We took a brief look at Latin verbs here in the introductory grammar note. You can find tables of regular verbs in the resources section. Now we’ll look at a class of verbs that is too large to be called irregular, but which can cause difficulties. These are the deponent verbs.

The essence of deponent verbs are passive in form but active in meaning. The verbs themselves decline like regular passive verbs, and they are spread across the four declensions. The danger is that we will see the passive endings and assume the verb has a passive meaning. The way to avoid this is simply to know the main deponent verbs. The voracious reader will encounter thirty or so. Half can be learned in context. About fifteen are very common, and you will save time by learning them in advance.

Watch out especially for the participles, where the normal deponent rule of passive form and active meaning is not always followed. The present and future participles of a deponent verb are active in both form and meaning (so hortans, hortaturus etc.). The perfect participle, however, sticks to the deponent rule. These will, contrary to what you’ve learnt for regular verbs, be active (so secutus means “having followed,” not “having been followed”). Lastly for now, the imperative form of a deponent verb can look confusingly like an infinitive (sequere means “follow,” not “to follow.” Study the forms of passive verbs, learn the fifteen verbs on the next page, and don’t be fooled.