well, that’s just perfect / by Anthony Gibbins

Pardon the bad pun: now, let’s take a look at the Perfect Tense. The Perfect Tense is used to describe actions that have been completed in the past (indeed, perfectus in Latin means completed). Or actions that have already occurred from the vantage point of the present. To clarify, an example of the first might be Last year I read Moby Dick. An example of the second might by Of course I have read Moby Dick. To clarify further, I didn’t and I haven’t. But, as you can see, English has a clever way of distinguishing between the two. Latin does not. Instead, the distinction must be determined by context.

So what does a Verb in the Perfect Tense look like? Well, it begins with the Perfect Stem and ends (like The Planet of the Apes) with a Perfect Ending. To find a Verb’s Perfect Stem, we can look up said Verb in a dictionary. For example, the entry for audio is audio, audire, audivi, auditum. These four Forms of the Verb are called the Four Principal Parts. The third Principal Part, audivi, is the First Person, Singular, Perfect Tense Form, I heard or I have heard. If we drop that final – i, we are left with the Perfect Stem, audiv-. Using this method, you can find the Perfect Stem of any and every Latin Verb. euge!

From there we simply add the appropriate Perfect Ending. –i for I, -isti for you, -it for he, she or it, -imus for we, -istis for you (plural) and –erunt for they. For example; audivi I heard or I have heard, audivisti you heard or you have heard, audivit he, she or it heard or he, she or it has heard, audivimus we heard or we have heard, audivistis y’all heard or y’all have heard audiverunt they heard or they have heard. It really is that easy. On today’s page we see audivi and audiverunt. Context suggests that the intended meanings are I heard and they heard respectively.

Inside, these people heard the sound of the mechanical key (wrench). ‘I heard a sound,’ the woman said to the man. ‘It behooves us to investigate.’