LINGUIST List 13.1090

Fri Apr 19 2002

Sum: Spanish Verb Particles

Editor for this issue: Marie Klopfenstein <>


  1. Kurtgjevnoe, Spanish particle verbs

Message 1: Spanish particle verbs

Date: Tue, 16 Apr 2002 21:54:59 EDT
From: Kurtgjevnoe <>
Subject: Spanish particle verbs

Dear linguists,
 On the 10 april this year I posted a question to the following effect:

 "The problem this time is the usage of the preposition 'a' when it 
follows a verb as a part of the same verbal expression ( i.e., as a particle 
verb where the particle (the preposition) is an integral part of the nucleus 
of the predicate.) Examples are 'voy a' (immediate future), 'aprendo a' and 
'empiezo a'. In speech, the preposition will disappear through fusion with 
an infinitive if this begins with the vowel 'a' (or 'ha'), which feels 
rather natural.. Examples are "ya voy hacerlo", "aprendi� hablar" and 
"empez� aclarar". In writing, however, this usage is irritating. I should 
prefer "ya voy a hacerlo" , "aprendi� a hablar" y "empez� a aclarar". I have 
observed the fusion in narration by varios writers and I haven't liked it. 
What I do not find in any grammar book (asking native speakers is a hopeless 
venture, of course) is a norm that would permit or describe which usage is 
the most correct in writing."

 I've received very useful responses from the following:
 Lee Hartman
 Earl Herrick
 Jos� Luis Mendivil Giro
 Karl Reinhardt
 Miguel Rodr�guez-Mondo�edo
 Juan C. Ruiz Guillermo Soto and
 Stanley Whitley
to whom my best thanks go.

 In sum, the subject (ab)use of Spanish was considered either 
unimaginable or reprehensible, Lee Hartman proved from a frequencyanalysis in 
a population of more than 3000 examples in Corpus de Referencia de la Lengua 
Espa�ola Contempor�nea that the usage is found to be extremely rare. He 
refers to Charles Kany ("American-Spanish Syntax", Chicago, 1951), who is 
also quoted by Manuel Seco in "Diccionario de dudas de la lengua espa�ola", 
Madrid, 1992 as pointed out by Miguel Rodr�guez-Mondo�edo. I quote Lee 
Hartman: "...Kany (1951:333-334), who points out that in Old Spanish the _a_ 
was "not required" with an infinitive after a verb of motion, and that this 
omission has survived in "popular and rustic speech", especially in the New 
Kany gives several examples from dialog in Spanish-American novels."
 I conclude from the responses, that the usage in spoken language may be 
owing to high speed synalepha resulting in fusion/disappearance of the 
particle 'a' or/and is a survival from Old Spanish like so many oddities 
found especially in the New World. I also conclude that the usage is not 
considered to be in good taste i narrative writing.
 Again, I thank the respondents warmly for their interest in my problem.

Kurt (Kurt Gjevnoe, Quer�taro, M�xico)
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