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Oh, ablative, why must you have so many uses? And why must those uses be so difficult to distinguish sometimes? This guide should help with that problem. If it doesn't, ask someone smarter than me, or better yet, an ancient Roma-- oh, wait, they're all dead now.

PLEASE understand that there is no such thing as "ablative of place". There are two different ablatives relating to place.

1. Ablative of place where. Self-explanatory. This simply expresses the location where the action is going on.

Translates: "in noun"

Works with: Sometimes a preposition

  • Sumus in urbe - we are in the city
  • Navigat in pelagō - he sails on the sea
  • Sedet summō torō' - she sits on the highest c'ouch


2. Ablative of place from which. Expresses a location from which something travels.

Translates: "from noun"

'Works with:' Sometimes the preposition a(b), e(x), or de; other times a verb of motion or departure

  • Nobis abeundum est Karthagine - we must go away from Carthage.
  • Impera ei ut discedat ex Italiā. - order him that he should depart from Italy.


3. Ablative of respect. An ablative noun that narrows the scope of an adjective or adverb, or, in the case of the "nomine", an appositive.

Translates: "in noun"

Works with: An adjective (or adverb); an appositive (with nomine)

  • genus insuperabile bellō - the people is unconquerable in war.
  • scelere immanior - more dreadful in [his] villainy
  • parva metū primo - small in fear at first
  • Est orator nomine Cicero - There is an orator, Cicero in name

A special use of the ablative of respect is with supines:

  • mirabile dictū - marvelous to say
  • difficile lectū - difficult to read

A notable exception to the adjective/appositive rule is in the phrase "in my opinion":

  • meā sententiā tibi poenae dandae sunt - In my opinion, you must pay the penalty.


4. Ablative of means. Expresses the tool or action by which something is done. Therefore, naturally, it must always go with a verb or participle. This is usually a tangible material, though it can also be a noun of physical action (e.g. I arrived quickly by running) or something spoken (e.g. word, story, etc.).

Translates: "with noun", "by noun" (especially with gerunds and gerundives)

Works with: A verb or participle.

  • Neca eum gladiō! - Kill him with the sword!
  • Trajectum hastā - Pierced with a spear
  • Eam terrebo clamandō. - I will scare her by shouting. (Note that "shouting" is not a tangible material, but in the sentence, shouting is used to do the action of scaring, so it is still an ablative of means.)

5. Ablative of manner. Ablative of manner tells the feeling, attitude, or abstract characteristic with which an action is done. Usually an intangible thing.

Translates: "with noun" (usually), "in noun" (if talking about formation)

Works with: A verb or participle; occasionally the preposition "cum".

  • Damus ei diploma magnā cum laude. - We give him the diploma with great praise. (feeling/attitude)
  • Plausi gaudiō. - I clapped with joy. (feeling/attitude)
  • Deōs adoro magnā pietate. - I worship the gods with great piety. (abstract characteristic)

Ablative of manner is also used to describe form(ation).

  • Stemus circō, discipulī! - Let us stand in a circle, students! (i.e. in "circle formation")
  • Cucurrit per urbem fugā. - She ran through the city in flight.

6. Ablative of cause. Ablative of cause expresses FROM or BY what something is brought about. If you can substitute "because of noun" for the ablative noun and the sentence still makes sense, then it is an ablative of cause.

Translates: "from noun", "by noun"

Preposition? Usually not.

  • Lego amore legendī. - I read out of a love of reading. (it would still make sense with "because of a love")
  • Morbō gravī periit. - He died from a grave illness. (it would still make sense with "because of a grave illness")
  • Erat defessus pugnandō. - He was exhausted from fighting. (although this is an ablative gerund with a participle, this is NOT means because "fighting" was not used to tire "him" out. He was just tired because of it.)

Ablative nouns of emotion and other abstract nouns are used with passive participles and verbs to express cause:

  • irā commotus statim pugnare coepi. - Moved by anger, I began to fight at once.
  • Spē heredis adductus, Imperator filium serere conatur. - Led on by the hope of an heir, the emperor is trying to beget a son.
  • Capta amore - Captured by love


7. Ablative of separation. An ablative of separation is used with a verb or adjective of freedom, deprivation, neediness, keeping away, distance, difference, etc.

Translates: "from noun" (usually), "of noun" (if used with a verb like "deprive")

Preposition? Rarely; see "when "e/ex…"" below.

  • Oro deōs ut mē Tartarīs liberent. - I beg the gods that they should free me from Tartarus.
  • Ascanium regnō Hesperiae fraudo. - I deprive Ascanius of a kingdom of Hesperia.
  • ignavum pecus a praesepibus arcent - They keep off the lazy herd from the hives.
  • Aeneas erat egenus victū. - Aeneas was needy of food.

When "e/ex" is used with a place, but not to express motion from that place, that is ablative of separation.

  • Ex arce spectabat - She watches from the citadel.

8. Ablative with special verbs. Some verbs take ablative direct objects. Five deponent verbs that do this (almost) form the acronym PUFFY:

Potior, potiri, potitus sum - to obtain

Utor, uti, usus sum - to use

Fungor, fungi, functus sum - to perform

Fruor, frui, fructus sum - to enjoy

Vescor, vesci, - - to feed on

  • Librō fructus sum. - I enjoyed the book.
  • Scio tē utī stilō. - I know that you are using a stylus.

With the verb "dignor, -ari" (to deem worthy), the person/thing deemed worthy is simply an accusative direct object, but what the person/thing is deemed worthy of is in the ablative. The ablative word is still parsed as "ablative - special verb".

  • Judex regem dignatur morte - The judge deems the king worthy of death.
  • Trojani Ulixem odiō dignantur. - The Trojans deem Ulysses worthy of hatred.

9. Ablative of agent. Expresses by whom an action is done. It MUST BE A PERSON.

Translates: "by noun"

Preposition: a/ab.

  • Corpus Hectoris ab Achille tractum est. - The body of Hector has been dragged by Achilles.
  • In servitutem ab Imperatore coactus eram. - I had been forced into slavery by the emperor.

10. Ablative of accompaniment. Expresses that a person does something WITH another person. Ablative of accompaniment is ALWAYS used with people—never with things. It is normally used with cum.

Translates: "with noun"

Preposition: Almost always with "cum".

  • Scripsi carmina cum Maniō. - I wrote the songs with Manius.
  • Dissentio cum Marcellō. - I disagree with Marcellus.
  • Trojanī sē miscent cum Grajīs' - The Trojans mix themselves with the Greeks.

{C}11. Ablative of description. Ablative of description tells what someone or something looks like. This is a physical description.

Translates: "with noun"

Preposition? No.

  • Est femina caeruleīs oculīs. - She is a woman with blue eyes.
  • Vir cruentā aure mihi locutus est. - A man with a bloody ear spoke to me.


12. Ablative of source. Tells what something was born, descended, or otherwise biologically originated from.

Translates: "from noun"

Preposition? May use "e/ex" or "de", but does not require it.

  • O nate deā - O you, born from a goddess
  • Pegasus surrexit sanguine Medusae - Pegasus sprang from the blood of Medusa
  • Aeneas editus Venere est - Aeneas is descended from Venus


13. Ablative of comparison. Translates as "than noun" and is used with a comparative adjective or adverb to compare it to something else.

Translates: "than noun"

Preposition? No.

  • celerior ventō - swifter than the wind
  • Pallas erat junior Aeneā - Pallas was younger than Aeneas
  • nihil est terribilius bellō - nothing is more terrible than war

{C}14. Ablative with special adjective. Certain adjectives are followed by the ablative case. Write "special adjective" when it cannot fall under the category of respect, separation, or comparison.

  • dignus honore - worthy of honor

{C}15. Ablative of time when. Tells when something occurs. Usually translates as "at noun". If a number is involved, it will be ordinal (i.e. first, second, third, etc.)

Translates: depends on the noun it is used with. "at" makes more sense with "hour", whereas "on" makes more sense with "day", and "in" with "year".

Preposition? No.

  • Discedam sextā horā. - I will leave at the sixth hour.


16. Ablative of time within which. Tells within what time period something occurs or will occur. If a number is involved, it will be cardinal (i.e. one, two, three, etc.)

{C}Translates: "in noun", "within noun"

Preposition? No.



  • Tribus annīs hostis victus erat. - In three years, the enemy had been conquered.
  • Tē videbo duōbus diēbus. - I will see you in two days.

{C}17. Ablative of material. Tells what something is made from, ONLY with a preposition.

Translates: "from noun", "out of noun"

Preposition? e/ex.

  • Trojanī construerunt sedilia e marmore - The Trojans built benches from marble

{C}18. Ablative of degree of difference. Tells by how much something is different from something else, or how much more or less.

Translates: literally as "by noun", though sometimes it makes more sense to just say "noun".

Preposition? No.

  • Sitiebam, sed multō magis esuriebam. - I was thirsty, but I was much more hungry. (literally, "I was more hungry by much")
  • Sum altior quam Dido capite.' '- I am taller than Dido by a head.

Asshole ablativesEdit

Ablative of means, manner, and cause are called the asshole ablatives because they are so fucking hard to tell apart GOD DAMMIT!!!!!!!!!!!

4. Ablative of means. Expresses the tool or action by which something is done. Therefore, naturally, it must always go with a verb or participle. This is usually a tangible material, though it can also be a noun of physical action (e.g. I arrived quickly by running) or something spoken (e.g. word, story, etc.).

Translates: "with noun", "by noun" (especially with gerunds and gerundives)

Works with: A verb or participle.

  • Neca eum gladiō! - Kill him with the sword!
  • Trajectum hastā - Pierced with a spear
  • Eam terrebo clamandō. - I will scare her by shouting. (Note that "shouting" is not a tangible material, but in the sentence, shouting is used to do the action of scaring, so it is still an ablative of means.)


5. Ablative of manner. Ablative of manner tells the feeling, attitude, or abstract characteristic with which an action is done. Usually an intangible thing.

Translates: "with noun" (usually), "in noun" (if talking about formation)

Works with: A verb or participle; occasionally the preposition "cum".

  • Damus ei diploma magnā cum laude. - We give him the diploma with great praise. (feeling/attitude)
  • Plausi gaudiō. - I clapped with joy. (feeling/attitude)
  • Deōs adoro magnā pietate. - I worship the gods with great piety. (abstract characteristic)

Ablative of manner is also used to describe form(ation).

  • Stemus circō, discipulī! - Let us stand in a circle, students! (i.e. in "circle formation")
  • Cucurrit per urbem fugā. - She ran through the city in flight.


6. Ablative of cause. Ablative of cause expresses FROM or BY what something is brought about. If you can substitute "because of noun" for the ablative noun and the sentence still makes sense, then it is an ablative of cause.

Translates: "from noun", "by noun"

Preposition? Usually not.

  • Lego amore legendī. - I read out of a love of reading. (it would still make sense with "because of a love")
  • Morbō gravī periit. - He died from a grave illness. (it would still make sense with "because of a grave illness")
  • Erat defessus pugnandō. - He was exhausted from fighting. (although this is an ablative gerund with a participle, this is NOT means because "fighting" was not used to tire "him" out. He was just tired because of it.)

Ablative nouns of emotion and other abstract nouns are used with passive participles and verbs to express cause:

  • irā commotus statim pugnare coepi. - Moved by anger, I began to fight at once.
  • Spē heredis adductus, Imperator filium serere conatur. - Led on by the hope of an heir, the emperor is trying to beget a son.
  • Capta amore - Captured by love
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