Thomas Aquinas

On Alchemy

Latin Grammar: Ablative of Agent

Aliquando autem fit per naturam transmutatio aquae sine solutione speciei, et hoc tam per alterationem, sicut patet de aqua calefacta a sole.

Ablative of Agent

With passive verbs, the agent is regularly expressed by the preposition a, ab followed by the ablative.  The ablative of agent is generally a person, although, as we see above, it can also be an thing.  Using an object in the ablative of agent construction can personify that object as the one performing the action. 

The ablative of means looks like the ablative of agent but it does not have a preposition.  It expresses the way in which something is accomplished, such as the instrument used to do something. 

Translate the following English sentences into Latin. Pay careful attention to when an ablative of agent should be used and when an ablative of means, or instrument, should be used.

1. He was killed by the enemy.
interfectus est.

2. He was killed by a sword.
interfectus est.

3. He was praised by the multitude.
laudatus est.

4. He was praised by shouts.
laudatus est.

5. It was done by wisdom.
factum est.

6. It was done by my hand.
factum est.

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