Latin grammar

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The grammar of Latin, like that of other ancient Indo-European languages, is highly inflected. This means the Latin grammar allows for a large degree of flexibility when choosing word order. For example, femina togam texuit, "the woman wove a toga," which is the preferred word order, could be expressed and interpreted as texuit togam femina or togam texuit femina. In each word the suffix: -a, -am and -uit, and not the position in the sentence, marks the word's grammatical function. Word order, however, generally follows the Subject Object Verb paradigm, although variations on this are especially common in poetry and express subtle nuances in prose.[1]

In Latin, there are five declensions of nouns and four conjugations of verbs. Latin does not have articles and so does not generally differentiate between, for example, a girl and the girl; the same syntactic unit represents both: puella amat means both a girl loves and the girl loves. Latin uses prepositions, and usually places adjectives after nouns. The language can also omit pronouns in certain situations, meaning that grammatical gender, person, and number alone can generally identify the agent; pronouns are most often reserved for situations where meaning is not entirely clear. Latin exhibits verb-framing, in which the path of motion is encoded into the verb; e.g. "exit" means "he/she/it goes out"; while English relies on prepositions to encode the same information.

Many words, but a minority, which are conjugated, declined, or which form degrees of comparison, do not do so in exact agreement with the standard paradigms. Such words are called irregular, while those that do agree are called regular. Irregular words are generally ones that are used very frequently. Irregular forms of conjugation, declension, or formation of degrees of comparison are often etymologically traceable to a merging of formerly independent words.


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