQUENCE', as you can tell by the derivation of the word, suggests something that FOLLOWS ON from something that appears previously. The key "somethings" here are the TENSES of the verbs:
The TENSE of the MAIN VERB will determine the TENSE of the SUBJUNCTIVE in the Purpose Clause, as follows:
MAIN VERBS which you would translate as
AORIST (Perfect not using 'have' or 'has')
in the English sentence are followed in Latin by the IMPERFECT subjunctive in the Purpose Clause;
ALL OTHER TYPES of MAIN VERB (including Imperatives) are followed by the PRESENT subjunctive in the Purpose Clause.
Traditionally, the tenses leading up to the Present Subjunctive are known as 'PRIMARY' tenses (and the sentence is said to be 'in Primary Sequence'); the tenses leading up to the Imperfect Subjunctive are known as 'HISTORIC' tenses (and similarly, the sentence is 'in Historic Sequence').
When you have a go at some English into Latin I will give you a chart to help explain this more fully.
HOW, THOUGH, DOES THIS AFFECT LATIN into ENGLISH?
The "problem" is that although we make a distinction in ENGLISH between the PERFECT and AORIST tenses, in Latin they had only one formation for both:
e.g. 'MISIT' can mean "he has sent"
"he did send"
or just " he sent"
- but only the FIRST of these meanings (with 'have' or 'has') is the TRUE PERFECT tense in English, the other two above being strictly the AORIST tense.
……..and this makes a difference?
Consider these two sentences:
PATER PECUNIAM MISIT UT NOVAM TOGAM EMAM.
PATER PECUNIAM MISIT UT NOVAM TOGAM EMEREM.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the sentences end with different Subjunctives: Present in the first, Imperfect in the second.
Technically, then, the first sentence is in PRIMARY sequence, and requires a PRIMARY TENSE VERB in the Main Clause; the second sentence is likewise HISTORIC, needing a HISTORIC main verb.
So, you couldn't correctly translate both the sentences starting "Father SENT…..": in the first one you need a Primary tense verb, i.e. the English true Perfect using 'have/has'.
Sentence 1 ( the Primary sequence one) comes out as:
"Father HAS SENT some money so that I CAN BUY a new toga"
and sentence 2 (the Historic sequence one):
"Father SENT some money so that I COULD BUY a new toga".
I have to admit that this is a rather pedantic distinction, and I am sorry to be making a fuss about it. Truth to tell, nobody is going to take your "A" grade away (probably not even your "A*"!) if you get 'sequence' muddled up (I suppose, if you want an extra 'pointer', Primary Sequence is more likely to be found in Direct Speech). Still, you would think less of me if I didn't tell you the 'awful truth' occasionally…!
Sequence of Tenses also applies in English - again, it's something we just follow automatically. For example, wouldn't you agree that if someone said:
"We hoped that we will arrive today"
….it would sound odd? Either you mean:
"We HOPE that we WILL arrive today" (both Primary sequence tenses)
or "We HOPED that we WOULD arrive today" (Historic sequence).
Time to practise some translations!
Remember to make your English version sound as 'normal' as possible. There is ONE mean 'Sequence' tense here - see if you can spot it - but otherwise you should find that things 'flow' quite naturally.
1. DUX EXERCITUM IN CAMPUM MISIT UT HOSTES SUPERARET.
Answer: The general sent his army on to the plain in order to defeat the enemy.
2. PUELLAE IN AGROS EXIERANT UT FLORES MATRI COLLIGERENT.
Answer: The girls had gone out into the fields to gather flowers for their mother.
3. MEDIA NOCTE DISCEDERE VOLUMUS NE CUSTODES NOS CAPIANT.
Answer: We want to leave at midnight so that the guards don't catch us.
4. CIVES AD THEATRUM FESTINABANT UT POETAM CLARUM AUDIRENT.
Answer: The citizens were hurrying to the theatre to hear the famous poet.
5. MURUM MAGNUM CIRCUM CASTRA PONEMUS NE A BARBARIS OPPUGNEMUR.
Answer: We shall put a big wall around the camp in case we are attacked by the barbarians.
6. AMICI NOSTRI EQUOS EMERE CONSTITUERUNT UT AD URBEM CELERITER ADVENIANT.
Answer: Our friends HAVE decided to buy horses so that they can reach the city quickly. (Yes - this is the 'Sequence' one!)
7. NUM VENISTI UT SOROREM MEAM ITERUM VIDEAS?
Answer: You haven't come to see my sister again, have you?!
8. NE VIDERENTUR, MILITES POST ARBORES SE CELAVERUNT.
Answer: So as not to be seen, the soldiers hid behind some trees.
9. AD FORUM IBO UT FILIUS OMNIA TEMPLA PULCHRA IBI SPECTET.
Answer: I shall go to the forum so that my son can look at all the beautiful temples there.
10. ROMANI MULTAS LEGIONES COLLEGERUNT UT IMPERIUM DEFENDERENT.
Answer: The Romans recruited many legions in order to defend their empire.
11. SERVE, FER GLADIOS UT HAEC ANIMALIA OCCIDAMUS!
Answer: Slave, bring some swords so that we can kill these animals!
12. NAUTAE IN PORTU MANEBANT NE NAVES TEMPESTATIBUS DELERENTUR.
Answer: The sailors stayed in harbour so that the ships wouldn't be wrecked by storms.
A small variation, often found in literature, involves substituting the pronoun 'QUI' for 'UT' at the beginning of a Purpose (or 'Final') Clause.
This happens if the writer is trying to emphasise that there is a particular person WHO is to fulfil the purpose:
e.g. NUNTIUM MISERUNT QUI SENATUM MONERET
They sent a messenger to warn the Senate
…as if we might say:
They sent a messenger WHO WAS TO WARN the Senate.
Since the part of 'QUI' needed is pretty much always the Nom masc singular or plural, the word 'QUI' itself doesn't need to change (although it could equally be feminine - "QUAE" - if the person to do the job was female).
I believe that this structure is now 'off the syllabus' in the language papers, but you may come across it in the Set Books.
JUST FOR FUN….
The moment you've been waiting for! Yes - here's your chance for some more English into Latin!
The KEY POINT to remember is SEQUENCE.
Look to see what tense the Main Verb is; decide whether you're in Primary or Historic Sequence, and put the Purpose Clause verb into the Present or Imperfect Subjunctive accordingly.
Here are the English tenses which fall under each Sequence heading:
Future Aorist (Perfect without 'have/has')
Perfect (with 'have/has') Pluperfect
Remember, in the Purpose Clause, it doesn't matter what it actually says in English. Just follow the "Rule" and use one of the two Subjunctives. In particular, don't get fooled by the use of what seems to be just a simple Infinitive:
"He hurried TO CATCH the bus' - really means '…IN ORDER TO catch…"
The SUBJUNCTIVES you need can be found in the charts on the overview page.
Here's an example:
The Romans sailed to the island in order to conquer the inhabitants.
Main verb: AORIST; HISTORIC Sequence; Imperfect Subjunctive.
Answer: ROMANI AD INSULAM NAVIGAVERUNT UT INCOLAS VINCERENT.
Decide upon the SEQUENCE (as above) before you try to translate. I have put the Sequence details under each sentence: you can highlight these first to check if you're right before carrying on.
1. The women were looking-for a soldier in order to ask-for help.
Sequence: Imperfect - Historic - Imperfect Subjunctive
Answer: FEMINAE MILITEM PETEBANT UT AUXILIUM ROGARENT.
2. We will walk across the city to see (our) friends.
Sequence: Future - Primary - Present Subjunctive
Answer: TRANS URBEM AMBULABIMUS UT AMICOS VIDEAMUS.
3. Don't hide the books in case the master punishes us!
Sequence: Command - Primary - Present Subjunctive
Answer: NOLI CELARE LIBROS NE MAGISTER NOS PUNIAT!
4. The boy ran home quickly so that (his) father wouldn't find the wine.
Sequence: Aorist - Historic - Imperfect Subjunctive
Answer: PUER DOMUM CELERITER CUCURRIT NE PATER VINUM INVENIRET.
5. The queen has sent (some) slaves to bring (say 'lead') the Emperor into the hall.
Sequence: Perfect - Primary - Present Subjunctive
Answer: REGINA SERVOS MISIT UT PRINCIPEM IN ATRIUM DUCANT.
6. Friends! Romans! I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him! (bury: sepelio (4, regular))
Sequence: Present - Primary - Present Subjunctive
Answer: AMICI! ROMANI! CAESAREM UT SEPELIAM VENIO, NON UT LAUDEM!
Sorry about the last one - I couldn't resist putting it in, just (in order) to show you how VITAL Purpose Clauses have always been!