Accusativus cum infinitivo

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The accusativus cum infinitivo (Latin = accusative with infinitive ), also abbreviated as AcI, is a sentence construction known mainly from Latin and ancient Greek , but also common in other languages .


An AcI is the object of a superordinate verb of perception, knowledge or speaking (ie a "head verb") (verba sentiendi et dicendi) or certain impersonal expressions ( constat - 'it is certain').

The accusative of AcI is usually given in translation as the subject of a clause with the introductory conjunction that , the infinitive as its predicate . If the AcI is premature , it is in the infinitive perfect, in the case of simultaneity in the infinitive present and in the case of postponement in the infinitive future. If the subject in AcI is the same as the subject of the matrix sentence , the reflexive pronoun se can be used as the subject accusative in AcI . It has to be translated with the non-reflexive personal pronoun er , she or es .

An AcI can also be translated as indirect speech . A literal translation into German is only possible for verbs of sensual perception.


A well-known example is the quotation Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam attributed to Cato .

Ceterum censeo means 'by the way I agree', Carthaginem is the accusative of Carthago and eats an infinitive; delere means 'to destroy', in the present nd form 'a (city) to be destroyed'. So: 'Besides, I am of the opinion that Carthage must be destroyed'.

Without AcI: Gaius dicit: "Lucius multos amicos ad cenam invitat." - 'Gaius says:' Lucius invites many friends to dinner. '

With AcI: Gaius Lucium multos amicos ad cenam invitare dicit. - 'Gaius says that Lucius is inviting many friends to dinner. "Or" Gaius says that Lucius is inviting many friends to dinner.'

Without AcI: Lucius videt: Amicus per aulam properat. - 'Lucius sees: The friend hurries through the courtyard.'

With AcI: Lucius amicum per aulam properare videt. - 'Lucius sees that the friend is rushing through the courtyard.' (or 'Lucius sees the friend rushing through the courtyard', whereby the AcI construction is retained in German)

Without AcI: Consul putat: Populus Romanus senatoribus fidem habet. - 'The consul believes: The Roman people have confidence in the senators.'

With AcI: Consul populum Romanum senatoribus fidem habere putat. - 'The consul believes that the Roman people have confidence in the senators.'

Ambiguous AcI: Aio te Romanos vincere posse. - Either 'I say that you can defeat the Romans' or 'I say that the Romans can defeat you'; Words of Pythia to Pyrrhus , (handed down by Quintus Ennius ).

Ancient Greek

This is similar in ancient Greek. However, the AcI is usually only used here if its subject is different from the subject of the superordinate predicate.

If this is not the case, the simple infinitive is usually used:

With AcI: νομίζω σε εἰδέναι (Latin puto te scire) 'I believe that you know.'

Without AcI: νομίζω εἰδέναι (Latin puto me scire) 'I believe that I know' (or: '... to know').

The AcI stands in Greek after verbs of saying and thinking, desiring and wishing, being able and willing (as an object) and after impersonal expressions (as a subject).

Further examples

Ἐν τοῖς φαύλοις φιλίαν γίγνεσθαι οὐκ ἔξεστιν. 'It is not possible for the bad to develop friendship.'


The AcI construction can also be used in German, although not as often as in Latin. A comparable sentence structure often occurs after verbs of perception in particular: The sentence “I hear the wind whistling” is synonymous with “I hear the wind whistling”. "The wind" is in the accusative, and "whistle" is an infinitive that functions as a predicate for "wind".


The AcI can also be used in English after verbs of perception and volition:

  • I saw her go. ('I saw her go.' Or 'I saw that she went.')
  • I would like him to know ... ('I want him to know ... ') - him is here in the object form.

It also occurs in causative clauses :

  • That always makes me blink. ('That always makes me blink.' (Obsolete) or 'That always makes me blink.')
  • The guard let her pass. ('The guard let them pass.')

The English AcI can - depending on the valence of the main verb - be formed either with the "full infinitive" (to go) or with the "bare infinitive" (go) . For some verbs, a distinction must be made between active and passive. Compare:

  • I heard her say ... (active: 'I heard her say ...')
  • She was heard to say ... (passive: ' She was heard saying ...')

See also