CHAPTER 18

Pronouns II, Intransitive Verbs with the Genitive or Ablative

Relative pronouns must not omitted.

Vergilius est poeta quem maxime admiror

not

Vergilius est poeta maxime admiror.

A Roman would be as confused by “The poet I admire most is Vergil” as we are by “I saugh a beest was lyk an hound” (= I saw a beast which was like a dog) at Chaucer Nun’s Priest’s Tale 133f.

No attempt is made here to distinguish between “which” (or “who”) and “that”. The distinction between “The pigs that are feeding in the field are fat” (i.e. specific pigs) and “Wolves kill pigs, which are lovable creatures” (i.e. pigs in general) appears to be largely defunct in all but the most careful and conservative modern English usage. (See also the Fetutinae to Chapter 3, on “shall”/“will”.)

On the other hand, the declension of the pronouns (both relative and interrogative) “who”, “whom” and “whose”, one of the last remnants of English inflection, performs a very useful function, “who” being used only as the subject, “whom” as the object and with prepositions, “whose” denoting possession. The tendency to replace “whom” with “who” (as in “The girl who I love”) is to be resisted, although the OED (1989) states that the use of “whom” is “no longer current in natural colloquial speech”. The converse replacement, as in “I know the girl whom he says loves pigs”, is simply a solecism.

vescor, vesci is unusual, since very few deponent verbs lack the perfect system. (The majority belong to the first conjugation and are entirely regular.)