Perhaps If You Read This…

There’s a particular distinction between fortisan and fortasse (both meaning ‘perhaps’) that isn’t intuitive.

  • Fortisan regularly take a (Potential) subjunctive, except in those rare moments of poetry, where it takes the indicative.
  • Fortasse usually takes the indicative, except in those rare moments of poetry, where it takes the subjunctive.
  • Fortasse occasionally takes an infinitive, but only in Roman Comedy
  • Perhaps you will ask what all this fuss is: forsitan quaerātis quī iste terror sit.
  • Perhaps I have acted rashly: forsitan temerē fēcerim.
  • Perhaps you will ask me what all this fuss is about: quaerēs fortasse, quī iste terror sit.
  • Perhaps that was a mistake: fortasse errāvī.

Other ‘Perhaps’ Constructions:

  • forsan, chiefly takes the indicative, though it takes both pretty evenly-handed.
  • fors, rare to begin with, it takes either the indicative or the subjunctive
  • forsit / for sit, occurs just once, in Horace, and takes the subjunctive
  • fortassis, rare and takes the indicative
  • fortasse an (note the switch) is rare and takes the subjunctive (whereas fortasse is usually with the indicative)

The Essential AG: 447a-b

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