Latin Demonstrative Pronouns
Demonstrative pronouns in Latin have exactly the same form as demonstrative adjectives. “Hic, haec, hoc" (this, these) and “ille, illa, illud" (that, those) are used to represent pronouns used to point out other nouns. However, as with English demonstrative pronouns, they do not modify nouns, they replace them.
The trick to understanding the use of Latin’s demonstrative pronouns lies in an understanding of two main elements:
- What noun is the demonstrative pronoun replacing and
- how is the pronoun used in the sentence?
The first question will answer which number and gender the demonstrative pronoun must have (singular or plural, masculine or feminine) and the second question will answer what case (nominative, genitive, etc.) the demonstrative pronoun must be. For example:
Caesar duos filiorum habet. Hic miles est et ille nauta est.
Caesar has two sons. This (one) is a soldier and that (one) is a sailor.
There are a few things to take note of in the example sentence above. First, notice that the demonstrative pronouns “hic" and “ille" refer back to the noun “filiorum." However, in the second sentence they are singular rather than plural like “filiorum." This is because each son is being referred to separately and, therefore, each must be singular. Since “filiorum" is a masculine noun, both demonstrative pronouns are naturally masculine to agree with the noun to which they refer.
Finally, since the demonstrative pronouns are the subjects of the sentence, they must be in the nominative case. Just for a twist, recall that “nauta" is a first declension noun but is masculine rather the expected feminine of first declension nouns. Even without the first sentence, the second is a complete sentence on its own. Certainly, without the first sentence there is ambiguity as to whom the demonstrative pronouns are referring.
However, even without the first sentence, the second follows good Latin grammar. The subjects are in the nominative case, the number of pronouns match the number of the verbs, and the case of the pronouns match the case of the nouns “miles" and “nauta." The point here is that even without the first sentence, use of demonstrative pronouns does not allow for violation of proper Latin grammar.