Tip 9: Colouring-in fest!

A276 – Learning Latin – Targeting Grammar – Tip 09



Find the “Full conjugations (verb endings) at a glance” (pp.63-72 in the Language Reference Book). Print them all off. Then get some highlighters and coloured pens and pencils ready!


When I use the word ‘indicate’ in the list below (have a look) I mean ‘use a colour to show’. It is important to be consistent. So make sure you keep track of how you decide to use your own colour coding. Do this on a separate piece of paper. Make a mark with a colour, in exactly the way you use it, and next to that write a brief, clear explanation of what you intend that should show. That way you’ll have a key to refer to when you’ve finished. Stick to one specific way of using one colour to show one particular thing.

You can highlight letters, shade over them, underline them, double-underline them, ring them, or draw a box around them, and use any number of colours (though make sure they’re obviously distinguishable from each other). You should have more than enough alternatives to indicate all you need to. Sometimes you’ll have to combine a couple of these e.g. you might highlight an ending in one colour to show the person of the verb and then also underline that same ending in a different colour to show that it is also passive. Equally, you’ll come across exceptions which need to be flagged up: maybe by adding a cross (x) or exclamation mark (!) or two (!!), perhaps in red, next to the unexpected bit. You decide. It’s your system. Making it make sense to you is a big part of the learning value of this approach.

Don’t worry if you make mistakes. It shows you’re learning. But DON’T, whatever you do, start again with a ‘clean’ copy; resist, at all costs, any perfectionist tendencies! Simply make a note next to your ‘mistake’ about where you went wrong and what to be careful of. That’s a MUCH better learning experience!

Still, though, do take care to be very precise. Sometimes you’ll be indicating one single letter at a time. If you’ve the time and inclination you might want to take your verb table pages to a printers and have them enlarged to A3 on a photocopier. They’re easier to work with at that size. And when they’re finished they’ll do as attractively colourful posters!

Be as picky as possible. For example, if you find yourself about to indicate what seems like a lot all in the same way ask yourself if that’s because there’s a single feature that really does seem to crop up all over the place; or are you able to divide it up any further into smaller similarities which you could indicate more specifically, each in their own colour?

Here’s my list. Do add more to it if you can. And do, certainly, split my categories up into smaller ones wherever possible. When you’ve ‘finished’ have a look at what’s left that you haven’t done any colour coding with (all the letters in every verb form which still have an uncoloured white paper background). Is there ANYTHING left that you can do with them that you haven’t spotted?

So, here’s my list to get you started. For every verb form, indicate:

  • the present
  • the perfect
  • the end letter(s) which tell you what the person of the verb is.
  • any middle letter(s) which tell you which tense the verb is.
  • any linking letter(s) which ‘hold the word together’ and which might also identify the verb’s conjugation.
  • any parts of the verb to be which are to be found in other verb forms.


REMEMBER some of these are broad categories and can be subdivided into smaller ones (e.g. which particular parts of the verb to be turn up in which particular tenses of the other verb forms, and in the active or the passive?). The pickier the differences in detail you can spot the better. Aim to use as many different colours in as many different ways as you can! J


Steven Havelin (11.03.18)