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

     Singular Plural
    Nom.hichaechoc hihaehaec
    Gen.huiushuiushuius horumharumhorum
    Dat.huichuichuic hishishis
    Acc.hunchanchoc hoshashaec
    Abl.hochachoc hishishis

    That - Ille Illa Illud

     Singular Plural
    Nom.illeillaillud illiillaeilla
    Gen.illiusilliusillius illorumillarumillorum
    Dat.illiilliilli illisillisillis
    Acc.illumillamillud illosillasilla
    Abl.illoillaillo illisillisillis

    That (contemptuously) Iste Ista Istud

     Singular Plural
    Nom.isteistaistud istiistaeista
    Gen.istiusistiusistius istorumistarumistorum
    Dat.istiistiisti istisistisistis
    Acc.istumistamistud istosistasista
    Abl.istoistaisto istisistisistis

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

     Singular Plural
    Nom.iseaid ei(ii)eaeea
    Gen.eiuseiuseius eorumearumeorum
    Dat.eieiei eiseiseis
    Acc.eumeamid eoseasea
    Abl.eoeaeo eiseiseis