Verbs for feminine and masculine nouns?

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by Artrella, Jun 30, 2005.

  1. Artrella Banned

    Hello everybody! Since I'm trying to learn Italian by myself... I have seen that the ending of the verbs can be masculine or feminine according to the noun referred to by the verb.
    For instance >>> Hai vista la mia foto? / Hai visto il mio libro?
    Verbs in Spanish, English or German, don't have this feature.
    Do you know why? Do you know if in some other language this happens?

    Spanish >>> He visto tu foto / He visto tu libro
    English >>> I have seen your picture/ I have seen your book
    German >>> Ich have dein Foto gesehen / Ich have dein Buch gesehen [please correct these sentences if need be!!]

  2. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    Another correction:
    Hai visto la mia foto? is the correct sentence. You must have confused it with endings changing because of pronouns:
    Ho visto la tua foto. - L'ho (= la ho) vista.

    To your question: Slavic languages change the verb endings according to the gender of the subject but not according to nouns/pronouns they refer to.

  3. Artrella Banned

    Thank you Jana... and thanks for correcting and teaching me. Although my sentences in Italian were wrong, you say "L'ho vista" and this does not happen in Spanish, German or English, right?
    "Has visto la foto?"..."Sí la he visto"
  4. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Even in Spanish, verbs can agree in gender with the subject, for example in the passive voice:

    El libro ha sido visto por mí.
    La foto ha sido vista por mí.

    This happens only with past participles, though.
    On the other hand, I believe that in French and Italian verbs sometimes agree with complements. That may have been what drew your attention, Artrella.
  5. Samaruc Senior Member

    València (País Valencià)
    Valencià/Català, Castellano

    Making the verb to agree in gender and number with its accusative pronoun when this verb is a compound active tense and this pronoun precedes the verb is common in several modern Latin languages. In fact, this is the right way to speak in these languages.

    For instance, in valencian/catalan:

    I have seen the man. I have seen him. -> He vist l’home. L’he VIST.
    I have seen the men. I have seen them . -> He vist els homes. ELS he VISTS.
    I have seen the woman. I have seen her. -> He vist la dona. L’he VISTA.
    I have seen the women. I have seen them> He vist les dones. LES he VISTES.
    These are the women (THAT) we have seen. -> Són les dones QUE hem VISTES.

    ...and so on.

    The same thing in Frech:

    J’ai vu l’homme. Je L’ai VU.
    J’ai vu les hommes. Je LES ai VUS.
    J’ai vu la femme. Je L’ai VUE.
    J’ai vu les femmes. Je LES ai VUES.
    Ce sont les femmes QUE nous avons VUES.

    I suppose Italian probably follows the same or similar rules.

    So, maybe Spanish (and Portuguese?) are, in fact, exceptions to this general rule for modern Latin languages...

  6. Artrella Banned


    Ok, Outsider!!! No I'm surprised.. I cannot isolate what was the thing that caught my attention... I will see again my notes ... Thank you very much for the examples in Spanish, I didn't pay attention to the passive voice! :eek:
  7. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    All the Latin languages do this in the passive voice, which I don't think is quite relevant to this discussion.

    Italian and French are different in that the past participle agrees with its antecedent whenever it follows that antecedent.

    I will give examples from French since I am not familiar enough with Italian.

    J'ai vu le stylo.
    J'ai vu la pomme.
    J'ai vu les livres.
    J'ai vu les maisons.

    (The past participle does not change because the antecedents follow the past participle.)

    C'est le stylo. Je l'ai vu.
    C'est la pomme. Je l'ai vue.
    Ce sont les livres. Je les ai vus.
    Ce sont les maisons. Je les ai vues.
    C'est le stylo que j'ai vu.
    C'est la pomme que j'ai vue.
    Ce sont les livres que j'ai vus.
    Ce sont les maisons que j'ai vues.

    In French, this is normally not an issue in the spoken language (since the past participles are all pronounced the same) unless the past participle ends with an "s" or a "t."

    C'est le stylo que j'ai pris.
    C'est la pomme que j'ai prise.

    To my knowledge, Italian operates exactly the same way. I would provide examples but my knowledge of Italian is not sufficient to guarantee that I'd be 100% correct.

    I hope this helps.
  8. Artrella Banned

    Yes Elroy! This is what I was asking!! Thank you!
  9. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    You're welcome! Now, I hope someone can provide the Italian equivalents so we can see the theory in practice! ;)
  10. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Jana already gave one, above.

  11. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Yup. I was referring to translations of the examples I gave, just to make the presentation more schematic. ;)

    By the way, does Portuguese do this too?
  12. remosfan Senior Member

    Canada, English
    Actually, in some very non-standard dialects of Greek, you have full blown agreement in the participles, e.g.

    exo grameno to grama = I have written the letter
    exo gramena ta gramata = I have written the letters

    where "written" (grameno) agrees with the object.

    As for why, it's because the participle is technically an adjective. I'd imagine that this same thing happened in all the Romance languages originally but the participle would feel less and less like an adjective and thus stop being inflected. This sounds reasonable to me, but does any one know if it's correct?
  13. Alfry

    Alfry Senior Member

    In Italy we say

    hai visto la mia foto

    Past participle of a verb has to follow the name gender only if its auxiliary verb is "essere".


    sticking to the same verb:

    hai visto la foto? (foto is femminine but with avere you don't have to make it feminine)

    hai visto il cappello? (cappello is masculine)

    and in its reflexive form:

    “Mark, ti sei visto allo specchio?”

    “Nilda, ti sei vista allo specchio?”

    And changing verb:

    “Mark, sei andato a scuola?... e tu Nilda, sei andata a scuola? Hai fatto i compiti?”

    Is it any clearer now?
  14. piloya

    piloya Senior Member

    It happens in Catalan, one of the other official languages in Spain:
    It works as in Italian, from what I've seem.

    Has vist la teva foto? sí, l'he vista.
    Has vist el teu llibre? si, l'he vist.
    I haven't called her= no l'he trucada.
    I haven't called him= no l'he trucat
  15. Artrella Banned


    Grazie carino!! Fortunatamente non mi sono andata a vedermi allo specchio!!! :eek:
  16. Artrella Banned

    Thank you Piloya!! So if this happens in Català... the same is for Valencià...right? :D
  17. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    Too many, I am afraid. ;)

  18. Samaruc Senior Member

    València (País Valencià)
    Valencià/Català, Castellano
    Obviously, yes, it does.

    Català and Valencià are two different official names for a same language.

    I gave you some examples in Valencian in the post #5, but it seems you didn't see it... :(

    Here you are it again ;)

  19. Artrella Banned


    I'm sorry Samaruc... I did see your post... but I focused on the French verbs.... :( ...that is not good for the daughter of a Valencià!!! :thumbsdown:
  20. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Yes, this is the same way it is in French.

    But when the past participle follows a pronoun to which it refers, then it agrees, right?

    L'ho visto.
    L'ho vista.
    (depending on what you're referring to)

  21. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member


  22. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Ok, so I was on the right track.

    I've always said Italian sounds more like Spanish but is grammatically more similar to French.
  23. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    No, contemporary Portuguese is just like Spanish in this respect.
    However, it's possible that verbs could agree with complements in ancient Portuguese; I'm not sure.
  24. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Here's an interesting paper (pdf!) that supports your idea:

    Observations on the optionality of modern Catalan past participle agreement and hypotheses as to its implication for the future of Romance languages.
  25. remosfan Senior Member

    Canada, English
    Thanks for the link - that was an interesting read. Considering how similar Latin and Ancient Greek were, I wonder what would have happened if Greek formed its perfect tenses in an analogous way. But this makes me wonder about the situation in Romanian. Does it show agreement? (If it even has a similar construction)

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