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Latin for Duolingo: Personal Pronouns, Lesson 1

Salvete omnes!

Welcome to all Latin learners! If you’re just joining us and want to catch up, here are the links you’ll need:
- Directory of Lessons
- Vocabulary List
- Memrise course

This lesson, we will begin the complex process of learning Latin pronouns (Latin “pronomina”, literally, “in the place of nouns”). Now, we actually learned the nominatives of the personal pronouns, way back in the Basics lessons. To review:

ego (I), tu (you s.), is (he), ea (she), id (it)
nos (we), vos (you pl.)
We did not learn the three forms of they: ei (they masculine), eae (they feminine), ea (they neuter). But we’ll put them off for a few more lessons.

These forms are used as subject pronouns, but are not required in Latin, unlike most modern European languages, even if there is no expressed subject. This is because the verb contains a personal ending, making a subject pronoun unnecessary. Thus you can say “Ego video” or just “Video”, and both expressions mean “I see.” In Latin a subject pronoun is rarely expressed except for emphasis or to avoid confusion.

This lesson, we’ll learn the 4 other cases besides the nominative, but just for the first person pronouns ego and nos. First person is the grammatical term for the person(s) speaking. Pronouns may not be used consistently in the nominative case, but they are used quite a bit in the various objective cases, particularly in conversational Latin. It’s a little like learning a unique declension of a noun, and for the overview on the case uses, I refer you back to the lessons on the 1st 3 declensions of nouns.

Although there is a genitive form for 1st person pronouns, more commonly the possessive adjective meus, mea, meum (my/mine) or noster, nostra, nostrum (our/ours) is used. We’ve already used these forms quite a bit, and they follow the rules for 1st/2nd declension adjectives.

Any of the objective cases of the 1st person pronouns can be used reflexively, that is, referring to the subject. In this usage, it will be translated “myself” or “ourselves.”
And when the preposition “cum” is used with a personal pronoun, the usual order is reversed and it is contracted into one word, e.g., “mecum” (not cum me) = with me.

case name | singular | plural | typical use
nominative | ego = I | nos = we| subject
genitive | mei = of me | nostri/nostrum = of us | possession, “of” phrases
(instead of genitive pronouns, often the possessive adjectives meus, a, um or noster, nostra, nostrum are used)
dative | mihi = (to/for) me | nobis = (to/for) us | indirect object, the “to/for” case
accusative | me = me | nos = us | direct object (also some objects of preps.)
ablative | me = (by/with/from) me | nobis = (by/with/from) us | objects of prepositions, etc.

New Vocabulary
speculum, i = mirror (2nd declension neuter noun)
pro (prep. w. abl.) = on behalf of, for, before, in front of, in place of
ego, mei = I
nos, nostri/nostrum = we
medius, media, medium = middle, midst
meus, mea, meum = my, mine (usually used instead of “mei”)
noster, nostra, nostrum = our, ours (usually used instead of “nostri/nostrum”)

New sentences
(Tu) me vides. = You see me.
(Ea) nos videt. = She sees us.
Mater me ad cenam vocat. = Mom calls me to dinner.
Nomen mihi est ... = My name is/ The name for me is ...
Nomen (praenomen) meum est... = My (first) name is ...
(Vos) pecuniam nobis datis. = You give us money.
Agricolae hortum pro nobis faciunt. = The farmers make a garden for us.
Lucia malum mihi dat. = Lucia gives me an apple.
Liber est meus. = The book is mine.
Victoria est nostra! = The victory is ours!
Tu pars mei es. = You are a part of me. (note use of genitive pronoun)
Pro me laborat. = He works for me.
Pro patre meo laborat. = He works for my father.
Vita nostra = our lives (note singular form used collectively in Latin, but in English the plural is needed)
Vita omnium nostrum = The lives of all of us/ all our lives (note use of genitive pronoun)
(Ego) in speculo me video. = I see myself in the mirror.
(Nos) nos in speculo videmus = We see ourselves in the mirror.
(Nos) inter nos pugnamus. = We fight among ourselves.
Avia crustulum mihi dat. = Grandma gives me a cookie.
(Ego) crustulum mihi do. = I give myself a cookie.
Sunt hostes in medio nostri. = There are enemies in the midst of us/ in our midst.
Marcus et Paula mecum veniunt. = Marcus and Paula come with me.
Pro nobis laborant. = They are working for us.
Puer nobiscum ad ludum ambulat. = The boy walks with us to school.
Non nobis solum nati sumus (Cicero) = We were not born for ourselves alone.

Next time we’ll look at 2nd person pronouns. Until then, valete!

Next lesson: Personal Pronouns 2

November 19, 2015



Hi!!! What a grea coincidence I´ve also proposed Latín so here is the link for you to look at it: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/11754662.


That's great! It would be nice to see a Latin course for Spanish and the other Romance languages too. It's probably only a matter of time.


Yeah sure, thanks for anwsering!!!

  • [pronouns] but are not required in Latin, unlike most modern European languages

I had the impression that they are not required in the various Romance languages, which are a goodly number of the modern European languages?


Technically there are only five major Romance languages: Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian. If you think about the Slavic language family, they have many more than that, as does the Germanic language family.

Edit: But to answer your question, in most Romance languages - as in Latin - pronouns are usually omitted since the verb conforms to who's speaking or doing what. You probably don't want to omit pronouns in French, because some verbs sound the same in several persons, such as "je veux" vs "il veut".


I thought the pronouns were mandatory in French. In Italian they're not, as they're not in Spanish, and I'm not sure about Portuguese. No idea about Romanian.


Maybe they are, and I don't think they are in Romanian.

[deactivated user]

    The pronouns are mandatory in French, Romantsch, Waloon and their closest relatives, all of which are tiny.


    Somehow I lost my first reply... but you raise an interesting question. French requires subject pronouns, and English and the Germanic languages do, I'm pretty sure. The other Romance languages (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese) I guess don't strictly require them to be expressed, but I had the impression it was the polite or more formal way of speech. I'll defer to any native speakers on that question, though.


    In Italian you usually omit them. You only use them for emphasis or, rarely, for disambiguation, either in formal or informal language.


    Is this applicable to any modern Romance languages?


    Do you mean, the forms of Latin pronouns? Or Latin in general? Since Latin is the parent language of the Romance languages, you'll notice a lot of patterns. For example in this week's lesson,
    Latin, (English), Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese:
    ego (I), yo, je, io, eu
    me (me), me, me, mi, me
    nos (we), nosotros, nous, noi, nos
    nos (us), nos, nous, noi, nos

    I think some Romance languages also have the remnants of the other object cases in their pronouns, (ci, mi, moi). Whether knowing Latin helps you learn the Romance languages is debated - I personally think it does help me, and my students who go on to Spanish after Latin, but I'm the kind of person who finds grammar fascinating in itself, and I like tracing the linguistic changes through history.


    In the example "Sunt hostes in medio nostri." 'nostri' is the genitive pronoun form right? And with the possessive adjective it would be 'in medio nostro'? My question is, what exactly is the difference between the two forms of the genitive pronoun: 'nostri/nostrum'?

    I tried to look it up, and it's not exactly clear for me. All I found was that - if I got it right - 'nostri' is the "objective genitive", and 'nostrum' is the "partitive genitive" which is used for expressions like "one of us, many of us", but is that all the difference? And does it mean that in all other cases 'nostri' is used (apart from the use of the more common possessive adjective of course)?


    Join the club, it's not completely clear to me either! I took a Koine Greek course where we were supposed to learn to distinguish between about 12 different genitive uses, and I struggle with it. For this I went to the Lewis and Short entry for nos and I tried to find examples of every usage I was even a little unsure of in the literature, and I also found it in other examples. I think the example you cite is close to a sentence in either my Henle Latin book or an older book I found online. I'm sure someone with more advanced grammar than I could untangle it better. I'm pretty confident that "in medio nostri" is accurate, with the genitive pronoun, but I can't tell you why. "in medio nostro" with the possessive adjective might be correct also, but I'm less confident, so I'll leave it at that for now.


    I'm a bit out of practice, but "sunt hostes in medio nostri" should translate to "our enemies are in the middle". There is a common phrase "in MEDIOS hostes", which means "amid the enemies" (as in "I'm amid the enemies"), so make sure about the original Latin sentence.

    Here "nostri" is no genitive, but it's a plural nominative. As to your question, "nostri" may also be a singular genitive (hence the confusion in the translation), but "nostrum" is not a genitive, but a singular accusative. The plural genitive would be "nostrorum", however you may find an archaic plural genitive written as "nostrum" (especially in poetry).


    I'm not sure I have any rights to argue here, since my entire Latin knowledge is from this course only, but I think you are talking about the different forms of the possessive adjective/pronoun 'noster' = 'our, ours', but my question concerned the differences in the usage of the genitive forms of the personal pronoun 'nos' which is either 'nostri' or 'nostrum' = 'of us'. Regarding your suggested translation "our enemies are in the middle" it would be very strange for me - but yet again, I'm a beginner - if the possessive adjective 'nostri' would be placed so far from the noun it belongs to (I thought it should come either before or after the noun).


    I just had an idea for another possible phrasing of the Latin example, but please someone confirm if it's indeed correct: "Sunt hostes in medio nobis." Savisimo's example "in medios hostes" made me think about what could be the grammar behind this, because at first I didn't understand. But I think it must be actually in accusative, so it rather translates as "into the midst of enemies" like as in "in medias res"="into the midst of things". And the dictionary says it's actually the adjective 'medius, media, medium'=middle, mid, in the midst. So I wonder would it be possible to use it with 'nos' in the ablative?

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