Latin for Duolingo: Personal Pronouns, Lesson 3
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As always, if you want to skip grammar and jump to sample sentences, just skip down to the bottom section of this post. If you want to memorize vocabulary, the Memrise course might be your best option.
is, ea, id = he, she it
--, sui = himself, herself, itself, themselves (no nominative case; reflexive, refers to subject of sentence)
suus, a, um = his, her/ hers, its, their/theirs (reflexive, refers to subject of sentence)
Today we’ll continue learning the personal pronouns of Latin, with the singular side of the 3rd person pronouns.
Since the 3rd person refers to the person or persons spoken about in a sentence, and since there are 3 genders and 5 cases in Latin, if you include both singular and plural there are 30 forms that need to be mastered for personal pronouns. There is some overlap, but still that’s a lot for one lesson. According to some grammar authorities, there is no official 3rd person pronoun in Latin, and what is used instead is actually one of the demonstrative pronouns, meaning “that” or “those”. In fact, this form is sometimes used in that way, as a demonstrative adjective or pronoun. So for example, “Eam puellam video. = I see that girl.” probably over time became “Eam video. = I see that (female person)/her.” In our introductory lessons I’ll keep these types of sentences to a minimum, but it’s only fair you should know that there is a broader use, and that many pronouns do double duty as adjectives.
Here are the singular forms for 3rd person pronouns:
(case): masculine, feminine, neuter; (use)
(nominative): is = he, ea = she, id = it; (subject)
(genitive): ejus/eius = of him, her, it/ his, hers, its; (possessive)
I use the letter j in the genitive but many purists do not; it represents that the i is used as a consonant here. Either is perfectly acceptable and I will try to reflect that in the Memrise course. Also note that this is not to be confused with the reflexive possessive adjective, taught below.
(dative): ei = to/for him, her, it; (indirect object)
(accusative): eum = him, eam = her, id = it; (direct object, some objects of prep.)
(ablative): eo = him, eā = her, eo = it; (obj. of prepositions, esp. “in,by,with,from”)
Reflexives: when a 3rd person pronoun is used reflexively (one of the objective cases refers to the subject of the sentence), we must use a special set of reflexive pronouns. Only one form in each case works for all genders and both singular and plural:
(no nominative case is used: a reflexive pronoun by definition refers back to the subject)
(genitive): sui = of himself, of herself, of itself, of themselves
(dative): sibi = to/for himself, herself, itself, themselves
(accusative): se = himself, herself, itself, themselves
(ablative): se = (by/with/from) himself, herself, itself, themselves
Reflexive possessive adjective: used instead of “ejus” to refer to something belonging to the subject of the sentence:
suus, a, um = his (own), her (own), its (own), their (own)
This may seem like a lot of pronoun forms, and it is... but it allows finer distinctions in meaning than English, with fewer ambiguities. I’ll try to give some sentences that illustrate this.
Is eam videt. = He sees her.
Ea eum videt. = She sees him.
(Ei) id vident. = They see it.
Gaius uxorem suam videt. = Gaius sees his (own) wife.
Gaius uxorem ejus videt. = Gaius sees his (that other guy’s) wife.
Paula se in speculo videt. = Paula sees herself in the mirror.
Paula eam in villā videt. = Paula sees her (another woman) in the house.
Tu de vitā ejus legis. = You read about his/her life.
De filiā suā audit. = He hears about his (own) daughter.
(Ego) de eo audio. = I hear about him/it.
Id habeo. = I have it.
Marcus pecuniam ei dat. = Marcus gives money to him/her.
Mater chocolatum sibi dat. = Mom gives chocolate to herself.
Ea gratias ei agit. = She thanks him/her (gives thanks to him/her).
Imperator se laudat. = The emperor praises himself.
Imperator eum laudat. = The emperor praises him.
Lucia eācum laborat. = Lucia works with her.
Magistra panem filio suo dat. = The teacher gives bread to her son.
Pueri in scholā non edunt. Propter id, esurientes sunt. = The boys do not eat in school. Because of that/it, they are hungry.
id est (i.e.) = that is
sui generis = of its own kind, unique
eo tempore = at that time
eo loco = in that place
Pronouns are little words, but they can be hard to master. I’ve seen a lot of students struggle with them, and I think they need to be learned early and reviewed fairly often. This is an area where I think the interactive Duo lesson format would be amazing as a practice tool. I really hope to see Latin in the incubator someday soon. The next lesson will focus on the plural forms of the 3rd person pronouns; feel free to write any questions or comments below and I will try to help. Bonam fortunam!
Next lesson: Personal Pronouns 4