Talk:Romanian grammar

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This article needs filling in a lot of blanks (obviously). Be sure to mention clitic doubling and compare to other Romance languages. --Pablo D. Flores 15:40, 9 May 2005 (UTC)

Yes, we badly need some Romanian speakers here. Maybe they're just too poor to waste their time on online encyclopaedias over there. — Chameleon 13:56, 25 May 2005 (UTC)

Hmm... that's an interesting theory Chameleon, because the Romanian Wikipedia is well-over the 10,000 articles figure, while the Greek Wiki, the Hungarian Wiki, the Lithuanian Wiki, the Icelandic Wiki and so on are all still below 10,000 articles. There's plenty of Romanian users on this English Wiki also---it's just that there are too many other articles that attract attention. A Romanian grammar article reminds too many Romanians of those boring high school classes. Alexander 007 15:22, 1 Jun 2005 (UTC)


i've changed some stuff related to the cases, of which there should be 3, not 5... i'm using the terms 'Direct' for nominative/accusative and 'Indirect' for dative/genitive, as was put on the Latin page... this better reflects the current situation for Romanian cases Exit 06:04, 12 July 2005 (UTC)

Definite article in Romanian[edit]

It is often said that the definite article in Romanian is a clitic (an enclitic to be specific). However, I wonder if this is correct, as it seems to me that it behaves more like an affix. I am a native Romanian speaker, but I can't figure this one out. --AdiJapan 05:53, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

  • according to the definitions, i think it appears that the definite article is definitely enclitic, especially since the definite article can combine with adjectives as well as nouns The fact that it is written as part of the word it attaches to is merely an orthographic convention... also, it confirms that the definite article is syntactically free, if it were an affix, it would be bound to the noun and only the noun.. not sure of the latin origins, but i'm guessing in contexts of NOUN + ADJECTIVE, the article must intercede? c.f. (Ştefan cel Mare = Stephen the Great)

omul = man.DEF = the man
bunul om = good.DEF man = the good man
*bun omul

this could possibly have implications for the romanian case system as really the bulk of case marking (except feminine singular genitive/dative) is on the cliticized definite article

Exit 17:24, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

I don't think the definite article in Romanian is a clitic. It is part of the noun declension. A clitic is a word that doesn't have its own accent, but is attached to the following or preceding word, in the sense that they are pronounced as a single word. However, a clitic is an independent word morphologically and syntactically. The Romanian definite article changes its form according to the noun it determines, compare om - omul with munte - muntele. Both nouns are masculine singular, so if the article were a clitic, it should have had the same form in both cases. In linguistics, this declension category is called spesies (the same way as case stands for nominative, accusative, etc., spesies stands for definite and indefinite). About the example of bunul om, the explanation is that Romanian has no spesies congruence - that is, in one constituent, only one element receives the spesies marker (article), and that element is the first one. In Basque there is the same situation, except that the spesies, case and number markers go to the last element of the noun phrase. Compare:

gizon = man,

gizona = the man,

gizon on = good man,

gizon ona = the good man.

On the other hand, Swedish does have spesies congruence:

man = man,

mannen = the man,

god man = good man,

den goda mannen = the good man.

So I think the Romanian definite article is not a clitic, but part of the noun (and adjective) declension. Dumiac 20:04, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

Do you have a reference on this? It would be interesting to mention it in the article. However, most grammarians (at least all sources I've read) agree that the Romanian definite article is a clitic, so we'll have to stick to that. --AdiJapan 03:10, 22 November 2005 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but that's incorrect. Clitics are known to change according to the head/dependent they refer to; you can see that in the Hindi Genitive clitic, which alternates between "kaa", "ko", "ke" and I think "kii" according to the gender and number of the noun before it. The exact same thing occurs with the Romanian article. That's why it is definitely a clitic. —N-true 12:50, 6 May 2006 (UTC)


There is no mention of cacophony. Besides, from DEX Online:

Documentul ăsta e plin de cacofonii!
Da. Autorul acestui document nu crede în cacofonii. Dacă alăturarea a două cuvinte inofensive îi duce pe unii cu gândul la trivialităţi, este problema lor. De multe ori, construcţiile la care ajungem încercând să evităm o cacofonie zgârie urechea mai rău decât cacofonia însăşi. Alte limbi nu se străduie deloc să le evite şi autorul crede că spaima pe care cacofoniile le provoacă vorbitorilor de limbă română se datorează numai automatismelor învăţate în şcoala primară.

Is this attitude common?

That is the personal opinion of the person who created the website, and it does not come from the DEX itself. Actually he states somewhere that he is not a linguist, but a programmer. Although I tend to agree that his attitude is reasonable and sane, the majority of native Romanian speakers are aware of cacophonies (in particular those word pairs which by joining create sound sequences such as /kaka/, /kakə/, /kəka/ etc.) and try to avoid them. Romanian linguists, such as George Pruteanu (see here), say that cacophonies should be avoided, especially in formal writing/speeches or poetry, but that we should not get too paranoid about them. — AdiJapan  04:09, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

Pronouns in Latin[edit]

At the moment, there is utter nonsense about the Latin pronoun 'ille'. It goes like this if my brain's right:


N. ille, illa, illud

G. illius, illius, illius

D. illi, illi, illi

A. illum, illam, illud

Ab. illo, illa, illo


N. illi, illae, illa

G. illorum, illarum, illorum

D. illis, illis, illis

A. illos, illas, illa

Ab. illis, illis, illis

As I don't really know what the etymology is, I haven't corrected the article. It's not correct at the moment, this is for sure. 21:35, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

I added a new reference in the article, an article by Maria Aldea. See page 24 there for the etymology. I have seen this table also in other sources. I'm not a specialist either, but my understanding is that the Romanian definite and indefinite articles derive not from classical Latin, but vulgar Latin, which might explain the differences. — AdiJapan  02:41, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

Add more on genitive pronouns and prepositions that take the genitive[edit]

The table of pronouns should be expanded to list the feminine forms. Also, the section on prepositions should be expanded with an explicit list of prepositions that take the genitive — including, specifically, prepositions requiring a feminine genitive form when the object is a pronoun (e.g., împotriva mea). Richwales 18:44, 8 July 2007 (UTC)

Also, unless the grammar rules got updated since I did school, Romanian has separate possessive pronouns and adjectives from genitive case personal pronouns only. The genitive pronouns are only at 3rd person: lui/ei/lor, and can be preceded by a possessive article: al/a/ai/ale. The possessive adjectives are meu/mea/tău/ta/său/sa/nostru/noastră/vostru/voastră and so on. Note that său/sa/săi/sale haven't been mentioned in the main article, but they exist. Său/sa/săi/sale have the same semantics as lui/ei/lor but they agree with the possessed object, not with the possessor. They're less common and rather used in written speech than spoken, or for stylistic reasons. They're analogous to French son/sa/ses. If the possessive adjectives are preceded by al/a/ai/ale, they become standalone pronouns. Also note how there doesn't exist a possessive adjective for 3rd person plural.--Printz150 (talk) 12:09, 15 April 2012 (UTC)

Dumneata — impolite?[edit]

The page was just updated with a statement saying that the pronoun dumneata "is only used when addressing a person that one finds undesirable, or not worthy of respect, but with whom one cannot resort to using the simple personal pronoun tu (you), due to not actually being acquainted with that person." Can someone cite a source for this? Richwales (talk) 17:49, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

I think the explanation of dumneata is at least inaccurate. It is still a polite pronoun, used by many (especially by the elderly) as such, without implying undesirability or lack of respect. In fact, several dictionaries record it as a polite pronoun and no dictionary points out a negative connotation. Many decades ago dumneata was the most frequent polite pronoun (after being the only), and has been gradually replaced by dumneavoastră. This gives dumneata an archaic note today. It may also be perceived as intermediate between tu and dumneavoastră (on the scale of politeness degree), most probably because many old people often use it instead of tu when talking to younger people, in situations where others might hesitate in choosing between tu and dumneavoastră. However, linguist Narcisa Forăscu, in her Dificultăţi gramaticale ale limbii române, puts dumneata and dumneavoastră in the same category of polite pronouns (without evaluating their degree of politeness), while she places tu, dînsul etc. in a separate category of plain personal pronouns. (Her book used to be on the internet, but now you can only see it cached, for example here.) — AdiJapan  07:50, 6 February 2008 (UTC)
A less reliable, albeit rather direct source for my statement, which, I admit, is a bit extreme for the sheer purpose of urging language learners not to use the pronoun dumneata, simply because they risk to be misunderstood, resides here. The forum entries read:
A sloppy grammar and lax vocabulary skills seem to indicate that this contributor is an average native Romanian speaker, experiencing the typical difficulties of the English language. From his contribution, it is evident how people feel about the replacing of dumneata with dumneavoastră, namely that it should not have happened, but nevertheless, has. Of course, opinions are split, as always... My solution would be the replacing of the somewhat troublesome phrase "only used when addressing a person that one finds undesirable, or not worthy of respect" with a statement clarifying its gradually deprecating usage. Incidentally, AdiJapan pointed out that old people use dumneata to address young people. I have seen this usage very rarely, but have seen young (and often middle-class) people using dumneata to address old people of inferior social status. Hoping I haven't created too much of a misunderstanding, I leave the decision to you. --Danielsavoiu (talk) 22:26, 6 February 2008 (UTC)
Just a few notes:
  1. Using a discussion forum as a source is way below what WP:RS recommends.
  2. Using the discussion forum to derive conclusions on language use is original research.
  3. "Urging language learners" to use or not to use a word or another is not the purpose of Wikipedia.
However, I agree with Danielsavoiu that dumneata has very much fallen out of use today and that it is mostly used by or toward older speakers, also depending on the social context. I would say it practically never appears in a dialog where no old person is involved. The article should indeed say someting about dumneata having become obsolete. The fact that it is intermediate between tu and dumneavoastră probably also stems from dumneata being used with the singular of the verb, like tu, but unlike dumneavoastră. — AdiJapan  07:57, 7 February 2008 (UTC)


Attribute: Mi-am luat o fustă mamă-mamă. I bought a cool dress.

I've never heard this expression before in my life. Can someone confirm? (talk) 14:49, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

Mamă-mamă is an interjection only encountered in Southern Romania (typically East of Bucharest), mostly amongst lower class rural inhabitants. If you're from Ardeal or Banat or Oltenia or Moldova, it's most likely you've never heard it. --Xanthar (talk) 23:32, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

I beg to disagree. I'm a native speaker from the western part of the country, and "mama-mama", or "au mama", _are_ in use in other regions of the country. Besides, IME, the usage of "mama-mama" in the southern part of the country has declined also, over the last several years. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:00, 30 October 2011 (UTC)

Interrogative Pronouns[edit]

seem to be missing entirely —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:27, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

polite pronouns derived from addressing royalty?[edit]

I added a "discuss" tag to this: "The polite pronouns are derived from the old Romanian expression for addressing royalty[dubious – discuss], Domnia Ta, Domnia Voastră, Domnia Lui, etc. (Your Majesty, Your Majesty (plural), His Majesty)." To me it sounds dubious, at least it needs to be referenced. Logically, it would look that royalty was addressed in a polite way, not that the polite form was derived from how royalty was addressed. Also, the translation as "Majesty" is over the top, maybe "Lord" would sound more accurate, although there were not many lords in Romanian history as far as I know. Any input? Ultimately where is the word "domn" coming from? Is it similar to "Don" from Italian? man with one red shoe 02:39, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

It may sound dubious, and maybe the paragraph could be slightly reworded, but the idea is correct. Initially, phrases like domnia ta and domnia voastră were used in addressing the country's Domn, who of course was equivalent to the king of other countries, so the translation Your Majesty isn't so much over the top (Your Lordship is/was used in English for bishops and high court judges, that is, lower dignities).
The use of these phrases was probably first extended to other high dignitaries, then to all boyars, then to anyone towards whom one may have wanted to be very polite. Which brings us to the present use of dumneavoastră, dumneata, dumnealui.
So the present polite pronouns have in fact derived from the way the Domn was being addressed to. That's the way words evolve. You can't address royalty in a polite way before you invent that polite way. But afterwards you can use the same polite way towards other people, especially if you have already devised even more polite ways for the highest rank, to keep distinctions in place.
Domn comes from the Latin dominus, meaning "Lord, master, God", and is indeed related to similar words in Romance languages. See this etymological dictionary for the origin of domn and the derivation of dumneavoastră etc. — AdiJapan 05:14, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the edits and source. One comment, as in Latin I still think that "Lord, master" is a better translation than "Majesty", maybe we should add it as an alternative. man with one red shoe 18:21, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
I think "lordship" (i.e., the quality, property, or condition of being a lord) would be a better translation here. Note that DEX Online defines "domnie" as "demnitate de domn". Richwales (talk · contribs) 18:42, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
By the way, "royalty" in my mind is related to kings, Romanians/Moldavians/Valachians/etc haven't had kings and queens for most of the time in their history. man with one red shoe 22:15, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
In Latin, dominus does indeed mean "Lord, master", but the old Romanian domn was used for the country's ruler, domnul țării, as well as for God, so there was a shift in meaning: the Latin etymon didn't mean "Majesty", but the old Romanian word did. In the meantime domn lost that meaning.
Rich, you are right that lordship as the condition of being a lord would be a close translation, but I checked a couple of dictionaries and found that the phrase Your Lordship has specific uses, departing from that meaning (as I said above, it is used towards bishops and judges of high courts). If we use Your Lordship as a translation for Domnia Ta, it would be ambiguous at best, but most probably just wrong. In the days we're talking about, say 500 years ago, there was only one domn in each Romanian country (now there are many million domni, as the word changed its meaning). The old meaning of domn was later transferred to domnitor. By the way, the last domnitor started calling himself a king after Romania won its independence from the Ottoman power.
I don't see a reason to avoid Majesty or royalty here. Romanian domn`s were not called kings or emperors, but that's mostly a question of terminology. They ruled those countries, their offspring often inherited the throne after them, and so on, just like royalty did in other countries. The largest difference I can see is that, for the most part of those hundreds of years, the Romanian countries were vassals to the Porte, so the domn`s did not usually have full power and freedom. But for instance Ștefan cel Mare did have full power and ruled an independent country. His countrymen called him Domn. English sources often refer to him as Prince of Moldavia, and that amounts to royalty for me (prince in historical contexts can mean "king"). — AdiJapan 14:36, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
Well, Dominus is used for God in Latin too, so there's no shift in meaning in that respect, how about saying that the polite pronouns ultimately come from Latin "dominus (lord, master)"? I'm sure there are enough sources that make that connection. Also, it doesn't seem to be to much of a stretch to think that when somebody was calling the ruler of the country "Domn" they meant "Master" or "Lord" and not necessarily "Majesty" especially that the ruler didn't have the title of king. The pronouns were most likely well established long time before Romania had its first king and queen. man with one red shoe 14:54, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
The "God" meaning may be the same, but it's not directly relevant here. It may be that using domn for the country's ruler was a way to imply that the ruler was the representative of God in that country, but I cannot source that. Anyway, the polite pronouns are not directly connected to addressing God, to whom Romanians have always addressed using tu.
When the master being addressed with Domn (vocative Doamne) is only one in the whole country, I would say that's the same with Majesty. Just saying Lord or Master isn't enough, it's too general. Both Domnia Ta and Your Majesty mean "You, our greatest master" or something along those lines, with emphasis on the supremacy of the domn.
I'm not sure I understand what part of the article is in dispute here. The fact that it says Your Majesty? To me majesty doesn't necessarily imply a king or queen, but any sovereign. — AdiJapan 15:55, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
The part that bothered me most: "old Romanian expression for addressing royalty" man with one red shoe 19:43, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
Well, in fact, according to dictionaries, royalty is not limited to kings and queens. It can refer to any supreme ruler. But to avoid confusion I replaced royalty with the sovereign. — AdiJapan 05:55, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

Third Person Polite Pronouns[edit]

Will someone please explain to me how third person polite pronouns are used? Or in what context? I mean, do you use them to talk about people you would address by using second person polite pronouns? I understand the difference between formal and informal pronouns. My mother language is Spanish, and it makes that distinction in the second person. But I can't see how this works in the third person. Thanks. Eduarodi (talk) 16:44, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

When you talk about other people instead of using the normal pronoun you use the polite one, for example if you talk in public about a public person (let's say the President) you'd not talk about him as "el", but as "dumnealui", same goes if you talk about an older person, let's say you talk with your mother about your grandmother, it would be "dumneaei", not "ea" (it depends though on personal custom and social group, low classes might not talk politely). Key words here are "public" and "older". To understand the logic of using a polite name for the 3rd person, imagine that you talk to somebody face to face politely, but then when you turn away and talk to somebody else about that person you don't use the polite form -- that would sound ridiculous. The difference though is that for the 2nd person you use plural, but for the 3rd person you use the singular form "dumnealui" or "dumneaei" form that come from "his majesty" or "her majesty" (personally I feel that "majesty" is not a very fortunate translation as you can see from the previous discussion). So basically, when you talk about somebody who deserves respect you use "his majesty" not "he". man with one red shoe 19:35, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
Thank you. That was very clear. It makes me wonder, though. In my culture, it is not so ridiculous to talk to a person formally, but the minute they go away, you start talking less respectfully of them with some other person.
I mean, think of a boss. You'd probably be formal in addressing them. But if you don't like them, you might laugh at them when you talk of them with a colleague. The same goes for some elderly neighbours that you dislike, or with some politicians, etc. Eduarodi (talk) 10:23, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Sure, that's still an option. Any suggestion for improving that section of the article? man with one red shoe 13:27, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
I can hardly suggest how to improve the article, since nearly all I know about the subject is what I've just read in it. I mean, I'm decidedly no expert here, but someone who likes languages and who is looking for information in this site. Eduarodi (talk) 13:55, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

case terminology[edit]

It would probably be simpler to replace "nominative" and "accusative" in discussions about non-pronoun words with "direct case" or "direct", and similarly replace "genitive" and "dative" with "oblique case" or "oblique"... AnonMoos (talk) 15:27, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

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