Latin for Duolingo: Demonstratives, Lesson 1

Salvete omnes! Welcome back to Latin for Duolingo. This totally unofficial series of Latin lessons has been going on for over a year now, as we wait for the noble classical language to make its way into the Duolingo incubator. If you would like to catch up with previous lessons, you can find a directory of lessons, a classified vocabulary list, and Memrise courses at these links:
- Directory of Lessons
- Vocabulary List
- Memrise course for vocabulary
- Memrise course with sentences created by zsocipuszmak
- Previous lesson, Adverbs 2

(If you want to skip the grammar, please feel free to jump to the sentences below and try them out). This time, we’ll cover the basics of demonstrative pronouns/adjectives. Words like “this, these, that, those” can be used either as pronouns standing alone, or as adjectives modifying a noun. This might be a good time to review the lessons on pronouns from several months ago, specifically the lesson on third person pronouns singular and third person pronouns plural

Grammarians will talk about the “near demonstrative” (this/these) and the “far demonstrative” (that/those). Latin has one form for the near demonstrative, hic/haec/hoc and for the far demonstrative, either is/ea/id or ille/illa/illud is used. Since is/ea/id is more commonly used as the plain 3rd person pronoun, ille/illa/illud is the one most commonly used to point out “that” or “those”, and is a little more emphatic. But in practical terms, they are used interchangeably both as personal pronouns and demonstratives, and it is important to be able to recognize them. I teach my students that the declension of hic/haec/hoc sounds a little like an aggressive goose, that comes near you and hisses and honks at you: this goose/these geese are a little too close for comfort. Ille/illa/illud makes a sound like a shy little bird over there, trilling away in the forest: that tweeting bird/those tweeting birds are shy and don’t come too close. It’s silly but it may help. (And you’ll be used to bird analogies by the time we get to the quacking relative pronouns).

Demonstrative Pronouns/Adjectives
hic, haec, hoc = this
is, ea, id = he, she, it, (that) (most commonly used as a personal pronoun, it may also be used to mean “that/those” in a slightly less emphatic way)
ille, illa, illud = (he, she, it), that (most commonly used to mean “that/those”, it may also be used as a personal pronoun)

A table listing of all the pronoun forms can be found here. In this lesson, we’ll work on nominative and accusative forms, and save genitive, dative, and ablative for next lesson.

hic = this(m.)/ haec = this(f.)/ hoc = this(n.)// hi = these(m.)/ hae = these(f.)/ haec = these(n.)
ille = that(m.)/ illa = that(f.)/ illud = that(n.)// illi = those(m.)/ illae = those(f.)/ illa = those(n.)
hunc=this(m.)/ hanc=this(f.)/ hoc=this(n.)// hos=these(m.)/ has=these(f.)/ haec=these(n.)
illum=that(m.)/ illam=that(f.)/ illud=that(n.)// illos=those(m.)/ illas=those(f.)/ illa=those(n.)

Note the forms that may be easy to confuse: hic (nom. s. m.) is the same as the adverb hic meaning “here;” haec is use for both nom. s. f. and nom./acc. pl. n.; hoc is both nom. and acc. s. n. and (to be introduced in a later lesson) abl. s. m. and n.; illa is both nom. s. f. and nom./acc. pl. n. (and in a later lesson illā is abl. s. f.); illud is both nom. and acc. s. n. Note that I have also included in parentheses some forms of “is/ea/id” as alternatives for “ille/illa/illud” – it would be tedious to do this for every sentence, but they are often used interchangeably.

New Sentences
Hic est pater meus. = This is my father.
Hic vir hic laborat. = This man works here.
Haec est mater mea. = This is my mother.
Haec questio difficilis est. = This question is difficult.
Haec puella hic habitat. = This girl lives here.
Hoc est malum rubrum. = This is a red apple.
Hoc lac hic manet. = This milk stays here.
Hoc emo. = I am buying this.
Ille non laborat. = That man (he) is not working.
Ille puer flet, sed hic ridet. = That boy is crying, but this one is laughing.
Illa puella currit. = That girl is running.
Illa (ea) currit. = She is running.
Illud (id) flumen est longum. = That river is long.
Placetne tibi illud? = Do you like that one (lit. Does that one please you?)
Illud caeruleum volo. = I want that blue one.
Hi calcei novi sunt. = These shoes are new.
Cur hi non laborant? = Why are these men not working?
Hae puellae sunt sorores nostrae. = These girls are our sisters.
Haec tua sunt. = These (things) are yours.
Haec mantelia Paulae sunt. = These towels are Paula’s.
Haec volumus. = We want these ones.
Illi (ei) fortiter pugnant. = They/those men fight bravely.
Illae (eae) aves pulchrae sunt. = Those birds are beautiful.
Illa (ea) bona sunt. = Those (things) are good.
Illum (eum) video. = I see that man/ him.
Lucia illos (eos) libros non legit. = Lucia does not read those books.
Lucia illos (eos) videt. = Lucia sees them (those men/those masculine things).
Emisne hanc stolam? = Are you buying this dress?
Venditisne has stolas? = Are you (pl.) selling these dresses?
Illam puellam amo. = I love that girl.
Marcus illas feminas cognovit. = Marcus knows those women.
Hoc verbum non intellego. = I do not understand this word.
Illud diarium legunt. = They read that newspaper.
Haec verba lego. = I read these words.
Illa verba nescio. = I do not know those words.
post hoc, ergo propter hoc = after this, therefore because of this
Winnie Ille Pu = Winnie the Pooh
Hobbitus Ille = The Hobbit

Once again, I’ve enjoyed preparing this lesson for you and hope you find it helpful. Please let me know of any errors you find in the comment section below. Our next lesson will cover the three other cases of demonstratives (genitive, dative, ablative) that were not used here. Until then, valete!

Next lesson: Demonstratives 2

July 5, 2016


i just applied for a latin course before you wrote this, i myself is learning latin so this post will be very useful , have some lingots as this must have taken you a long time

July 5, 2016

Really want to learn latin and I hope duolingo will start a course for it! So glad to hear that you have voluntered.

July 5, 2016

I approve of your avian analogies.

July 6, 2016

Thanks for your efforts!

"Marcus illas feminas cognovit." - isn't that perfect tense?

July 7, 2016

Yes, it seems to be used that way idiomatically in Latin. Its literal translation is more like "Marcus has become acquainted with those women." See here. I went over that verb a little more in one of the "Verbs Present 2" lessons. There are a few Latin verbs that are commonly used in the perfect but with a present meaning.

July 7, 2016

Ah, you're absolutely right, I've not been paying attention. It appears Duolingo made a mess of your Perseus Hopper link though.

July 8, 2016

I think it's fixed now. No idea what happened before!

July 8, 2016

Ego possum dicere latine..... But i'm not sure how well a latin program on duolingo would go. It seems to me that Duolingo many times forgets to actually tell you about grammar stuff, so it seems to me that it wouldn't do a very good job of teaching someone latin. (Because Latin's grammar is fairly complex)

July 5, 2016

I don't see why it couldn't work; after all Russian is highly inflected, and all the Romance languages stemming from Latin are inflected, just not quite as complex as Latin. There's an active Latin community online that would love to see this happen and would support it. The genius of Duolingo is not in the grammar, but in providing a fun and engaging way to practice a language until your brain sorts out the grammar on its own. It won't replace traditional teachers, but it's a great supplement. With Latin being the 4th most commonly studied foreign language in the US, it sure makes sense to try to bring it to Duolingo.

July 7, 2016


July 7, 2016
Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.