Articles in Latin
Latin does not use articles. When translating a sentence from Latin to English, the Latin student must provide them him/herself using only context and logic to determine whether a definite or indefinite article is more appropriate. The Latin student has only his/her knowledge of English to aid in this decision. Take the Latin sentence below:
Puer puellae rosam dat.
This sentence translated literally into English would be:
Boy to girl rose he is giving.
This sentence does not follow proper English grammar but again, this is a literal translation. With a lack of definite and indefinite articles, the Latin student would be correct in translating this sentence in any of the following ways:
A boy is giving a rose to a girl
A boy is giving a rose to the girl
A boy is giving the rose to a girl
A boy is giving the rose to the girl
The boy is giving a rose to a girl
The boy is giving a rose to the girl
The boy is giving the rose to a girl
The boy is giving the rose to the girl
Without any further information on the three nouns in the sentence (boy, girl, and rose), there is no way of knowing whether these nouns are definite or indefinite.
Latin does, on occasion, provide a method of specifying a definite noun. The word “that" or “ille" in Latin can be used to refer to a specific noun. Alexander Lenard’s Latin translation of A. A. Milne’s famous Winnie the Pooh is familiar to many elementary Latin students. Translation of the title yields:
Winnie Ille Pu
“Ille" is a way of specifying a definite noun. Literally, “ille" is translated as “that" but the connection between “the" and “that" is quite obvious to an English speaker. Winnie Ille Pu refers to Winnie “that" Pooh. Not just any Pooh but “that" Pooh. However, “ille" is only used occasionally. Normally context and common sense are the only weapons in a student’s arsenal in determining the proper article. Lack of more information leaves it up to the student to decide.