Beginner Group FAQ

The following are some questions frequently asked about the operation of Wheelock-based beginner groups sponsored by the LatinStudy list.

When does the next introductory Latin group start?

Introductory groups typically are started three or four times a year.  Since the coordinators are volunteers, we can't predict schedules precisely.  New classes will be announced a month in advance in the weekly activities posting.


I found this group after it was started.  Can I still join?

Certainly!  To join, just start sending in assignments.  In previous groups, people have joined as late as Chapter 30.


Can I get academic credit?

No.  The LatinStudy list is unaffiliated with any academic institution.


Do I have to pay?

No.  This is a hobby, not a business.


What is the required textbook?

Wheelock's Latin, 7th edition by Frederic M. Wheelock and revised by Richard A. LaFleur.  The list price is about $22 USD.  Many large bookstores carry copies and the usual online booksellers (,,, also keep discounted copies in stock.

Scribblers, Sculptors, and Scribes by Richard A. LaFleur is a companion collection of authentic, unmodified Latin that many group coordinators use in their Wheelock groups.


Can I use an earlier edition of Wheelock's Latin?

You could certainly use an earlier version of Wheelock's to learn Latin (except the 4th edition; skip that one); however one big advantage of this group is that we can compare our collated answers.  This doesn't work very well if people are using multiple editions of the textbook.  Get a 7th edition.


Are there any other textbooks?

None are required, although after a couple of chapters, people who have the time and energy can start translating longer passages from 38 Latin Stories by Anne Groton & James May.  This text was used extensively in our groups prior to the publication of Scribblers, Sculptors, and Scribes. It has been updated for Wheelock's Latin, 7th edition.

There are two other texts worth mentioning.  One is Workbook for Wheelock's Latin by Comeau and LaFleur.  Note that the supplementary exercises in the back of Wheelock's Latin are just as useful (and those ones have answers).

The other is Dale Grote's Comprehensive Guide to Wheelock's Latin, 2nd edition.  This book explains Wheelock's book for those of us who are a bit shaky on this English grammar stuff.

There is no need for a Latin dictionary at this time.  Wheelock's Latin has all the Latin-English and English-Latin material you'll need for the beginners group.


What is a collation?

A collation is side-by-side listing of your group's translations or exercise answers.  The study group's coordinator creates the collation from email submissions and posts it to the list for discussion.  This edited example from Wheelock's Latin may be instructive.

After receiving your collation, you should compare your translation or homework with those of other people in order to correct yourself and learn.  If your translation is very different from the others, figure out why.  If you're stumped, post a question to the list or the group's coordinator.  Take a look at some of the non-majority translations and try to figure whether they're right or not.  Bear in mind that there can be generally more than one “right” answer or translation and that the majority does not necessarily rule.


How do I format my assignments?

To generate a collation posting, the group's coordinator will often use collation software that relies upon your assignment being formatted in a particular way. That formatting convention is described on the page How to Format a Wheelock Assignment.


Where do I ask questions?

Depending upon the question, you have several options.  If the question relates to the group's administration (e.g., when is the assignment due?), send mail to the group coordinator.

If the question is about Latin or English grammar, mail your question to the latinstudy list.  This is often the quickest way to get a response. It also helps to give some context to your question.  For example, if you don't understand how to translate a Latin phrase, you will be more likely to get a response if you reproduce the entire Latin sentence in your email, than if you refer to “Sententia Antiqua 3 in Chapter 9”.  Not everyone capable of answering your question has a copy of Wheelock's Latin at hand.

We do not maintain an archive of official or even informal answers to the exercises in Wheelock's Latin.  However, some common questions have been collected, together with helpful responses, in Gary Bisaga's LatinStudy Wheelock FAQ.

Finally, if you have subscription questions that aren't answered in the general FAQ or in the LatinStudy subscription page, send email to


What are the useful web resources?

There are many useful web resources.  Here are just a few.


I don't like Wheelock's Latin.  Can we use some other text?

If you want to set up your own group and coordinate it, you can use whatever text you want.  Seriously.  Anyone can start a self-study group on this list.  Although we usually use Wheelock, other beginners groups on the LatinStudy list have used texts such as the Oxford series, Collins' A Primer of Ecclesiastic Latin, and Moreland & Fleischer's Latin: An Intensive Course.


My son/daughter is X years old.  Can he/she join the group?

We won't turn anyone away.  However in prior groups, children aged twelve or older have had the best success with the Wheelock material, which is college-level.  Parents should also peruse the posting policy for the list.


Can we go faster?  Can we go slower?

It depends on your coordinator.  Since most coordinators have a life (no wisecracks, please), they often suggest that you should find another coordinator (such as yourself?) for the “differently speeded” group.

The past experience has been that people who want to go slower eventually drop out before completing the text.

On the other hand, if you want to go faster, there's nothing to prevent you from finishing the book ahead of schedule and joining one of the more advanced translation groups.

The rate we've chosen (a chapter every two to three weeks) is the one that seems to have produced the best results (that is, the fewest dropouts) over the years.


Why am I receiving email about Caesar, Vergil, and such?

The LatinStudy list hosts a number of groups at different levels.  This mix of beginners and more advanced people is very useful when someone has a question.  For this reason we have lumped everyone together, rather than split the subgroups into their separate email lists.  The custom is to tag the subject line with a subgroup's name, for example, "Caesar" or "Vergil" or "Livy".  This allows other people to set up email filters if they want to filter out certain topics.

If you want to receive the list as one or two emails per day, go to the LatinStudy subscription page and sign up for the digest version of the list.


How do I unsubscribe from the list?

Go to the LatinStudy subscription page to unsubscribe.  The unsubscription instructions are also at the bottom of each email sent to the list.


How do I write macrons or long marks above my vowels?

The preferred method of indicating a long vowel when writing Latin in email is to capitalize the vowel.  For example, amO indicates that the final o is long.

You can indeed persuade your word processing software to generate vowels with macrons or carets above them.  For your assignments, however, it just isn't worth the trouble.  Please read the next topic to understand why.


Why are my macrons changed to uppercase vowels in the collation?

So you cleverly figured out how to put long marks or carets above your vowels, and now the collation software has changed those vowels to uppercase letters.  What's going on?

The collation software has to cope with email written in at least four character sets:  ASCII, Windows-1251, ISO-8859-1, and Unicode.  For most characters, those character sets are the same.  However they start diverging when it comes to curving quotation marks, em-dashes, various attempts at writing macrons, and other decorated characters.  By “diverge”, we mean the characters look different depending on what character set your email software attempts to use.

A compromise is in order.  Since Latin requires only the same characters that English uses, the collation software takes the view that ASCII is the least common denominator and coerces what it knows about into the ASCII equivalent.  When it sees a fancy vowel that is probably a macron, it replaces that character with the appropriate uppercase vowel.