Uses of the Ablative Case

The ablative case in Latin is a merger of three cases from Indo-European, the ablative (separation), the instrumental (ablative of means), and the locative (in + ablative for most nouns except where the locative survives in Latin). My nickname is the “Bashful Ablative,” which one of my students compared to a bunny, that stays/freezes “in” place or runs “away.” The color I use is green, as in “green “with” envy,” a non-primary color. For the endings, see Summary of Noun and Adjective Endings

Context Clues or Markers Translations Grammatical Term or Construct
Thing; passive verb
“Linus citharā percussus est.”
“Cives urbem vītīs defenderunt.”
“by (means of)/ with —-”
“Linus was stuck by/with a lyre.”
“The citizens defended the city with/by their lives.”
Ablative of Means/ Instrument
Expression of time; ordinal number
“Sextō diē rediit.”
“Polydectes illō annō regnabat.”
“Locum illō tempore ceperunt.”
“uxorem unō annō amisit.”
“on/in/at —“/”with —”
“S/he returned on the 6th day.”
“Polydectes was ruling in that year.”
“They captured the place at that time.”
“He lost his wife (with)in one year.”
Ablative of time when or within which
Abstract noun with adj. expressing “how”
“magnā [cum] pace
“multō amore
“with —“/ or change to adverb – (rather/very/etc. –(ful)ly)
with great peace/very peacefully
with much love
Ablative of Manner
noun with adj. describing physical or external characteristic
“canis tribus capitibus.”
“vir validā manū
“of/with —“/ or trans. before noun described.
“the dog with three heads/ the three-headed dog.”
“the man with the strong hand.”
Ablative of Description
Proper name of city; verb of motion
“Romā discedit”
(from) —
“He is departing from Rome
Ablative of place from which
Abstract noun/ expressing an emotion
“Amore puella mansit.”
“Terrore cucurrerunt.”
“from/because of/on account of”
“He remained on account of his love for the girl.”
“They ran because of terror
Ablative of Cause
[thing] with verb or adj. expressing lack, separation, deprivation, freedom, etc.
“Pecuniā carent.”
“Servitudine liberati sunt.”
(Verb D.O.)/from/of
“They lack money
“they were freed from slavery.”
Ablative of Separation
With comparative adj. or word expressing comparison
“Fideliores sunt oculi auribus.”
“Nihil is majus philosophiā
“(-er) than—-”
“The eyes are more faithful .”
“Nothing is greater than philosophy.”
Ablative of Comparison
Word expressing quantity or measurement with comparative adj. or word expressing comparison.
“Multō clarius locutus est.”
“Filius capite fuit altior.”
“paucīs post annīs
Translate as adv or “by ____”
“he spoke much more clearly.” (by much)
“the son was taller by a head/ a head taller.”
a few years later (after by a few years)
Ablative of degree of difference
With a general adj. or noun (abl. specifies the scope or tells in what respect the adj. applies)
“Nomine sed non rē erat rex.”
“Nemo justior pietatēe fuit aut bellō major armīs
Translate: noun/adj “in” ablative
“He was the king in name but not in fact.”
“No one was more just in piety or greater in war and weapons.”
Ablative of respect or specification
with utor, fruor, potior, vescor, fugnor
“Castrīs potiuntur.”
“Hi enim ratione utuntur.”
Translate as D.O.
“They get possession of the camp
“For these people use reason
Ablative with certain deponent verbs
Noun + participle (or two nouns), often at beginning of sentence and/or set off by commas.
“Duce captō, hostes fugerunt.”
“Mē duce, vicistis.”
(“with —“) or as a subordinate clause introduced by after/since, when, while (although, if)
the leader having been captured (after/because/when/their leader had been captured) the enemy fled.”
With me as your leader, you have won.”
Ablative Absolute