Language Learners' Library

In urbem/oppidum navigamus would be quite correct, yes. You’re also right about “They are sailing us to Rome/the city”. I wouldn’t worry too much about the opposition of oppidum vs. urbs. Urbs can mean Rome, like when Cicero says “I was out ouf town for the past six months”, but it can also be any other important city, such as Alexandria, or Carthago. While oppidum gives a statement about a town’s structures (i.e., it’s got walls. “There are 28 oppida within the area of the Helvetii and 64 vici (villages)”), urbs gives a statement about its importance (i.e. it’s a capital or metropolis; which implies that the speaker knows the settlement in question). Other settlements are municipium, colonia, civitas, depending on the legal status of their inhabitants within the Roman state and what kind of buildings one might expect there. A civitas is likely to have a bishop in christian times, for example. The whole thing is a bit like the english city/town-distinction wich is very unintuitive to non-anglos.

The pure accusative without preposition do indicate direction is either poetic or restricted to the proper names of cities and the words domus, rus (countryside), and maybe urbs You will find that in your grammar. Oppidum navigamus sound like you are sailors and your cargo is literally the city fortifications and buildings.

Here’s an online grammar that should work quite well for you. Look up the Accusative in the section Syntax.

Yeah, take time for the translation.

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Marcus in standing in the market. He is looking for Cornelia. But she has been delayed. Look, he sees Titus. He calls out “Oh, Titus! Where is Cornelia?”
Titus responds “Cornelia is at home sick. I pass you this message, so that I can respond to her whilst she is unwell.”
“Thank you, Titus,” says Marcus. “Let’s go to the Colosseum. Cornelia should have been taking hot baths, but I will gladly go to the games with you.”

Well, I got a story that made sense to me at least.



Very good! But not quite. Look again at Me tibi misit and so on. The subject to misit is Cornelia herself. The last sentence is a statement about what Marcus would do if he were with Cornelia, but now that Titus is here, he’ll change plans.

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Fantastic, well, an oppidum becomes all these other things once it’s incorporated into an organised Res Publica.

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Vocabulary Challenge: Label the Animals

Put your answer in a spoiler tag to save space.

bugcat's Latin translation, with plurals

ayaros's Japanese translation, with kanji, kana and Romaji

Vacha, nuorsa, chavra, püerch, giallina, anatra, giat, chan, louv, vuolp, aviöl, furmicla, pesch, rana, schimgia.


You speak Romansch? Cool! Fun to see those sound changes.

Hai, scha tü sasch francês ed ün païn talian esi fich simpel…


The Japanese sentence explained:

watashitachi wa kooshi ni mukattaimasu.
We are sailing to the city.

Japanese Kana Romaji Explanation
私たち わたしたち watashitachi we
wa (p.) topic/subject (actually ha but pronounced wa)
港市 こう・し kooshi city (specifically with a port / arbour)
ni (p.) follows a word indicating a place where s.o./s.t. moves
向かっています むかっています mukatteimasu sailing

(p.) stands for particle.

For the world city, I chose port city that is not exactly what Simple Sentence of the day states.

The verb 向かう (mukau) is an U verb. So, first, I have transformed it into TE-form 向かって (mukatte) as intermediate step before to obtain the progressive form (sail-ing) adding ~いる (a RU-verb). Afterward, I obtained from the RU-verb obtained in that way the polite form changing ~いる into ~います as for any RU-verb.

To better visualize it:

向か・う mukau (verb inf.)
向か・って mukatte (TE-form of the verb)
向か・って・いる mukatteiru (progressive form; also act like a normal RU-verb)
向か・って・います mukatteimasu (polite form of the RU-verb)

with the practice, this shall be done in a while for any U-verb :sweat_smile:.

向かう meaning is ‘to go towards’, ‘to head towards’.
To say “sailing” one of the choice can be to use:

  • 航海 (‘sail’, ‘voyage’) and use the SURU-verb form 航海する (こう・かい・する)(kookai suru).
  • The TE-form of a SURU-verb (an irregular verb) is 航海して (こう・かい・して)(kookai shite).
  • The progressive form is obtained adding 〜いる 航海している (こう・かい・している)(kookai shite iru) where often the い is omitted as in 航海してる (こう・かい・してる)(kookai shite ru).
  • The polite form would be 航海しています (こう・かい・しています)(kookai shite imasu).

Welcome back c: I was worried this thread was turning into Double Latin

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I hope it won’t turn into a Babele :sweat_smile:


You inspired me to make a proper breakdown of my sentence as well.

We are sailing to the city.
In oppidum nāvigāmus.

Latin Explanation
in Latin in covers both the English prepositions in and on. It also has some grammatical uses that I’m still getting to grips with, and this sentence employs one of them. Here it’s being used to indicate direction towards, to, or into a place.
oppidum An oppidum was a fortified town. As Sanonius said, urbs, mūnicipium, colōnia, and cīvitās could also have been used in various contexts. The word is in the accusative case, apparently because that’s just how it’s done when you use it in this grammatical structure. Oppidum is explicitly singular (its plural is oppida). In Latin there was no linguistic distinction between definite nouns (“the city”) and indefinite nouns (“a city”).
nāvigāmus The root of this word is nāvigō (to sail.) It derives from nāvis (ship). In Latin a verb can be conjugated to show person (first, second, third), pluralism, and over twenty tenses. Thus each verb can presumably accept over a hundred conjugations, making it extremely expressive. Therefore Latin rarely requires pronouns to be used. There are four conjugation patterns. Nāvigō is in the first conjugation, which is described at We want the first-person plural form of the active indicative tense, which is nāvigāmus.

PS. In Volapük, the first popular constructed language, verbs could be inflected in 1,584 ways.

How about a linguistic comparison table?

Language Number of noun inflections Number of verb conjugations
English 2 (singular and plural) 3 (eg. sail, -ed, -ing) – also the remnants of an ablaut system
Latin 12 (nom. s. & pl., acc. s. & pl., gen. s. & p., dat. s. & pl., abl. s & pl., voc. s & pl.)* Over 100(?) Verbs can express person, pluralism, and tense

(*) In practice many of these are the same, eg. the vocative usually mirrors the nominative.

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no, just て form is not “-ing”
ている is
and ています is polite form of ている

just て is used to tell someone to do something or to list events


Those are just the kind of corrections I’m looking for.
It was not clear to me if Te-form transformation is required before using ている for progressive.
If I understood well there is another step. If not please correct me.

向か・う mukau (verb inf.)
向か・って mukatte (TE-form of the verb)
向か・って・いる mukatteiru (progressive form, becomes a RU-verb)
向か・って・います mukatteimasu (polite form of the RU-verb)

Or instead the Te-form is not required and does it is possible to transform any verb directly into progressive with ている?

EDIT: the answer is yes. I finally found a section of the Tae Kim grammar where this is explained clearly. The TE-form transformation is only the first step required to add ~いる and transform the verb into a RU-verb. So ~ている (one of the forms of progressive) requires - for the U-verb 向かう (“to sail”) - the transformations steps reported in the table above.

PS: I’m just using this post as an excuse to study Japanese (including errors and corrections). :nerd_face:

EDIT 2 in another grammar (A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar, mentioned) is written:

When TE-verb is a motion verb such as iku ‘go’, kuru ‘come’ and kaeru ‘return’, the meaning of TE-verb ~iru is not ‘be ~ing’. For example, itte iru means ‘to have gone to some place and to still be there’. The following sentences provide examples:

  • 次郎はアメリカに行っている。
    Jiroo wa Amerika ni itte iru.
    Jiro has gone to America and is there.

  • ベックさんはもう家に帰っています。
    Bekku-san wa moo ie ni kaette imasu.
    Mr. Beck has already returned home and is there.

So, following this rule, since ‘to sail’ is a motion verb the rule should apply as well. Consequently, the original sentence should be translated:

  • 私たちは港市に向かっています。
    watashitachi wa kooshi ni mukatta imasu.
    We have sailed to the city (and we are still there).

I’m a little bit confused now.
Probably sailing is not properly a motion verb but a way in which we reached the city.
Can someone more expert than me clarify?

ANSWER (thanks to @Vsotvep):
向かう is not a motion verb, but it expresses a state-of-being, namely the state of being on your way somewhere.

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て+いる is one of ways to tell about ongoing event, it can be shortened to てる
there is also (verb -> い form)+ながら - while doing, something also happens
japanese verbs can have a lot of endings at the same time, some parts are added, some are replaced

Russian is easier

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Oh my god!.. are you trying to discourage me? :exploding_head:

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People afraid of Russian language because we have complex word ending system
Also people afraid of hieroglyphs in Japanese, but behind that fear they miss that Japanese also has complex word ending system

だ - (translation) is / are
じゃありませんでした - is + negative + polite + past - (translation) wasn’t

in Russian word endings always short and only replace each other (that’s why there are many)

in Japanese there are replacement AND adding
there is also infinity list of endings in dictionary that are not fit in any general rule

So you are confirming that Japanese is harder than Russian! :cold_face:

Have you seen the EDIT 2 in the previous post?
Any idea on how to deal with what I found in the grammar?

I’m 20 kyu at NihonGo, no idea
(‘Nihon’ - that’s how Japanese people themselves call Japan, ‘Go’ - language)