Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Learning Latin to Better Understand Verbs in English

It all began with The Latin Road to English Grammar. I’ve always felt my dc and I had a rather solid base of grammar from our years of A Beka English and drilling from my 8th and 9th grade English teachers. However, as we worked through LRTEG, I discovered verbs I had never heard of before! Imperfect Verbs? Perfect Verbs? Pluperfect Verbs? Future Perfect Verbs? Over the weeks as I learned to conjugate each one in Latin, I kind of sort of understood what they were. I definitely understood present tense. I thought I understood past tense until I was introduced to imperfect and perfect verbs. Well, at least I was comfortable with future tense verbs. Whenever Barbara Beers talked about imperfect vs perfect tense verbs on the DVD, I wasn’t completely understanding it. I think she explained it well, and I could apply it and have my Latin translations correct.  However, I didn’t have the background of experience to truly grab hold of it. I could spit out a textbook definition, but beyond that was a haze.  In other words, I was doing things correctly, but I didn't know why. Nevertheless, I persevered. After all, that is one reason for learning Latin, to learn English grammar better.

Another distinction of verbs I learned in LRTEG was the 4 principal parts. Even that was a haze. I had a vague memory of principal verb charts in English grammar books, but we had never dissected them. Nor did we learn much more about them than mere chanting and memory work to use in sentences. Now in Latin, I am forced to deal with them, and I never knew what the purpose of each of the principal parts were. My poor brain has felt rather hazy with verbs in the last two years of Latin.

Recently the clouds parted and the sun began to shine through my brain! Yesterday I was doing a lesson on verbs with my son in The Bridge to the Latin Road. We learned the 6 verb tenses (Simple Tenses: Present, Past, Future; Perfect Tenses: Present Perfect, Past Perfect, Future Perfect) and suddenly it made sense. We did not relate them to Latin, but merely looked at the English version of the tenses. Interesting! I had thought those extra tenses were invented just for Latin! Looks like we actually use them in English! We also used that information to review his principal parts charts he had made a few weeks before. I had thought those principal parts were the only verbs we used in English. I had never really thought about how it all related. Now they are making more sense! In preparing for the rest of this week’s lesson, I learned about Progressive Verbs! Progressive Verbs? I haven’t even heard of that in Latin! Perhaps it’s coming up in a future lesson. Then we have Time Line of Verb Tenses charts to fill in. Barbara Beers thoroughly explained them on the DVD and I felt more clarity in my brain! We have a verb timeline chart in Latin, but they are not in as much detail as the ones for The Bridge to the Latin Road. Although I understood the Latin charts, The Bridge to the Latin Road has helped me to understand it much better! Here is ds filling in the Verb Tense Timeline charts today.  He is copying from my notebook on the right.

Feeling victorious with this new knowledge, I put The Bridge to the Latin Road away and pulled out LRTEG to study. I reviewed the Third Conjugation Verbs that dd and I are currently studying in LRTEG. Wait a minute! Because I have to use the four principal parts to conjugate the verbs in each of the six tenses, I got to thinking about what I had learned with my son. I saw the verbs in a whole new way! Ah, such clarity! What a beautiful thing to apply useful information! Suddenly I was having an easier time with my memory work! I was getting goose bumps!

However, the excitement does not end there! By this point, I had a glimmer of a memory. The fresh sunlight that had entered my brain had reached into a far crevice that had tucked away a bit of confusion for another day. When I first purchased How to Study Your Bible by Kay Arthur ten years ago, I was excited about deepening my Bible study. However as I read through the book, my eyes glazed over in confusion. I was determined to someday, somehow learn what she wrote about, although I had no idea how to do that. I tucked the book away in the bookcase. Yesterday as I flipped through the book, I found a section called "Tense, Voice, and Mood of Verbs." Yes, there it is, the section that sent me over the edge ten years ago...the 6 verb tenses! That’s exactly what had blown my brain away years ago! Hmmmm, I flipped to the Voice section and there is the active and passive voice which we have studied recently in LRTEG. Ahhhhh, such clarity now! Hmmmmm, middle voice? Oh, she says it’s unique to Greek construction. Well, okay, I understand that now. I didn’t when I bought this book! Next I flipped to Mood. Hmmmmm, I’ve seen this on the top of our LRTEG verb charts, which was another concept I didn't fully grasp. The Kay Arthur book is helping me to figure this out. Fascinating! Isn’t it amazing how we take things for granted in English, but Latin really makes us think?


  1. Is there a list of all the TOG Blogs in one place? I love reading yours, and would love to read others.



  2. Hi Dee! Yes, you bet there are more TOG blogs! =) Look to the right of my blog. About midway down is a list of them. It says "TOG Blogging? Join us!" There are some wonderful blogs over there that I love to frequent! Thanks for stopping by! =)


    Laurie from Teacups in the Garden

  3. This is great Laurie, and very exciting! I saw this yesterday but did not have time to read through it. I almost posted real quick to tell you that I *would* read it, but didn't even take the time for that! (it was ds's birthday). It is great to see how you are making so many connections between English, Latin, and Kay Arthur's materials! This is certainly one very important reason to study latin! Thanks for sharing this new learning you experienced. Maybe the ease with which your dc seemed to pick up on this is the difference between "young" brains and "old" brains???! I probably would still be wondering, so I'm proud of you for getting it!