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Relative Pronouns

Latin relies heavily on the use of relative pronouns. The important thing to remember is that the relative pronoun takes its gender and number from its antecedent in the main clause, with its case determined by the syntax of the relative clause. There are, however, some situations that may cause you difficulty at first:

Relative pronoun without stated antecedent. Very often a relative pronoun is used without a stated antecedent. For example, you may see a quod used without a clearly stated hoc as the antecedent. In other instances, the implied subject of the main verb can then serve as the antecedent for the relative pronoun.

Relative pronoun with "general" antecedent. Sometimes a neuter relative pronoun (singular or plural) may be used to refer not to a specific thing, but to an entire situation which has just been described. You might translate the implied as antecedent as "this," "all this," "these things," "this situation," etc.

Independent relative pronoun. Especially in Biblical Latin, you will often see a relative pronoun capitalized, having been marked by the editor as beginning a new sentence. Grammatically, the antecedent of the relative pronoun is in the previous sentence. When you translate this kind of relative pronoun into English, you can choose to consider it as a personal or demonstrative pronoun.


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