infinitivo pessoal em inglês

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User With No Name

Senior Member
English (U.S.)
Forgive me for writing in English, but I have been wondering about something. (I have a lot of time on my hands lately.)

When I studied Portuguese, much was made of the "infinitivo pessoal." It was described as a grammatical structure that distinguished Portuguese from some other languages, notably Spanish. For example, "para vocês aprenderem," as far as I know, would have to be something like "para que aprendan" in Spanish.

But nobody ever compared this to English. (It was a Portuguese class for Spanish speakers.) And in English, we can say things like "I want you to study," or "For him to lose weight, he needs to eat less."

So now I'm wondering if we could say that, like Portuguese, English also has an "infinitivo pessoal." Or is it a completely different structure for some reason that I'm not seeing?

Thanks.
 
  • jazyk

    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    I want you to study não admite o infinitivo pessoal em português. É necessário o subjuntivo/conjuntivo: Quero que estudes/Quero que você estude.

    For him to lose weight, he needs to eat less." - Esta, sim, admite o infinitivo pessoal: Para (ele) perder peso/Para (ele) emagrecer, (ele) precisa (de) comer menos.
     

    Dymn

    Senior Member
    Well, I'd say that for it to be a personal infinitive it needs to inflect in person and number, otherwise it doesn't make much sense :confused:

    However as you mention in your example, there's certainly a difference in usage between Portuguese and Spanish in that Portuguese makes a more ample use of infinitive constructions rather than clauses introduced by que, which is probably related to the personal infinitive but is a different topic.

    For example Astur-Leonese language also seems to prefer infinitive constructions yet it lacks an inflected infinitive:

    Wikipedia said:
    Se evita el uso conjugado del subjuntivo por medio del infinitivo: con nós facelo ye abondo 'con que lo hagamos nosotros es suficiente', marché sin ellos notar nada 'me fui sin que ellos notasen nada'. enantes de Xuan espertar 'antes de que Juan despierte', tres el sol ponese 'después de que se ponga el sol', nun tien quien-y lo facer 'no tiene quien se lo haga', pa tu comer 'para que tu comas', mandólos coser 'mandó que cosieran' frente a mandó coselos 'mandó coserlos'.
    However I'd like to note that I read both Asturian and Galician (the latter does have the personal infinitive) on a regular basis and they don't use infinitive constructions nearly as much as Portuguese. Probably it's due to Spanish influence. So in Galician as used by younger people (?), the personal infinitive exists but would only be used in some cases where Spanish also uses the infinitive, which would prove both are two separate things.
     

    olivinha

    Senior Member
    Português, Brasil
    But nobody ever compared this to English. (It was a Portuguese class for Spanish speakers.) And in English, we can say things like "I want you to study," or "For him to lose weight, he needs to eat less."
    So now I'm wondering if we could say that, like Portuguese, English also has an "infinitivo pessoal." Or is it a completely different structure for some reason that I'm not seeing?
    In the examples you give us, both verbs are in the infinitive form (not modified/inflected by the preceding pronoun). Also note the pronouns in the structures:
    I want them* (not they) to study. You want me (not I) to study. For him (not he) to lose weight.
    *changed to them because you can be both subject and object pronoun.

    Correct if I'm wrong (I'm a native speaker, not an expert), but the personal infinitive requires a subject pronoun.
     

    User With No Name

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    Correct if I'm wrong (I'm a native speaker, not an expert), but the personal infinitive requires a subject pronoun.
    I'm sure you're right. I was just wondering about the English, since "para você aprender" and "for you to learn" look rather similar, and an equivalent construction is not possible in Spanish.

    As I said, it was just something I was curious about. I think you are right: to be considered a personal infinitive, it makes sense that the form would need to be inflected and include a subject pronoun.

    Thanks to all who replied.
     

    olivinha

    Senior Member
    Português, Brasil
    I'm sure you're right. I was just wondering about the English, since "para você aprender" and "for you to learn" look rather similar,
    But that's because you is both object and subjective pronouns.
    You said that for you to learn you need to study the material.
    He said that for him to learn he needs to study the material.

    Também já ouvi de mexicanos. Pelo que sei de gramática espanhola, não é construção padrão, mas que existe em várias zonas, existe.
    Eu tenho contato com mexicanos, venezuelanos e indivíduos de outros países da América Latina aqui na Espanha e nunca ouvi esta construção. Claro que isso não significa que não exista. Como vivem aqui, podem haver deixado de utilizar a construção por influência do espanhol falado ao seu redor.

    That's interesting. I'm not a native speaker, but I'm pretty sure most Spanish speakers would not like that phrase at all.
    It sounds wrong and not idiomatic in the variant of Spanish to which I grew accustomed (that of Spain). I've been living in Spain for quite some time.
     

    gato radioso

    Senior Member
    spanish-spain
    Forgive me for writing in English, but I have been wondering about something. (I have a lot of time on my hands lately.)

    When I studied Portuguese, much was made of the "infinitivo pessoal." It was described as a grammatical structure that distinguished Portuguese from some other languages, notably Spanish. For example, "para vocês aprenderem," as far as I know, would have to be something like "para que aprendan" in Spanish.

    But nobody ever compared this to English. (It was a Portuguese class for Spanish speakers.) And in English, we can say things like "I want you to study," or "For him to lose weight, he needs to eat less."

    So now I'm wondering if we could say that, like Portuguese, English also has an "infinitivo pessoal." Or is it a completely different structure for some reason that I'm not seeing?

    Thanks.
    I´ve always heard that this structure:

    I want you to study/go/answer...


    was called accusative+infinitive. That´s how we learnt it at school many years ago. Its function was to add another action performed by someone else, but subordinated to the main verb. In Spanish we´d tipically use que+subjuntivo to introduce that subordinate clause.
     
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