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Future Participle

Watch this to appreciate the Future Participle ( and why your teenage self might be bad at predicting the future)

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Who hasn't fantasised about a glorious, rewarding, successful future?

“Once I am done with the studies, I'll become a great surgeon, or scientist, or engineer…maybe a football manager or a politician!”

Well, my teenage dreams were just a bit too numerous and unrealistic to be listed here, but they had one thing in common: they all described things that hadn’t happened yet, and might not happen at all, and so were all conjugated in the future tense.

Just like us, the ancient Romans, too, used the future tense to express their wishes, dreams and ambitions. In order to do so, they would, most frequently, employ the participle of a given verb and conjugate it in the future tense.
This is how the future participle was first created: let's see how it works in context.

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Let's analyse the following sentence: “Caesar is going to attack the enemies”.
The verb “is going to attack” refers to an action that has not yet occurred, this is an action – rather – that will happen in the future. To convey this idea of futurity, Latin recurs to a specific set of endings. Can you spot any similarities between these examples: Caesar locuturus est (“Caesar is going to speak”); Caesar missurus est (“Caesar is going to dispatch”) Caesar laudaturus est (“Caesar is going to praise”). Yes, these are all made of three elements, yes: the subject is always Caesar and yes: est is used in each sentence. But there is more: those three words which clearly resemble a verb (locuturus, from loquor missurus, from mitto and laudaturus, from laudo) all present the same -urus ending.

The -urus ending turns what would be a past participle (laudat-us) into a future participle (laudat-urus). But, if laudatus means “having being praised”, how should we translate laudaturus? Well, it can no longer be translated as a past nor as a passive verb, but rather as future and active. Thus, the correct translation of Caesar laudaturus est is “Caesar is going to praise”. “Is going to praise”? “Will be praising”? “Is about to praise”? Any of these translations would be absolutely correct. The English language, in fact, provides us with a variety of ways to express a future tense all of which are fine, provided that the idea of futurity clearly transpires.

Just like the past participle, the future participle, too, employs the endings of the 2nd declension nouns. So, how should we translate our original sentence: “Caesar is going to attack the enemies”? Well, that would be: Caesar impetum in hostes facturus est. What if I altered the sentence slightly into “I saw Caesar who was going to attack the enemies”? In my new sentence, Caesar is no longer in the nominative, but rather in the accusative case. It is I myself who saw him, not Caesar seeing himself! Therefore, my Latin translation would be: Caesarem in hostes impetum facturum vidi. Why fact-urum? Well, it is still a future participle, but in a case – masculine accusative singular – which reflects the case, gender and number of Caesarem, the word it describes.

The future tense allows us to express our intentions goals and aspirations.

The ancient Romans, over two thousands years ago, showed us the importance and vast applicability of this most useful verbal tense.

…they showed us how to say what we might do with our lives.

Knowing how the future participle works in Latin might not help you fulfill your teenage dreams, but it will go a long way in helping you achieve an excellent mark in your SQA Latin translation exam.

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Thanks for watching.