The Irregular Verb Sum

The most notoriously irregular verb in any language is the verb “to be.” Just look at how unpredictable it is in English: I “am,” you “are,” he “is” … with past tense forms “was” and “were,” not to mention having “been” for a participle!

Latin's version of this verb with an identity crisis is sum, esse, fuī, futū rus. It may have weird principle parts and a strange-looking perfect stem, but it follows the rules for perfect tense conjugation.

Table 4-8 Perfect Tense of the Verb sum (to Be)

Person

Singular

Plural

First

fuī (I have been or was)

fuimus (we were)

Second

fuistī (you have been or were)

fuistis (you were)

Third

fuit (he/she/it has been or was)

fuē runt (they were)

The imperfect forms of sum, however, do not.

Table 4-9 Imperfect Tense of the Verb sum (to Be)

Person

Singular

Plural

First

eram (I was)

erā mus (we were)

Second

erās (you were)

erā tis (you were)

Third

erat (he/she/it was)

erant (they were)

Latin-to-English Translations

Translate each of the following Latin words into English.

  • accē

  • amā bās

  • pit

  • dabā mus

  • bat

  • erant

  • cimus

  • fuē runt

  • agē bam

  • habuistis

English-to-Latin Translations

  • she used to love

  • you (plural) have given

  • he was (and maybe still is)

  • he was (and isn't anymore)

  • I did

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