I recently learned that there is an indefinite determiner and pronoun quă used in the feminine nominative singular and neuter nominative/accusative plural with the sense "any(one)" (corresponding to masculine singular indefinite quis). If quă is an independent word, it would be remarkable in consisting of a single light syllable, a shape that apparently is shared with no other Latin word.

But in fact, the occurrence of quis and quă is restricted in certain suggestive ways (in contrast to aliquis etc.), which causes some sources to describe them as enclitic: that is, dependent in some way on the preceding word. (Latin has other enclitics, such as -ne, -que, -ve, which however have fairly distinct syntactic functions from quis/quă.)

A related previous question by Sebastian Koppehel asked about the distribution of quis: When is quis used instead of aliquis? In agreement with the summary in that question, An Introductory Latin Book, by Albert Harkness (1869), says that quă tends to be found specifically "after si, nisi, ne, and num", although quae is also a possibilty in this context (page 46).

Kennedy 1876 says

The Indefinite pronouns quis, qui, being Enclitic, cannot begin a sentence. They usually follow some particle (si, nisi, ne, an, num, ut, &c.) or a Relative. [...] So numquis, ecquis, etc.

I also found quă described (in French) as an enclitic on this web page.

Likewise, Zumpt 1845 says

[The short form of the indefinite pronoun] is used, in good prose, only after the conjunctions si, nisi, ne, num, and after relatives, such as quo, quanto, and quum. [...] Some consider the combination of this indefinite quis or qui with the conjunctions si, ne, num, and with the interrogative syllable en (ec) as peculiar and distinct words, as siquis or siqui, numquis or numqui, although properly speaking, ecquis or ecqui alone can be regarded as one word, for en by itself has no meaning.

(A Grammar of the Latin Language, page 110, $136)

Zumpt says that in some cases, one or more words intervene between the conjunction and the short indefinite pronoun, but none of the examples uses quă.

"Indefinite Quis in Horace," by Roy C. Flickinger (1929), mentions a number of other cases with intervening words; but again, none with quă that I could see (page 121). Flickinger takes issue with the way that grammars describe the distribution of indefinite quis, saying

Only two [of the grammars discussed by Flickinger] state that indefinite quis may be used without any introductory word whatsoever, though another implies it by citing an instance. Of course, this usage is not uncommon in Latin literature. It occurs in Horace certainly at Serm. I, 3, 63, and probably at Serm. I, 4, 80. In the former passage, however, the clause in which quis stands is conditional in force, even though si is not expressed.

(page 120)

Here is Serm. I, 3, 63-64, with its use of quis to mean "anyone":

simplicior quis et est, qualem me saepe libenter / obtulerim tibi, Maecenas, ut forte legentem [...]

I'd like to know whether there are any examples of the specific form quă being used when it is not directly after si, nisi, ne, num, or a relative word.

  • 2
    I think we should examine the relevant entry in the OLD at first. It says "quis2 qua or quae, quid indef. pron. (adj.) [unaccented form of QVIS1 ...]" and the examples under 3 (in a main sentence, in generalizations) Whoever or whatever you choose, anyone, anything and 4 (as adj.) Any (nom. sg. m. and neut. only). Then we could look it up in Pinkster 2015 (p. 1164), 11.149 The indefinite pronoun quis, who says "It is rare in main clauses [...], but very common in conditional and other subordinate clauses [...]. It does not occur in first position in its clause."
    – Alex B.
    Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 16:14
  • also see Bertocchi et al. 2010 (pp. 31-32) degruyter.com/view/book/9783110215465/10.1515/… etc.
    – Alex B.
    Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 16:14


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