Si quas ad eum de dolore tam iusto litteras mittes,...

Charlie Parker

New Member
I came across this excerpt from Pliny, Epistulae 5.16 in Wheelock's Latin. It is the last sentence that is puzzling me. For awhile, I was stumped by tam iusto but I think I understand it now. It is the ablative modifying dolore, something like "If you write to him about his so justified grief…" I still do not understand the role of quas. Is it the relative pronoun or is it the indefinite pronoun quis, quid used after si? The latter interpretation does not make sense to me because I would have expected an indefinite adjective not a pronoun "some letter." Could someone explain to me the function of quas here? I would be most appreciative.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
is it the indefinite pronoun quis, quid used after si?
Rather the indefinite adjective qui, quae, quod. (In agreement with litteras.)
The latter interpretation does not make sense to me because I would have expected an indefinite adjective not a pronoun "some letter."
Do you mean you would expect the indefinite article "a" in English? You can translate it that way.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Quis, quid is indeed mostly* a pronoun (= someone/anyone, something/anything), but qui, quae, quod is different. When indefinite, the latter agrees with a noun (either stated, like litteras here, or implied from an earlier part of the sentence) and means "some/any [insert or imply noun]".

*The exception is that quis can work as an adjective to a masculine singular noun, in the same way that qui would (e.g. si quis miles adest... = "if any soldier is here...").
 
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