A Practical Grammar of the Latin Language/Lesson 12

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Of Interrogative Pronouns.[edit]

  • A. There are three interrogative pronouns in Latin, viz.: 1) the substantive quis? (masc. & fem.) "who?" quid? "what?" 2) the adjective quī, quae, quŏd? "which?" and 3) ŭter, ŭtra, ŭtrŭm? "which of the two?". They are thus inflected :—

Quis? quid? Who? what?

Nom. who? what? quis? quid?
Gen. whose? of what? cūjus? cūjus reī?1
Dat. to whom? to what? cuī? cuī reī?
Acc. whom? what? quem? quid?
Voc. — —
Abl. with whom? with what? quō? quā rē?

Quī, quae, quod? Which? what?

Nom. which? what? quī quae quod?
Gen. of which or what? cūjus?
Dat. to which or what? cuī?
Acc. which? what? quem quam quod?
Voc. — —
Abl. with which or what? quō quā quō?2

Uter, utra, utrum? Which of the two?

Nom. ut utra utrum?
Gen. utrius?3
Dat. utrī?
Acc. utrum utram utrum?
Abl. utrō utrā utrō?

Remark 1. The emphatic nam affixed to either of these pronouns gives animation to the inquiry; as quisnam? who, pray? quidnam? what then? quinam, quaenam, quodnam? which, pray?
Remark 2. The general rule is that quis should stand substantively for both genders, and qui, quae adjectively; as quis? who? qui vir? which (or what) man? quae femina? what woman? But this distinction is frequently disregarded, especially for the sake of euphony; e. g. qui (for quis) sis considera, consider who you are; quis (for qui) iste tantus casus? what is this great calamity of yours?
Remark 3. Instead of quod in the same case with its substantive, we may use quid partitively with the genitive; as quod saccharum? or quid sacchari?
Remark 4. Instead of the genitive cujus, "whose" (both interrogative and relative), the adjective cujus, a, um is sometimes employed; as cujus liber? cuja mensa? cujum foenam? whose book, &c. But this mode of expression is antiquated, and scarcely used except in law.
Remark 5. To quis? correspond in the answer the pronominal adjectives alius, another (one); ullus, any one; and nullus, no one. To uter? we reply with alter, the one of two, the other; neuter, neither of (the) two; alteruter, the one or the other; utervis and uterlibet, each of the two; and the compound relative utercunque, whichever of the two.
Remark 6. These pronouns are used precisely in the same manner when the question becomes indirect, in which case, however, the verb must be in the subjunctive; e. g. Quis est? who is it? nescio quis sit, I do not know who it is (may be); dic mihi, uter habeat, tell me who has; uter habeat, nescio, I know not who has (lit. may have). (Vide Lesson XXX. C.)


1 On this use of reī, see note 1, Lesson 9.
2 There is an obsolete ablative quī for every gender, yet in use in forms like quīcum (= quōcum or quācum, with whom, with which), and adverbially in the sense of how? e. g. Quī fīt? How comes it? Quī tibi id facere licuit? How could that have been lawful or you?
3 The following nine adjectives are pronominals, and their compounds form the genitive in īus, and the dative in ī: ūnus, sōlus, tōtus, ullus; ater, neuter, alter, nullus, and alius. Of these, alter alone has alterius, the rest have īus in prose and sometimes ius in poetry