Chapter I: Familia      Back to Chapter 1 contents

Present Tense Verbs, Part 1

Latin verbs, like English verbs, have tense. Tense refers to the time when a verb hapens. In both Latin and English, we say that verbs that happen now are in the present tense.

Latin verbs also have person and number. The person of a verb is either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, depending on who is speaking and who is performing the action described by the verb.Number is either singular or plural, depending on how many people are performing the action.

This chart summarizes the ideas of person and number:



1st person

speaker is doing the action

I love

we love

2nd person

the person the speaker is talking to does the action

you love

y’all love

3rd person

the person the speaker is talking about does the action

he, she, it loves

they love

In Latin, the person and number of a verb are shown by endings. These are called personal endings.



1st person

ō or m*


2nd person



3rd person



* For now, we will only be using the ō ending for 1st person.

Using these endings, the verb habitō meaning “to live” can have the following forms in the present tense:



1st person


I live


we live

2nd person


you live


y’all live

3rd person


he, she, it lives


they live

These are formed using the first and second principle parts of the verb. Every verb in Latin has principle parts, and they are listed in the vocabulary. For instance, this chapter has the following verbs in the vocabulary list:

amō -āre ← this means that the first two principle parts are amō and amāre

habitō -āre ← this means that the first two principle parts are habitō and habitāre [1]

The first principle part is the 1st person singular. As you see in the chart above, habitō is the first principle part and is also the word that means “I live” when translated. By removing the re from the second principle part and adding the endings, we can form the other persons and numbers.

[1] Although you won’t need the 3rd and 4th principle parts of these verbs until later, it’s worth noting that verbs whose 2nd principle parts end in -āre have third and fourth principle parts ending in -āvī and -ātus. So, for example, the principle parts of amō are amō, amāre, amāvī, and amātus.