Substantive Clauses of Purpose (p1)

To understand the distinction between a substantive clause and a relative clause, follow this link.

Of substantive clauses, those that take the subjunctive have two central uses:

  • To express purpose
  • To describe results

Both such clauses either take ut or (where the purpose/results are negative).

  • He warns him to avoid all suspicious activities: monet ut omnēs suspīciōnēs vītet.
  • I beg that you aid her: tē rogō ut eam iuvēs.
  • He persuades them to leave: persuādet ut abeant.
  • He orders his men not to return: suīs imperāvit nē redeant.

A few things to note in the examples above:

  • The third phrase would look identical as either a substantive clause of purpose or result. One must use context to determine whether he is in the process of persuading them to leave, or whether he has already achieved this result.
  • The verbs that take substantive clauses may also take secondary objects (I beg you; He orders them) in any case except the nominative.

Substantive Clauses of Purpose are used with a variety of verbs and verbal phrases to denote actions that have future/planned directive. Such as:

  • (id) agō, agere, ēgī, actum, I do it (so that)
  • censeō, censēre, censuī, censum, I think, suppose, judge, recommend
  • ēdīcō, ēdīcere, ēdīxī, ēdictum, I publish, decree
  • mandō, mandāre, mandāvī, mandātum, I order, command
  • precor, precārī, precātus sum, I beg, pray

In general, verbs of admonishing, asking, bargaining, commanding, decreeing, determining, permitting, persuading, resolving, urging and wishing are apt to take an ut/nē substantive clause of purpose. For a fuller list, see A&G 563 fn1.

In poetry, don’t be surprised to find an infinitive clause standing as a substitute for the substantive. There are also more common prose variations for particular verbs and verbal phrases under this general heading, which I’ll sort through in coming posts.

The Essential AG: 563

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3 comments on “Substantive Clauses of Purpose (p1)

  1. tomsky says:

    “manāvī” should be mandāvī, and “actum” should be “āctum”

    • rsmease says:

      Thanks. You’re gonna hate me for this, but I’m going to leave ‘actum’ as it stands. I feel the scholarship behind long vowels prior to double consonants is shaky, so I try to avoid them, despite conventions. Most long/short vowel conventions have been brought out by analysis of metered poetry, but because a letter prior to two consonants is always long anyway, the distinction between āctum and actum has been argued through more reaching (and less convincing) philological work.

      I realize that’s a lot of thought for one little macron, and I probably let a macron before two consonants escape my notice here and there, since I pull principal parts from the Wiktionary, which uses the standard conventions of most dictionaries and retains macrons wherever 19th century philologists thought they belonged.

      • tomsky says:

        Interesting point – I actually thought long vowels were documented somewhere in ancient dictionary-like texts. Didn’t realize they’ve been worked out indirectly.

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