Romanian language lesson: Special phrases in Romanian


Some usual phrases in Romanian are formed with a pronoun in the dative and the verb “to be” in the third person singular.

[audio:http://www.romania-insider.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Special-phrases-in-Romanian.mp3|titles=Special phrases in Romanian]

Examples

Îmi este foame = mi-e foame (I am hungry)

Îmi este sete = mi-e sete (I am thirsty)

Îmi este frig = mi-e frig (I am cold)

Îmi este cald = mi-e cald (I am warm)

If we want to change the subject, only the dative pronoun “îmi” will be modified. The rest of the phrase including the verb “este” and the nouns “foame”, “sete”, “frig”, “cald” remains in the same form.

The current / common form of these phrases includes the short form of the pronoun “mi” and the short form of the verb “to be” (“e” instead of “este”). The contraction of the pronoun “mi” and the verb “e” is mandatory (“mi-e”). In this case, the two parts of speech turn into one syllable. This type pf contraction occurs in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd person singular. In the 1st, 2nd and 3rd person plural we use only the short form of the verb “to be”: “e”. As long as the two parts of speech (the pronoun and the verb) does not turn into one syllable, we cannot talk about a contraction (“ne e”, “vă e”, “le e” are not contractions).

 

Îmi este foame / sete 

Mi-e foame / sete

(I am hungry / thirsty)

Ne este foame / sete 

Ne e foame / sete

(We are hungry / thirsty)

Îți este foame / sete 

Ți-e foame / sete

(You are hungry / thirsty)

Vă este foame / sete 

Vă e foame / sete.

(You are hungry / thirsty)

Îi este foame / sete 

I-e foame / sete

(He / she is hungry / thirsty)

Le este foame / sete 

Le e foame / sete

(They are hungry /thirsty)

 

Meaning and grammar do not always go together. Not all phrases or verbs can be preceded by the normal subject (“eu”, “tu”, “el / ea” etc.). An important grammatical feature of this type of phrases is that it is not possible to express the subject “eu”, “tu”, “el / ea” etc. in front of them. A structure like “eu îmi este foame” is incorrect.

 

Romanian uses a double dative structure. If we want to emphasize the subject of this type of phrase, the subject is in the dative as well. The dative forms of the pronouns used in this case are: “mie” (in the 1st person singular), “ție” (in the 2nd person singular), “lui / ei” (in the 3rd person singular; “lui” is for masculine, “ei” is for feminine), “nouă” (in the 1st person plural), “vouă” (in the 2nd person plural), “lor” (in the 3rd person plural). The full form of these phrases is:

 

 

Mie îmi este foame / sete 

Mie mi-e foame / sete

(I am hungry / thirsty)

Nouă ne este foame / sete 

Nouă ne e foame / sete

(We are hungry / thirsty)

Ție îți este foame / sete 

Ție ți-e foame / sete

(You are hungry / thirsty)

Vouă vă este foame / sete 

Vouă vă e foame / sete.

(You are hungry / thirsty)

Lui / ei îi este foame / sete 

Lui / ei i-e foame / sete

(He / she is hungry / thirsty)

Lor le este foame / sete 

Lor le e foame / sete

(They are hungry /thirsty)

 

If we don’t want to emphasize the subject, it’s enough to say: “îmi este foame” or “mi-e foame”.The optional forms of the dative pronouns are only: “mie”, “ție”, “lui / ei”, “nouă”, “vouă”, “lor”.

“(Mie) îmi este foame” – “mie” is optional

“Îmi este foame” – “îmi” is mandatory

 

The negative form

In the negative, the particle “nu” must be added in front of the pronouns in the dative.

 

Nu îmi este foame / sete 

Nu mi-e foame / sete

(I am not hungry / thirsty)

Nu ne este foame / sete 

Nu ne e foame / sete

(We are not hungry / thirsty)

Nu îți este foame / sete 

Nu ți-e foame / sete

(You are not hungry / thirsty)

Nu vă este foame / sete 

Nu vă e foame / sete.

(You are not hungry / thirsty)

Nu îi este foame / sete 

Nu i-e foame / sete

(He / she is not hungry / thirsty)

Nu le este foame / sete 

Nu le e foame / sete

(They are not hungry /thirsty)

 

When we express the double dative, the particle “nu” remains in front of the second pronoun in the dative.

 

Mie nu îmi este foame / sete 

Mie nu mi-e foame / sete

(I am not hungry / thirsty)

Nouă nu ne este foame / sete 

Nouă nu ne e foame / sete

(We are not hungry / thirsty)

Ție nu îți este foame / sete 

Ție nu ți-e foame / sete

(You are not hungry / thirsty)

Vouă nu vă este foame / sete 

Vouă nu vă e foame / sete.

(You are not hungry / thirsty)

Lui / ei nu îi este foame / sete 

Lui / ei nu i-e foame / sete

(He / she is not hungry / thirsty)

Lor nu le este foame / sete 

Lor nu le e foame / sete

(They are not hungry /thirsty)

 

Other Romanian phrases with the same structure

Îmi pare bine de cunoștință = Nice to meet you

Îmi pare rău = I am sorry

Îmi este bine = I am fine

Îmi este rău = I am sick

 

The short form including the contraction of the pronouns in the dative and the verb is possible only when the structure includes the verb “to be”.

 

Îmi este bine = Mi-e bine = I am fine

Îmi este rău = Mi-e rău = I am sick

 

If the structure includes the verb “a părea” (to seem), a short form doesn’t exist.

Îmi pare bine de cunoștință = Nice to meet you

Îmi pare rău = I am sorry

are the only possible constructions.

 

Mona Pologea, PhD. Linguist, Managing Director ROLANG School

 

Romania Insider
Free Newsletters

Be up to speed with what’s happening in Romania! Choose from our 7 newsletters, covering the entire array of business, social, politics, and entertainment news

Subscribe now