The Benefits of Learning Latin

Male teacher (Latin) in front of blackboard
Latin Grammar is the Best Grounding for Education. Ulrike Schmitt-Hartmann / Getty Images
"Erras, mi Lucili, si existimas nostri saeculi esse vitium luxuriam et neglegentiam boni moris et alia, quae obiecit suis quisque temporibus; hominum sunt ista, non temporum. Nulla aetas vacavit a culpa."
-- Seneca Epistulae Morales XCVII

You probably wouldn't be reading this Ancient/Classical History feature if you thought classical culture should be confined to museums and dusty tomes. But taking the next step, reading the classics in the original, demands commitment and can take years.

Latin Grammar is the Best Grounding for Education

Unlike their parents, your school-aged children have time to devote to acquiring a skill that will last them a lifetime. Why should they learn Latin? Dorothy Sayers says it best:

"I will say at once, quite firmly, that the best grounding for education is the Latin grammar. I say this not because Latin is traditional and medieval, but simply because even a rudimentary knowledge of Latin cuts down the labor and pains of learning almost any other subject by at least 50 percent."
-- From the National Review.

Latin Helps With English Grammar

While neither the language nor grammar of English derives from Latin, many of our grammatical rules do. For instance, since you CAN'T have a dangling preposition in Latin, certain purists consider it bad form in English.

Latin Makes You More Careful in English

In Latin, you have more to worry about than whether a plural pronoun refers to a singular noun. In Latin, there are 7 cases with which not only pronouns but adjectives must agree. Learning such rules makes the student careful in English.

"But more important is the fact that traditional study of Latin starts out with a grammatical framework... As American students begin Latin, they become acquainted with the "Latin grammar" system, which they can indirectly transfer to their work in English. What it gives them is a standardized set of terms in which to describe words in relations to other words in sentences, and it is this grammatical awareness which makes their English writing good."
-- William Harris

Latin Helps You Maximize SAT scores

This sells Latin programs. Through Latin, test takers can guess at the meanings of new words because they already know the roots and prefixes. It's not just enhanced vocabulary. Math scores also increase.

Latin Increases Accuracy

This may be due to the increased accuracy Professor Emeritus William Harris notes:​

"From another point of view, the study of Latin does foster precision in the use of words. Since one reads Latin closely and carefully, often word by word, this focuses the student's mind on individual words and their usage. It has been noticed that people who have studied Latin in school usually write quite good English prose. There may be a certain amount of stylistic imitation involved, but more important is the habit of reading closely and following important texts with accuracy."
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Your Citation
Gill, N.S. "The Benefits of Learning Latin." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Gill, N.S. (2020, August 26). The Benefits of Learning Latin. Retrieved from Gill, N.S. "The Benefits of Learning Latin." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 26, 2023).