Einhard wrote:Is is a personal pronoun....A good rule of thumb is to translate "Is" as a demonstrative (that) when it comes immediately prior to a noun, and as a pronoun (He) the rest of the time.
Well, basically, yes, but technically, is, ea, id
is not a personal pronoun, it's a demonstrative; that is, it indicates the location of something relative to the speaker (this is called deixis
English makes a two-way distinction: proximal
(indicating objects close to the speaker: This man here
) and distal
(indicating objects further from the speaker: That man over there
Latin, however, makes a three-way distinction: in addition to proximal (hic
) and distal (ille
), it also has a medial
), which is somewhere between the two. Hic
correspond to 'this' and 'that' respectively, but there's no good equivalent in English for is, ea, id
. Since is, ea, id
refers to something that's somewhat distant but still fairly close, we sometimes translate it as 'this,' sometimes as 'that.' Because it's fairly neutral in comparison with the other two, it can also stand in for the personal pronoun.