Quīn & quōminus and expressions of doubt
After a negated verb of impeding, a clause introduced by quīn or sometimes quōminus (often printed quō minus) with a subjunctive verb is regularly used.
Some likely negations accompanying the verb of impeding include: nōn (nec, neque), nē, haud, nēmō, nihil, nūllus, vix, aegrē, male, nē...quidam, etc.
Some verbs found with this construction include: contineō (“restrain”), dēterreō (“deter”), impediō (“hinder”), obstō (“obstruct”), moror (“delay”), temperō (“hold back”), teneō (“hold”), etc.
In this construction, quīn (or quōminus) is generally translated as “from” with the subjunctive verb translated as an English participle (“-ing”).
Nōn temperō mihi quīn ūtar interdum temerāriē verbīs.
“I do not hold myself back from using words rashly now and then.”
Nōn morātī sunt quīn ad castra hostium dēcurrerent, sīcut imperātum erat.
“They didn’t delay from rushing towards the enemy camps, as had been ordered.”
Vellem tua occupatiō tē nōn impedīsset quō minus ad mē quid agerētur perscrīberēs.
“I wish your business had not prevented you from writing in full to me what was done.”
The idea of hinderence may be widely construed and may be expressed by a noun or a phrase.
Nōn est requiēs quīn pomīs annus exūberet.
“There is no rest from a year abounding in fruit.”
After the same verbs and phrases of impeding, when they are not negated, a clause introduced by nē (or sometimes quōminus) with a subjunctive verb is used.
In this construction, nē (or quōminus) is generally translated as “from” with the subjunctive verb translated as an English participle (“-ing”).
Scīlicet obstābit cūstōs nē scrībere possīs.
“Evidently your minder prevents you from being able to write.”
Caesar monuit ut contineant mīlitēs nē spē praedae longius prōgrediantur.
“Caesar advised them to restrain the soldiers from advancing out of a hope for plunder.”
Fastīdiōsī istī tē dēterrent quōminus servīs tuīs hilarem tē praestēs.
“Those loathsome men deter you from being lively with your slaves.”
After negated verbs expressing doubt, an indirect question usually introduced by quīn with a subjunctive verb is used. Some verbal phrases expressing doubt include: dubitō (“doubt”), dubium est (“it is doubtful”), ambigitur (“it is uncertain”), etc.
In this construction, quīn is generally translated as “that”.
Nōn dubitō, quīn haec et cētera fiant. “I do not doubt that these and other things happen.”
Mihi nōn est dubium quīn rēs spectet ad castra.
“I have no doubt that the matter tends toward war.”
(literally, There is not doubt to me that the matter tends toward military camps.)
Nōn discrepat quīn dictātor eō annō Aulus Cornēlius fuerit.
“It is not disputed that the dictator that year was Aulus Cornelius.”
This same construction follows expensions of doubt that are expressed as a rhetorical question expecting a negative reply (ie. numquid dubitat? “could anyone doubt?”, cui dubium est? “to whom is it doubtful?”, dubitem? “could I doubt?” etc.).
Numquid dubium est quīn contrāria sit beneficiō iniūria?
“Could there be any doubt that injury is the opposite of benefit?”
Expressions of doubt, when they are not negated (and sometimes when it is negated), take an indirect question. Common interrogatives in this context include: utrum... an (“whether... or”), an (“whether or not” or “whether... or”), -ne... an (“whether or not”), etc.
Dubitō vērusne Cupīdō an somnus fuerit, sed, putō, somnus erat.
“I question whether it was really Cupid or a dream, but, I suppose, it was a dream.”
Dubium est utrum ōrātiōnem nostram tolerābilem tantum an admīrābilem esse cupiāmus?
“Is there doubt whether we want our oration to be merely tolerable or admirable?”
When an expression of doubt is followed immediately by an, the phrase often, but not always, implies a positive inclination or likelihood. Therefore, dubitō an is often best translated as “I am inclined” or “I am thinking that”.
Nōn nūllī dubitant an Caesar per Sardiniam veniat.
“Some are thinking that Caesar is coming by way of Sardinia.”
Dubium est an ēlēctione fātī datā plūrēs nāscī Rēgulī quam Maecēnātēs velint.
“It is likely that, if a choice of fates was given, more would want to be Regulus than Maecenas”
After a negated impersonal expressions of absence expressed by the verb abest, a clause introduced by quīn with a subjunctive verb is used. In Latin, the clause introduced by quīn functions as the subject of the impersonal verb abest.
Some phrases expressing lack include: nōn multum abest (“not much was lacking”), quid abest (“what is lacking?”), minimum abest (“little was lacking”). The clause beginning quīn is a noun clause and functions as the subject of the impersonal verb abest.
In this construction, quīn is often translated as “from” with the subjunctive verb translated as an English participle (“-ing”). This construction, however, is probably best translated into English as “it was not far from the case that...” (or similar).
Paulum āfuit quīn Fabius Paelignus Vārum interficeret.
“Little was lacking from Fabius Paelignus killing Varus.”
or “It was not far from happening that Fabius Paelignus killed Varus.”
(literally, “That Fabius Paelignus killed Varus was absent by a little.”)
Nōn multum āfuit quīn Posīdōnius sūtrīnum inventum ā sapientibus dīceret.
“Not much was missing from Posidonius claiming that cobbling was invented by the wise.”
or “It was not far from happening that Posidonius claimed the cobbling was invented by the wise.”
Some additional notes
In this lesson, clauses introducted by quīn can be variously catagorized as result clauses, purpose clauses, indirect questions, and noun clauses of result depending on the construction.
For the use of quīn in negative clauses of result, see Assignment 18.
For quīn in negative clauses of characteristic, see Assignment 19.
Quīn has a variety of meanings in other grammatical contexts not discussed here. This includes as a negative interrogative in direct questions (quīn, “why not?”). Sometimes, quīn can introduce a question with an indicative verb which has the force of a command (see §449 2b).
Quīn can also function as an adverb meaning “verily” “indeed” or even “nay, rather”. For more details, see the entry in Lewis and Short (see sections C and D).
After negated verbs of speaking or thinking (which more commonly take an accusative and infinitive) a clause introduced by quīn with a subjunctive verb is sometimes used. These verbs include: negō (“deny”), dīcō (“say”), īgnōrō (“be ignorant”), recūsō (“be unwilling” or “refuse”). In this construction, quīn is best translated into English as “that” or with an infinitive.
Nōn recūsās quīn accurrās. “You are not unwilling to come running.
The same construction is used after a rhetorical question.
Quid potest dīcere quīn sē hostem cōnfessus sit?
“Why is it possible to claim that he has confessed himself as our enemy?”
The verb recūsō sometimes also appears with quōminus.
The verbs prohibeō (“prohibit”) and vetō (“forbid”) usually take an accusative and infinitive construction (whether or not these verbs are negated). These constructions are generally translated with the preposition “from” and an English participle (“-ing”).
Nec tē prohibuerim aliquandō cavillātiōnēs agere, sed cum volēs nihil agere.
“I would not prohibit you from sometimes practicing sophistry, but only when you want to do nothing at all.”
Piliam angī vetā. “Forbid Pilia from being anxious.”
Dubitō meaning “hesitate” (whether or not it is negated) usually takes an infinitive.
Quid, inpia Dēianīra, dubitās morī? “Why, wicked Deianira, do you hesitate to die?”
Unlike the phrase dubitō an, the phrase nesciō an expresses genuine doubt.
Veniō nunc ad id quod nesciō an primum esse dēbuerit.
“I come now to that which I am not sure should have come first.”
Sometimes the expression abest can be used personally with quīn.
Dēstitūtō similis nōn multum āfuit quīn vītae renūntiāret.
“Like to one destitute, he was not far from giving up on life.”.
For each of the following expressions of impeding, identify whether quīn or nē is the correct subordinating conjunction.
Sample: Sustinērī īra Latinōrum nōn potuit _____ extemplō cōnflīgerent.
Sample: Impedior verēcundia _____ tē plūribus verbīs rogem.
Mea mēns tenērī nōn potuit _____ esset grata.
Continē dolōrem _____ appāreat.
Ipsa suspīciō dēterruit _____ quis exīret.
Continuī male mē _____ ōscula ferrem
Nōn mora est _____ dēcernerētur.
Tuae lacrimae mē impediunt _____ plūra dīcam.
Vix temperāvērunt animīs _____ extemplō impetum facerent.
Cupiō dēterrēre _____ permaneās in inceptō.
Gnaeus Iūlius Agricola temperāvit vim suam ārdōremque compescuit _____ incrēsceret.
Nē minimam quidem moram interposuistī _____ maximō gaudiō et grātulātiōne fruerēmur
For each of the following sentences, determine which of the provided subordinating conjunctions would be correct for the context.
Sample: Nōn ea rēs mē dēterruit _____ litterās ad tē mitterem. (quō minus or nē)
Answer: quō minus
Sample: Hoc frāter cōnsul obstitit _____ fieret. (quōminus or nē)
Sample: Quis dubitābit _____ ēloquentia prīmās in rē publicā nostrā tenuerit? (quīn or nē)
Sample: Hoc tibi ita mandō ut dubitem _____ tē rogem ut pugnēs nē intercalētur. (quīn or an)
Germānī retinērī nōn potuerant _____ in nostrōs tēla conicerent. (quīn or nē)
Senātus impediēbātur _____ respōnsum equitibus Rōmānīs redderētur. (quīn or quō minus)
Numquam dubium est _____ timor fugam habeat, īra impetum. (quīn or quō minus)
Frīgidus sanguis circum praecordia obstīterit _____ hās partēs accēdere possim. (quīn or nē).
Numquid dubitās _____ beata vīta summum bonum sit? (quīn or nē)
Dubitō _____ Venusiam tendam. (quīn or an)
Nec dubitō _____ haec querēla mea tuō iūdiciō vocētur rūstica. (quīn or an)
Id ambigitur _____ in Boiōs prius an Īnsubrēs cōnsul exercitum dūxerit. (quīn or utrum)
Aegrē abstinent _____ castra oppugnent. (quīn or nē)
Sī tē īnfirmitās valētūdinis tenuit _____ ad lūdōs venīrēs, fortūnae tribuō. (quīn or quō minus)
Haud erat dubium _____ Lucernīs opem Rōmānus ferret. (quīn or nē)
Metus dictātōris obstitit _____ tribūnī ea impedīrent. (quīn or nē)
Ad tē brevior in scrībendō incipiō fierī dubitāns Romaene sīs _____ profectus sis. (quīn or an)
Nulla mora facta est _____ Poenus ēducēret in aciem. (quīn or utrum)
Nōn multum āfuit _____ etiam castrīs expellerentur. (quīn or quō minus)
Translate the following sentences using grammar from this assignment.
Tē nōn dēterreō quōminus haec legās.
Impedior dolōre nē plūra scrībam.
Nihil impedit quō minus id facere possīmus.
Videō tē iustā causā impedīrī quō minus ad nōs veniās.
Nihil abest quīn sim miserrimus.
Non est dubium quīn īra sit magna et pestifera vīs.
Aegrē sunt retentī quīn oppidum inrumperent.
Nāvēs ventō tenēbantur quōminus in eundem portum venīre possent.
Paulum āfuit quīn ille scrīpta et imāginēs Vergilī et Titī Līvī ex bibliothēcīs āmovēret.
Dubitō an incipiam scrībere tibi nōn epistulās, sed cōdicellōs.
Examples in Context
Translate the following modified examples.
n) Context for the sentence(s)
Modified example sentence(s)
[grammatical and contextual notes, if any]
1) Medea recalls her reaction to seeing her husband Jason at the head of a marriage procession.
Vix mē continuī quīn clāmārem, "Meus est!".
2) Dido suggests that Trojan gods will not abide by Aeneas’ behavior towards her.
Nōn mihi mēns dubia est quīn tē tua nūmina damnent.
[tua nūmina, “your gods”]
3) Cicero, just arrived in Italy from Greece, remarks about his brother’s sight-seeing.
Quīntō Cicerōnī obsistī nōn potuit quō minus Thyamim vidēret.
[Quīntō Cicerōnī, Cicero’s brother; obsistī, passive inf.; potuit, impersonal; Thyamim, “Thyamis”, a river in Greece]
4) Ovid admits that his exile to Tomis has influenced his poems.
Nec dubitō quīn sint et in hōc libellō nōn pauca barbara. Culpa hominis nōn est, sed culpa locī.
[et, adverbial “also”; nōn pauca, “many” ; barbara, substantive adjective]
5) Seneca reminds Lucilius to include a discussion of Aetna in his poem about Sicily and not to be dissuaded by the fact that others have already covered this topic.
Nihil obstītit, quōminus Ovidius Aetnam tractāret, quod Vergilius iam implēverat.
[Nihil, nom. subject; quod, “because”; implēverat, perhaps “covered it” as in to treat a topic]
6) Cicero sarcastically repeats a claim from Verres, who must have claimed that he quelled a slave rebellion.
Obstītistī vidēlicet nē cōpiae fugitīvōrum ex Italiā in Siciliam trānsīre possent.
[vidēlicet, “evidently” expresses sarcastic disbelief in the following statement]
7) Orgetrix promotes a scheme for putting Gaul under the rule of the Helvetii.
Orgetrīx probat nōn esse dubium quīn Helvētiī tōtīus Galliae plūrimum possent.
[tōtīus Galliae, genitive of the whole; plūrimum possent, “have greatest influence” or “have the greatest power”]
8) Orgetrix is put on trial for his scheme and dies mysteriously.
Suspiciō nōn abest, ut Helvētiī arbitrantur, quīn Orgetorīx sibi mortem cōnscīverit.
[Suspiciō nōn abest, is equivalent to nōn dubitat; sibi mortem cōnscīverit, “kill oneself”]
9) Seneca reflects on the role of philosophy in everyday life.
Quis dubitāre, mī Lucīlī, potest quīn deōrum inmortālium munus sit quod vīvimus, philosophiae quod bene vīvimus?
[mī Lucīlī, voc. singular (for the form, see the Assignments 15 & 16); munus, here “a gift”; quod... quod, both introducing substantive clauses “that” or “namely that”; philosophiae, resupply munus]
10) The Massilians plead with Trebonius’ forces not to storm the city before Caesar arrives to oversee their surrender.
Docuērunt, sī omnīnō turris concīdisset, nōn posse mīlitēs continērī quīn spē praedae in urbem irrumperent urbemque dēlērent.
[Docuērunt, the subject is the Massilians; praedae, objective gen. (see Assignment 4)]
11) Cicero suggests that Lucius Junius Brutus was perhaps overeager in killing Arruns Tarquinius, the son of Tarquinius Superbus.
Dē Luciō Brūtō fortasse dubitāverim an propter īnfīnītum odium tyrannī ecfrēnātius in Arruntem invāserit.
[dubitāverim, potential subjunctive expressing a mild assertion (see Assignment 8); tyrannī, objective gen. (see Assignment 4); ecfrēnātius, “more violently”; invāserit, the implied subject is Lucius Brutus]
12) Ovid reminds his male reader not to be overly shy in the bedroom.
Cum loca reppererīs, quae fēmina tangī gaudet, nē pudor obstet quō minus illa loca tangās.
[Cum, circumstantial “once”; quae, accusative subject of the passive inf. tangī; nē... obstet, a negated jussive subjunctive (see Assignment 6)]
13) Livy imagines that his readers will be much more interested in the later parts of historical account than in the founding of Rome.
Plērīsque legentium haud dubitō quīn prīmae orīginēs minus voluptātis praebitūrae sint.
[Plērīsque, dat. “for the majority”; minus, direct object; praebitūrae sint, periphrastic future subjunctive]
14) Some Roman officials attempt to disrupt an influx of superstitious rites which have taken over activity in the forum.
Cum ēmovēre eam multitūdinem ē forō ac disicere appāratūs sacrōrum cōnātī essent, haud procul āfuit quīn violārentur.
[cōnātī essent... violārentur, the subject is the Roman officials; violārentur, “be injured” or “be treated with violence”]
15) Seneca argues that, in the case of free persons and slaves alike, the mind cannot be hindered by the body.
Mēns est suī iūris, quae adeō lībera et vaga est, ut ab hōc carcere, cui inclūsa est, tenērī nōn queat quō minus inpetū suō ūtātur et ingentia agat et in īnfīnītum comes caelestibus exeat.
[sui iuris, “of it’s own accord”; ut... queat, a result clause; cui “in which”; inpetu suo, ablative object of the deponent ūtātur; ingentia, we might say “great things”; comes, apposition “as a companion”]