Infinitives and Infinitive Clauses Grammar Index Page

Indirect Statements

A popular use for infinitives is in a grammatical construction called an indirect statment.

First, think of what a direct statement is: Puer librum portat. The boy carries a book. This is a simple and direct comment.

When one introduces the direct statement with a clause - such as Caesar dixit, Marcus scit, Cornelius putat or Aurelia vidit - the phrase . . . that the boy carries a book is written differently. Boy is written as an accusative and carry as an infinitive:

Caesar dixit puerum librum portare   Caesar said that the boy carried a book
Marcus scit puerum librum portare   Marcys knows that the boy carries a book.
Cornelius putat puerum librum portare   Cornelius thinks that the boy carries a book.
Aurelia vidit puerum librum portare   Aurelia saw that the boy carried a book.

Note the introductory verbs dixit, scit, putat, vidit.

These belong to categories of dixit - verb of saying, scit - verb of knowing, putat - verb of thinking and vidit - verb of perceiving.

Note the various translations of the infinitive. It carries the same tense as the introductory verb of saying, knowing, thinking or perceiving when the infinitive is in the present tense.

The rule:
Verbs of saying, knowing, thinking and perceiving are followed by an infinitive, the subject of which is in the accusative case.

Practice Exercise

Translate the following indirect statements into English.

  1. Eucleides dicit ludum optimum esse.
  2. Scio Cornelium esse senatorem Romanum.
  3. Scimus Corneliam puellam Romanam esse.
  4. Puto Sextum puerum temerarium esse.
  5. Audivi Corneliam ad tabernam ire.
  6. Video viam longam esse.
  7. Putavimus servos in agris laborare.
  8. Audiebat servos in culina clamorare.
  9. Credo Aureliam in urbem descendere.
  10. Dixerunt Marcus dormire.

Answer Key - Check your work

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