I have seen hoc not agreeing with grammatical gender when it refers to a previous paragraph of actions. But I don't remember in what context.

Here is a made up example in English:

I once went to Jamaica. There, I swashbuckled with pirates, gambled with loansharks, and drank mead sailing on the high sea. This made me thirsty for another adventure.

Would the hoc corresponding to this be masculine, feminine, or neuter when describing all of these past deeds at once? Could I say "Hoc est causa" if I wanted to?

  • 3
    If you want to start the last sentence with 'This is the reason (why I was made thirsty...)' instead of 'This (made me thirsty...)', you would actually, as a matter of good prose style, say, "Haec est causa," where the form of hic/haec/hoc is attracted to the form of causa. So that's something slightly different.
    – cnread
    Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 19:02
  • @cnread And that was actually the original case. I pointed out in chat hoc est causa... should rather have haec although it doesn't refer to anything feminine. But of course that phenomenon requires there to be something to attract the form (hic est sermo meus, haec sunt divitiae meae).
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 20:45
  • @JoonasIlmavirta: Right, and one would say: Hoc fecit, ut … (In reality I would not write that at all, but rather: Qua de causa, qua re, quam ob rem, or without relative prounouns: Ob eam rem etc. But that was not the question.) Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 21:13

1 Answer 1


According to Allen and Greenough, New Latin Grammar, hoc and other demonstrative pronouns are often used in the neuter to refer to entire phrases. Therefore, it's not necessary for them to agree in gender:

e. The pronouns hīc , ille , and is are used to point in either direction, back to something just mentioned or forward to something about to be mentioned.

f. The neuter forms often refer to a clause, phrase, or idea:—

est illud quidem vel maximum, animum vidēre (Tusc. 1.52), that is in truth a very great thing,— to see the soul.

According to Bennett's New Latin Grammar, the demonstrative pronoun often agrees with the predicate, but he doesn't say that that necessarily has to be the case:

The above pronouns, along with is, are usually attracted to the gender of a predicate noun; as, hīc est honor, meminisse officium suum, this is an honor, to be mindful of one's duty.

Therefore, according to Bennett, you would usually want the pronoun to agree: haec est causa, as cnread pointed out.

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