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Learn Catalan - How I Learned to Love Pronouns - Part 3 - Combined Object Pronouns

Combined Weak Object Pronouns - Catalan Grammar - Diagram
Combined Weak Object Pronouns - Catalan Grammar - Diagram

We can now take what we learned in Part 1 and Part 2, and use it to form sentences with combined pronouns.

Examine this short narration, which includes combined object pronouns:

En Joan va comprar el barret. Me'l va donar.

Joan bought the hat. He gave it to me.

1. Identify what the pronouns represent...

The first sentence is clear enough to me:

- There's a subject - Joan
- We've got a verb -'va comprar' / bought.
- And we've got a direct object - el barret / the hat.

But the second sentence short-circuits my brain - "m-e-'l-v-a-d-o-n-a-r"?? What is all this? Where did all the concrete things for me to grasp go? And why is the verb suddenly at the end of the sentence, with all those abstract-looking pronouns in front of it?... My brain just couldn't cope with the words in this back-to-front order, or make sense of what is being referring to.

Trust me though, it's all still there:

- The verb is still clear - 'va donar' / gave

- The subject, Joan, in the context of the narration above, is still present. However, you don't need to keep repeating his name - instead, the part of the verb 'va' tells us that we are talking about 'him' as a subject.

- The direct object? It's still 'the hat'... but the pronoun 'el' stands in for it.
Because it combines with another pronoun with a vowel, the 'el' only appears as a ('l).

- The indirect object here is the narrator, - that is, he is the one who was affected by the giving of the hat.

Are you still with me so far? If Part 1 and Part 2 made sense to you, then you are, no problem.


2. Word order of combined pronouns...

Next, here's how I visualise the ordering of the words, to work out what I want to say as quickly as possible:

For all sentences (except positive imperatives, infinitives and gerunds, which we'll tackle another time) think of it this way...

See the Verb as the centre, the nucleus, the anchor of the sentence:

En Joan    VA DONAR     el barret     a en Marcel.

Change the objects to their Pronouns, and swing them across to before the verb, your anchor.

En Joan          me                 'l         VA DONAR.

Feel the weight of that verb in your mind. It's steady. It's secure. It's already waiting while you work out which pronoun to speak first - the direct object or the indirect object?

Quickly rehearse a draft sentence in your head... and be sure to begin with the indirect object - e.g. the 'to me' or the 'for me'. It sounds odd in English, but goes like this:

              To me -            it -       he gave.
              Me -                'l -        va donar.

To repeat: I anchor the verb steady in my mind, on standby, while I sort out the pronouns.
This method has helped me a lot!

For a quick reference of how I visualise everything I've explained here, have a look at the diagram at the top of the page.


Table of Combined weak pronouns -

My blog's main page -

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 3 - Combined Object Pronouns


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