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How do you tackle a Latin translation?

Top tips for tackling a translation:

Before you begin, read through twice to try and get the gist of the text- ie, the characters, the plot etc

Always carefully read the extract in English at the top- as this gives an clear indication of what the text is focusing on

Underline all the key constructions you can see– eg, ablative absolute, ‘UT’ clauses

When attempting a sentence, first find the subject, then the verb and finally the object.

Work out the cases of the subject and object, (and whether it is sing/plural) and the correct tense of the verb.

Then you can work out the case of any extra information- eg adverb/preposition/adjective. The case and sing/plural of the extra info gives an indication of what noun it goes with.

After translation, see if you can make it sound a bit more fluent

An example- the first sentence-  Germanicus omnes virtutes corporis animique habebat.

Subject- germanicus- clue in title that it is a name- it is in the 1st declension nominative case-therefore shows that it is the subject of the sentence

Verb- ‘habebat’- it has ‘bat’ therefore it is imperfect, the ‘at’ shows it is 3rd person, therefore it is linked with the subject.- ‘was possessing’

Object- need to look for something in accusative case- it is ‘virtutes’- is in plural accusative. – ‘virtues’

Then you look at the remainder of the words:

Omnes- plural accusative meaning all- therefore links to ‘virtutes’

Corporis- genitive singular- therefore- ‘to body’ or ‘of body’

Animique- ‘animi’- genitive singular- ‘of mind’ and ‘que’ is ‘and’

Put this together- all the virtues of body and mind

The whole sentence is ‘ Germanicus was possessing all the virtues of body and mind.’

Katie O. GCSE Latin tutor, 13 plus  Latin tutor, A Level Latin tutor,...

1 year ago

Answered by Katie, an A Level Latin tutor with MyTutor


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