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Icelandic: Get, Gat, Geti, Gæti.

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by ShakeyX, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Quick question,

    I know that "Get ég fengið..." is Can I get while "Gæti ég fengið" is Could I get.

    I understand that Gæti is the subjunctive form (expression of desire) but why is the past form used. Why not "Geti ég" and furthermore is there any use for Gat or Geti in this sense.

    Thanks for your help.
     
  2. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Hi Shakey,

    The fact that you use the past participle with geta is just a quirk you need to accept and not question in the first stages of learning. It doesn't match up with English and it's a common mistake for learners to forget to use it, but it's easy enough to remember with a bit of practice. "Get ég..." is still fine (when followed by a past participle). The distinction you draw between them is, as you say, one of politeness. When you use subjunctive for politeness, you use the past subjunctive form. There are other ways that you can use the other forms, too. So, for normal reasons where you would use a subjunctive form you can use 'geti' and in normal past tense sentences you can use 'gat' - such as 'I couldn't do it' (Ég gat ekki gert það). TO use the present form, the easiest thing to do is just throw a verb before it which requires the next verb be in the subjunctive (and the typical example is any verb meaning 'to think') - so therefore you can say: Ég held að ég geti verið.... (I think I can be....)

    1) Get ég talað við .....? (Can I speak to....?) ........................................... Present tense / indicative
    2) Gæti ég talað við .... ? (Could I speak to....?) ........................................ Past subjunctive / used for politeness
    3) Ég gat ekki talað við ... (I couldn’t speak to...) ...................................... Past simple / indicative
    4) Hún heldur að ég geti ekki talað við .... (She thinks I can’t talk to...) ......... Present tense / subjunctive

    I hope that makes it a bit clearer. There is one usage missing, and that is the past version of 4) ("She thought I couldn't speak to...") so if you want to have a go at putting that in the past tense we can tell you if your attempt is correct.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  3. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Thanks for your help! This really did make it clear, I guess I just needed to see examples with the other forms used.

    Hún heldur að ég gæti ekki talað við...
     
  4. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Hún hélt að ég gæti ekki talað við...

    You got the important part right, which is what matters, but didn't change the thinks->thought (an oversight, I'm sure).
    This verb is cognate with English "hold" so they both have similar past tenses (hold->held / halda->hélt). You can look up any conjugation/declension on this site if you are unsure.
     

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