This excerpt comes from lines 138-139 of chapter VIII of the 2003 edition of Lingua latina per se illustrata:

      Quis saccum portat? Servus saccum portat. Quī servus? Servus quī saccum portat est Syrus. Is/ille servus saccum portat.

In the right hand side of the page, there is the following explanation:

is servus = ille servus

I believe there is an error in such explanation and this should be

is = ille servus

because is is a pronoun that can indeed be replaced by ille servus. Is my interpretation correct or am I missing something?

1 Answer 1


"Is servus" is not an error.

Latin "pronouns"* don't work like English pronouns. Is can be used by itself, but it can also be used adjectivally with a noun. The same goes for ille, iste and hic.

Lewis and Short covers this type of use in section B:

Esp. 1 In connection with a noun: ea re, quia turpe sit, faciendum non esse, Cic. Off. 3, 13: ea res ut est Helvetiis enuntiata, etc., Caes. B. G. 1, 4: ne ob eam rem tribueret, etc., id. ib. 1, 13: flumen est Arar ... id flumen, etc., id. ib. 1, 12: sub id tempus, Liv. 43, 5, 3: ejus disputationis sententias memoriae mandavi, Cic. Lael. 1, 3: ante eam diem, id. Att. 2, 11, 2: ea tempestate, Sall. C. 36, 4: quam urbem is rex condidit, Plin. 6, 17, 21, § 61.—

"Is servus" and "ille servus" are not actually interchangeable in general, but both are grammatical.

*I put this in scare quotes because linguists often consider Latin to have no true third-person pronouns.

  • 1
    So is, ea, id can work as demonstrative adjectives?
    – Charo
    Sep 28, 2023 at 12:59
  • 3
    @Charo Correct. Demonstrative pronouns in Latin are also equally demonstrative adjectives.
    – cmw
    Sep 28, 2023 at 13:24
  • @Charo, not only is/ea/id, but also ille/-a/-ud, iste/-a/-ud, hic/haec/hoc, etc. Sep 28, 2023 at 14:09
  • 1
    Yes, of course, @KotobaTrilyNgian: I knew the demonstrative adjectives-pronouns you mention. But I didn't know that is, ea, id can also be used as demonstrative adjectives. I'm a beginner in Latin.
    – Charo
    Sep 28, 2023 at 14:19

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