Greetings and Farewells

  • As in every other language, Latin conversations typically begin with simple greetings. When you greet another person and want to wish them well, you say: “Salvē,” or “Salvēte” if you are greeting more than one person.

Why do salvē and salvēte look different? They are both imperative forms of the verb salveō, (“I am well”), with the former being in the singular and the latter in the plural. By greeting someone with this verb, you are, in a way, commanding them to be well!

  • You now know how to begin a conversation, but how do you keep it going? Ask the other person how they are doing, of course! One way to ask is:

Quōmodo tē habēs?

  • Translated literally, this means “How do you hold yourself?” There are numerous answers that can be given to this simple question, all of which make use of an adverb.
Response in LatinTranslation
Bene mē habeō.I am doing well.
Male mē habeō.I am doing badly.
Optimē mē habeō.I am doing great.
Pessimē mē habeō.I am doing terribly.
Rectē mē habeō.I am doing just fine
  • A more informal way of asking the same question is to ask “Quid novī”, or, “What’s new?” One response here is “Nihil novī,” or, “Nothing new.”
  • If you are meeting someone for the first time and do not know their name, you will need to know how to ask! To do so, simply say:

Quid nōmen tibi est?

  • This translates as “What is your name,” or more literally as “What is the name to you?” If you want to know someone else’s name, ask the same question, but with (“his, her, their”) instead of tibi: “Quid nōmen eī est?

Both tibi and are in the dative case, but they are different pronouns. The first tibi refers to the second person singular, or “you,” while the latter refers to the third person singular, or “he/she/it.” This is an instance of the dative of possession.

  • If someone asks you more directly who you are, they might ask “Quis es tū?” When asking about someone else, they would ask “Quis est?” When asked who you are, you would respond “Ego sum,” (“I am,”). When asked about someone else, you could respond “Is/ea est”, (“He/she is,”). If you simply do not know who someone is, all you need to say is “Nesciō,” (“I don’t know,”).
  • If you began a conversation with salvē or with salvēte, you can end it with valē or valēte. Once again, the former being is used for saying goodbye to one person, and the latter for more than one person.