Persian: The affix "at" between past tense and obj. pronoun

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by Treaty, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. Treaty Senior Member


    In colloquial (Tehrani) Persian an at (or rarely -ad) is added between the 3rd person singular simple past tense and the following objective pronoun. For example "he caught/took it" is rendered as follows:
    Formal: gereft-aš
    Colloquial: gereft-at-eš

    I have three guesses for its origin:
    1. It may be actually short for ast as in a obsolete present perfect tense gereft-ast-aš.
    2. It well serves when the object is first person am since without something between the verb and am it will be similar to the first person past gereft-am (I caught/took). However, it was used for other persons as well.
    3. It was a confusion with the present stem third person suffix -ad (that is pronounced -at in colloquial speech when attached to the following objective pronoun: mī-gīr-at-eš = S/he catches it).

    Is any of my guesses correct? Where does this at come from?
    Thanks in advance.
  2. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    I think the last of your suggestions is the most likely. As you know, the personal endings for the present and preterit are identical except in the 3rd person singular. The “invasion” of the present ending into the preterit in the 3rd person singular is an example of paradigmatic levelling.
  3. Treaty Senior Member

    Many thanks.
  4. cim bom Senior Member


    In the phrase "moosh bokhoradet " the tense is subjunctive and affix of "ad" is added. My question is: are the affixes "at" and "ad" are added between the verb root and object pronoun in third person singular for all the tenses? Can you give me some examples?

    Thank you very much in advance.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2014
  5. Jervoltage Senior Member


    I think gereft-at-eš is in the present perfect tense, not the simple past tense., developing from gerefte-ast-aš (-> gerefte-ast-eš -> gereftateš (stressed on the third syllable)). It was then, with a shift in stress, extended to the simple past tense. Therefore, at in gereftateš is probably the vestige of ast from the present perfect tense gerefte-ast-aš .

    Using the present perfect tense:
    I (have) caught it:
    gerefte-am-aš (-> gerefte-am-eš) -> gereftameš (stressed on the third syllable)

    You (have) caught it:
    gerefte-i-aš (-> gerefte-i-eš) -> gereftiš (stressed on the third syllable)

    He (has) caught it:
    gerefte-ast-aš (-> gerefte-ast-eš) -> gereftateš (stressed on the third syllable)

    Using the simple past tense:
    He caught it:
    gereft-aš -> gerefteš (stressed on the second syllable)
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2014
  6. cim bom Senior Member

    Jervoltage, thank you for your explanation. So, in the simple past tense we use just "gereftesh", meaning "he caught it". What about the other tenses? For example in present subjunctive tense do we use "begiresh" meaning "(I wish) he caught that"? And in the simple present tense do we use just "mi giresh" meaning "he is catching it"?
  7. Jervoltage Senior Member

    No, respectively begiratesh and migiratesh.
  8. cim bom Senior Member

    One more question: is the use of that affix restricted to 3rd person singular? In the present subjunctive and simple present tenses of 2nd person singular do we just simply say "mi girish" and "begirish" respectively?
  9. Jervoltage Senior Member

    Yes, it is. Migirish and begirish are both the correct forms.
  10. cim bom Senior Member

    Thanks a lot Jervoltage for all your replies and explanations.
  11. Treaty Senior Member

    gereft-at-esh can be either present perfect or simple past, depending on the pronunciation.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2014
  12. ismaximum Member

    As for this:
    "(I wish) he caught that"?
    We say:
    gerefte basha-tesh
    gerefte basheh

    امیدوارم گرفته باشه
    خدا کنه گرفته باشتش
  13. cim bom Senior Member

    Thank you Ismaximum for your extra explanation. You have written "gerefte bash(at)sh" which is in perfect subjunctive tense. So, we can skip affix "at" in the perfect subjunctive tense but not in the present subjunctive tense, no? I mean, we can say "gerefte bashes" but Jervoltage wrote that we can not say "begiresh". We must add "at" suffix and say it as "begiratesh" (or "mi giratesh" in simple present tense). Is there any reason for that?
  14. ismaximum Member

    All gerefte bashatesh", "gerefte bashash" and "gerefte bashe" are correct.

    regarding "begiresh", since you have used "e" it becomes an intransitive verb meaning to ask someone to take it ... in this case we say "begir-a-sh" with a so the listener knows the speaker is talking about someone else.
    Hope this helps

    By the way... about "moosh bokhoradet" ... in Tehrani accent they normally say "bokhoratet" and less you hear someone uses "bokhoradet" ... it is more common in Isfahan though.

    Last edited: Apr 16, 2014
  15. cim bom Senior Member

    The last one was a little bit confusing so let me write what I have understood so far.

    1. This is something irrelevant to the topic but I think "esh" or"ash" as the indicator of direct object always makes a verb transitive.
    2. What I understand from the explanation of Ismaximum is that, when you write "بگيرش" (bgirsh) you can pronounce it either "begirash" or "begiresh".
    2.1. So it is possible to write it without affix "at".
    2.2. If you pronounce it like "begiresh" you ask the person to whom you are talking to take something: "begiresh!" = "take it!"
    2.3. If you pronounce it like "begirash" you are talking about a third party, meaning "let him/her take that" or something like that. For example, "mikham ke begirash" - "I want him/her take that".

    I really apologize for prolonging the discussion and beg your indulgance.
  16. ismaximum Member

    Not sure about number 1. but rest of it seems correct to me.

  17. cim bom Senior Member

    Thank you a lot Ismaximum for all your explanations.

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