Possessive Adjectives

Here you can discuss all things Latin. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get help with a difficult passage of Latin, and more.
Post Reply
blutoonwithcarrotandnail
Textkit Fan
Posts: 263
Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2006 2:49 pm
Location: Bergenfield, NJ

Possessive Adjectives

Post by blutoonwithcarrotandnail » Wed Apr 19, 2006 4:35 pm

It looks like SUUS is a special form of a word and that MEUS, TUUS, NOSTER and VESTER are not. You say that MEUS does not have any other special forms? That would imply that SUUS is a special form. What is SUUS's regular form? You say that:

Vir Filios Suos Accusavit = The man owns the sons

does this mean that

libri tui = you don't own the book

thanks.

Ulpianus
Textkit Member
Posts: 197
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: London, UK

Post by Ulpianus » Wed Apr 19, 2006 7:14 pm

Take the following English sentences: "Albert greets Benedict. Albert greets his son, Charles, too." Now whose son is Charles? Albert's or Benedict.

In English it is ambiguous (so people sometimes add "And he greets his (Albert's) son"). In Latin, not so, because there are two separate ways of producing a third person possessive pronoun:

If it is Albert's son ... the son of the person doing the greeting, one uses suus: Albertus Benedictum salutat. Albertus Carolum filium suum quoque salutat. (So yes, in your example, the man owns the sons.)

If it is Benedict's son, the son of someone other than the person doing the greeting, then one uses a demonstrative pronoun (is, ea, id) in the genitive: 'of that person': eius: Albertus Benedictum salutat. Albertus Carolum filium eius quoque salutat.

Just to confuse things there are occasional cases where the possessive adjective refers to something other than the subject of the sentence. (Kennedy gives the example: Suis flammis delete Fidenas -- Destroy fidenas with its own flames.) But this only happens when there is no ambiguity. But eius is never used to refer to the subject of the sentence.

In libri tui you do own the book. It is "your book". There is no ambiguity with the first and second persons. I am always I. You are always you. But "he" may be the person acting or someone else, and it is this ambiguity that the different forms clarify.

blutoonwithcarrotandnail
Textkit Fan
Posts: 263
Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2006 2:49 pm
Location: Bergenfield, NJ

Post by blutoonwithcarrotandnail » Wed Apr 19, 2006 7:35 pm

I understand the difference between SUUS and EIUS and that SUUS is when you don't know who's son it is and EIUS is when you do, but if you use VESTER as in:

They like their book (VESTER)

Why isn't this reflexive?

Why is: 'He likes his book' reflexive?

He likes his book doesn't say anything about doing something youself.

thanks.

Ulpianus
Textkit Member
Posts: 197
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: London, UK

Post by Ulpianus » Wed Apr 19, 2006 7:35 pm

He likes his (own) book is reflexive not because he is doing something to himself, but because the book is owned by the subject of the verb, by the person doing the liking. This may not be reflexivity as such, but it is an allied concept, and it's convenient to use the word.

For myself, I would say the "special form" is the use of eius.

Ego, tu etc are all personal pronouns, which are used directly and reflexively (he hits me, I hit myself: same word). If you are the subject of the sentence and like your book, then vestrum is being used reflexively in just that way. It is being used in the sort of situation where we would say "your own" book. In "He likes your book" it isn't. With the 1st and second person it doesn't matter. Se is also a personal pronoun, but it is only ever used reflexively (he hits himself only). Where in Latin we want to refer to a third person other than the person acting, we always use a demonstrative pronoun (is, ea, id: "that person/thing") instead. (Almost the reverse of the English practice where we signal reflexivity with "himself"--we would never say "he hits him" if he was hitting himself.)

Meus, tuus etc are the pronomial adjectives. Consistently with the use of the pronouns, suus (the third person pronomial adjective) is used reflexively, only. That leaves one with no adjective as such to use as a third person pronomial adjective ("his/her/its") where he/she/it is other than the subject. So one uses the genitive of the demonstrative pronoun: "of that person/thing" instead.
Last edited by Ulpianus on Wed Apr 19, 2006 7:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

blutoonwithcarrotandnail
Textkit Fan
Posts: 263
Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2006 2:49 pm
Location: Bergenfield, NJ

Post by blutoonwithcarrotandnail » Wed Apr 19, 2006 7:40 pm

I still don't get why for

SUUS: 'He likes his book'

It is reflexive

While for

VESTER: 'They like their book'

It is not.

Reflexive implies that somebody did something to themselves or by themselves. What is so reflexive about either of these two sentences?

thanks.

Ulpianus
Textkit Member
Posts: 197
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: London, UK

Post by Ulpianus » Wed Apr 19, 2006 7:46 pm

I've edited my reply above, hopefully to make it clear. In a nutshell it is reflexive in both "he likes his (own) book" and "you like your book", using reflexive in the sense of referring back to the subject of the sentence. Vester can be reflexive, in an example like that.

But vester is not reflexive, in that sense in "he likes your book". The trick is that suus could not be used for "He likes his (someone else's) book."

With everything except suus you decide if it is "reflexive" from context. It may or may not be, depending on whether the person referred to is the subject of the verb. With suus it is always reflexive, and if it is not you have to use eius.

BTW: Vester is "your" (2nd person pl) not "their" (3rd person plural). 3rd person is se, whether singular or plural.

blutoonwithcarrotandnail
Textkit Fan
Posts: 263
Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2006 2:49 pm
Location: Bergenfield, NJ

Post by blutoonwithcarrotandnail » Wed Apr 19, 2006 8:37 pm

I think i get it. SUUS must refer to the persons own thing all the time like:

'He likes his book' or 'He blamed his son'

This is the use for SUUS, but VESTER is based on context. If you say,

'They like their book' then it is reflexive

but if you say

'They like your book' then it is not.

Question 1) Do you have to use the word 'own' to make it reflexive (like 'he likes his own book' instead of 'he like his book') 2) When VESTER is not reflexive or when it is is there a difference in the grammar or is the sentence written the same way? Can you give me an example of VESTER used reflexively or non-reflexively.

thanks.

Ulpianus
Textkit Member
Posts: 197
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: London, UK

Post by Ulpianus » Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:34 pm

Well, vester can never be "their" (that's suus again), only ever "your". But subject to that slight qualification, I think you've got it.

As to examples:

He likes his own book: librum suum amat.

He likes his (someone else's book): librum eius amat.

They like your book: librum vestrum amant.

You like your own book: librum vestrum amatis.

Generally you don't need to put "own" or "self" in: with se/suum it's automatic, with the others the context tells you. Emphasis would more likely be done by word order in the sort of sentence you are dealing with:

He likes his own book: librum amat suum.
Last edited by Ulpianus on Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Deudeditus
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 425
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 5:15 am
Location: The world, man.
Contact:

Post by Deudeditus » Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:35 pm

filias uestras amatis REFLEXIVE. y'all love y'all's own daughters. (excuse the hickness)
filias uestras amat NON REFLEXIVE. he loves y'all's daughters.

question 1) not always but it helps. I like my book/ I like my own book. they mean the same thing.

blutoonwithcarrotandnail
Textkit Fan
Posts: 263
Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2006 2:49 pm
Location: Bergenfield, NJ

Post by blutoonwithcarrotandnail » Thu Apr 20, 2006 12:50 am

These are two sentences you used:

1. They like your book: librum vestrum amant

2. You like your own book: librum vestrum amatis

What is the formation of AMATIS? I would have thought it was amo. Is it from amatis that you see that it is reflexive while in amant you see that it is not? The words LIBRUM and VESTRUM are written the same way. What is the giveaway that it is reflexive or is that simply shown in the formation of amatis?

thanks.

blutoonwithcarrotandnail
Textkit Fan
Posts: 263
Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2006 2:49 pm
Location: Bergenfield, NJ

Post by blutoonwithcarrotandnail » Thu Apr 20, 2006 12:57 am

Question: If

1. He likes his book

is reflexive then is: 'He likes your book' reflexive or is this the case where we
use eius?

thanks.

Mofmog
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 73
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:03 pm

Post by Mofmog » Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:46 am

blutoonwithcarrotandnail wrote:Question: If

1. He likes his book

is reflexive then is: 'He likes your book' reflexive or is this the case where we
use eius?

thanks.
REFLEXIVE means upon the subject.

I kick myself. Myself is reflexive because it refers to "I", the subject.

When a subject does something or has something to himself, it is reflexive.

He likes your book is NOT reflexive because the book has nothing to do with the subject, it is YOUR book not HIS.

"He sees himself" is reflexive because the subject is doing something to itself.

"He sees her" is NOT reflexive because the subject is NOT doing something to itself.

"He has his book" is AMBIGUOUS. You dont know if the book belongs to the subject or someone else. BUT in Latin it is NOT ambiguous because "suus" will ALWAYS refer to the subject if the SUBJECT is third person.

Or at least, that's the way I know it to be.

Ulpianus
Textkit Member
Posts: 197
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: London, UK

Post by Ulpianus » Thu Apr 20, 2006 10:11 am

blutoonwithcarrotandnail wrote:These are two sentences you used:

1. They like your book: librum vestrum amant

2. You like your own book: librum vestrum amatis

What is the formation of AMATIS? I would have thought it was amo. Is it from amatis that you see that it is reflexive while in amant you see that it is not? The words LIBRUM and VESTRUM are written the same way. What is the giveaway that it is reflexive or is that simply shown in the formation of amatis?

thanks.
Exactly. Amatis is from amo and means "you like", amant is from amo and means they like. The verb tells you who is doing the liking. If it happens to be the owner of the book then the adjective is in effect functioning "reflexively" in the sense we have used that word; if it is someone else then it is not.

Even in English, one can always tell this with "my", "thy", "our", "your". The pronoun we use to signal the subject of the verb will either "match" the pronomial adjective describing the book (in which case it is "reflexive": "I like my book": I matches my), or it will not ("you like my book": you does not match my). So also in Latin.

But in English "she/her" is ambiguous, we cannot tell if the "she" who is the subject of the verb is also the "she" who is the owner of the book. The pronoun and adjective seem to match in the sentence "She likes her book", but is possible that the she doing the liking is not the she who owns the book. In English we solve this problem either by context or by using a special adjective where there is a match: "own": "She likes her own book" (match). In Latin one uses suus -a -um if there is a match (librum suum amat: she likes her own book) but eius (not an adjective, but a genitive) if there is not (librum eius amat: she likes another's book).

Post Reply