William of Ockham

On Franciscan Poverty

Latin Grammar: Cum and the Subjunctive

Cum ergo pro defensione regni et iurium regni laici cum clericis, et non absque eis, sufficiant, sequitur quod privilegium huiusm odi cuiuscumque potestatis humanae in tali casu concessum papae iniquum censeri deberet.

Cum and the Subjunctive

Cum is used with the subjunctive mood to achieve three different English equivalents.

  1. To describe general circumstances and is translated "when" (unlike cum and the indicative, which describes a specific time). 
  2. To make a causative link between two statements, as seen above, and is translated "since." 
  3. To express a relationship of opposition or adversity and is translated "although."  In this third case, tamen often appears in the main clause.  Otherwise, context will help to determine which is being used. 

Translate the following sentences to practice making the distinction.

1. Cum iuvenis sim, tamen te sapientior sum.
I am young, nevertheless I am wiser than you.

2. Cum nesciam, non respondeo.
I do not know, I do not answer.

3. Cum venirem, eum vidi.
I was coming, I saw him.

4. Cum pauper sit, non potest regnare.
he is poor, he cannot rule.

5. Cum legat, non scribit.
he reads, he does not write.

6. Cum eum viderem, nihil faciebat.
I saw him, he was doing nothing.

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