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anoop66's avatar

How hard is it to learn Latin?

Asked by anoop66 (899points) July 13th, 2010

I currently know English, Hindi, Punjabi and Bengali. I am interested in learning Latin. I don’t care much about speaking in Latin. I just want to be able to read and understand the language.

I don’t have time to attend language classes right now. Can anyone suggest a free online site to do that, if it’s a manageable task.


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25 Answers

bob_'s avatar

It’s hard, particularly because you don’t get to practice much. Not a lot of TV shows are in Latin these days.

anoop66's avatar

@bob_ LOL I know. It’s barely in use these days. So, it’s a lot of effort even to have sufficient knowledge of reading in the language, huh?

bob_'s avatar

@anoop66 Yes. Is there a particular reason you’d like to learn it? In my experience, practice is the key factor in mastering a language. If you don’t have time for classes, maybe you should try something else.

anoop66's avatar

@bob_ I was thinking of going through some latin phrases or quotes in the beginning and maybe something advanced later..

fundevogel's avatar

As I understand it the grammar is completely consistent and logical so at least you wouldn’t have to learn all the weird exceptions a lot of other languages have.

Ltryptophan's avatar

I think it depends on you. For me it was appealing because it was more like learning math than a language.

anoop66's avatar

@Ltryptophan can you please tell me more about your learning experience? I’d appreciate that

seekingwolf's avatar

Latin person here. I’ve taken it for 8+ years in middle school, all in high school, AND in college.

I find it easy to learn because the grammar is pretty logical. Not too many irregulars. The vocab may trip you up but it’s a very rewarding language to learn. It helps me tons everyday.

let me know if you need any advice. :)

Ltryptophan's avatar

I took 4 years of it in college. I struggled some from not studying at first, and then when I got punished for it I hunkered down and learned carefully and painstakingly. It is rewarding I find to learn any language, but the authors that you will run into and their own words as they said them will really inspire you and add scope to your life.

It is rote memorization. Then it becomes second nature. You will lose it if you do not hone it once it is mastered. Maybe if you have a specific question I can answer it better.

anoop66's avatar

@seekingwolf So, can it be done as a hobby if I spend 6–7 hours per week? I don’t want to master the language. Just be good enough to read through elementary texts

Seek's avatar

This is funny because it’s so true.

Austinlad's avatar

Fides mihi , is est non securus!

DominicX's avatar

It’s not hard. I took it for four years in high school and breezed through it and am now studying it even more in college. What makes it hard is the fact that people expect it to be exactly like Italian or other Romance languages, when it really isn’t. Sure, the vocabulary is similar (and the vocabulary can help with understanding English words), but the grammar is quite different, especially when it comes to noun cases and complex verb conjugations.

seekingwolf's avatar


Yes, 6–7 hours a week should be enough. Work on grammar first and always set time off to the side to make flash cards to learn the vocab. Work on both at the same time and you’ll get better and better.

The elementary stuff is quite easy when you have studied Latin for a bit. You’ll get the hang of it as long as you study around 1 hour a day at least.

Just finished Lucretius myself…tough stuff but worth the read. :)

GeorgeGee's avatar

The common wisdom is that it is easier than Latin-derived languages such as Spanish, French and Italian, since there isn’t really (much of) a spoken component to learning Latin. After years learning Spanish I had no trouble following a Latin commencement speech.

DominicX's avatar

Yeah, that’s a big part of it, not having to speak it. Makes learning a language a lot easier if you’re not aiming for fluency. I was actually a little disappointed when I found out we wouldn’t be learning how to speak it, but it does make it easier.

By the way, as funny as this may sound, the book I read before freshman year in high school to get ahead in Latin was Latin for Dummies. It’s good for getting into the basics.

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gailcalled's avatar

I loved learning Latin. It is really scut work; memorize the lesson of the day. And you never have to worry about speaking or understanding (unless you are in seminary).

Knowing Latin has helped me all my life. It makes learning the Romance languages much easier and also makes understand English simpler.

GracieT's avatar

I’ve taken two years in high school and three quarters of Latin in college. It is extremely easy to learn because of how
orderly and logical it is. There
are words that if you know the meaning in English help to
show the meaning in Latin (I
think that the word for this is

is cognate, but I actually forget
if it is! :) ) Just get a college
text book. Latin is a language
that you can teach yourself.

gailcalled's avatar

“Cognate” is from the Latin “co natus:“together born. (Nativity, natal, Feliz navidad)

TexasDude's avatar

It’s not that hard. The grammar is oftentimes pretty arbitrary and there is alot of wiggle room.

Plus, English uses a lot of Latin words and Latin-based words, so you already have a foundation, you just have to tap into it.

YARNLADY's avatar

Some people, like me, are just lost when it comes to language. People say there are root words in common and such, but to me every word is an entity in and of itself, and I have to really parse the word to see it’s ‘root’, and even then I can’t usually see it without some one’s help.

Fenris's avatar

Latin will be a very easy language if you can conjugate. It has its exceptions, but it is a very orderly language. If inflection or conjugation are something that throw you off (and I’ve been speaking English 20 years and still get some native inflection wrong), then Latin will be HELL ON EARTH. The only reason I passed my high school Latin course is because I already have a background in composition, which extends understanding of English’s Germanic, Latin, Greek, Sanskrit and Scandinavian roots.

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GracieT's avatar

@YARNLADY, Latin is SO easy to learn- All you need to know is that once you learn the endings for a declension and a conjugation all you need is to know which ending to use in which situation. Most words would use the same endings in that use as long as they are members of that conjugation or declension. (I’m sorry if I misspoke in any way- it has been almost 20 years since I took any Latin course, and my memory is not THAT good!)
There are a few irregularities, but they are few, and when you learn them, you learn in which ways and how to use them.

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