Romance languages: to go / to be (preterite)

vince

Senior Member
English
Hello everyone,

I'd like to know if your language distinguishes between "to go" and "to be" in the preterite.

Because in Portuguese you have eu vou and eu sou but in preterite: eu fui only.

And according to many in a recent thread, in French you have je vais and je suis but in preterite (actually, present perfect) only: je suis allé. (Though archaic French had separate preterite forms "je fus" and "j'allai")

This is very interesting because in English I can clearly see a difference between "I went to school" and "I was at school"

So I'd like to know the situation in all Romance dialects/languages, Galician, Catalan, Occitan, Piedmontese, Standard Italian, Venetian, Sardinian, Romanian, etc.

Also if you speak a non-Romance language and your language has a comparable construction, post it here as well.

If your language distinguishes between ESSE and STARE (the two "to be" 's ), I'm talking about the esse version.

If your language no longer uses the preterite, then I'm talking about the present perfect (HABERE* + past participle)

*I am aware that some central dialects use ESSE for some verbs and some western dialects use TENERE for all verbs
 
  • diegodbs

    Senior Member
    Spain-Spanish
    In Spanish there are two verbs (ser/estar) for English "to be". But we can't say "yo soy en el colegio" but "yo estoy en el colegio"

    - I went to school = fui al colegio
    - I was at school = estuve en el colegio

    - I am at school = estoy en el colegio
    - I am a student = soy estudiante
    - I go to school = voy al colegio


    Yo soy en el colegio



    Yo fui en el colegio
     

    Samaruc

    Senior Member
    Valencià/Català, Castellano
    In Catalan-Valencian, there are different forms for every one of these verbs (as in Spanish, there are two verbs meaning "to be"):

    SER (to be):
    "vaig ser " or "fui"
    "vares/vas ser" or "fores"
    "va ser" or "fou"
    "vàrem/vam ser" or "fórem"
    "vàreu/vau ser" or "fóreu"
    "varen/van ser" or "foren"

    ESTAR (to be):
    "vaig estar" or "estiguí"
    "vares/vas estar" or "estigueres"
    "va estar" or "estigué"
    "vàrem/vam estar" or "estiguérem"
    "vàreu/vau estar" or "estiguéreu"
    "varen/van estar" or "estigueren"

    ANAR (to go):
    "vaig anar" or "aní"
    "vares/vas anar" or "anares"
    "va anar" or "anà"
    "vàrem/vam anar" or "anàrem"
    "vàreu/vau anar" or "anàreu"
    "varen/van anar" or "anaren"

    As you can see, there are two different ways to express the same tense. The first one is the "passat perifràstic" (the most used and regular) and the second one is the "passat simple" (more literary and irregular).
     

    ivanbcn

    Senior Member
    Italiano - Roma
    Hallo
    In Italian there is a clear morphological distinction between essere e andare in the past:

    PASSATO PROSSIMO: Sono stato / Sono andato
    PASSATO REMOTO: Fui / Andai

    Instead it's different with stare and essere: these are two morphologically different verbs in all the simple tenses and modes, but share the same forms with the compound forms, so:

    PASSATO PROSSIMO (compound tense): Sono stato = Sono stato
    PASSATO REMOTO (simple tense): Fui / Stetti

    [Then, the use of the two types of past varies according to your origin:
    I think PASSATO REMOTO is more used in the south and in formal written language (novels, newspapers ...) in Rome, we don't normally use it; you quote Venetian, I don't think they use PASSATO REMOTO when speaking, while in Sicily they do not use PASSATO PROSSIMO]

    Ciao
    ivan
     

    Mutichou

    Senior Member
    France - French
    vince said:
    And according to many in a recent thread, in French you have je vais and je suis but in preterite (actually, present perfect) only: je suis allé. (Though archaic French had separate preterite forms "je fus" and "j'allai")
    No! :confused:
    The present perfect of "être" (to be) is "j'ai été", and is still used.
    And both "je fus" and "j'allai" are used (in written text).
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    vince said:
    And according to many in a recent thread, in French you have je vais and je suis but in preterite (actually, present perfect) only: je suis allé. (Though archaic French had separate preterite forms "je fus" and "j'allai")
    As Multichou has noted, French is an exception:

    être: j'ai été, tu as été, il a été, nous avons été, vous avez été, ils ont été;

    aller: je suis allé, tu es allé, il est allé, nous sommes allés, vous êtes allés, ils sont allés.

    No resemblance. They even use different helping verbs.

    vince said:
    This is very interesting because in English I can clearly see a difference between "I went to school" and "I was at school"
    "I was tired" is a better example. Remember that it's the essence-copula, derived from ESSE, which is affected. (If memory serves me, Spanish/Portuguese ser is actually a blend of more than one Latin verb!)

    Which brings me to another point. Because ir usually refers to concrete things and ser usually refers to abstract qualities, this coincidence of the two verbs in the preterite seldom, if ever, causes any ambiguity.
     

    vince

    Senior Member
    English
    Mutichou said:
    No! :confused:
    The present perfect of "être" (to be) is "j'ai été", and is still used.
    And both "je fus" and "j'allai" are used (in written text).
    I am referring to "j'ai été " as in "J'ai été chez le docteur" (I was at the doctor) vs. "Je suis allé chez le docteur" (I went to the doctor's)

    So it looks like Spanish and Portuguese have this ambiguity

    "yo fui" can be "I went" (Je suis allé(e)) or "I was" (J'ai été). But since "I was at a place" can't take ESSE due to the STARE/ESSE distinction, from where does the ambiguity arise?
     

    diegodbs

    Senior Member
    Spain-Spanish
    vince said:
    I am referring to "j'ai été " as in "J'ai été chez le docteur" (I was at the doctor) vs. "Je suis allé chez le docteur" (I went to the doctor's)

    So it looks like Spanish and Portuguese have this ambiguity

    "yo fui" can be "I went" (Je suis allé(e)) or "I was" (J'ai été). But since "I was at a place" can't take ESSE due to the STARE/ESSE distinction, from where does the ambiguity arise?
    There is no possible ambiguity in a real situation.
    Maybe an isolated sentence, with no other context, could be ambiguous.

    - Fui el año pasado (Last year I was)
    - Fui el año pasado (Last year I went)

    In a real situation you would never say that, or if you say that sentence (Last year I was), the previous one makes it all clear what you mean.

    A. ¿Has sido alguna vez empleado de Correos?
    B. Fui el año pasado (I was)

    A. ¿Has ido alguna vez a Egipto?
    B. Fui el año pasado (I went)
     

    vince

    Senior Member
    English
    ah that is true

    but how is it that both ser and ir took their preterite from the same ancient verb? I am guessin that there must have been some connection in the past.
     

    diegodbs

    Senior Member
    Spain-Spanish
    but how is it that both ser and ir took their preterite from the same ancient verb? I am guessin that there must have been some connection in the past.
    Latin "to be"
    Perfect

    fuī
    fuístī
    fuit
    fúimus
    fuístis
    fuḗrunt

    Latin (to go)
    Perfect


    īstī
    iit
    íimus
    īstis
    iḗrunt

    I don't know the intermediate steps between Latin (ii, isti,..) and Spanish (fui, fuiste,...)

    ii--> fui
    isti--> fuiste
    iit --> fue
    iimus--> fuimos
    istis--> fuisteis
    ierunt--> fueron
     

    robbie_SWE

    Senior Member
    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    In Romanian (to be "a fi") (N.B. pronouns are not necessary, just like in Italian).

    IMPERFECT
    erai
    era
    eram
    erati
    erau


    PERFECT COMPUS
    am fost
    ai fost
    a fost
    am fost
    ati fost
    au fost
    eram


    PERFECT SIMPLU
    fusei
    fusesi
    fuse
    fuseram
    fuserati
    fusera

    MAI-MULT-CA-PERFECT
    fusesem
    fusesesi
    fusese
    fuseseram
    fuseserati
    fusesera

    In Romanian (to go "a merge") (N.B. the Romanian word "a merge" derives from the Latin word mergere).

    IMPERFECT
    mergeam
    mergeai
    mergea
    mergeam
    mergeati
    mergeau

    PERFECT COMPUS
    am mers
    ai mers
    a mers
    am mers
    ati mers
    au mers

    PERFECT SIMPLU
    mersei
    mersesi
    merse
    merseram
    merserati
    mersera

    MAI-MULT-CA-PERFECT
    mersesem
    mersesesi
    mersese
    merseseram
    merserati
    mersesera

    Romanian has also an additional verb for ""to go" and that is "a duce", but it has another meaning. Do you need more examples??

    :) robbie
     

    vince

    Senior Member
    English
    Cool, so the infinitive of "to be" in Romanian is "a fi"? This might be the verb where the fu/fo forms come from in the other Romance languages!

    a fi is the only Romanian verb that has these fu forms, right?
     

    robbie_SWE

    Senior Member
    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    vince said:
    Cool, so the infinitive of "to be" in Romanian is "a fi"? This might be the verb where the fu/fo forms come from in the other Romance languages!

    a fi is the only Romanian verb that has these fu forms, right?
    The infinitive of "to be" is "a fi". But you can use it to create additional clauses. The conditional form is created by using the "fi".

    As fi vrut (I would have wanted)
    As fi spus (I would have said).

    Does this make any sence? It's a hard language!!! :D
     
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