Colloquial Omission of Pronouns

Pronouns are omitted all the time, because Latin conjugation makes them somewhat redundant. Where the pronoun does exist, it is either emphatic or explanatory (especially necessary with third person verbs).

  • I speak: loquor
  • It is I that am speaking: ego loquor
  • We have killed Caesar: occidīmus Caesarem.
  • We, the glorious Senate of Rome, have killed Caesar: nōs, Senātus clarus Rōmae, occidīmus Caesarem.
  • You might have supposed she was gone: crēderēs eam abīre. [general statement]
  • Maybe you thought her gone, but I knew exactly where she was: tū crēderēs eam abīre, sed ego ubi adeō quō esse cognōvī. [terrible string of hiati there, pardon me for being no poet]

With third person verbs, omission of the subject will often imply a general (sometimes gnomic) statement:

  • They say he was once a woman: dīcunt eum fēminam olim fuisse.
  • The herdsman claim they are innocent: pastōrēs dīcunt eōs innōcentēs esse.
  • One doesn’t simply walk into Mordor: in Mordōrem nōn simpliciter iter facit.

Passive verbs omit implied subjects as well:

  • They fought long and hard: diū atque ācriter pūgnātum est.

The Essential AG: 318a-b

3 comments on “Colloquial Omission of Pronouns

  1. Kathy says:

    Oh, I needed that Mordor quote in Latin. That’s brilliant!

  2. Interaxus says:

    Bit late with this comment. Sorry.

    We have killed Caesar: occidīmus Caesarem.
    We, the glorious Senate of Rome, have killed Caesar: nōs, Senātus clarus Rōmae, occidīmus Caesarem.

    Why the macron in occidimus? Gavin Betts says otherwise.

  3. interaxus says:

    Bit late to comment. Sorry.

    We have killed Caesar: occidīmus Caesarem.
    We, the glorious Senate of Rome, have killed Caesar: nōs, Senātus clarus Rōmae, occidīmus Caesarem.

    Why the macron in occidimus? Gavin Betts (Big Gold Book of Latin Verbs) says otherwise.

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