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When do I use the ‘ne + subjunctive’ construction with verbs of fearing?

If in English you can insert the word ‘that’ after the verb of fearing, then Latin uses the ne + subjunctive construction. As in, if your fearing verb introduces a clause with its own verb, you’ll use ne + subjunctive.

For example:

timeo ne hostes mox adveniant.

I fear (that) the enemy may arrive soon.

The tense of the subjunctive follows the sequence of tenses:

Primary Sequence

Referring to the present or the future: present subjunctive

Referring to the past: perfect subjunctive

Historic Sequence

Referring to the same or a later time: imperfect subjunctive

Referring to something that has already happened: pluperfect subjunctive

vereor ne illa me videat.

I am afraid that she will see me.

metuebam ne illa me videret.

I was afraid that she would see me.

The negative of ne is formed by ne + a negative adverb, or ut.

timui ne mihi auxilium non ferres.

I was afraid that you would not bring me help.

timebant ut inveniretur.

He was afraid that he might not be found.

The ne + subjunctive is also used when fear is implied rather than stated: ‘there is a danger that x will happen’, ‘I did x to avoid y.’ For example:

periculum est ne soror tua serius adveniat.

There is a danger that your sister will arrive too late.

Francine B. 13 plus  Latin tutor, A Level Latin tutor, GCSE Latin tut...

12 months ago

Answered by Francine, who tutored A Level Latin with MyTutor


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