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Begin by defining pronouns: "a small group of words used in place of nouns in sentences, where from context it is understood what nouns they replace." Coming from Latin pro-nomen ("in place of a noun"), pronouns save us a lot of breath. Consider for a moment where Old King Cole would be without pronouns:
Pronouns are very common forms in language, and the more common a form the less likely it is to be regularized. Simply put, when a form is heard and spoken many times in a day, it can afford to be irregular, because its irregular forms are constantly reinforced in daily use. Verbs like "be" and "bear" can be irregular because we hear their irregular forms, "was/were/been" and "bore/borne," over and over. If for some reason they were to become uncommon, their irregular forms would, no doubt, quickly degenerate into more predictable forms, " I have be-ed" and "I have bear-ed." Verbs like "to quantize" and "to retroactivate" which are heard infrequently are simply assumed to have regular forms. After all, what good is it to memorize an irregular form for a word one will use once or twice in a lifetime? Therefore, pronouns—common forms in almost all western languages—show multiple irregularities. Consider as a parallel English pronouns many of which retain archaic and irregular forms, for instance, plurals such as they/these/those; gendered forms such as he/she/it; and those which retain case endings like his, him, her, its, their, whose, and whom.
Though there appear to be many irregularities in Latin pronouns, close inspection of these forms reveals patterns helpful in understanding and learning them, for example:
The long mark over the final vowels of illâ and istâ (feminine ablative singular) is mandatory, as is the long mark over the vowel in hôc (ablative singular masculine/neuter) which can be confused with hoc without the long mark, the neuter nominative/accusative singular.
Latin has a wider range of demonstrative pronouns (hic, ille, is, iste) than English (this, that) and uses them in a variety of ways which may seem foreign to modern English-speakers. For instance, Latin demonstratives represent degrees of indication: is is the weakest demonstrative ("this book" [with no pointing]), hic and ille are stronger ("this book" [with a wave of the hand toward the book]) and iste represents the strongest degree of demonstration possible ("this book" [pointing directly at the book, most often in a negative way]). In sum, the force of the Latin demonstrative falls somewhere between that of the English simple pronoun (e.g. it) and stronger demonstrative forms (e.g. that).
Moreover, demonstratives are often used as substantives, e.g. hic = "this man." Along those lines, hic and ille are often employed in Latin where we would use third-person pronouns (he/she/it/they). Also, hic can mean "the latter" (i.e. "this," what's closer to the point where one is now in the sentence) and ille "the former" (i.e. "that," what's further up the sentence). Conversely, however, unlike English this and that, Latin hic ("this") doesn't have a strong sense of referring to a person or thing nearby, nor does ille ("that") necessarily convey a sense that the referent is far away. Thus, the demonstrative pronoun hic is sometimes best rendered "this," sometimes "that." The same is true of ille.
Click here for a handout on demonstrative pronouns.
locus: Has a plural with variable gender: in the neuter (loca), it means "places (which are somehow connected with one another), a region"; in the masculine (loci), it means "places (which are separate from others), individual passages in a book."
iste: Wheelock's attempt to render the derogatory sense inherent in iste as "that . . . of yours", as in "that ridiculous translation of yours," can be somewhat misleading. There is nothing innately second person about this pronoun. A better translation might be "that darned translation" or "that (grrrrr!) translation."
alter: Its genitive singular (alterius) supplies the genitive singular of alius which by rule should not distinguish between the nominative masculine and genitive singular forms. Learn alius along with alter, even though it's not listed in this chapter's vocabulary.
nullus: Means "no" as an adjective—as in "Yes, we have no bananas!"—not "no" as the answer to a question. Memorize ullus along with nullus, even though it's not listed in the vocabulary.
solus: The adverb solum, formed from the accusative singular form of the adjective, means "merely, only." Point out to students that non solum . . . sed etiam ("not only . . . but also") is a common formula in Latin.
enim: A postpositive conjunction.
in: When in takes an ablative object, it means "in, on," but when it takes an accusative object, it means "into, onto."
Practice and Review
3. Note that genitives tend to follow what they go with; therefore, it's best to construe huius with vitiis.
12. A word for "man" is not strictly necessary in Latin. Use hic as a substantive.
13. "That (courage) of yours" does not involve the second person in any way. Use iste instead; it covers "that . . . of yours" entirely.
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