Proto-Italic language

The Proto-Italic language is the ancestor of the Italic languages, including notably Latin and thus its descendants, the Romance languages. It is not directly attested in writing, but has been reconstructed to some degree through the comparative method. Proto-Italic descended from the earlier Proto-Indo-European language.



Proto-Italic consonants
Bilabial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Labial–velar
Nasal m n (ŋ)
Plosive p  b t  d k  ɡ   ɡʷ
Fricative ɸ  (β) θ?  ð? s  (z) x  (ɣ) ?  ɣʷ?
Trill r
Approximant j w
Lateral l
  • [ŋ] was an allophone of /n/ before a velar consonant.
  • The voiced fricatives [β], [ð], [ɣ], [ɣʷ] and [z] were in complementary distribution with word-initial voiceless fricatives [ɸ], [θ], [x], [xʷ] and [s], and were thus originally simply allophones of each other. However, at some point in the Proto-Italic period, the allophony was somewhat disrupted by the loss of the voiceless allophones [xʷ] and [θ], which merged with [ɸ]. Scholars disagree on whether to reconstruct Proto-Italic with the phonemes /xʷ ~ ɣʷ/ and /θ ~ ð/ still present (hence assuming that the merger with [ɸ] was a later areal change that spread across all extant dialects, possibly occurring simultaneous with or after the loss of the corresponding voiced fricatives), or to reconstruct Proto-Italic with the phonemes' voiceless allophones merged into /ɸ ~ β/, and their voiced allophones becoming independent phonemes /ð/, /ɣʷ/. Both of these sounds are relatively uncommon cross-linguistically, and eventually they were eliminated in all later languages, but differently in each.


Short vowels
Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e (ə) o
Open a
Long vowels
Front Central Back
  • /ə/ was perhaps not a true phoneme, but was inserted before consonants as a prop vowel. It can be reconstructed based on the outcome of the Proto-Indo-European syllabic nasals *m̥ and *n̥, which appear in Latin as *em, *en or *im, *in, but also as *am, *an in Osco-Umbrian alongside *em, *en. Thus, it appears necessary to reconstruct /ə/ as a distinct sound.

Proto-Italic had the following diphthongs:

  • Short: *ai, *ei, *oi, *au, *ou
  • Long: *āi, *ēi, *ōi

Osthoff's law remained productive in Proto-Italic. This caused long vowels to shorten when they were followed by a sonorant and another consonant in the same syllable: VːRC > VRC. As the long diphthongs were also VːR sequences, they could only occur word-finally, and were shortened elsewhere. Long vowels were also shortened before word-final *-m. This is the cause of the many occurrences of short *-a- in, for example, the endings of the ā-stems or of ā-verbs.


Proto-Italic words had a fixed stress on the first syllable. This stress pattern probably remained in most descendants. In Latin, it remained during the Old Latin period, after which it was replaced with the "Classical" penultimate stress pattern.



Nouns could have one of three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. They declined for seven of the eight Proto-Indo-European cases: nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative, ablative and locative. The instrumental case had been lost. Nouns also declined for number in singular and plural. The dual number was no longer distinguished, although a few remnants (like Latin duo, ambō) still preserved some form of the inherited dual inflection.


This is the "second declension" of Latin. It descends from the Proto-Indo-European thematic declension. Most nouns in this class were masculine or neuter, but there may have been some feminine nouns as well.

o-stem declension[1]
*agros[2] m.
*jugom[2] n.
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative *agros *agrōs
( *agroi)
*jugom *jugā
Vocative *agre *agrōs
( *agroi)
*jugom *jugā
Accusative *agrom *agrons *jugom *jugā
Genitive *agrosjo
*agrom *jugosjo
Dative *agrōi *agrois *jugōi *jugois
Ablative *agrōd *agrois *jugōd *jugois
Locative *agroi?
*agrois *jugoi?
  • The genitive singular in * is of unknown origin, but is found in both Italic and Celtic. It mostly ousted the older (presumably inherited) genitive in *-osjo in Latin. The older form is found in a few inscriptions, such as popliosio valesiosio on the Lapis Satricanus. It is also continued in some pronominal genitives, such as cuius < *kʷojjo-s < *kʷosjo, with *-s added by analogy with the consonant stem genitive in *-os.[3] In Osco-Umbrian, neither ending survives, being replaced with *-eis, the i-stem ending.
  • The nominative plural was originally *-ōs for nouns and adjectives, and *-oi for pronominal forms. The distribution in Proto-Italic is unclear, but both endings certainly still existed. The *-ōs ending was replaced altogether in Latin in favour of *-oi, whence the classical . In Osco-Umbrian, the reverse happened, where *-oi was replaced with *-ōs, whence Oscan -ús, Umbrian -us.
  • In Old Latin, the genitive plural was still generally -om, later -um. It was then reformed based on the ā-stem form *-āzom, giving the classical -ōrum.


This class represents the "first declension" of Latin. It derives primarily from Proto-Indo-European nouns in *-eh₂-, and contained mostly feminine nouns, but maybe a few masculines.

ā-stem declension[4]
*toutā[2] f.
"people, populace"
Singular Plural
Nominative *toutā *toutās
Vocative *toutā *toutās
Accusative *toutām *toutans
Genitive *toutās *toutāzom
Dative *toutāi *toutais
Ablative *toutād *toutais
Locative *toutāi *toutais
  • The accusative singular ending would have been *-am originally, due to shortening of long vowels before final *-m. However, a long vowel is found in the attested forms. This long vowel most likely arose by analogy with the other endings that have a long vowel.[5]
  • The genitive plural ending was originally a pronominal form, PIE *-eh₂-soHom.

Consonant stems

This class contained nouns with stems ending in a variety of consonants. They included root nouns, n-stems, r-stems, s-stems and t-stems among others. They are grouped in Latin under the "third declension", which also includes the i-stems, originally a distinct class.

Masculine and feminine nouns declined alike, while neuters had different forms in the nominative/accusative/vocative.

Consonant stem declension[6]
*sniks[2] f.
*kord[2] n.
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative *sniks *sniɣʷes *kord *kordā
Vocative *sniks *sniɣʷes *kord *kordā
Accusative *sniɣʷəm *sniɣʷəns *kord *kordā
Genitive *sniɣʷes
*sniɣʷom *kordes
Dative *sniɣʷei *sniɣʷ(?)βos *kordei *kord(?)βos
Ablative *sniɣʷi
*sniɣʷ(?)βos *kordi
Locative *sniɣʷi *sniɣʷ(?)βos *kordi *kord(?)βos

Nouns in this class often had a somewhat irregular nominative singular form. This created several subtypes, based on the final consonant of the stem.

  • For most consonant stem nouns, the ending of the nominative/vocative singular was -s for masculine and feminine nouns. This ending would cause devoicing, delabialisation and/or hardening of the stem-final consonant, as seen in *sniks above. Neuter nouns had no ending.
  • n-stems generally had the ending *-ō, with the infix *-on- (or maybe *-en-) in the other cases. Neuters had *-ən in the nom/voc/acc singular, while the stem of the remaining forms is unclear.
  • r-stems had *-ēr, alternating with *-(e)r-. The alternation in vowel length was lost in Latin, but is preserved in Oscan.
  • s-stems had *-ōs (for masculines and feminines) or *-os (for neuters). This alternated with *-ez- (or maybe *-oz- in some masculine/feminine nouns) in the other forms.
  • The r/n-stems were a small group of neuter nouns. These had *-or in the nominative/vocative/accusative singular, but *-(e)n- in the remaining forms.

Other notes:

  • The genitive singular had two possible endings. Both are attested side by side in Old Latin, although the ending -es/-is may also be from the i-stems (see below). In Osco-Umbrian, only the i-stem ending -eis is found.
  • The Latin masculine nominative plural ending -ēs (with a long vowel) was taken from the i-stems.
  • The neuter nominative/vocative/accusative plural originally had short *-a as the ending, or lengthening of the vowel before the final consonant. Already in Italic, this was replaced with the o-stem ending *-ā.
  • The dative (and ablative/locative?) plural ending would have originally been added directly to the stem, with no intervening vowel. In Latin, there is an intervening -e- or -i-, while in Osco-Umbrian the ending is replaced altogether. It's not clear what the Proto-Italic situation was.


This class represents the nouns of the Latin "third declension" that had the genitive plural ending -ium (rather than -um). In Latin, the consonant stems gradually merged with this class. This process continued into the historical era; e.g. in Caesar's time (c. 50 BC) the i-stems still had a distinct accusative plural ending -īs, but this was replaced with the consonant-stem ending -ēs by the time of Augustus (c. 1 AD). In Proto-Italic, as in the other Italic languages, i-stems were still very much a distinct type and showed no clear signs of merging.

Masculine and feminine nouns declined alike, while neuters had different forms in the nominative/accusative/vocative.

*məntis[2] f.
*mari[2] n.
"sea, lake"
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative *məntis *məntēs *mari *mar (*-īā?)
Vocative *məntis *məntēs *mari *mar (*-īā?)
Accusative *məntim *məntins *mari *mar (*-īā?)
Genitive *mənteis
*məntjom *mareis
Dative *məntēi *məntiβos *marēi *mariβos
Ablative *məntīd *məntiβos *marīd *mariβos
Locative *məntei *məntiβos *marei *mariβos
  • There were apparently two different forms for the genitive singular. The form -eis is found in Osco-Umbrian. However, -es appears in early Latin, while there is no sign of *-eis. This could reflect the consonant-stem ending, but it could also come from *-jes.[8] Compare also *-wos of the u-stems, which is attested in Old Latin, and may represent a parallel formation.
  • The original form of the neuter nominative/vocative/accusative plural was *-ī. Already in Italic, this was extended by adding the o-stem ending to it.


The u-stems form what is the "fourth declension" in Latin. They were historically parallel to the i-stems, and still showed many similar forms, with j/i being replaced with w/u. However, sound changes had made them somewhat different over time.

*portus[2] m.
"harbour, port"
*kornu/ū[2] n.
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative *portus *portous?
*kornu? (*?) *korn (*-ūā?)
Vocative *portus *portous?
*kornu? (*?) *korn (*-ūā?)
Accusative *portum *portuns *kornu? (*?) *korn (*-ūā?)
Genitive *portous
*portwom *kornous
Dative *portowei *portuβos *kornowei *kornuβos
Ablative *portūd *portuβos *kornūd *kornuβos
Locative *portowi? *portuβos *kornowi? *kornuβos
  • The neuter nominative/vocative/accusative singular must have originally been short *-u, but in Latin only long is found. It is unclear what the origin of this could be. It may be a remnant of a dual ending, considering that neuter u-stems were rare, and the few that survived tended to occur in pairs.[10]
  • Like the i-stems, the u-stems had two possible types of genitive singular ending, with an unclear distribution. *-ous is found in Oscan, and it is also the origin of the usual Latin ending -ūs. However, the Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus inscription attests senatvos, and the ending -uis (from *-wes) is also found in a few sources.[11]
  • The masculine/feminine nominative/vocative plural is not securely reconstructable. Latin -ūs seems to reflect *-ous, but from PIE *-ewes the form *-owes (Latin *-uis) would be expected. The ending is not attested in Osco-Umbrian or Old Latin, which might have otherwise given conclusive evidence.[12]
  • The original form of the neuter nominative/vocative/accusative plural was *-ū. Already in Italic, this was extended by adding the o-stem ending to it, like in the i-stems.


Adjectives inflected much the same as nouns. Unlike nouns, adjectives did not have inherent genders. Instead, they inflected for all three genders, taking on the same gender-form as the noun they referred to.

Adjectives followed the same inflectional classes of nouns. The largest were the o/ā-stem adjectives (which inflected as o-stems in the masculine and neuter, and as ā-stems in the feminine), and the i-stems. Present active participles of verbs (in *-nts) and the comparative forms of adjectives (in *-jōs) inflected as consonant stems. There were also u-stem adjectives originally, but they had been converted to i-stems by adding i-stem endings onto the existing u-stem, thus giving the nominative singular *-wis.


Declension of Personal Pronouns:[13]

Singular1st Person2nd PersonReflexive
Accusative*, *me*, *te*, *se
Genitive*moi, *mei*toi, *tei*soi, *sei
Plural1st Person2nd PersonReflexive
Accusative*nōs*wōs*, *se
Genitive*nosterom?*westerom?*soi, *sei

Note: For the third person pronoun, Proto-Italic *is would have been used.

Declension of Relative Pronouns:[13]

Dative*kʷojjei, *kʷozmoi*kʷojjei, *kʷozmoi*kʷojjei, *kʷozmoi
Nominative*kʷoi, *kʷōs*kʷās*kʷā, *kʷai
Accusative*kʷons*kʷāns*kʷa, *kʷai

Declension of Interrogative Pronouns:[13]

Dative*kʷejjei, *kʷezmoi*kʷejjei, *kʷezmoi*kʷejjei, *kʷezmoi
Nominative*kʷēs*kʷēs*kʷī, *kʷia
Accusative*kʷins*kʷins*kʷī, *kʷia
Genitive*kʷejzom?, *kʷozom?*kʷejzom?, *kʷazom?*kʷejzom?, *kʷozom?

Declension of Demonstrative Pronouns:[14]

*is "this, that"

Dative*ejjei, *esmoi*ejjei, *esmoi*ejjei, *esmoi
Nominative*ejōs, *ejoi*ejās*ejā

*xo-(-ke) "this" (According to De Vaan, the Latin demonstrative pronoun hic is a combination of two parts: the pIt root of *xo from PIE *gʰi ~ *gʰe ~ *gʰo and the PIt suffix *-ke- from PIE *-ḱe-. Until the Classical Latin period, the suffix was stated to be detachable.)

Nominative*xo(ke), *xi(ce)*xā(ke), *xaī(ce)*xod(ke)
Nominative*xōs(ke), *xoi(ke)*xās(ke)*xā(ke), *xai(ke)
Accusative*xons(ke)*xans(ke)*xā(ke), *xai(ce)

*es-to- "that" (A combination of Proto-Italic *is from PIE *éy "the" and the suffix *-to- from PIE *-só-, meaning "this, that")

Nominative*estōs, *estoi*estās*estā

*ol-no- "yonder" (*ol-no eventually became *ol-lo in late Proto-Italic, before becoming ille in Classical Latin through analogy with iste)

Nominative*olnōs, *olnoi*olnās*olnā


Present Aspect[15]

From Proto-Indo-European, the Proto-Italic present aspect changed in a couple of ways. Firstly, a new past indicative suffix of *-β- was created. This likely occurred due to the elision of word-final *i within the Indo-European primary verb endings (E.g. PIE Present Indicative *h₁ésti > PIt *est, but also PIE Past Indicative *h₁ést). Secondly, the desiderative suffix of *-s-/-so- became the future suffix in Proto-Italic. The subjunctive of this desiderative-future, with a suffix of both -s- and a lengthening of the following vowel, was used to represent a potentialis and irrealis mood. Finally, while the subjunctive and the optative of PIE were still in principle different moods, the moods became merged in Post-PIt developments (E.g. PIt subjunctive *esed vs optative *siēd which became Latin present subjunctive sit).

The PIE dual person was also lost within PIt verbs just as it was in PIt nouns.

First Conjugation

This Conjugation pattern was derived from the PIE suffix *-eh₂-yé-ti, and formed primarily denominative verbs (I.e. deriving from a noun or an adjective).

Example Conjugation: *donā- (to give)[13]

Present IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*dōnāō*dōnāōr
2nd. Sing.*dōnās*dōnāzo
3rd. Sing.*dōnāt*dōnātor
1st. Plur.*dōnāmos*dōnāmor
2nd. Plur.*dōnātes*dōnāmenai
3rd. Plur.*dōnānt*dōnāntor
Past IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*dōnāβam*dōnāβar
2nd. Sing.*dōnāβas*dōnāβazo
3rd. Sing.*dōnāβad*dōnāβator
1st. Plur.*dōnāβamos*dōnāβamor
2nd. Plur.*dōnāβates*dōnāβamenai
3rd. Plur.*dōnāβand*dōnāβantor
Future IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*dōnāsō*dōnāsōr
2nd. Sing.*dōnāsos*dōnāsozo
3rd. Sing.*dōnāst*dōnāstor
1st. Plur.*dōnāsomos*dōnāsomor
2nd. Plur.*dōnāstes*dōnāsomenai
3rd. Plur.*dōnāsont*dōnāsontor
Present SubjunctiveActivePassive
1st. Sing.*dōnāēm*dōnāēr
2nd. Sing.*dōnāēs*dōnāēzo
3rd. Sing.*dōnāēd*dōnāētor
1st. Plur.*dōnāēmos*dōnāēmor
2nd. Plur.*dōnāētes*dōnāēmenai
3rd. Plur.*dōnāēnd*dōnāēntor
Past SubjunctiveActivePassive
1st. Sing.*dōnāsēm*dōnāsēr
2nd. Sing.*dōnāsēs*dōnāsēzo
3rd. Sing.*dōnāsēd*dōnāsētor
1st. Plur.*dōnāsēmos*dōnāsēmor
2nd. Plur.*dōnāsētes*dōnāsēmenai
3rd. Plur.*dōnāsēnd*dōnāsēntor
1st. Sing.*dōnāojam*dōnāojar
2nd. Sing.*dōnāojas*dōnāojazo
3rd. Sing.*dōnāojad*dōnāojator
1st. Plur.*dōnāojamos*dōnāojamor
2nd. Plur.*dōnāojates*dōnāojamenai
3rd. Plur.*dōnāojand*dōnāojantor
Present ImperativeActivePassive
2nd. Sing.*dōnā*dōnāzo
2nd. Plur.*dōnāte
Future ImperativeActivePassive
2nd/3rd. Sing.*dōnātōd
Verbal Nounstu-derivatives-derivative

Second Conjugation Causative

This conjugation pattern was derived from PIE *-éyeti, and formed causative verbs (I.e. expressing a cause) from "basic" 3rd conjugation verbs.

Example Conjugation: *mone- (to warn)[13]

Present IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*moneō*moneōr
2nd. Sing.*monēs*monēzo
3rd. Sing.*monēt*monētor
1st. Plur.*monēmos*monēmor
2nd. Plur.*monētes*monēmenai
3rd. Plur.*moneont*moneontor
Past IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*monēβam*monēβar
2nd. Sing.*monēβas*monēβazo
3rd. Sing.*monēβad*monēβator
1st. Plur.*monēβamos*monēβamor
2nd. Plur.*monēβates*monēβamenai
3rd. Plur.*monēβand*monēβantor
Future IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*monēsō*monēsōr
2nd. Sing.*monēsos*monēsozo
3rd. Sing.*monēst*monēstor
1st. Plur.*monēsomos*monēsomor
2nd. Plur.*monēstes*monēsomenai
3rd. Plur.*monēsont*monēsontor
Present SubjunctiveActivePassive
1st. Sing.*moneām*moneār
2nd. Sing.*moneās*moneāzo
3rd. Sing.*moneād*moneātor
1st. Plur.*moneāmos*moneāmor
2nd. Plur.*moneātes*moneāmenai
3rd. Plur.*moneānd*moneāntor
Past SubjunctiveActivePassive
1st. Sing.*monesām*monesār
2nd. Sing.*monesās*monesāzo
3rd. Sing.*monesād*monesātor
1st. Plur.*monesāmos*monesāmor
2nd. Plur.*monesātes*monesāmenai
3rd. Plur.*monesānd*monesāntor
1st. Sing.*moneojam*moneojar
2nd. Sing.*moneojas*moneojazo
3rd. Sing.*moneojad*moneojator
1st. Plur.*moneojamos*moneojamor
2nd. Plur.*moneojates*moneojamenai
3rd. Plur.*moneojand*moneojantor
Present ImperativeActivePassive
2nd. Sing.*monē*monēzo
2nd. Plur.*monēte
Future ImperativeActivePassive
2nd/3rd. Sing.*monētōd
Verbal Nounstu-derivatives-derivative

Second Conjugation Stative

This conjugation pattern was derived from PIE *-éh₁ti (or the extended form *-eh₁yéti), and formed stative verbs (I.e. indicating a state of being).

Example Conjugation: *walē- (to be strong)[13]

Present IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*walēō*walēōr
2nd. Sing.*walēs*walēzo
3rd. Sing.*walēt*walētor
1st. Plur.*walēmos*walēmor
2nd. Plur.*walētes*walēmenai
3rd. Plur.*walēnt*walēntor
Past IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*walēβam*walēβar
2nd. Sing.*walēβas*walēβazo
3rd. Sing.*walēβad*walēβator
1st. Plur.*walēβamos*walēβamor
2nd. Plur.*walēβates*walēβamenai
3rd. Plur.*walēβand*walēβantor
Future IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*walēsō*walēsōr
2nd. Sing.*walēsos*walēsozo
3rd. Sing.*walēst*walēstor
1st. Plur.*walēsomos*walēsomor
2nd. Plur.*walēstes*walēsomenai
3rd. Plur.*walēsont*walēsontor
Present SubjunctiveActivePassive
1st. Sing.*walēām*walēār
2nd. Sing.*walēās*walēāzo
3rd. Sing.*walēād*walēātor
1st. Plur.*walēāmos*walēāmor
2nd. Plur.*walēātes*walēāmenai
3rd. Plur.*walēānd*walēāntor
Past SubjunctiveActivePassive
1st. Sing.*walēsām*walēsār
2nd. Sing.*walēsās*walēsāzo
3rd. Sing.*walēsād*walēsātor
1st. Plur.*walēsāmos*walēsāmor
2nd. Plur.*walēsātes*walēsāmenai
3rd. Plur.*walēsānd*walēsāntor
1st. Sing.*walēojam*walēojar
2nd. Sing.*walēojas*walēojazo
3rd. Sing.*walēojad*walēojator
1st. Plur.*walēojamos*walēojamor
2nd. Plur.*walēojates*walēojamenai
3rd. Plur.*walēojand*walēojantor
Present ImperativeActivePassive
2nd. Sing.*walē*walēzo
2nd. Plur.*walēte
Future ImperativeActivePassive
2nd/3rd. Sing.*walētōd
Verbal Nounstu-derivatives-derivative

Third Conjugation

The bulk of Proto-Italic verbs were third-conjugation verbs, which were derived from Proto-Indo-European root thematic verbs. However, some are derived from other PIE verb classes, such as *linkʷō (PIE nasal-infix verbs) and *dikskō (PIE *sḱe-suffix verbs).

Example Conjugation: *ed-e/o- (to eat)[13]

Present IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*edō*edōr
2nd. Sing.*edes*edezo
3rd. Sing.*edet*edetor
1st. Plur.*edomos*edomor
2nd. Plur.*edetes*edemenai
3rd. Plur.*edont*edontor
Past IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*edeβam*edeβar
2nd. Sing.*edeβas*edeβazo
3rd. Sing.*edeβad*edeβator
1st. Plur.*edeβamos*edeβamor
2nd. Plur.*edeβates*edeβamenai
3rd. Plur.*edeβand*edeβantor
Future IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*edesō*edesōr
2nd. Sing.*edesos*edesozo
3rd. Sing.*edest*edestor
1st. Plur.*edesomos*edesomor
2nd. Plur.*edestes*edesomenai
3rd. Plur.*edesont*edesontor
Present SubjunctiveActivePassive
1st. Sing.*edām*edār
2nd. Sing.*edās*edāzo
3rd. Sing.*edād*edātor
1st. Plur.*edāmos*edāmor
2nd. Plur.*edātes*edāmenai
3rd. Plur.*edānd*edāntor
Past SubjunctiveActivePassive
1st. Sing.*edesām*edesār
2nd. Sing.*edesās*edesāzo
3rd. Sing.*edesād*edesātor
1st. Plur.*edesāmos*edesāmor
2nd. Plur.*edesātes*edesāmenai
3rd. Plur.*edesānd*edesāntor
1st. Sing.*edojam*edojar
2nd. Sing.*edojas*edojazo
3rd. Sing.*edojad*edojator
1st. Plur.*edojamos*edojamor
2nd. Plur.*edojates*edojamenai
3rd. Plur.*edojand*edojantor
Present ImperativeActivePassive
2nd. Sing.*ede*edezo
2nd. Plur.*edete
Future ImperativeActivePassive
2nd/3rd. Sing.*edetōd
Verbal Nounstu-derivatives-derivative

Third Conjugation jō-variant

This conjugation was derived from PIE *ye-suffix verbs, and went on to form most of Latin 3rd conjugation io-variant verbs as well as some 4th conjugation verbs.

Example Conjugation: *gʷen-je/jo- (to come)[13]

Present IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*gʷenjō*gʷenjōr
2nd. Sing.*gʷenjes*gʷenjezo
3rd. Sing.*gʷenjet*gʷenjetor
1st. Plur.*gʷenjomos*gʷenjomor
2nd. Plur.*gʷenjetes*gʷenjemenai
3rd. Plur.*gʷenjont*gʷenjontor
Past IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*gʷenjeβam*gʷenjeβar
2nd. Sing.*gʷenjeβas*gʷenjeβazo
3rd. Sing.*gʷenjeβad*gʷenjeβator
1st. Plur.*gʷenjeβamos*gʷenjeβamor
2nd. Plur.*gʷenjeβates*gʷenjeβamenai
3rd. Plur.*gʷenjeβand*gʷenjeβantor
Future IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*gʷenjesō*gʷenjesōr
2nd. Sing.*gʷenjesos*gʷenjesozo
3rd. Sing.*gʷenjest*gʷenjestor
1st. Plur.*gʷenjesomos*gʷenjesomor
2nd. Plur.*gʷenjestes*gʷenjesomenai
3rd. Plur.*gʷenjesont*gʷenjesontor
Present SubjunctiveActivePassive
1st. Sing.*gʷenjām*gʷenjār
2nd. Sing.*gʷenjās*gʷenjāzo
3rd. Sing.*gʷenjād*gʷenjātor
1st. Plur.*gʷenjāmos*gʷenjāmor
2nd. Plur.*gʷenjātes*gʷenjāmenai
3rd. Plur.*gʷenjānd*gʷenjāntor
Past SubjunctiveActivePassive
1st. Sing.*gʷenjesām*gʷenjesār
2nd. Sing.*gʷenjesās*gʷenjesāzo
3rd. Sing.*gʷenjesād*gʷenjesātor
1st. Plur.*gʷenjesāmos*gʷenjesāmor
2nd. Plur.*gʷenjesātes*gʷenjesāmenai
3rd. Plur.*gʷenjesānd*gʷenjesāntor
1st. Sing.*gʷenjojam*gʷenjojar
2nd. Sing.*gʷenjojas*gʷenjojazo
3rd. Sing.*gʷenjojad*gʷenjojator
1st. Plur.*gʷenjojamos*gʷenjojamor
2nd. Plur.*gʷenjojates*gʷenjojamenai
3rd. Plur.*gʷenjojand*gʷenjojantor
Present ImperativeActivePassive
2nd. Sing.*gʷenje*gʷenjezo
2nd. Plur.*gʷenjete
Future ImperativeActivePassive
2nd/3rd. Sing.*gʷenjetōd
Verbal Nounstu-derivatives-derivative

Athematic Verbs

Only a handful of verbs remained within this conjugation paradigm, derived from the original PIE Root Athematic verbs.

Example Conjugation: *ezom (copula, to be),[13][16]

Present IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*ezom
2nd. Sing.*es
3rd. Sing.*est
1st. Plur.*(e)somos
2nd. Plur.*(e)stes
3rd. Plur.*sent
Past IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*fuβam
2nd. Sing.*fuβas
3rd. Sing.*fuβad
1st. Plur.*fuβamos
2nd. Plur.*fuβates
3rd. Plur.*fuβand
Future IndicativeActivePassive
1st. Sing.*fusom
2nd. Sing.*fusos
3rd. Sing.*fust
1st. Plur.*fusomos
2nd. Plur.*fustes
3rd. Plur.*fusont
Present SubjunctiveActivePassive
1st. Sing.*esem
2nd. Sing.*eses
3rd. Sing.*esed
1st. Plur.*esemos
2nd. Plur.*esetes
3rd. Plur.*esend
Past SubjunctiveActivePassive
1st. Sing.*fusēm, *essēm
2nd. Sing.*fusēs, *essēs
3rd. Sing.*fusēd, *essēd
1st. Plur.*fusēmos, *essēmos
2nd. Plur.*fusētes, *essētes
3rd. Plur.*fusēnd, *essēnd
1st. Sing.*siēm
2nd. Sing.*siēs
3rd. Sing.*siēd
1st. Plur.*sīmos
2nd. Plur.*sītes
3rd. Plur.*sīnd
Present ImperativeActivePassive
2nd. Sing.*es
2nd. Plur.*este
Future ImperativeActivePassive
2nd/3rd. Sing.*estōd
Verbal Nounstu-derivatives-derivative

In addition to these conjugation, Proto-Italic also has some deponent verbs, such as *ōdai (Perfect-Present), as well as *gnāskōr (Passive-Active).

Perfective Aspect[17]

According to Rix(2002), if a verb stem is present in both the Latino-Faliscan and Osco-Umbrian (Sabellian) branches, the present stem is identical in 90% of cases, but the perfect in only 50% of cases. This is likely because the original PIE aorist merged with the perfective aspect during the Proto-Italic period. Thus, the discrepancy in the similarities of present versus perfect stems in the two groupings of the Italic clade is likely attributed to different preservations in each group. The new common perfect stem in Latino-Faliscan derives mostly from the PIE Perfective, while the perfect stem in Osco-Umbrian derives mostly from the PIE aorist.

In the Proto-Italic period, the root perfect of PIE was lost with Ablaut being no longer productive. However, other PIE perfect and aorist stems were preserved, such as the reduplicated perfect and lengthened-vowel perfect stems, as well as the sigmatic aorist stem (found in Latin dīcō, dīxī).

Sometimes, multiple perfect forms for each stem. For example, De Vaan gives the forms *fēk-, *fak- for the perfect stem of *fakiō, and the reduplicated form <FHEFHAKED> is also attested on the Praeneste fibula in Old Latin.

In addition, there were some new innovations within the perfective aspect, with the -v- perfect (in Latin amō, amāvī) and the -u- perfect (moneō, monuī) being later innovations, for example.

Example Long-Vowel Conjugation: *fēk- (to have done).[18] Alternatively *θēk- (from PIE *dʰeh₁-) if PIt is reconstructed at a stage before /xʷ/ and /θ/ had merged with /f/ [ɸ].

1st Sing.*fēkai
2nd Sing.*fēkistai
3rd Sing.*fēked
1st Plur.*fēkomos
2nd Plur.*fēkistes
3rd Plur.*fēkēri

Example Reduplicated Conjugation: *fefu- (to have been)[19]

1st Sing.*fefuai
2nd Sing.*fefuistai
3rd Sing.*fefued
1st Plur.*fefuomos
2nd Plur.*fefuistes
3rd Plur.*fefuēri


A list of regular phonetic changes from Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Italic follows. Because Latin is the only well-attested Italic language, it forms the main source for the reconstruction of Proto-Italic. It is therefore not always clear whether certain changes apply to all of Italic (a pre-PI change), or only to Latin (a post-PI change), because of lack of conclusive evidence.


  • Palatovelars merged with plain velars, a change termed centumization.
    • *ḱ > *k
    • *ǵ > *g
    • *ǵʰ > *gʰ
    • Sequences of palatovelars and *w merged with labiovelars: *ḱw, *ǵw, *ǵʰw > *kʷ, *gʷ, *gʷʰ
  • *p...kʷ > *kʷ...kʷ, a change also found in Celtic.
  • Labiovelars lose their labialisation before a consonant: *kʷC, *gʷC, *gʷʰC > *kC, *gC, *gʰC.
  • Obstruent consonants become (unaspirated) voiceless before another voiceless consonant (usually *s or *t).
  • Voiced aspirates become fricatives. Word-initially, they become voiceless, while they are allophonically voiced word-medially. Judging from Oscan evidence, they apparently remained fricatives even after a nasal consonant. In most other Italic languages they developed into stops later in that position.
    • *bʰ > *f [ɸ] (medially *β)
    • *dʰ > *θ (medially *ð)
    • *gʰ > *x (medially *ɣ)
    • *gʷʰ > *xʷ (medially *ɣʷ)
  • *s was also allophonically voiced to *z word-medially.[20]
  • *sr, *zr > *θr, *ðr.
  • *θ, *xʷ > *f. Found in Venetic vhagsto/hvagsto (compare Latin faciō). The voiced allophones *ð and *ɣʷ remained distinct from *β in Latin and Venetic, but also merged in Osco-Umbrian.
  • *tl > *kl word-medially.[20]

Vowels and sonorants

  • *l̥, *r̥ > *ol, *or[21]
  • *m̥, *n̥ > *əm, *ən (see above on "Vowels")
  • *j is lost between vowels. The resulting vowels in hiatus contract into a long vowel if the two vowels are the same.
  • *ew > *ow.[21]
  • *o > *a before labials and *l.


The laryngeals are a class of hypothetical PIE sounds *h₁, *h₂, *h₃ that usually disappeared in late PIE, leaving coloring effects on adjacent vowels. Their disappearance left some distinctive sound combinations in Proto-Italic. In the changes below, the # follows standard practice in denoting a word boundary; that is, # at the beginning denotes word-initial.[22] H denotes any of the three laryngeals.

The simpler Italic developments of laryngeals are shared by many other Indo-European branches:

  • *h₁e > *e, *h₂e > *a, *h₃e > *o
  • *eh₁ > *ē, *eh₂ > *ā, *eh₃ > *ō
  • *H > *a between obstruents
  • Laryngeals are lost word-initially before a consonant.

More characteristic of Italic are the interactions of laryngeals with sonorant consonants. Here, R represents a sonorant, and C a consonant.

  • #HRC > #aRC and CHRC > CaRC, but #HRV > #RV
  • CRHC > CRāC, but CRHV > CaRV
  • CiHC and probably CHiC > CīC


  • General loss of the dual, with only a few relics remaining.[23]
  • Loss of the instrumental case.[23]

Post-Italic developments

Further changes occurred during the evolution of individual Italic languages. This section gives an overview of the most notable changes. For complete lists, see History of Latin and other articles relating to the individual languages.

  • *x debuccalises to [h]. *ɣ similarly becomes [ɦ] between vowels, but remains elsewhere. This change possibly took place within the Proto-Italic period. The result, whether [h] or [ɦ], was written h in all Italic languages.
  • *θ(e)r, *ð(e)r > *f(e)r, *β(e)r in all but Venetic. Compare Venetic louder-obos to Latin līber, Faliscan loifir-ta, Oscan lúvfreis.
  • *β, *ð, *ɣ > Latin b, d, g. In Osco-Umbrian the result is f (probably voiced) for all three. In Faliscan, *β remains a fricative.
  • *ɣʷ > gʷ in Latin, which then develops as below. > f in Osco-Umbrian.
  • *dʷ > b in classical Latin, although still retained in the archaic (see Duenos inscription)
  • *kʷ, *gʷ > p, b in Osco-Umbrian. They are retained in Latino-Faliscan and Venetic. In Latin, *gʷ > v [w] except after *n.
  • *z > r in Classical Latin and Umbrian, but not in Old Latin or Oscan.
  • Final -ā (fem. sg. nom., neut. pl. nom./acc.) > [oː] in Osco-Umbrian,[24][25] but becomes short -a in Latin.
  • Final *-ns (acc. pl. of various noun classes), *-nts (masc. nom. sg. of participles), and *-nt (neut. nom./acc. sg. of participles) developed in complex ways:[26]
*-ns *-ns-ss-f*-ns-s
*-nts *-nts-ns
*-nt *-nts-ns
  • Latin vowel reduction, during the Old Latin period. This merged many of the unstressed short vowels; most dramatically, all short vowels merged (usually to /i/) in open medial syllables. Furthermore, all diphthongs became pure vowels except for *ai and *au (and occasionally *oi) in initial syllables.


  1. Sihler 1995, pp. 256–265.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 de Vaan 2008.
  3. Sihler 1995, p. 387.
  4. Sihler 1995, pp. 266–272.
  5. Sihler 1995, p. 268.
  6. Sihler 1995, pp. 283–286.
  7. Sihler 1995, pp. 315–319.
  8. Sihler 1995, pp. 316–317.
  9. Sihler 1995, pp. 319–327.
  10. Sihler 1995, p. 323.
  11. Sihler 1995, p. 324.
  12. Sihler 1995, pp. 325–326.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 De Vaan, Michiel (2008). Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the Other Italic Languages. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 978-9004167971.
  14. (De Vaan 2008 p.284, 310, 323-4 426)
  15. Rix, Helmut. "Towards a reconstruction of Proto-Italic" (PDF). Program in Indo-European Studies. UCLA. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  16. Rix, Helmut. "Towards a reconstruction of Proto-Italic" (PDF). Program in Indo-European Studies. UCLA. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  17. Rix, Helmut. "Towards a reconstruction of Proto-Italic" (PDF). Program in Indo-European Studies. UCLA. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  18. (De Vaan 2008 p.198)
  19. (De Vaan 2008 p.599)
  20. 1 2 Silvestri 1998, p. 326
  21. 1 2 Silvestri 1998, p. 325
  22. Bakkum 2009, pp. 58–61.
  23. 1 2 Silvestri 1998, p. 332
  24. Written o in the Latin alphabet, but ú in the native Oscan alphabet, and u or sometimes a in the native Umbrian alphabet. See Sihler 1995:266.
  25. Sihler 1995, p. 266.
  26. Sihler 1995, p. 230.


  • Bakkum, Gabriël C.L.M. (2009), The Latin Dialect of the Ager Faliscus: 150 Years of Scholarship:Part I, Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam, ISBN 978-90-5629-562-2 
  • de Vaan, Michiel (2008), Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the Other Italic Languages, Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary (Book 7), Brill Academic Publishers, ISBN 978-9004167971 
  • Sihler, Andrew L. (1995), New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508345-8 
  • Silvestri, Domenico (1998), "The Italic Languages", in Ramat, Anna Giacalone; Ramat, Paolo, The Indo-European languages, Taylor & Francis Group, pp. 322–344 
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