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Grammar: Verbs with -sc-

You only find -sc- in the present stem of the verb; it falls out in the perfect stem. This is because -sc- is all about process, and especially the beginning of a process and then how that process unfolds. Yes, this is my sneaky way to get you to think about verbal aspect. The present stem is all about unfolding process, but the perfect stem is all about completed action (that's why the imperfect amabat is about the process of being in love, but amavit is about some act of loving that took place in the past and is finished somehow). Since the -sc- infix is all about process, it only makes sense for this infix to be used with the present stem of the verb, but for it to disappear in the perfect system.

Here are some of the verbs showing the -sc- in the present stem, and the disappearance of the -sc- in the perfect stem:

  • adolesco, adolevi: I become an adult, grow up
  • coalesco, coalui: I come together, coalesce
  • cognosco, cognovi: I come to know, I know
  • concupisco, concupivi: I long for something, desire (compare to the usual cupio)
  • convalesco, convalui: I become better, get well (root is same valeo)
  • cresco, crevi: I come forth, become visible (yes, this is where the crescent moon comes from)
  • disco, didici: I begin to learn, I learn (check out that reduplication in perfect stem)
  • decresco, decrevi: I become less, decrease
  • effervesco, efferbui: I begin to boil over, foam, bubble (Alka-Seltzer is effervescent, right?
  • erubesco, erubui: I become red, blush
  • floresco: I flower, flourish (yes, imagine your fluorescent lamps bursting into flower!)
  • incandesco, incandui: I become warm, grow hot (yes, incandescent lamps!)
  • irascor, iratus sum: I become angry, get angry
  • nanciscor, nactus sum: I come across something, stumble upon something, discover
  • nascor, natus sum: I become born, am born
  • nosco, novi: I come to know, I learn
  • oliviscor, oblitus sum: I become ignorant of, I forget
  • obsolesco, obsolevi: I grow old, wear out, become obsolescent
  • paciscor, pactus sum: I come to an agreement, reach a bargain with
  • proficiscor, profectus sum: I set out on a journey, I get a move on
  • quiesco, quievi: I grow quiet, become quiescent
  • reminiscor: I bring to mind, remember, reminisce
  • senesco, senui: I become old, get old
  • suesco, suevi: I get used to somthing (the same root as in su-us)
  • tabesco, tabui: I melt away, I waste away (nothing to do with Tabasco sauce)
  • tumesco, tumui: I begin to swell, I swell up
  • ulciscor, ultus sum: I seek vengeance, I avenge

Modern Languages 4970 / MRS 4903: Medieval Latin. Spring 2003 Online Course at the University of Oklahoma. Visit for more info.
Laura Gibbs, University of Oklahoma - Information Technology © 2003. Last updated: December 29, 2002 7:12 PM