Bulgarian: placement of short dative pronoun in questions

Evo900

Member
French
Hi,

All of my grammar books mention that the short dative pronoun should be placed before the verb (unless the subject pronoun is omitted and the dative pronoun has to move after the verb, as a sentence cannot start with an unaccentuated word):

Тя ѝ помага

I noticed that in some questions that pronoun is moving after the verb:

Тя помага ли ѝ?

I didn't see that mentioned anywhere and wondering if that's a rule? (I was expecting "Тя ѝ помага ли?")
 
  • DarkChild

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Welcome to the parallel universe that is Bulgarian word order :D

    To answer your question, I don't think there's an outright rule for the placement of clitic in a sentence. Like in many other cases, the word order is dictated by the intended meaning and focus of the sentence.

    Тя помага ли ѝ? is the usual way the question is phrased when you want to ask if you want to emphasize on the action of helping, in other words, you want to know if the object is helping the subject as expected. Let's say a grandmother lives with her granddaughter and you're asking if the granddaughter helps her with her everyday activities. Внучката помага ли ѝ? Купува ли ѝ хляб? Чисти ли дома? Does the granddaughter help her? Does she buy bread for her? Does she clean the house? All of these are expected actions in this given situation.

    On the other hand, Тя ѝ помага ли? is used more when there is doubt regarding the action being performed, you're unsure what's happening and you're trying to figure out a conclusion. Let's say that same granddaughter just moved in with her grandmother and the neighbors are wondering why exactly. So, they might ask each other Внучката ѝ помага ли? Хляб ли ѝ купува? Дома ли чисти? Или няма къде да живее? Does the granddaughter help her? Does she buy bread for her? Does she clean the house? Or she just has nowhere else to live?

    As you can see, the emphasis in both situations is shifted and so has the word order.
     

    Evo900

    Member
    French
    Thank you very much for the detailed explanation!

    I have to say that the word order is, for me, by far the hardest part of learning Bulgarian :)
    (There are many other complications in the language but most of them follow pretty clear rules)

    I just want to rephrase what you said to make sure I understood correctly:

    - Тя помага ли ѝ? : you assume she might/should be helping her, and checking if that's indeed the case - "Is she helping her? yes or no?"
    - Тя ѝ помага ли? : you are taking a guess at what she might be doing - "Is she helping her, as opposed to, say, keeping her company?"

    I've noticed this change of emphasis in other questions, such as:

    Червена ли е колата? : is the car red, or another color?
    Колата ли е червена? : is it the car that is red, or something else?

    But usually I find that the emphasis is on what comes right before "ли".

    I can't really see that in "Тя помага ли ѝ? / Тя ѝ помага ли?" so this one is a bit harder for me to get my head around.
     
    Last edited:

    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    Червена ли колата е ? : is the car red, or another color?
    I think in this example "е" should be placed after "ли":
    Червена ли е колата ? : is the car red, or another color?

    Am I right?
     

    DarkChild

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I just want to rephrase what you said to make sure I understood correctly:

    - Тя помага ли ѝ? : you assume she might/should be helping her, and checking if that's indeed the case - "Is she helping her? yes or no?"
    - Тя ѝ помага ли? : you are taking a guess at what she might be doing - "Is she helping her, as opposed to, say, keeping her company?"

    But usually I find that the emphasis is on what comes right before "ли".

    I can't really see that in "Тя помага ли ѝ? / Тя ѝ помага ли?" so this one is a bit harder for me to get my head around.
    Тя помага ли ѝ? - straight direct question, Does she help her?
    Тя ѝ помага ли? - This is basically a statement тя ѝ помага + ли; She helps her or what?
     

    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    Тя помага ли ѝ? - straight direct question, Does she help her?
    Тя ѝ помага ли? - This is basically a statement тя ѝ помага + ли; She helps her or what?

    And what about Тя ли ѝ помага?
    Does it mean "Is it she who helps her?" ?
     
    Last edited:

    Christo Tamarin

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    The question was about the placement of short dative pronoun in questions.

    Actually, in Bulgarian, questions do not imply some special word order. Unlike English, German, French.

    In Bulgarian, some monosyllabic words are enclitics or just clitics.

    The first rule is: Enclitics take the second position.

    Examples of monosyllabic words that are enclitics given in their relative order:
    • the definite articles -ът/-та/-то/-те
    • present forms of the verb to be: съм, си, сме, сте, са̨
    • short dative and accusative forms of personal pronouns:
      • dative: ми, ти, му, ѝ, му, ни, ви, им, си
      • accusative: ме, те, го, я̨, го, ни, ви, ги, се
    • present form of the verb to be: е
    • [the interrogative particle ли]
    Examples of monosyllabic words that are not enclitics:
    • all the prepositions
    • the particles не and ще
    • and all the others not listed above, most probably
    Examples of enclitics and the their related order:
    • жената (the woman)
    • хубавата жена (the beautiful woman)
    • хубавата млада жена (the beautiful young woman)
    • дадох им (I gave to them)
    • дадох им го (I gave it to them)
    • не им го дадох (I did not give it to them)
    • ще им дам (I am going to give to them)
    • ще им ги дам (I am going to give these to them)
    • хубава си (you are beautiful)
    • много си хубава (you are very beautiful)
    • дал съм му го (I have given it to him)
    • далa му го e (She has given it to him)
    • хубава e (she is beautiful)
    • много e хубава (she is very beautiful)
    • хубава ли e (is she beautiful)?
    • много ли e хубава (is she very beautiful)?
    • много e хубава ли (is she very beautiful)?
    • etc
    The interrogative particle ли is placed immediately after the word in question.
     

    Evo900

    Member
    French
    Thanks for the detailled explanations and the examples!

    Is is correct to imagine that the object of the question (the emphasis), is what comes before "ли"?

    Тя помага ли ѝ? - Does she help (her)? Or not?
    Тя ѝ помага ли? - Does she help her? Or else what is she doing?
    Тя ли ѝ помага? - Is it she (who helps her)?
    Xубава ли e? - Is she beautiful? Or not?
    Mного ли e хубава? - Is she very beautiful? Or just a bit?
    Mного e хубава ли? - Is she very beautiful? Or not?*


    *For the last one I would have said "Много хубава ли е?" - wondering if that's correct and if the emphasis is different
     

    Christo Tamarin

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Thanks for the detailled explanations and the examples!

    Is is correct to imagine that the object of the question (the emphasis), is what comes before "ли"?

    Тя помага ли ѝ? - Does she help (her)? Or not?
    Тя ѝ помага ли? - Does she help her? Or else what is she doing?
    Тя ли ѝ помага? - Is it she (who helps her)?
    Xубава ли e? - Is she beautiful? Or not?
    Mного ли e хубава? - Is she very beautiful? Or just a bit?
    Mного e хубава ли? - Is she very beautiful? Or not?*


    *For the last one I would have said "Много хубава ли е?" - wondering if that's correct and if the emphasis is different
    The interrogative particle ли is placed immediately after the word in question.

    The first two examples mean the same.

    Your interpretations are perfect.

    Mного e хубава ли?
    Много хубава ли е?
    These mean the same as well.
     
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