The strong pronouns serve as subjects and as objects of a preposition, as in "Jo menjo una poma" ('I am eating an apple') and "Dóna-me'l a mi!" ('Give it to me (and not to him/...)!'). They are also used as interjections or parts thereof, as in "Jo no!" ('Not me!').
Note that unlike in English, it is not necessary to supply a subject pronoun in Catalan, especially since subject person and number can be typically deduced from conjugated verbforms; that is, the notions behind the pronouns are "built into" the verbforms (e.g., the -o of menjo alludes to jo). In fact, subject pronouns are generally only used for emphasis or clarification, and so it is more normal to omit them. Therefore, "I eat"/"I am eating" is normally expressed as "Menjo" rather than "Jo menjo", which normally expresses "I (and not you/...) am eating".
Below is a table of the strong pronouns in Catalan with their literal English translations below:
'thou, thee, you'
'(all of) you'
'(all of) you'
- The form mi is only used after a preposition; some dialects and informal registers use jo instead
- The first-person singular majestic pronoun nós serves as the equivalent of the "royal we"; it behaves grammatically as plural
- As with many other continental European languages, Catalan has many equivalents of you that vary based on whom one is speaking to:
- tu is used to refer to social inferiors (including children), animals, friends, and strangers around one's age
- vós is traditionally used as a pronoun of courtesy, to refer to strangers elder than the speaker, for example
- vós has been generally supplanted by vostè in most dialects
- vostè traditionally refers to those in honorable social positions, such as judges and doctors
- vós behaves grammatically as second-person plural
- vostè behaves grammatically as third-person singular while vostès behaves as third-person plural
- vostè and vostès may appear as vosté and vostés in Valencian texts
- ells is used to refer to groups made up of both men and women, no matter how many women make them up and no matter how few men make them up
- si is only used as the object of a preposition
The weak pronouns (pronoms febles) are the object and adverbial pronouns that attach to the front or end of a verb (or to other attached pronouns); they are termed weak because they do not receive stress (in the varieties of Catalan outlined in this textbook, at least) and are often subject to various reductions.
When attached to a conjugated verb in the indicative or subjunctive mood, they go before the verb; in other cases, they are attached to the end. Compare the following examples (pronouns and related orthographic devices are in bold):
- "Dóna'm la poma!" ('Give me the apple!') = "dóna" (second-person singular informal imperative) + "em"
- "Dóna-me-la!" ('Give it to me!', the apple) = "dóna" (second-person singular informal imperative) + "em" + "la"
- "donar-me'l" ('To give it to me', 'Giving it to me' (concept), some object referred to with a masculine noun) = "donar" (infinitive) + "em" + "el"
- "Em dónes dues pomes." ('You give me two apples.', 'You're giving me two apples') = "em" + "dónes" (second-person singular informal indicative)
- "Hi ha dues portes." ('There are two doors.') = "hi" + "ha" (third-person singular indicative)
- "Se n'ha anat." ('He went/left.', 'He's gone/left.') = "es" = "en" + "ha" (third-person singular indicative)
Notice that although we say that they are attached to the left of the verb that they are not necessarily depicted as such in writing when they come before the verb. In respect to the sound system, however, pronouns attached to the left and their host verb count as a single word and are often actually pronounced as such; therefore, for example "hi ha" is pronounced connected as [ja] ("yah") rather than the disjointed [i a] ("ee ah").
- Me = em (m') before the verb or me ('m) after the verb
- You (singular) = et (t') before the verb or te ('t) after the verb
- Him/her/it = es (s') before the verb or lo ('l)/la/ho/li after the verb
- Us = ens before the verb or nos('ns) after the verb
- You (plural) = us before the verb or vos('us) after the verb
- Them = se (s') before the verb or los ('ls)/les after the verb
- him/her/it: (Direct Object) lo ('l)/la/ho - (Indirect Object) li
- them: (Direct Object) los ('ls)/les - (Indirect Object) los ('ls) )
- Note that in most dialects, llur and llurs are archaic and typically only used in formal texts.
- The following unstressed possessive pronouns are retained in certain dialects and in literature: mon/ma/mos/mes, ton/ta/tos/tes, son/sa/sos/ses, nostre/nostra/nostres/nostras, vostre/vostra/vostres/vostras, llur/llurs
Traditionally, Catalan distinguishes three grades amongst its demonstrative pronouns/determiners ('this', 'that', 'yon') and locative adverbs ('here, 'there', 'yonder'), but like most dialects of English, many dialects of Catalan have either reduced its forms so that only two degrees have distinct forms or are in the process of doing so. Dialects, such as Central Catalan, that do so typically extend their first-degree gendered pronouns and determiners (aquest, ...) to the second degree while also extending their second-degree neuter pronouns (això) and locative adverbs (aquí) to the first degree, resulting in the displacement of the forms whose territory was encroached upon.
The neuter pronouns correspond with the weak pronoun ho.
Amongst the first- and second-degree forms, there are the "reinforced" forms that begin with "aqu-" as well as those that do not. The second set is found in various varieties of Western Catalan, including Valencian.
The third-degree gendered forms are, in effect, the strong third-person pronouns reinforced with "aqu-".
What are termed here as "demonstrative adverbs" mean 'like this', 'like that', 'thus', and 'so' (though not 'so' as in "So, what do you want to do right now?"), as in, for example: "Per què parles així?" ('Why are you talking like that?'), "He menjat el peix, així que ara puc menjar les meves postres!" ('I ate/have eaten the fish, so now I can eat my dessert!') The form aixà is only used in contrast with així.
Finally, note that the form ahí is Valencian and that aquí in the Valencian system tends to be associated with the first rather than the second degree thanks to its use as first-degree in its northern and southern dialects.
|Gendered pronoun||Neuter pronoun||Locative adverb||Demonstrative adverb|
- el qual/la qual/els quals/les quals (which, who, whom)
- que - that, which, who
- què - what
- qui - who, whom
- on - where, when
The interrogatives of Catalan are as follows:
- quin? - which (one)?
- qui? - who?, whom?
- què? - what?
- com? - how?, what?
- on? - where?
- quan? - when?
- per què? - why?
- per a què - what ... for?
Note that Catalan prefers quin in some places where English would prefer what. With ser, in particular, què is avoided if it is technically possible to construe the question as a request for a definition (no matter how silly it may seem) rather than a selection of many possibilities. For example, one asks Quina és la teva opinió sobre l'economia d'Espanya? ("What is your opinion on Spain's economy?") rather than Què és la teva opinió sobre l'economia d'Espanya? (c.f. the following absurd exchange: A. "What is your opinion on Spain's economy?" B. "It's what I opine on that country's economy.").
com? is often used rather than què? as a response to something one has not understood or heard well.
The pronoun quin is inflected as such:
- algú - somebody/someone
- cadascú - each one
- tothom - everyone
- un/una/hom/un hom - one, you
- tot = all
- quelcom = something
- alguna cosa = something
- ningú = no one
- res = anything, nothing
- (no) res = nothing
Examples: Res més? = Anything else? No vull res més. = I don't want anything else. No, res. = No, nothing.