quid novi apud te? the Partitive Genitive / by Anthony Gibbins

When you next bump into a friend you haven’t seen for a while, why not hit him or her up with a quid novi apud te? It means, more or less, What’s new? Hyper-literally, it means something more like What of new [is there] near you? novi is a Partitive Genitive. The Genitive has many roles, the most common of which is to express Possession. But the Partitive Genitive is super useful too.

As the name suggests, the Partitive Genitive is used to indicate the larger set of which something is a part. It could be a singular set, such as pars Legonii part of Legonium or a plural set such as pars civium part of the citizens. It is handy for differentiating between, say, multa aedificia many buildings and multa aedificiorum many of the building.

The words satis enough, nimium too much and aliquid something can be used with a Partitive Genitive too. satis pecuniae enough of money, nimium pecuniae too much of money and aliquid pecuniae something of money. ego aliquid pecuniae habeo I have something of money or, in better English, I have some money.

Strangely, the word milia thousands is followed by a Partitive Genitive, but not mille a thousand. And so, we get mille aedificia a thousand buildings but sex milia aedificorum six thousand of buildings or, in better English, six thousand buildings.

Another use is with both Comparative and Superlative Adjectives. For example, Scipio est laetior duorum puerorum Scipio is the happier of the two children. Scipio est laetissimus omnium puerorum Scipio is the happiest of all the children.

And, to finish off, let’s look at the usage on today’s page; plus pecuniae more of money.

‘Ravena said that the suitcase had been full of money,’ he thinks to himself. ‘Therefore the thief – or thieves –  now has more money than formerly.’