Greek key bar

PART II: STEPS TO FOLLOW WHEN DIAGRAMMING

Greek key bar

NB: Always write English words in the diagram slots, using the English meaning of the Latin words and the proper English form as indicated by the Latin endings.

Sample Latin Sentences:

  1. Pater puerorum parvorum in agris diligenter laborare debet.
  2. Mater celeriter filiis, Quinto Marcoque, canem ingentem ostendit, sed non timent.
  3. Feminae in casa uxores principum sunt.

Step 1: Write the intransitive kernel diagram. Find the Latin verb by looking for a word or words with verb endings; write its English meaning in the verb slot, using the person, number, and tense as determined by the Latin ending. If there is more than one kernel in the sentence (the number of kernels is determined by the number of verbs, except in the case of compound verbs, which fill only one verb slot), carry out each step for the first kernel and then proceed through the same steps for each subsequent kernel. Verbs with complementary infinitives (“I want to sing”) as well as compound verbs (“I sing and dance”) fill a single verb slot in the kernel.

find verb
find verbs
find verb

Step 2: If verb is in the third person, look for a Latin noun or pronoun with an ending in the nominative case which agrees in number with the verb ending (e.g., pater is nominative singular) and write its meaning (paying attention to singular or plural) in the subject slot. If there is no Latin word in the nominative, write the gap symbol (Ø ) in the subject slot and wait until you finish the diagram to write in the appropriate English pronoun (he, she, it, they) as determined by the context. If the verb is in the first or second person, write the appropriate English pronoun in the subject slot (I, we, or you).

find subject
find subjects
find subject

Step 3: Unless the verb is a linking verb, look for a Latin noun or pronoun with an ending in the accusative case that is not following a Latin preposition taking an accusative object (e.g., canem). If you find an accusative without a preposition, the kernel is transitive, so draw a third blank line for the object slot and write the word's meaning (paying attention to singular or plural) in this slot. If the verb is not linking and you do not find an accusative direct object, the kernel is intransitive (as in sentence 1 or the second kernel in sentence 2).

find direct object

Step 4: If the verb “to be” is used, the kernel may be intransitive (with the implied meaning “exists”); in this case the verb will usually be translated “there is” or “there are”). More frequently, the kernel will be linking (with the implied meaning “equals”). If you find another noun or pronoun with a nominative case ending (e.g., uxores), the kernel is linking, so you should draw a third line for the complement slot and write in the word's meaning (paying attention to singular or plural). The complement may also be an adjective with nominative case endings, in which case it will also agree with the subject in number and gender.

find complement

Step 5: After all the main slots in the diagram are filled, deal with modification. The steps below indicate one possible order for you to proceed.

5a. Prepositional phrases: Identify all prepositions and connect each Latin preposition to its object with an arrow (Latin case endings will be ablative or accusative, depending on the preposition). Write the English meaning of each preposition on a slanted line below the word modified by the prepositional phrase; then connect a straight line to the slanted one and write the English meaning of the preposition's object.

If the prepositional phrase functions as an adverb, it will answer the questions When? Where? How? Why? Under what conditions? To what degree? Relating to what or whom? and should be placed under the verb.

find prepositional phrases

If the prepositional phrase functions as an adjective, it will answer the questions Which one? or What kind of? and must follow its noun in English to make sense; it should therefore be placed under the noun it modifies. In sentence 3, in casa tells us which women are meant, and therefore the phrase modifies feminae.

find prepositional phrases

5b. Genitive: Look for Latin nouns with endings in the genitive case and write them in your diagram using an “of” prepositional phrase below the nouns they modify (in Latin they will usually be appear before or after the nouns they modify (e.g., pater puerorum).

find genitive
find genitive

5c. Dative or Ablative without a Preposition: These should be the last nouns/pronouns you deal with, since you will often need the context of the sentence to help you determine which case is being used and what the word is doing in the sentence. Most datives and ablatives will be diagramed using adjectival or adverbial prepositional phrases (e.g., diagram an indirect object using a “to” prepositional phrase under the verb).

find indirect object

5d. Adjectives: Find all Latin adjectives and decide which noun each modifies; a Latin adjective agrees with its noun in gender, number, and case (e.g., parvorum is masculine, plural, genitive, agreeing with puerorum). Write the English meaning of each adjective on a slanted line below its noun.

find adjectives
find adjectives

5e. Adverbs: Find each Latin adverb and write its English meaning on a slanted line below the verb, adjective, or adverb it modifies.

find adverbs
find adverbs

5f. Apposition: Look for Latin nouns that identify/rename other nouns in the kernel; in Latin, appositives are in the same case as the nouns they rename (e.g., Quinto Marcoque renames filiis; these nouns are all in the dative case). Write appositives in the same kernel slot as the nouns they rename, separated by a comma.

find appositives

Step 6: Look at the completed diagram and translate it into a good English sentence, taking into consideration the context and adding definite and indefinite articles and appropriate English words for those that are gapped in Latin.

  1. A father of small children ought to work hard in the fields.
  2. The mother quickly points out the huge dog to her sons, Quintus and Marcus, but they are not afraid.
  3. The women in the house are the wives of the leaders.
Legacy Document: November 1999
Barbara F. McManus, Elementary Latin Syllabus
The College of New Rochelle