The Sequence of Tenses


The sequence of tenses is the system which tells us all the different permutations for verbs in subordinate clauses: which tense of the subjunctive is used where. It takes a little practice, but the payoff is that it is a very strict system, with little variation across many types of Latin. If you master it you’ll be able to analyse complex sentences very precisely, and this will greatly improve your translations. Take some time to understands the basics, then it’s often useful to take out a random passage of Cicero or whoever you like. Even without translating, try to see the sequence of tenses at work, ordering all the moving parts of complex sentences in a precise way.