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Learn Catalan - How I Learned to Love Pronouns - Part 1 - Direct Object Pronouns

How To Speak Catalan - Free Online Resource

This 3-part series of articles is for those of you having problems using weak pronouns, but it assumes that you can identify them (me/you/he/she/it/etc in their direct and indirect forms), or that you can look them up (links below).

Pronouns are still one of the tougher barriers I face when trying to understand and speak Catalan - especially when they are all crammed together in front of a verb and it looks like nothing more than alphabet spaghetti on the page (especially those damn combined weak pronouns, which we'll deal with in Part 3).

I'm not going to lie, I still find pronouns to be annoying fiddly little things - but when I just slowed down and took the time to understand them, it made things a lot easier.

I began to realise how useful pronouns really are, because they're a relatively small table of words that stand in for tons of vocabulary. And they are going to show up over and over in your conversations. In other words, you are going to get a huge payoff from learning them.

Once I changed my perception I suddenly became much happier about diving in.

Here are some tips that helped me get my head around them...

Direct Object Pronouns

A direct object is often described as the thing in the sentence that is being acted upon by the verb. So in the sentence: 'Joan bought the hat' it's the hat (the direct object) that is being bought (the verb) by Joan (the subject, the one performing the verb).

Once we've introduced 'the hat' into our conversation, it would sound really weird if we then continued to refer to it as 'the hat', when in fact a pronoun (such as 'it') would stand in for it perfectly. "I bought a hat. Later I decided it didn't suit me. I only bought it because it was cheap."

The same thing happens in Catalan, except that as well as the object turning into a pronoun, it also moves it's position in the sentence - it switches from after the verb to before the verb. Also, the word for 'it' (and other pronouns) actually changes in Catalan depending on gender and number.

En Joan va comprar el barret. (Joan bought the hat).
El va comprar. (He bought it).

Two things seem to have disappeared here - 'Joan' and 'the hat'.
However, 'Joan' is implied by the 'va' part of the past tense 'va comprar'.
And 'el barret' from after the verb is now just 'el' appearing before the verb.

As long as you know whether your object is masculine (el) or feminine (la) then a lot of the time you'll know how to construct a sentence with a direct object pronoun. (Yep, I'm implying that there's more to it this, but we'll tackle it another time - this working knowledge will take you a long way though.)

Look out for Parts 2 and 3 (and maybe more - it's a big topic!)


Table of Direct Object Pronouns - (just look at 'before the verb' for now)

My blog's main page -

Photo by James - Food For Thought - Flickr -

This post first appeared on How To Speak Catalan, please read the originial post: here

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Learn Catalan - How I Learned to Love Pronouns - Part 1 - Direct Object Pronouns


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