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Grammar: Purpose and Result Clauses

Purpose and Result Clauses

In English, we have two different ways of expressing purpose clauses. Often we use an "accusative + infinitive" construction:

I want him to go to the store now.
They told me to get up and go.

But sometimes we use a "so that" construction:

He gave me the money so that I could go to the movies.
They put the newspaper on table so that somebody else could read it.

The "so that" construction for the English purpose clause shows the close relationship between purpose and result clauses in English. The words "so...that" can be used in English to express a result:

They were so scared of the dog that they ran away.
The movie was so bad that everybody wanted their money back.

In classical Latin, the word ut plus the subjunctive is used to construct both purpose clauses and result clauses. The word ne is used for negative purpose clauses, and the phrase ut non is used for negative result clauses.

Purpose. Hydromantian fecit Numa ut imagines deorum in aqua videret. Numa used hydromancy to see the images of the gods in the water.

Result. Tamdiu uixit, ut multi eum viderent. He lived such a long time that many (people) saw him.

Sequence of Tense in Purpose and Result Clauses

The tense of the subjunctive follows the rules for Sequence of Tense. Only the present subjunctive and the imperfect subjunctive used for purpose and result clauses: the present subjunctive is used for primary sequence, and the imperfect subjunctive is used for secondary sequence. So, make sure you understand the difference between primary and secondary sequence, and make sure you are familiar with the present and the imperfect subjunctive endings.

Primary Sequence. Hydromantian facit Numa ut imagines deorum in aqua videat. Numa uses hydromancy to see the images of the gods in the water.

Secondary Sequence. Hydromantian fecit Numa ut imagines deorum in aqua videret. Numa used hydromancy to see the images of the gods in the water.

Medieval Usage

In medieval Latin, the word quod replaces the use of ut + subjunctive. Note that this Latin quod looks a lot like the English "that". Sometimes this medieval Latin quod will be used with the subjunctive, and sometimes with the indicative. (Compare the non-standard English usage: "I want that he should find a job!").



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