Latin Synonyms Conjunctions

Distinguishing Latin Synonyms

Co-ordinating Conjunctions:

-que, et, atque/ac (“and”)

et (Group 1) is the most general, and it usually connects things that are different, sometimes opposites. “tempus nascendi et tempus moriendi . . . tempus flendi et tempus ridendi . . . tempus tacendi et tempus loquendi (Bibl. Vulgata, Eccl. 3:2-8) et in senatu et in foro (Cic. de Amic. II.6)(“both . . . and”) -que (Group 3) often connects clauses, especially ones closely related, or it may join two associated but different things to form or express a whole (cf. English ‘n, as in “bread ‘n butter”). “mihi moenia Teucri/ constituent urbique dabit Lavinia nomen.” (Verg. Aen.12.193-4)(What does the –que connect: words, phrases, or clauses? Answer) Senatus populusque Romanus (unit) Coniunctio dicta, quod sensus sententiasque coniungat. . . . Aut enim nomina sociat, ut “Augustinus et Hieronymus,” aut verba, ut “scribit et legit.” (Isid. Orig. I.xii.1) atque and ac (Group 3), on the other hand, often connect (near) synonyms. It may also sometimes emphasize the connected term, “and especially/and even ____.” (For when atque is used vs. ac, see Alternative Forms). Petit atque hortatur ut . . . (Caes. BG I.19.5) hunc [Mercurium] viarum atque itinerum ducem . . . (Caes. BG VI.17.1) See also Caes. BG I.31.16 under vel below. Note also, sometimes in Latin, different conjunctions are used for different levels of connection within the same sentence. Thus, when you are reading and come to a different coordinating conjunction, that tells you that you are joining a different set/level of things. Examples: hic, ne deficeret, metuens avidusque videndi flexit amans oculos, et protinus illa relapsa est, bracchiaque intendens prendique et prendere certans nil nisi cedentes infelix arripit auras. (Ov. Met. 10.58 Orpheus, given the stipulation of not looking back, exiting Hades with Eurydice following) (What does the first “-que” connect”? (hint: remember, participles are verbal adjectives); the first “et”? the second “-que”? The third “-que” connects participial phrases, expressing similar ideas of stretching and trying; “et” connects the infinitives, expressing opposites: passive, “to be grasped” and active, “to grasp.”)

aut / vel /-ve / an (“or”)

Aut (Group 2) marks a sharper distinction, often connecting opposites. When paired, aut . . . aut regularly exhausts the possible alternatives, which are exclusive and usually opposites. A way to remember this distinction is to think of the words of a parent to a child standing in the open door: “Either in or [aut] out; one or the other!” (with “aut” and “out” sounding the same). For example: “. . . ego aut tu faciamus.” (Isidore Orig. I.xii.2) Nam nisi hinc hodie emigravit aut heri, certo scio hīc habitāre. (Plaut. Most. 953-4) Note: this distinction can be useful in guessing the meaning of unknown words. If they are joined by aut, think different/opposite. vel or -ve (Group 2) is more varied in its use. It often connects things more similar, as in the expression vel simile. When paired, they do not necessarily exhaust all the possible options, and the particular choice of means to an end is not important. As the relations to volo, velle indicates, it is a matter of preference. Vel also occurs in groups of more than two. A way to remember this is to think: “Well, you could do A or [vel] B or C or . . . (with “well” and “vel” sounding the same. In general, aut is more frequently used than vel and -ve in both prose and poetry. Both vel and the enclitic -ve are more frequently used in poetry than prose, with -ve even more so, being two times more common in poetry than prose. In Medieval Latin, vel is more frequently used than aut. (Note: The numbers in Diederich do not separate the adverbial use of “vel” and the use as a conjunction.) [speech in IS] Caesarem vel auctoritate sua atque exercitūs vel recenti victoria vel nomine populi Romani deterrere posse ne maior multitudo Germanorum Rhenum traducatur, . . . (Caes. BG I.31.16) multa eius et in senatu et in foro vel provisa prudenter vel acta constanter vel responsa acute ferebantur; (Cic. de Amic. II.6) Quod genus hoc hominum? Quae“background-color: #FFFF33″>ve hunc tam barbara morem permittit patria? . . . (Verg. Aen. I.539-40) . . . ne quā scire dolos mediusve occurrere possit. (Verg. Aen. I.682) (Venus to Cupid about Ascanius) For (direct and indirect) questions, an (Group 9) is used, sometimes with Utrum (or –ne) for the first alternative. For the negative, “or not,” it is annōn or necne. . . . TR. Heus tu, at hic sunt mulieres: videndumst primum, utrum eae velintne an non velint. (Plaut. Most. 680-81) dolus an virtus, quis in hoste requirat? (Verg. Aen. II.390) (eloquar an sileam?) (Verg. Aen. III.39)