Agreement: pronoun attraction to predicative nouns (dem., rel. interr. pron.)

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
Predicative nouns are very attratctive. Not only do linguists consider it a highly exciting event when a subject agrees with a complement via a copula ... even Latin subjects cannot resist the attraction of predicative nouns when those subjects are demonstrative, relative or interrogative pronouns... well, at least in most cases.
The following rules on agreement between such pronouns and their respective predicative nouns gives you an overview of some peculiarities of the Latin language that may widely differ from other languages (even synthetic ones like German or Czech). For most of these rules, you can always find an exception somewhere, the most prominent of which I have tried to list here. There are more, so consider this overview to be more of an account on strong tendencies rather than a list of hard-and-fast rules.

Note that when I say copula I either mean verbs like esse or passives of verba appellandi like dici, putari, haberi (to be said to be, to be considered to be etc.)

1. Demonstrative pronouns
a) If a demonstrative pronoun is the subject of a sentence and it is linked to a predicative noun (a noun as the subject complement) via a copula (most commonly a form of esse), attraction takes place: the demonstrative pronoun agrees in gender and number with the corresponding noun:
- The easiest examples are those where the predactive noun could essentially be considered the subject of the sentence:
  • haec morum vitia sunt, non senectutis. (Cic. sen. 18,65) (= haec vitia sunt morum vitia)
  • haec erat spinosa quaedam et exilis oratio. (Cic. de or. 1,18,84) (= haec oratio erat ... exilis oratio)
- However, the same happens when the demonstrative and the predicative noun are separate entities and the demonstrative acquires its meaning from the predicative noun:
  • negat Epicurus—hoc enim vestrum lumen est— quemquam, qui honeste non vivat, iucunde posse vivere. (Cic. fin. 2,22,70)
b) The same happens when the demonstrative pronoun is in the accusative and depends on a verbum appellandi (i.e. when it is an object complement):
  • eas divitias, eam bonam famam magnamque nobilitatem putabant. (Sall. Cat. 7,6)
1.1. Exceptions
There are 2 cases where this does not happen and where a neuter pronoun is used instead:
a) When the pronoun is not restricted to the sphere of its corresponding noun, but refers to a wider, general concept:
  • ergo quaerimus quomodo animus semper aequali secundoque cursu eat propitiusque sibi sit et sua laetus aspiciat et hoc gaudium non interrumpat, sed placido statu maneat, nec attollens se umquam nec deprimens. Id tranquillitas erit. (Sen. tranq. 2,4) ('This will mean tranquillity' = 'This concept I just described will mean tranquillity')
  • "quod nix est, hoc grando non est; (...) quod homo est, non est hoc equus; homo autem animal est: equus igitur animal non est" (...) "quod ego sum, id tu non es?" (Gell. 18,13,5-8)
b) In negated sentences and statements:
  • nec sopor illud erat, sed coram agnoscere vultus. (Verg. Aen. 3,173)
  • non fuit elegantia illud aut cura, sed studiosa luxuria. (Sen. tranq. 9,5)
  • igitur multa adseveratione, quasi aut legibus cum Silio ageretur aut Varro consul aut illud res publica esset, coguntur patres. (Tac. an. 4,19) (= illud res publica non est)
2. Relative pronouns
a) Like demonstrative pronouns, relative pronouns agree in gender and number with the predicative noun when the predicative noun is considered to be more important term. This is again true for subject and object complements:
  • carcer ille qui est a crudelissimo tyranno Dionysio factus Syracusis, quae lautumiae vocantur, in istius imperio domicilium civium Romanorum fuit. (Cic. Verr.II 5,55,143)
    • Note that the verb vocantur necessarily has to agree in number as well.
  • mundus hic totus, quod domicilium quamque patriam di nobis communem secum dederunt. (Cic. rep. 1,13,19)
  • Homines enim sunt hac lege generati, qui tuerentur illum globum, quem in hoc templo medium vides, quae terra dicitur, iisque animus datus est ex illis sempiternis ignibus, quae sidera et stellas vocatis, quae globosae et rotundae, divinis animatae mentibus, circulos suos orbesque conficiunt celeritate mirabili. (Cic. rep. 6,15,15)
    • This is an interesting example actually. There are various agreement rules in playing. In 'ignibus quae sidera et stellas vocatis', the relative pronoun relates to two nouns, sidera et stellas, that differ in gender, and the relative pronoun agrees with the nearest noun sidera. However, as the sentence runs on, the next relative pronoun agrees with its closest noun from the sidera et stellas group, which is stellas.
  • omnis enim terra (...) parva quaedam insula est circumfusa illo mari, quod 'Atlanticum', quod 'magnum', quem 'Oceanum' appellatis in terris. (Cic. rep. 6,20,21)
    • Note that in 'quod Atlanticum', the quod refers back to mari because Atlanticum functions as an adjective (like magnum), while Oceanum functions as a proper name.
  • huc enim pertinet: animal hoc prouidum, sagax, multiplex, acutum, memor, plenum rationis et consilii, quem uocamus hominem, praeclara quadam condicione generatum esse a supremo deo. (Cic. leg. 1,7,22)
  • levitatis est (...) animi lucem splendoremque fugientis iustam gloriam, qui est fructus verae virtutis honestissimus, repudiare. (Cic. Pis. 24,57)
  • studio sapientiae, quae philosophia dicitur. (Cic. Tusc. 1,1,1) (It would make less sense to relate quae to sapientiae here.)
  • Ex perturbationibus autem primum morbi conficiuntur, quae vocant illi νοσήματα. (Cic. Tusc. 4,10,23) (However, cf. the exceptions below)
  • Pompeio enim patre, quod imperii populi Romani lumen fuit, extincto interfectus est patris simillimus filius. (Cic. Phil. 5,41,39)
  • nuntiatum est ei Ariovistum cum suis omnibus copiis ad occupandum Vesontionem, quod est oppidum maximum Sequanorum, contendere. (Caes. bell. G. 1,38,1)
  • Caesar (...) certior fiebat omnes Belgas, quam tertiam esse Galliae partem dixeramus, contra populum Romanum coniurare. (Caes. bell. G. 2,1,1)
  • qua perfecta munitione animadversum est a speculatoribus Caesaris, cohortes quasdam, quod instar legionis videretur, esse post silvam et in vetera castra duci. (Caes. bell. C. 3,66,1)
  • est in carcere locus, quod Tullianum appellatur. (Sall. Cat. 55,3)
    • Tullianum is a proper name named after the king who had it built, Servius Tullius; but cf. the exceptions below.
  • Thebae quoque ipsae, quod Boeotiae caput est, in magno motu erant. (Liv. 42,442)
b) This is a slightly special case: A similar kind of attraction happens, when there is a name of a river along with the apposition flumen. In such cases, the relative pronoun may depend on the apposition rather than the river name:
  • itaque in Isara, flumine maximo, quod in finibus est Allobrogum, ponte uno die facto exercitum a. d. IIII. Idus Maias traduxi. (Cic. fam. 10,15,3)
  • flumen Axonam, quod est in extremis Remorum finibus, exercitum traducere maturavit atque ibi castra posuit. (Caes. bell. G. 2,5,4)
  • ad flumen Aliacmonem, quod Macedoniam a Thessalia dividit. (Caes. bell. C. 3,36,3)
2.1. Exceptions
a) It is rarer for the relative pronoun to agree with the preceding noun when there is a predicative noun in the relative clause, but it does happen; mainly when the predicative noun is a Greek word or a proper name:
  • appetitu animi, quem ὁρμήν Graeci vocant. (Cic. fin. 5,6,17)
  • motus animi turbatos, quos Graeci πάθη nominant. (Cic. off. 2,5,18)
  • fines a maritimis civitatibus flumen dividit, quod appellatur Tamesis. (Caes. bell. G. 5,11,8)
  • ad eum locum, qui appellabatur Palaeste. (Caes. bell. C. 3,6,3)
  • unus erat toto naturae vultus in orbe, // quem dixere chaos. (Ov. met. 1,6f.)

b) There must be a neuter pronoun when the relative pronoun relates to the content of the entire sentence and not just to a single word. This is essentially similar to 1.1.a):
  • quibus rebus cum unus in civitate maxime floreret, incidit in eandem invidiam, quam pater suus ceterique Atheniensium principes. Nam testarum suffragiis, quod illi `ostrakismon' vocant, X annorum exsilio multatus est. (Nep. Cim. 3,1)
    • quod refers to the entire action here: quod = testarum suffragiis exsilio multari.
  • urbi autem locum, quod est ei qui diuturnam rem publicam serere conatur diligentissime providendum, incredibili opportunitate delegit. (Cic. rep. 2,5)
    • quod = urbi locum (...) deligere.
3. Interrogative pronouns
Agreement issues are a bit more diverse in questions because they mainly depend on what it is you want to ask.
a) If you want to ask for the name or the quality of something, the interrogative pronoun gets attracted to the predicative noun:
  • quis est virtutis fons? ~ What is the source of virtue? I.e. What does it look like? Where can I find it?
  • quis est ille vir? ~ Who is that man?
  • Quod scribis te velle scire, qui sit rei publicae status. (Cic. fam. 1,7,10) (qui = What is the quality of the state?, In what condition is the state?)
- Note that interrogative pronouns only have 'quis' for both masculine and femine gender:
  • quis illaec est mulier? (Pl. Epid. 4,1,6)
b) The neuter quid is connected to a masculine or feminine expression when you do not ask for something's quality, but for its nature, for a definition or a wider explanation of something.
  • quid est mulier?
    • 'What is a woman' cf. 'quis illaec est mulier?' — here, we do not ask for a concrete woman anymore, but for a definition of what makes a woman a woman.
  • quid est veritas? (John 18,38)
    • Pilatus' famous question. He is not asking for a concrete example, but for a general explanation of what truthfulness looks like.
 
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Matthaeus

Vemortuicida strenuus
Good job. One small question: in Quod scribis te velle scire, qui sit rei publicae status, could he also have written quis status? Was it left out due to the double-s sound?

Grammar typo in 3b -- its nature.
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
Grammar typo in 3b -- its nature.
Thanks. I hate making that mistake :(

Good job. One small question: in Quod scribis te velle scire, qui sit rei publicae status, could he also have written quis status? Was it left out due to the double-s sound?
quis can also be used adjectivally, but in a slightly different meaning:
quis civis consul creatur? = 'Which citizen is made consul?' = Who is it? What is his name?
qui civis consul creatur? = 'Which citizen is made consul?' = What kind of person is made consul? What are his qualities and qualifications?

--> So it makes sense that he writes 'qui status' there.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I'm not sure that distinction is always present, especially when quis is applied to a thing.

I also think it's true that qui tends to be favoured over quis before S, no matter which nuance of "who/what" is meant, but I haven't really studied the question so I can't swear.
 

Matthaeus

Vemortuicida strenuus
Ah, the difference is a slight nuance.
Btw, many English native speakers make similar mistakes. I never fail to overlook even one. :D
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
I'm not sure that distinction is always present, especially when quis is applied to a thing.
I wasn't trying to imply that there are any hard-and-fast rules there, at best some tendencies.
My personal feeling was that there wouldn't be much wrong with saying 'quis status', but I don't trust my intuition there much. What I wrote was just a distinction I found in literature, but it is also true that they mentioned quis with 'personal subjects' there.
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
Ok, I have added 2b (appositions) ... I think that's all I can think of.
I will probably change the thread title to something like "Agreement: attraction of pronouns to predicative nouns (dem., rel., interrog.)" eventually.
Just tell me if anything is missing or if you spot any mistakes. Thank you!
 

Godmy

A Monkey
This is awesome! Thanks for the lengthy explanation with examples, I read it over the course of several days (with pauses, that is) - or maybe just two days, I'm not sure...

So, where did you find all this? That is, I don't doubt you carry most of it in your head, but I suppose there will be some interesting German printed resource you consulted :- )
 
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Bitmap

Civis Illustris
I usually use Kühner & Stegmann: Ausführliche Grammatik der Lateinischen Sprache for that kind of in-depth research ... they provide examples from original sources fo every rule they propose.
 

Godmy

A Monkey
German has the reputation of quality resources for classical studies... (another one I can think of our teacher showed us is "Anti-Barbarus" - some kind of dictionary that teaches correct classical Latin composition through the definitions, but I already forgot). Maybe one reason why I would learn the language some time (I think I already developed the ear for the accent well enough, hahaha...).
 

Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
  • unus erat toto naturae vultus in orbe, // quem dixere chaos. (Ov. met. 1,6f.)
Wouldn't "quem" refer to "vultus" rather than "orbe"? Not that it makes any difference regarding the grammar point.
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
  • unus erat toto naturae vultus in orbe, // quem dixere chaos. (Ov. met. 1,6f.)
Wouldn't "quem" refer to "vultus" rather than "orbe"? Not that it makes any difference regarding the grammar point.
I'd take it with vultus too.
When I personally read it, I took it to be a reference to vultus as well ... but the book I took the example from referred it to orbe ... and when I thought about it, I couldn't come up with any clear argument as to why it should be the one over the other. So I simply stuck to the way Kühner highlighted it.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Doesn't it make more sense to provide further explanation about the thing that's being presented to the reader in this sentence, namely the unus vultus, rather than about the familiar orbis? I suppose you could argue that Ovid wanted to say that the universe was then (no longer now, obviously) called chaos, but that doesn't read as naturally to me, somehow. The point of the sentence seems to be about the unus vultus.
 

Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
Either way, it's a very good guide. I should've said that in my original comment.

It also reminds me that I recently wrote a guide on the most common subjunctive uses that might be helpful for intermediate students. I'll try to format it for this forum sometime this weekend.
 

Ser

鳥王
I was really taken aback by rule 2.a, because I had read some of the examples but I had misinterpreted them. I am sure that when I read est in carcere locus, quod Tullianum appellatur in Sallust, I thought that the place had been "abstracted away" (whatever I'd mean by that), so it was treated as a neuter. But seeing carcer ille... quae lautumiae vocantur as the first example immediately told me that something much more interesting was going on. Great work. :)

The ...illo mari, quod 'Atlanticum', quod 'magnum', quem 'Oceanum' example was shocking too, because of the break in the coordination.
 
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