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In grammar a supine is a form of verbal noun used in some languages.

In Latin

In Latin there are two supines, I (first) and II (second).[1] They are originally the accusative and dative or ablative forms of a verbal noun in the fourth declension, respectively. The first supine ends in -um. It has two uses. The first is with verbs of motion and indicates purpose. For example, "Gladiatores adierunt pugnatum" is Latin for "The gladiators have come to fight", and "Nuntii gratulatum et cubitum venerunt" is Latin for "The messengers came to congratulate and to sleep". The second usage is in the future passive infinitive, for example "amatum iri" means "to be about to be loved". It mostly appears in indirect statements, for example "credidit se necatum iri", meaning "he believed that he was going to be killed".

The second supine can be used with adjectives but it is rarely used and only a small number of verbs traditionally take it. It is derived from the dativus finalis, which expresses purpose, or the ablativus respectivus, which indicates in what respect. It is the same as the first supine without the final -m and with lengthened "u". "Mirabile dictū", for example, means "amazing to say", where dictū is a supine form.

In other languages

Outside of Latin, a supine is a non-finite verb form whose use resembles that of the Latin supine.

In English grammar, the term "supine" is sometimes used to refer to the to-infinitive, in sentences like "To err is human; to forgive divine."

In Estonian, the supine is called "ma-tegevusnimi" (lit. "ma-action name") because all the words in supine have "ma" in the end (as in "tegema", "jooksma", "kõndima") and they act similarly to the Latin example. In Estonian, the supine is also the common dictionary form for verbs.

In Romanian, the supine generally corresponds to an English construction like for doing; for example, "Această carte este de citit" means "This book is for reading".

The Slovene and Lower Sorbian supine is used after verbs of movement; see Slovenian verbs. The supine was used in Proto-Slavic but it was replaced in most Slavic languages by the infinitive in later periods. In Czech, the contemporary infinitive ending -t originates from the supine.[dubious ]

In Swedish, the supine is used with an auxiliary verb to produce some compound verb forms (perfect forms). See Swedish grammar.

In some dialects of Lithuanian, the supine is used with verbs of motion to indicate purpose, e. g. Moterys eina miestan duonos pirktų , which means "The women are going to the town to buy some bread" (more archaic forms are pirktun and pirktum). The standard language uses the infinitive, pirkti, in place of the supine. In the past, the supine was a more widespread form that was not restricted to just a few dialects within the language.


  1. Bennett, Charles (1918). New Latin Grammar. sec. 340. Retrieved 11 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

See also