No matter how much I revise, I never understand a full sentence in latin

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_daisylynch
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I try taking it right back to basics- easy peasy! So I attempt the intermediate work on Pliny's Letters and I'm not even a full sentence in and I just don't understand where I'm going wrong. I check the correct translations, literal and published, and even looking at them I just don't understand why they've translated what they have. I've been through 5 tutors now. FIVE. Nothing ever gets any easier. I feel like remembering the grammar does get easier, and I can feel myself improving in things like declensions and cases. The minute I see a proper sentence I just cannot do it. It takes me hours to get through ONE and I usually have to give up because either I can't translate it or my translation is so far off the mark. At this point do I just give up? I've been told to by my tutor, but I'm so passionate I just wish to god I could continue, I've loved it and really want to pursue classics from every angle, just like my class mates are. Instead I'm left behind and suffering because I'm so painfully dense I can't keep up. Any advice? Do I drop out and call it a day? I can't ever see things improving for me and it's shattering my self confidence
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_daisylynch
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Oops quick context I've been studying for a year and a half but very intensely
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Classics_Teacher
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Don't give up! It is hard to translate 'real' Latin. Keep working at the grammar and try taking the authors in smaller chunks. Some authors are simpler in their writing than others, for example, you might find Petronius or Apuleius easier to translate at first rather than Caesar or Cicero.Which level are you studying at? I'd be happy to help if I can. Feel free to PM me.
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martin7
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(Original post by _daisylynch)
I try taking it right back to basics- easy peasy! So I attempt the intermediate work on Pliny's Letters and I'm not even a full sentence in and I just don't understand where I'm going wrong. I check the correct translations, literal and published, and even looking at them I just don't understand why they've translated what they have. I've been through 5 tutors now. FIVE. Nothing ever gets any easier. I feel like remembering the grammar does get easier, and I can feel myself improving in things like declensions and cases. The minute I see a proper sentence I just cannot do it. It takes me hours to get through ONE and I usually have to give up because either I can't translate it or my translation is so far off the mark. At this point do I just give up? I've been told to by my tutor, but I'm so passionate I just wish to god I could continue, I've loved it and really want to pursue classics from every angle, just like my class mates are. Instead I'm left behind and suffering because I'm so painfully dense I can't keep up. Any advice? Do I drop out and call it a day? I can't ever see things improving for me and it's shattering my self confidence
Oops quick context I've been studying for a year and a half but very intensely
It's been over 25 years since I last studied Latin (I did GCSE and A-level), and I suspect it's taught in a very different way from how I learned it. I also started at the age of 11, so I'd been studying for 5 years when I did the GCSE.

It's going to be difficult to do translations unless you've really got declensions (of nouns and adjectives) and conjugations (of verbs) mastered. Obviously you also need to know your vocabulary. There really is no substitute.

One important thing I was told when I started with Latin (ironically by my English teacher!) was that the first thing to do with a sentence in Latin was to find the verb. That would immediately (by its form) tell you whether the subject of the sentence was singular or plural. You can then look to see if you can find a word that's in the nominative case (i.e. is the subject). Things get more complicated than that as you move forward to more complex Latin, but I always found "first, find the verb" as a helpful starting point.

Try working through a sentence analytically -- can you identify what sort of word each word is (e.g. noun, adjective, verb, adverb, etc) and what else you can tell (so, for a noun/adjective what case is it in, is it singular or plural; for a verb, is it 1st/2nd/3rd person, singular or plural, what tense, is it active or passive, is it indicative or subjunctive, etc).

If you post a couple of sentences of Latin, and the literal translation you have for them, I'll see if I can help explain how you get from the Latin to the English.
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_daisylynch
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(Original post by martin7)
It's been over 25 years since I last studied Latin (I did GCSE and A-level), and I suspect it's taught in a very different way from how I learned it. I also started at the age of 11, so I'd been studying for 5 years when I did the GCSE.

It's going to be difficult to do translations unless you've really got declensions (of nouns and adjectives) and conjugations (of verbs) mastered. Obviously you also need to know your vocabulary. There really is no substitute.

One important thing I was told when I started with Latin (ironically by my English teacher!) was that the first thing to do with a sentence in Latin was to find the verb. That would immediately (by its form) tell you whether the subject of the sentence was singular or plural. You can then look to see if you can find a word that's in the nominative case (i.e. is the subject). Things get more complicated than that as you move forward to more complex Latin, but I always found "first, find the verb" as a helpful starting point.

Try working through a sentence analytically -- can you identify what sort of word each word is (e.g. noun, adjective, verb, adverb, etc) and what else you can tell (so, for a noun/adjective what case is it in, is it singular or plural; for a verb, is it 1st/2nd/3rd person, singular or plural, what tense, is it active or passive, is it indicative or subjunctive, etc).

If you post a couple of sentences of Latin, and the literal translation you have for them, I'll see if I can help explain how you get from the Latin to the English.
Thank you so much! I always try that and it's the best piece of advice I've ever had, but I still can't quite manage it, even when I've established the grammar of every word in the sentence! I'll probably be asked to drop it, but at least I tried !
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