William of Ockham

On God's Power

Latin Grammar: Accusative and ablative in expressions of time and space

Praetera Deus potest suspendere inflictionem illius poenae pro peccato usque ad certum tempus, manifestum est, sine omni infusione gratiae; igitur eadem ratione potest suspendere inflictionem illius poenae in perpetuum absque hoc quod infundat aliquam gratiam, et per consequens potest remittere culpam sine gratiae infusione.

Just like the accusative can be used to express an extent of space, it can be used in the same way, with many of the same prepositions, to talk about time. So above Ockham uses usque ad certum tempus, "up to a certain time," just as he might say usque ad limen, "up to the doorstep." The accusative with in and an expression of time means an activity is specified for a particular time: suspendere inflictionem illius poenae in perpetuum, "to suspend infliction of that punishment for ever."

The ablative also does the same job with time that it does with space. The ablative tells you where (exactly) something happened, and likewise it tells you when (exactly) something happened. A related use is the ablative of "time within which": in viginti diebus, "within twenty days."

Exercise: Enter the correct form of the time expression to match the translation given.

1. in (certa dies) "for a certain day"

2. (certa dies) "on a certain day"

3. (viginti dies) "for twenty days"

4. per (viginti dies) "for twenty days"

5. in (certum tempus) "within a certain time"

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