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A Grammar of Interlingua

Alexander Gode & Hugh Blair IALA 1951

Parts of Speech



The PERSONAL pronouns together with the REFLEXIVES and POSSESSlVES form a pattern as shown in the following table:

gender subj. obj.
reflex. possess.
1st pers. sg. - io me me mi mie
2nd pers. sg. - tu te te tu tue
1st pers. pl. - nos nos nos nostre nostre
2nd pers. pl. - vos vos vos vostre vostre
3rd pers. sg. masc. ille le se su sue
3rd pers. sg. fem. illa la se su sue
3rd pers. sg. neut. illo lo se su sue
3rd pers. pl. masc. illes les se lor lore
3rd pers. pl. fem. illas las se lor lore
3rd pers. pl. neut. illos los se lor lore


The FUNCTIONS of these pronouns are identical with those of their English equivalents except for minor deviations mentioned below.


The PERSONAL PRONOUNS in the singular are io 'I,' tu 'you (thou),' ille 'he,' illa 'she,' illo 'it.'


The second person singular tu is the familiar form of address used with children, friends, in poetry, invocations of supernatural beings, etc.

The parallel "formal" form of address is vos 'you' whose primary function is to represent the second person plural. There is no objection to extending the "formal" form to all uses it has in English.

Tu es mi amico 'You are my friend'

Vos es mi amico 'You are my friend'

note that vos is identified as a singular by amico; 'You are my friends' runs Vos es mi amicos

Note: A collateral form of illa is ella; the two should not be used in the same text.


The third person singular distinguishes - as in English - masculine, feminine, and neuter forms. The distinction is not a matter of grammatical gender but of sex.

... le femina... Illa es belle
'... the woman... She is beautiful'

... le capro... Ille es belle
'... the billy-goat... He is handsome';


... le capro... Illo es belle
'... the billy-goat... It is handsome'

... le libro... Illo es interessante
'... the book.... It is interesting'


In the third person singular neuter there is an unstressed form il 'it' for use as a grammatical subject.

Il niva 'It snows'
Il face frigido 'It is cold'
Il es ver que callos es penose 'It is true that corns are painful'

In the last construction a change in word order, 'That corns are painful is true,' eliminates the anticipating subject 'it.' Hence the possible forms Que callos es penose es ver or Ver es que callos es penose or Es ver que callos es penose. In these forms the real subject is que callos es penose, but the use of impersonal verb forms without pronoun may also be extended to constructions of the type non importa 'it does not matter'; face frigido 'it is cold'; etc.


The INDEFINITE PERSONAL PRONOUN is on 'one.' It can only be used as the subject of the sentence. In all other cases uno takes its place.

On crede lo que on spera
'One believes what one hopes'

Quando on se promena in iste parco, altere promenatores collide frequentemente con uno
'When one takes a walk in this park, other walkers frequently bump into one'

The form uno can likewise serve as subject and is then synonymous with on. It is the pronominal form of the indefinite article. See §21.


The personal pronouns in the first and second persons plural are nos 'we' and vos 'you.' In the third person, illes, illas, illos 'they' are regular plural forms of the corresponding singulars ille, illa, illo, 'he, she, it.' The distinction of masculine, feminine, neuter is optional in the plural. As in English a single form 'they' illes may be used for all antecedents. The masculine form is used to refer to mixed antecedents: Illes - non solmente ille sed etiam illa - es illac 'They - not only he but she too - are there.'


In contrast to all other parts of speech, the personal pronouns show a distinction of two CASE FORMS except in the first and second persons plural. The second-case forms in the first and second persons singular are me 'me' and te 'thee (you).' In the third persons the second-case forms, le, la, lo, les, las, los 'him, her, it, them' are the second syllable of the corresponding first-case forms.


As for the FUNCTIONS of the personal-pronoun case forms, a distinction is made between (a) subject, (b) object of a preposition, and (c) object of a verb. The first-case form is used as subject and - in the third persons - as object of a preposition. The second-case form is used as object of a verb and - in the first and second persons - as object of a preposition. To summarize all these forms in a paradigmatic survey, it may be useful to adapt a model sentence like Io tenta impressionar te con ille 'I am trying to impress you with him' to all persons in both singular and plural.

  1. io ... te ... ille
  2. tu ... le ... illa
  3. ille ... la ... illo
  4. illa ... lo ... nos
  5. illo ... nos ... vos
  6. nos ... vos ... illes
  7. vos ... les ... illas
  8. illes ... las ... illos
  9. illas ... los ... me
  10. illos ... me ... te

Some of these statements are rather artificial. They are given for the sake of completeness and seem at least theoretically possible if construed as follows:

  1. 'I am trying to impress you (thee) with him'
    (e.g.: I am trying to impress you with what I tell you about my big brother)
  2. 'You (thou) are trying to impress him with her'
    (e.g.: You are trying to impress your brother with your beautiful fiancee)
  3. 'He is trying to impress her with it'
    (e.g.: He is trying to impress the girl by showing her his new automobile)
  4. 'She is trying to impress it with us'
    (e.g.: She has invited us to her concert because she wants to impress her audience with the number of her friends)
  5. 'It is trying to impress us with you (pl.)'
    (e.g.: The government is trying to impress us, the people, with the fact that you, members of a constitutional assembly, are still allowed to convene)
  6. 'We are trying to impress you (pl.) with them (masc.)'
    (e.g.: We are trying to impress you, who are poor friends of ours, with our wealthy fathers)
  7. 'You are trying to impress them (masc.) with them (fem.)'
    (e.g.: You are trying to impress the boys with what you tell them about your girl friends)
  8. 'They (masc.) are trying to impress them (fem.) with them' (neut.)
    (e.g.: The boys are trying to impress the girls with their beautiful automobiles)
  9. 'They (fem.) are trying to impress them (neut.) with me'
    (e.g.: The girls are trying to impress their consciences with the fact that they have helped me)
  10. 'They (neut.) are trying to impress me with you (thee)'
    (e.g.: The powers of darkness are trying to impress me with you, the all-powerful Mephistopheles).


The POSSESSIVES are adjectives and share with other adjectives the possibility of preceding or following the noun they qualify and of being used as pronouns and nouns. See §33, §38-§40 above. When they precede the noun the construction normally dispenses with an article. In this position - i.e., before a noun and not preceded by an article - the forms of the possessive adjectives drop their final e (except in nostre and vostre where it follows a consonant cluster).

Mi fratre e tu soror celebra lor nuptias
'My brother and your (thy) sister celebrate their wedding'

Mi fratre e le fratre tue es bon amicos
'My brother and your brother are good friends'

Mi fratre e le tue es bon amicos
'My brother and yours are good friends'

Patre nostre, qui es ...
'Our Father, Who art ...'

mi matre or le matre mie or (rarely) le mie matre 'my mother'

Ille labora nocte e die pro le suos
'He works night and day for his people'


For the third person masculine, feminine, and neuter, there is only one possessive each in the singular and plural. Where a distinction is needed, it is brought out after the following models:

Ille e illa velia tote le nocte al lecto de su (or del) moriente patre de illa
'He and she are sitting up all night at her dying father's bedside'

Mi patre e le suo (or le) de ille es amicos
'My father and his are friends'


The REFLEXIVE pronoun in all third persons is se 'himself, herself, itself, themselves.' In the first and second persons the second-case forms of the personal pronouns function as reflexives.

Io me marita con te, e tu te marita con me
'I get married (marry myself) to you and you get married (marry yourself) to me'

Ille se marita con illa, e illa se marita con ille

Illes se marita con illas, e illas se marita con illes


Reflexive constructions are primarily of the type in which the object of the verb happens to be logically identical with the subject. Note that this makes reflexive constructions which in English often dispense with an object pronoun, as in I wash' in the sense of 'I wash myself.'

Illa se face indispensabile
'She makes herself indispensable'

Io me vide como alteros me vide
'I see myself as others see me'


Reflexive constructions are also used to express passive ideas when there is no agent involved. 'These books are sold at Bloomingdale's' may be replaced by the translation of 'These books sell themselves at Bloomingdale's.' Note that this covers constructions of the type, 'These books sell well.'

Iste libros se vende al magazin de Bloomingdale

Iste libro se vende multo ben

Tal cappellos se vide frequentemente
'Such hats are often seen' or 'One often sees such hats'


SECOND-CASE PERSONAL AND REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS (except in prepositional constructions) precede the simple tense forms of the verb but follow the participles, imperative forms, and the infinitive.

Io les surprendeva
'I surprised them'

Pro surprender les io debeva currer
'In order to surprise them I had to run'

Dirigente se verso le sol, illa precava
'Turning toward the sun, she prayed'

Io collabora con illes
'I collaborate with them'

Monstra lo a ille
'Show it to him'


In the compound tenses which consist of an auxiliary tense form plus an infinitive or past participle, the personal or reflexive pronouns may precede the auxiliary or follow the participle or infinitive.

Io ha surprendite les or io les ha surprendite
'I have surprised them'

Io va surprender les or Io les va surprender
'I will surprise them'

In constructions with facer 'to cause to, to make,' the two positions of the pronoun suggest logically two distinct meanings.

Io le face batter le
'I make him beat him'

Io le face batter
'I make him beat'

Io face batter le
'(I make beat him) I have him beaten'


In a combination of two pronouns, one personal and the other reflexive, the latter precedes.

Illa se nos monstra
'She shows herself to us'

Io me lo dice
'I tell (it to) myself'

In a combination of two personal pronouns that one precedes whose relation to the verb is more indirect or remote.

Illa me lo dice
'She tells (it to) me'

Illa me lo ha dicite or Illa ha dicite me lo
'She has told (it to) me'

Pro dicer me lo illa debeva telephonar
'To tell (it to) me, she had to telephone'

In a combination of one simple personal or reflexive pronoun with another preceded by a preposition or with a noun object, the simple pronoun precedes.

Illa ha le tempore pro intertener se con illes

Illa ha le tempore pro intertener se con su canes
'She has the time to amuse herself with her dogs'

Illa ha intertenite se con illes or Illa se ha intertenite con illes
'She has amused herself with them'


Note: There is no distinction between accusative and dative forms of the pronouns like that which appears in some other languages. Parallel to English usage the dative idea is clarified for differentiation or emphasis by the preposition a.

Io inviava un telegramma a mi granpatre
'I sent a wire to my grand-father'

Io lo inviava a mi granpatre
'I sent it to my grandfather'

Io le inviava un telegramma
'I sent him a wire'

Io le lo inviava or Io lo inviava a ille
'I sent him it' or 'I sent it to him'


The place of pronouns in the sentence is not rigidly fixed. The preceding paragraphs describe the norm from which deviations are justified by considerations of rhythm or emphasis.

Ille ama arachides e illa ama se
'He loves peanuts and she loves herself'

Io vos crede si vos crede me
'I believe you if you believe me'


The RELATIVES are que and qual. The former is primarily a relative pronoun, the latter is a relative adjective.

Le ultime traino que pote portar me ibi a tempore parti in cinque minutas
'The last train that can get me there on time will leave in five minutes'

Ille fuma opium, qual vitio ille ha acquirite durante le guerra
'He smokes opium, which vice he acquired during the war'


The form qual preceded by the definite article le is pronominal and can be pluralized.

Le cavallo e le asino le qual non esseva sellate curreva a velocitate equal
'The horse and the donkey which (latter) was not saddled ran at equal speed'

Le cavallo e le asino le quales non esseva sellate...
'The horse and the donkey which were not saddled...'


The FUNCTIONS OF CASES - with both que and qual - are carried by the prepositions de (for the genitive) and a (for the dative). There is a special genitive relative, cuje 'whose,' and a form qui 'who, whom' which is used only for persons and only as subject or after a preposition.

Le documentos que le spia portava con se esseva multo importante
'The documents which the spy carried with him were very important'

Le documentos con que le spia escappava esseva multo importante
'The documents with which the spy escaped were very important'

Le documentos de que le spia habeva copias esseva multo importante
'The documents of which the spy had copies were very important'

Le documentos cuje importantia esseva dubitose incriminava le spia
'The documents whose importance was dubious incriminated the spy'

Le documentos del quales le spia habeva copias...
'The documents of which the spy had copies...'

Le documentos, le importantia del quales esseva dubitose...
'The documents whose importance was dubious...'

Le spia qui portava le documentos esseva habile
'The spy who carried the documents was skillful'

Le spia que le agente de policia habeva vidite portava con se le plus importante documentos
'The spy whom the policeman had seen carried with him the most important documents'

Le spia de qui le policia habeva establite le identitate...
'The spy whose identity the police had established...'

Le spia cuje identitate le policia habeva establite...

Note: In contrast to English usage there are no relative constructions without a relative pronoun.

'The tobacco you smoke is abominable'
Le tabaco que vos fuma es abominabile

'The onions you ate smell to high heaven'
Le cibollas que tu ha mangiate odora al alte celo


For the relative pronoun lo que 'what,' see §21 above.


The DEMONSTRATIVES are adjectives which can be used as pronouns. Hence they are capable of assuming forms agreeing with the number and sex of their antecedents. In their choice of pronominal endings they do not fall into the pattern of substantivized adjectives (-e: neutral; -o: male or neuter; -a: female); instead they follow the pattern of personal third person pronouns (-e: male; -a: female; -o: neuter).


The demonstrative of proximity is iste 'this'; that of remoteness ille 'that.'

iste homine e ille femina
'this man and that woman'

ille homine e iste femina
'that man and this woman'

iste tabula e ille libro
'this table and that book'

ille tabula e iste libro
'that table and this book'

Iste pais es libere
'This country is free'

Isto es un libere pais
'This is a free country'

Iste puera odia illa
'This girl hates that (one)'

Que es isto? Que es illo?
'What is this? What is that?'

Ille idiota!
'That idiot!'

Istes es mi studentes
'These are my students'

Istas es mi filias
'These are my daughters'

Da me ille libros. Illos es le mies
'Give me those books; they (those) are mine'

Iste edition es plus complete que ille duo
'This edition is more complete than those two'

Iste edition es plus complete que illos
'This edition is more complete than those'

(Woman speaking)
Io es una de illas qui crede que le matrimonio es sancte;
'I am one of those who believe that matrimony is sacred'

(Man speaking)
Io es uno de illes qui crede...
'I am one of those who believe that matrimony is sacred'

Note: A collateral form of ille is celle; the two should not be used in the same text.

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