Spanish past particle construction

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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby s_allard » Mon Apr 03, 2017 3:43 pm

Cainntear wrote:
s_allard wrote:This goes to the heart of the question. Saying that : This type of English sentence is represented by sentences with ser in Spanish, and this other type with sentences with estar and the past participle in Spanish" will ultimately lead to bad results because one is going from the English construction to Spanish instead of the other way around.

The problem is the term "past participle". There is no "estar + past participle" in Spanish really -- the past participle is an inflected form of the verb. The "estar" construction uses the adjective that is derived from the participle. Yes, they have the same form; but no, they are not the same thing. Our internal understanding of "tired" in English makes a very solid distinction between participle and adjective -- when we say "I am tired", we automatically process the form "tired" as an adjective, not a participle.

Spanish makes the same hard distinction between participle and adjective, otherwise it would be impossible for "aburrido" to be both "bored" and "boring" -- as an inflected form it makes no sense, it can only be processed as a derived form.

Let's start with a quick refresher in English grammar courtesy of Eugene Montoux:

A participle is a verbal adjective; that is, it is both a verb and an adjective. Like infinitives and gerunds, participles have tense and voice but no person and number. There are five participial forms of most transitive verbs: present active (carrying), present passive (being carried), present-perfect active (having carried), present-perfect passive (having been carried), and past (carried). Participles can function both as attributive adjectives and as predicate adjectives. They can also serve as objective complements. They have an essential role in nominative absolutes, and they have an independent use.

I don't see what the issue is. A google search on estar and past participle gave me 168,000 hits. Call it a predicative adjective in past participle form, it doesn't make any difference in the debate. The key element here is the choice of either ser or estar. Estar aburrido is to be bored. Ser aburrido is to be boring. In this latter example, as in others discussed previously, there is no passive voice. This constant comparison with English grammar just mixes things up. We have to accept the fact that English and Spanish grammar may have certain things in common but are also quite different.
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby Cainntear » Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:26 pm

s_allard wrote:Let's start with a quick refresher in English grammar courtesy of Eugene Montoux:

Who died and made Eugene Montoux (do you mean Moutoux?) the King of Language?

Setting aside the question of specific terminology, I still assert that there is a fundamental distinction between the form as "verbal" and as a pure "adjective".

Again, I think you're overcomplicating things by pedantically looking beyond the original question and falling back on formal descriptions of grammar that do nothing to clarify the point at hand. (And Moutoux retired in 2004, so it's little surprise if his definition of grammar is more than a little old-school; light on meaning and heavy on form and syntax.)
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby tarvos » Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:28 pm

This is a very interesting argument. If something is in a grammar book and a dictionary, it seems to me to be part of the language. Whether many people use it or not whether an observer says that he has never heard it doesn't mean a) it cannot be used if one desires and b) it may actually be used by other users in different areas or at different times.


This is the case for archaisms but not for phrases that are just never used.

There are many words and constructions in English or French that I never use or have never heard in my life. Does that mean that they are not correct? Of course not. Were they used in the past or could they be used sometime in the future? Certainly.

Like tavros, I see students write sentences that are grammatically correct in French but not used where I live today. Notice that unlike tavros speaking about Dutch, I did not say that these sentences are not correct French. They are perfectly good French but not right for a given context. For example, someone may attempt to use a passé simple verb form when speaking. It's correct French but should be confined to a certain kind of writing.


For the passé simple; see above. This is a very different case from "soy cansado" - it's a form with one particular usage, namely a literary tense, where it is almost mandatory to use it.

So, soy cansado is perfectly correct Spanish with a meaning different from estoy cansado 'I'm tired'. Sure, estoy cansado is many times more common than soy cansado, for pretty obvious reasons. That doesn't mean that soy cansado isn't correct and can never be used.


It is incorrect not because it's grammatically wrong, but because there is no appropriate context to use it in and because it's not natural Spanish. And we're going in circles. Every utterance that is not natural Spanish is not good Spanish. Archaisms are good Spanish because they have a single context where they work - as a method to invoke an ancient atmosphere in literature. They would be marked down in text usage anywhere else as being inappropriate. Soy cansado doesn't even have that - it just sounds so awkward despite the grammar book technically allowing it that it is incorrect. I cannot think of a single situation where a Spanish speaker would actually say this. As long as we cannot do that then it's not good Spanish, period.

Archaisms don't fall under that category because we can think of a situation where they are used. But they'd still be wrong under all other contexts.


Most Spanish-speakers have never heard nor seen "oyose y gozose" and never will. Does that mean that these two verb forms are not correct? No, they are simply archaic poetic forms of "se oyó y se gozó".


These are so rare to sound completely out of place UNLESS you wanted to specifically invoke an ancient register. Unless you're a poet or author specifically referring to archaic situations, yes, it's wrong, because you're not conveying the correct information.
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby Cainntear » Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:33 pm

Oh, geez -- the man is incredibly old-school:
Blurb from 'Diagramming step-by-step' wrote:Around the turn of the century, Gene's penchant for grammar led him to a thorough study of sentence diagramming, the rudiments of which he, like Kitty Burns Florey, author of Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog, learned as a child from an elementary-school teacher.

So about 10 years ago, having just retired, he went back to a technique he was taught in the 40s or 50s by someone who had learnt it before the war. And from what I can see in the "look inside" of his diagramming book, he's gone back to the discredited notion of separating clauses first into subject and predicate.

Honestly not the sort of guy I'd take grammar advice from.
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby reineke » Mon Apr 03, 2017 5:22 pm

Eugene Moutoux, educator and author, taught at four universities and three high schools prior to his retirement in 2004. He has written books on sentence diagramming, Latin derivatives, and the German language, and maintains a large website that includes, among other things, a German course, Latin derivatives, and sentence diagrams.

"Around the turn of the century, Gene's penchant for grammar led him to a thorough study of sentence diagramming, the rudiments of which he, like Kitty Burns Florey, author of Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog, learned as a child from an elementary-school teacher."

His Drawing sentences has received good reviews on Amazon.

His website, with German, Latin and English resources:

http://www.german-latin-english.com/
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby s_allard » Mon Apr 03, 2017 6:01 pm

tarvos wrote:
s_allard wrote:So, soy cansado is perfectly correct Spanish with a meaning different from estoy cansado 'I'm tired'. Sure, estoy cansado is many times more common than soy cansado, for pretty obvious reasons. That doesn't mean that soy cansado isn't correct and can never be used.


It is incorrect not because it's grammatically wrong, but because there is no appropriate context to use it in and because it's not natural Spanish. And we're going in circles. Every utterance that is not natural Spanish is not good Spanish. Archaisms are good Spanish because they have a single context where they work - as a method to invoke an ancient atmosphere in literature. They would be marked down in text usage anywhere else as being inappropriate. Soy cansado doesn't even have that - it just sounds so awkward despite the grammar book technically allowing it that it is incorrect. I cannot think of a single situation where a Spanish speaker would actually say this. As long as we cannot do that then it's not good Spanish, period.

Archaisms don't fall under that category because we can think of a situation where they are used. But they'd still be wrong under all other contexts.

Most Spanish-speakers have never heard nor seen "oyose y gozose" and never will. Does that mean that these two verb forms are not correct? No, they are simply archaic poetic forms of "se oyó y se gozó".


These are so rare to sound completely out of place UNLESS you wanted to specifically invoke an ancient register. Unless you're a poet or author specifically referring to archaic situations, yes, it's wrong, because you're not conveying the correct information.

In Spanish, English and French, I don't make judgments based solely on what I hear and use. That's why I have many dictionaries and reference works. I literally learn new words every day in English, in French and Spanish. I may not use them myself but I don't go around broadcasting to the world that they are wrong because they sound awkward to me. Who am I to say something is incorrect or unnatural? What I usually do is poke around dictionaries, grammar books and the Internet to see what the authorities and observers say.

I didn't invent "soy cansado". In fact I have never used it. But I did find references to it. But to understand it, you have to step back a bit and look at the generic form "ser cansado". Before somebody starts screaming "You're wrong, "to be tired" is estar cansado", I suggest they do a google search on the term. I got 32,800 hits. What the various entries say is that ser cansado means "to be tiring or tiresome" or "to be a tired person or always tired". Here is a perfect illustration of the latter meaning:

La cosa es que uno de sus hijos estaba insistiéndole repetidamente en que fueran a no sé qué parte (cosa que ella no pensaba en hacer), hasta que su marido le dijo al hijo: “Deja a la mamá tranquila, porque está cansada”. Ahí vino la frase del bronce: “Pero papá si la mamá ES cansada”.

The most common form of ser cansado forms is es cansado, usually in a form like:

Trabajar es muy cansado.

But is can be used with persons, as follows:

Margarita no está cansada, pero es cansada.

In this example, Margarita isn't tired, she is tiresome.

So, what about "soy cansado"? It is of course very rare because very few people would actually say something like "I'm very tiresome or a tired person", as opposed to "Juan es muy cansado". But it does exist. As a matter of fact there is a popular meme called:

No soy vago soy cansado de nacimiento.

In fact, there is something similar in ser pesado, meaning to be a bore.

I have to say that since doing this little bit of research I have started using ser cansado a lot more and I've even said "No quiero ser cansado" to great effect a couple of times. I'm still waiting for the right moment to say "Soy cansado" but I'm working on it.
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby tastyonions » Mon Apr 03, 2017 6:41 pm

outcast wrote:You can say things like "Es cansador!". I am actually not sure what the form "cansador" is. Probably a noun? Like "cazador", "matador", "vividor", "detractor" etc. But it would seem not all verbs are amenable to conversion into nouns by tacking on "-dor": mentidor?* ocupador?* echador?* comedor? (this is a noun, but not a person, rather a place where you eat!).

It's funny, I had a discussion just today with my Spanish tutor in which I used "comedor" in the sense of "one who is eating." In this case I was referring to animals, not people, so "comensal" didn't really seem to fit. RAE does have "comedor" as an adjective: "Que come mucho." (http://dle.rae.es/?id=9udTmGl)

No dice for my usage, though.
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby Cainntear » Mon Apr 03, 2017 8:17 pm

s_allard wrote:I didn't invent "soy cansado". In fact I have never used it. But I did find references to it. But to understand it, you have to step back a bit and look at the generic form "ser cansado". Before somebody starts screaming "You're wrong, "to be tired" is estar cansado", I suggest they do a google search on the term. I got 32,800 hits. What the various entries say is that ser cansado means "to be tiring or tiresome"

Exactly, and the consequence of this is that cansado is not a participle here. If cansado was functioning grammatically as a past participle, then it could not mean "tiring" or "tiring", because that has no past meaning. The form is derived from the past participle, but if it was a participle, it would have to be the present participle -- "*cansante" or similar.

My point all along has been to try to stress this distinction between participle and adjective, because the same distinction exists in English.
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby outcast » Mon Apr 03, 2017 8:59 pm

tastyonions wrote:
outcast wrote:You can say things like "Es cansador!". I am actually not sure what the form "cansador" is. Probably a noun? Like "cazador", "matador", "vividor", "detractor" etc. But it would seem not all verbs are amenable to conversion into nouns by tacking on "-dor": mentidor?* ocupador?* echador?* comedor? (this is a noun, but not a person, rather a place where you eat!).

It's funny, I had a discussion just today with my Spanish tutor in whnich I used "comedor" in the sense of "one who is eating." In this case I was referring to animals, not people, so "comensal" didn't really seem to fit. RAE does have "comedor" as an adjective: "Que come mucho." (http://dle.rae.es/?id=9udTmGl)

No dice for my usage, though.


There you go, so my example is an adjective. Though I guess you can say 'Es un cansador'. Goes to show how complicated grammar and language can get. I forget in Spanish you can choose 'ser' o 'estar' when assigning temporary or essential characteristics. Thus 'está bonita' vs 'es bonita'. And whether this difference is clear, vague, or absent or even nonsensical is totally dependent on the semantics of the adjective. Unlike 'está/es bonita' which has clear difference in meaning, 'estoy viejo' vs 'soy viejo' is quite vague to me without context. And 'es contenta' is disallowed altogether .
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby s_allard » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:59 am

Cainntear wrote:
s_allard wrote:I didn't invent "soy cansado". In fact I have never used it. But I did find references to it. But to understand it, you have to step back a bit and look at the generic form "ser cansado". Before somebody starts screaming "You're wrong, "to be tired" is estar cansado", I suggest they do a google search on the term. I got 32,800 hits. What the various entries say is that ser cansado means "to be tiring or tiresome"

Exactly, and the consequence of this is that cansado is not a participle here. If cansado was functioning grammatically as a past participle, then it could not mean "tiring" or "tiring", because that has no past meaning. The form is derived from the past participle, but if it was a participle, it would have to be the present participle -- "*cansante" or similar.

My point all along has been to try to stress this distinction between participle and adjective, because the same distinction exists in English.

I think it may be useful to heed the grammar advice on what a past participle really is. This is not to be confused with a verbal adjective or a participial adjective. In English the past participle form "I was married by a minister" is often identical to the verbal adjective form "I'm married". In the last example, there is no reference to the past.

This distinction may be important in English because of the single verb "to be" but it is irrelevant in Spanish where the two verbs ser and estar can convery different meanings. This is exactly why "Soy aburrido" means "I am boring" and "Estoy aburrido" means "I am bored". Similarly, "el filme es divertido" means "the film is entertainng" but speaking of people, one would probably say "ella es muy graciosa" "She is lots of fun".
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