Latin verbs are inflected based on many different factors. For the purposes of translating genealogical documents, the most important factors are the person and number of the subject of the verb. Tense is also important (whether the action happens in the past, present, future, etc.), but parish records are usually written in the past tense. There is also an important category called voice, which has two options, active voice or passive voice. Voice also causes the verb to have different endings. All of these categories are described below.
Like Latin nouns and adjectives, verbs are inflected by changing their endings. However, unlike nouns and adjectives, they have several possible stems to attach the endings to. These stems come from the different principal parts of the verb. All regular verbs have four principal parts. For example, the four principal parts of the Latin word for “baptize” are baptizo, baptizare, baptizavi, baptizatum.
The stem that the verb uses depends on the tense and voice of the verb:
Perfect tense verbs in the active voice use the third principal part, baptizavi.
Perfect tense verbs in the passive voice use the fourth principal part, baptizatum.
The stem for perfect active verbs is the third principal part minus the -i. For example, the stem formed from baptizavi is baptizav-. The endings are added onto this.
|First Person||Baptizavi ("I baptized")|
|Third Person||Baptizavit ("he/she/it baptized")||Baptizaverunt ("they baptized")|
Perfect passive verbs are formed a bit differently. Instead of just adding endings onto a stem, a perfect passive verb is made up of the fourth principal part and a being verb.
A perfect passive verb uses the fourth principal part of the verb. For the word “baptize,” this principal part is baptizatus/-a/-um.
When the four principal parts of a verb are written out, the fourth is usually written with only the singular masculine or neuter ending (i.e. baptizo, baptizare, baptizavi, baptizatus; or baptizo, baptizare, baptizavi, baptizatum), but it can be inflected like an adjective: changing to masculine, feminine, or neuter and singular or plural to match the gender and number of the noun paired with the verb.
For example, for “She was baptized,” it would be written as baptizata, a feminine singular ending.
For “He was baptized,” it would be baptizatus.
For “They were baptized,” it would be baptizati or baptizatae (-ae ending is less common).
In addition to the fourth principal part, the perfect passive verb is made up of a being verb that complements the subject of the verb. In correctly formed perfect passive verbs, the present tense being verb is used.
|First Person||Sum ("I am")|
|Third Person||Est ("she/he/it is")||Sunt ("they are")|
These two components, the fourth principal part and the being verb, are combined to form the perfect passive verb.
|First Person||Baptizatus/-a sum ("I was baptized," masc. or fem. based on the gender of "I")|
|Third Person||Baptizatus/-a est (he/she was baptized)||Baptizati/-ae sunt ("they were baptized," masc. or fem. based on the gender of "they")|
Although it is the most proper to use the present tense being verb to create the perfect passive verb, sometimes other tenses of the verb are used, including the perfect tense and the imperfect tense.
|First Person||Fui ("I was")|
|Third Person||Fuit ("he/she/it was")||Fuerunt ("they were")|
|First Person||Eram ("I was being")|
|Third Person||Erat ("he/she/it was being")||Erant ("they were being")|
Overall, examples of the possible forms of the perfect passive verb are these:
Baptizatus/-a sum/fui/eram (“I was baptized”)
Baptizatus/-a est/fuit/erat (“He/she was baptized”)
Baptizati/-ae sunt/fuerunt/erant (“They were baptized”)