Latin: Why is it "ora pro nobis"?


As a native German speaker, the concept of different grammatical cases (Nominative, Genitive, Dative and Accusative) is familiar to me. The Latin has extra cases (such as Ablative and Locative) but the concept is the same, I gather.

Now, in the responses of the Litany of the Saints, we sing “Ora(te) pro nobis” and in the Agnus Dei we have “Dona nobis pacem”.

In German, those two examples would have different grammar as follows:

Ora(te) pro nobis/eo: “Bete für uns/ihn”, accusative
Dona nobis pacem: “Gib uns (deinen) Frieden”, dative

I have been wondering about this for some time: Why is it dative “Ora pro nobis” in Latin, when in according to German grammar (and my German brain’s logic) it should be the accusative “Ora pro nos”? I’m not saying that Latin should conform to German grammar (silly), but it does seem rather foreign to a language that has the same concept.

One extra question: In the Requiem Aeternam prayer, we say “Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis”. What is the correct version for the singular reference, like “Eternal rest grant onto him/her, O Lord”?


In the sentence “Ora pro nobis.” the imperative, 2nd person, singular is used. Also, dative is used for the directive object of a verb pertaining to a giving act.

In German would Beten be used for the verb?

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.


Yes, beten is the German verb.


DISCLAIMER: I know nothing of German grammar

Does German have the ablative case?

The *nobis *in *ora pro nobis *is not dative nor is it the object (direct nor indirect) of the verb *ora *-- *nobis *is in the ablative case because it is the object of the preposition *pro *which governs the ablative.

Likewise, I would guess that in German the pronoun is in the accusative case not as the object of the verb, but as the object of the preposition. But, considering the DISCLAIMER above, that is only a guess.



No, German doesn’t have that case. My knowledge is very limited, as you could probably tell. :slight_smile:


“Nobis” seems to refer to the people as a collective thing rather than “we”. In Dutch, it would be “bid voor ons” implying that you’re asking someone to pray for us. You don’t say “bid voor wij”, which is what “ora pro nos” would imply. The closest thing to that is “Wij bidden voor jou” - “We pray for you”.


There are times in Latin where a preposition does take on an accusative, such as “in Romam” (such as, went “into Rome”) as opposed to the ablative “in Roma” (such as, being “in Rome”) but this is not one of them. In fact, I don’t know when “pro” ever could take on an accusative.

It’s “pro vobis et pro multis” not “pro vos et pro multos” although the Spanish does have the “os” ending. (“por vosotros y por todos”) so somewhere along the line some might have applied the objective case to it, as it is in English. If you read the history of how the modern romance languages came to be and how they were morphed from the Latin, you’ll find a lot of the accusative form of the noun being used with the last letter(s) dropped.


Re: Ora pro nobis.**

The Latin Dative Case**The most useful and common translation of the dative case into English is with the preposition “for”. Our sense that the dative is to be translated with the preposition “to” is a result of the common use of the dative with a verb of giving where the English idiom is “I give this to you.” …

Handy tip: If a word does not have a preposition and could be either a dative or an ablative, it is a dative if it is a person, an ablative if it is a thing. Exception: the Ablative Absolute.


Okay, but why do we translate “consubstantialem Patri,” “Patri” being in the dative, as “consubstantial with the Father” instead of “consubstantial to the Father” as some older handmissals have translated it?



So consubstantialem (being with) + Patri (the Father) it is using the dative with special adjectives: Adjectives of likeness, fitness, friendliness, nearness, etc. and their opposites take the dative.

It seems that consubstantialem has the sense of “with” or “together” from con (from cum), or that can also be translated “to”.

I think there are about twelve categories of dative. I had to look-up information because it has been so long since I was in Latin classes.


Yes, “con” already conveys the sense of “with” and “sub” conveys the sense of “under” (stantis is the past participle of “to stand, exist.”) So it’s existing both with and under. But then one would expect the ablative “Patre” but this isn’t there. “Patri” in the dative case is baffling, in the English anyway. But it must have made sense to the Roman authors.


Thank you for the correction. Certainly the ablative is used with: a, ab, e, ex, de, sine, cum, prae, pro.


The rule for dative with special adjectives is for adjectives of likeness, fitness, friendliness, nearness, etc. and their opposites take the dative. So it seems that the nearness expressed in consubstantialem qualifies it to use the special adjectives rule.


This is something I guess I wasn’t paying much attention to, since in most cases, the ablative and the dative have the same ending, and without a preposition, it makes translations tough if not impossible. You have to take the Latin as is. But I’ll have to agree with you on the dative with special adjectives in this case.


You know how in German there are some propositions that always go with the same case (e.g. “mit” always goes with dative). Proposition “pro” always goes with ablative case, such as in “pro deo et patria”, “pro nobis” etc.


When you were going to say “into Rome” it would simply be “Romam”, in the accusative, because you don’t use a preposition for motion-towards for a city in Latin, if my memory serves correctly. Similarly, you wouldn’t use the ablative to describe “being in Rome”; rather, you would use the locative (because it’s a city), which for a first declension noun would be “Romae.” And yes, “pro” always takes the ablative


You are right. I’ve seen in the Pope’s tweats where he uses just Dominum to mean “to the Lord.”

You seem to be right about the locative case as well. I forgot about that case.

Jolly good. :thumbsup:


s/b “tweets”



The locative seems quite forgettable, for some reason :stuck_out_tongue:

By the way, I’m sorry if I came across as brusque…I just learned about this in Latin class at my school, so I was eager to put that new knowledge into use :o :thumbsup:

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