Cooking Dinner – A Grammatical Commentary / by Anthony Gibbins

Today’s page has four sentences. The bare bones of the first sentence are cenam parabat she began to prepare dinner. The subject is not stated, but the end of the Verb tells us that it is either he, she or it. In Latin, if a subject is unstated like this, we maintain the subject from the previous sentence, the shopkeeper. sibi is in the Dative case and tells us for whom she was preparing dinner. This is the Reflexive Pronoun, meaning that it refers back to the subject, for herself. mox soon is an Adverb telling us when this took place. in maeniano on the balcony is a Prepositional Phrase telling us where.

Soon she began to prepare dinner for herself on the balcony.

The bare bones of the second sentence are ea coquere mavult she prefers to cook. The Pronoun ea she need not have been included here. nam for links this sentence with what has gone before, indicating that an explanation or further detail is about to be given. sub caelo beneath the sky is a Prepositional Phrase telling us where the shopkeeper prefers to cook. This is emphasised by the Adverb foris which means outside.

For she prefers to cook outside under the sky.

The bare bones of the third sentence are sibi cogitabat she was thinking to herself. Once again, the Subject of the Verb can be assumed from the previous sentence to be the shopkeeper. Notice the similar (and yet different) use of the Reflexive Pronoun sibi. The bare bones of what she was thinking are oppidum est locus the town is a place. oppidum is described by hoc thislocus is described by tam amoenus. amoenus means pleasant or delightful. tam is an Adverb meaning so or such, strengthening amoenus.

‘This town is such a pleasant place,’ she was thinking to herself.

The forth sentence contains a wish that is contrary to reality. utinam is an unusual word, in that it cannot be translated into English. Instead, it works with a Subjunctive Verb to indicate that a hope or wish is being expressed. When that Subjunctive Verb is in the Imperfect Tense, as is possem, it indicates that the wish is contrary to fact. I would understand utinam possem as something like if only I was able. manere to remain is an Infinitive Verb completing possem. hic is an Adverb meaning here.

‘If only I was able to remain here.’