How to Decline Latin Demonstrative Pronouns: Hic, Ille, Iste, Is

Demonstratives point out a person or thing for special attention

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If you are learning Latin, whether for your work in biology and medicine, science or law or as a classicist, or if you are studying for your SAT or ACT, this table of demonstrative pronouns will prove to be a useful resource.

Latin Pronouns

As in almost every language, pronouns are key to the language, standing in conveniently for nouns, proper nouns, and noun phrases. There are seven classes of pronouns but three that stand out as the main categories of pronouns in Latin: personal pronouns ("I, you [singular], he, she, it, we, you [plural] and they"), demonstrative pronouns ("this, that, these, those") and relative pronouns ("who, which").

Demonstrative Pronouns and Adjectives

Demonstratives as a whole point out or designate a person or thing for special attention. Demonstrative pronouns, like nouns, can stand alone, but demonstrative adjectives can't. The forms are the same for both demonstrative pronouns and adjectives in Latin, but a demonstrative adjective needs a noun to modify and the two are usually in close proximity.

Hic means "this" when used as a demonstrative pronoun; ille and iste mean "that." Hic, as a demonstrative adjective still means "this;" ille and iste still mean "that." Is is a fourth, weaker demonstrative, known as "determinative." As with most rules of grammar, there can be exceptions.

Declensions of Demonstratives

Declining nouns, pronouns and adjectives is a lot like verb conjugation. We identify the root of the word and add endings for agreement. For nouns, pronouns, and adjectives, the endings indicate the grammatical gender, case, and number of the noun.

  1. Gender can be masculine, feminine or neuter.
  2. Case includes nominative (subject of the verb), genitive (possessive or to be "of" something), dative (to be "to" or "for" something, accusative (the object of the verb) or ablative (to be "by," "with" or "from" something). 
  3. Number indicates whether the noun is singular or plural.

You'll see all three in the tables below of demonstrative pronouns.

How to Remember Declensions

Declensions are absolutely essential. You have to know them in order to understand Latin. What's a good way to remember pronoun declensions? Try repeating them over and over to make the easy to remember. However, trying to memorize them all at once can be daunting. First look for patterns, which can add logic to the process and make remembering easier.

Demonstrative Pronouns in Sentences

  • Hec est concordia. > This is the agreement.
  • Confirmamus hac carta hec maneria domino. > We confirm by this charter these manors to the lord.
  • Lego hoc testamento has predictas septem acras terre. > I bequeath by this will these aforesaid seven acres of land.
  • Hi sunt plegii Edwardi Basset. > These are the pledges of Edward Basset.

Declensions of Demonstrative Pronouns 

This - Hic Haec Hoc

Sing. Pl.
Nom. hic haec hoc hi hae haec
Gen. huius huius huius horum harum horum
Dat. huic huic huic his his his
Acc. hunc hanc hoc hos has haec
Abl. hoc hac hoc his his his

That - Ille Illa Illud

Sing. Pl.
Nom. ille illa illud illi illae illa
Gen. illius illius illius illorum illarum illorum
Dat. illi illi illi illis illis illis
Acc. illum illam illud illos illas illa
Abl. illo illa illo illis illis illis

That (contemptuously) Iste Ista Istud

Sing. Pl.
Nom. iste ista istud isti istae ista
Gen. istius istius istius istorum istarum istorum
Dat. isti isti isti istis istis istis
Acc. istum istam istud istos istas ista
Abl. isto ista isto istis istis istis

This, that (weak), he, she, it Is Ea Id

Sing. Pl.
Nom. is ea id ei(ii) eae ea
Gen. eius eius eius eorum earum eorum
Dat. ei ei ei eis eis eis
Acc. eum eam id eos eas ea
Abl. eo ea eo eis eis eis

Sources

  • Moreland, Floyd L., and Fleischer, Rita M. "Latin: An Intensive Course." Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977.
  • Traupman, John C. "The Bantam New College Latin & English Dictionary." Third Edition. New York: Bantam Dell, 2007.