the marvelous variety of Perfect Stems / by Anthony Gibbins

Okay, this will be the last post for a while about Perfect Tense Verbs, I promise*. But I did think it might be of interest to compare the Present Stem and the Perfect Stem of a few Verbs, in particular those that appear on today’s page. By doing this we will see that there are numerous ways that a Perfect Stem might relate back to the Present Stem; there is no one pattern that works for all Verbs. This may not be good news, but at least if we know what we are up against we can brace for it.

But first, a quick refresher on how we find the Present and Perfect Stems of a Verb. When we look up a Verb in a dictionary we are given the Four Principal Parts; capio, capere, cepi, captum. If we take the endings off the First and Third Principal Parts we are left with the Present Stem cap- and the Perfect Stem cep- respectively. Now let’s compare the Present and Perfect Stems of each of the Verbs on today’s page, and a few more for good measure

Present Stem              Perfect Stem

cap-                            cep-                         take/took

curr-                           cucurr-                     run/ran

ru-                               ru-                           rush/rushed

conspic-                      conspex-                 catch sight of/caught sight of

sum (not a Stem)       fu-                            am/was

ambul-                        ambulav-                  walk/walked

pon-                            posu-                        place/placed

rid-                              ris-                            laugh/laughed

My advice? As you learn Latin Verbs try and learn their Perfect Forms as well. There are patterns, but some are more predictable than others. Pay attention as you go, and hopefully the patterns will begin to show themselves with time.

Jessica took the found suitcase without delay and ran out of the room. She rushed across the roof like a ghost, nor did the people catch sight of her.