«Σε ρωτάω κάτι» vs « Σου ρωτάω κάτι»

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Avonensis

New Member
Catalan - Central Catalonia
Γεια σας!

My question is why is «Σε ρωτάω κάτι» correct? Can Greek language have two direct objects (in this example “σε” and “κάτι”)?

To me, «Σου ρωτάω κάτι» would make more sense, since “σου” would be the indirect object and “κάτι” the direct object.

Thanks!
 
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  • Tr05

    Senior Member
    Greek - Greece
    Γεια! It's true that this is a bit confusing, but I think it would be easier for you if you simply consider it to be an exception. I don't really think there are many such verbs around. That becomes more frustrating if you bear in mind that the verb "to answer" behaves as you would expect it to. :(
    For what it's worth, it's exactly the same in German.
    Un saludo :)
     

    Avonensis

    New Member
    Catalan - Central Catalonia
    Thanks Tr05! I’ll consider it an exception. It is comforting to know that there aren’t many verbs like that.

    Anyway, I would still appreciate it if anyone could offer a rule or logical explanation for this case.

    In Spanish, «Τον ρώτησα κάτι» is translated as «Le pregunté algo», but never as «Lo pregunté algo».
    Since I understood that usually “τον” = “lo”, and “του” = “le”, this is why I found this case challenging.

    Un saludo!
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    Here is a sort of rule:

    DOUBLE ACCUSATIVE:
    Some Greek verbs can take two accusatives (often the corresponding verbs in English do also). Common among these are verbs that relate to asking, teaching, making, and clothing, as illustrated in the sentence: "He taught the students Greek." Both 'students' and 'Greek' would be in the accusative case.
    Double accusative in Greek
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    Other verbs that takes two objects in accusative are κερνώ and sometimes διδάσκω and μαθαίνω. Maybe, there are one or two more that escape me now.
    It's remarkable that in the northern Greek idioms people normally use two accusatives where standard Greek uses genitive and accusative, e.g. "με είπε αυτό, σε δίνω κάτι". In other words, if standard Greek had been based on the northern Greek idioms, the situation would be different. :)
     
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    ioanell

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Anyway, I would still appreciate it if anyone could offer a rule or logical explanation for this case.
    Probably your deficient information that the direct object is always in the accusative case and the indirect one in the genitive seems to be the reason for your puzzlement. The construction “Σε ρωτάω κάτι” is not an exception, but it belongs to the category of the verbs taking two objects as complement of their meaning and, specifically, to the subcategory of the verbs which take two accusatives as objects. This isn’t a newly-generated construction in Modern Greek, but an ancient one, coming down from classical Greek
    (see Aristoph. Nephelai [The Clouds] 641 οὐ τοῦτ’ ἐρωτῶ σ’ (=δεν σε ρωτώ αυτό).

    Verbs belonging to this subcategory with two accusatives, where the accusative denoting a person is the direct object, whereas the accusative denoting a “thing” is the indirect one. In the examples below the direct object is underlined: ρωτάω (με ρώτησε κάτι), μαθαίνω (ο κ. Στέφανος μάθαινε τον γιο του ποδήλατο = Mr. Stefanos was teaching his son [how to ride the] bicycle), διδάσκω (ο κ. Παπαδόπουλος δίδασκε τους φοιτητές του παλαιογραφία), εξετάζω (σήμερα εξετάζουν τους μαθητές γεωγραφία), κερνάω (μας κέρασαν κουραμπιέδες), φιλεύω (θα τους φιλέψουμε γεμιστά), ποτίζω (αυτό το παιδί την πότισε φαρμάκια) etc. There are cases where both the accusatives denote things: Examples: σπέρνω (τον κήπο θα τον σπείρουμε λαχανικά), φορτώνω (φόρτωσαν το φορτηγό τούβλα). Have in mind that in some cases the direct object can be replaced by a prepositional object and, then, this becomes the indirect one, e.g. ο κ. Παπαδόπουλος δίδασκε στους φοιτητές του παλαιογραφία.

    I hope now you ‘ve found a somehow sufficient answer to your question.
     

    Helleno File

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Thanks to all for this. It's a helpful reminder that double accusatives are relatively common.

    There are a large number of colloquial expressions on Greek with verbs + pronoun. Do some of them fit this pattern? The only ones that occur to me at the moment are "τα βγάζει πέρα την κατάστασή" - s/he is coping with the situation and "την γλίτωσαν το έγκλημα" - they got away with the crime. Are they right?
     

    Tr05

    Senior Member
    Greek - Greece
    There are a large number of colloquial expressions on Greek with verbs + pronoun. Do some of them fit this pattern? The only ones that occur to me at the moment are "τα βγάζει πέρα (με την κατάσταση) " - s/he is coping with the situation and "τo γλίτωσαν το έγκλημα" - they got away with the crime More like: "They were on the verge of committing a crime, but they didn't, after all". Ιn the second case, the first "το" is just emphatic, there's nothing more to it.

    Instead, one can simply say: "Τη γλ(ί/ύ)τωσα" (=I got away with it/That was close) (or any of its other conjugations, for that matter) to express what you intended to write . Previous context will probably have provided all necessary information, so you can just stop right after the verb, if you wish. But "τη" is fixed. It doesn't have anything to do with anything that might follow.
     

    Helleno File

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Thanks Tr05 - very helpful indeed! :thumbsup: I think your corrections show the need for caution with these set phrases. They may well not lend themselves to adaptation by non-native speakers. :rolleyes:

    Can you think of any that do take a double accusative? Or is the apparent direct object in the pronoun merely a grammatical filler that actually does not refer to anything, partly indicated by the arbitrary (to me at least) selection of gender and number? Is there a name for this kind of verb + (apparent) direct object? Such as I know seem useful and colloquial.

    They obviously exist in English: "take it easy", for example, which can have some slightly different meanings. The "it" may refer in a very general or even vague way to the other person's situation or alternatively more specifically to an action that has just happened or may be about to happen abruptly in the opinion of the speaker.
     

    Tr05

    Senior Member
    Greek - Greece
    Can you think of any that do take a double accusative? Or is the apparent direct object in the pronoun merely a grammatical filler that actually does not refer to anything, partly indicated by the arbitrary (to me at least) selection of gender and number? Is there a name for this kind of verb + (apparent) direct object? Such as I know seem useful and colloquial.
    Not that I know of. It's a shame because I find this kind of questions interesting, so I wish I could help, but I'm not sure as to what you call it (if there's ever a specific name for it in the first place, that is).

    About the double accusative, I don't think it's something a learner should worry too much about. I mean yes, it's counterintuitive, but not that common. Many colloquial phrases make it sound as if there were a double accusative there, but it's more of a "pseudo-double accusative" (just coining terms here) because one is just repeating the article of the noun that follows.

    Maybe others can chime in and provide a more satisfying answer to your question :/
     
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