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gramatica:en:determiners

Determiners

A determiner is a word that modifies a noun to express the noun's reference, including its identity and quantity. Apart from the plural marker -s (which is considered a determiner in Elefen), the determiners always precede the noun.

There are several different classes of determiner. Typical examples of each class are: tota, la, esta, cual, cada, mea, multe, otra.

Predeterminers

Tota means “all”. It indicates the entire quantity of the noun's referent, which must be plural if countable. Unlike cada, tota refers to the whole thing, rather than the separate individuals that comprise it:

  • Tota linguas es asurda. – All languages are absurd.
  • Me va ama tu per tota tempo. – I will love you for all time / the whole of time.
  • La lete ia vade a tota locas. – The milk went everywhere.

Ambos means “both”. It can be used in place of tota when the entire quantity is known to be only two. The noun must be plural:

  • Ambos gamas es debil. – Both legs are weak.

Semantically, tota and ambos are no different from quantifiers, but they are treated as a separate class because of their syntax: they precede all other determiners in a noun phrase, including la.

They can also be used as pronouns.

Articles

Elefen has two articles – the definite article la, and the indefinite article un. “Definite” here means that the noun's referent is “already defined”, as opposed to being something new.

La introduces a noun that denotes someone or something that the listener is already aware of. It is used in the following types of situation:

  • The thing has already been mentioned:
    • Me ia compra un casa. La casa es peti. – I've bought a house. The house is small.
  • The listener can easily guess that the thing exists:
    • Me ia compra un casa. La cosina es grande. – I've bought a house. The kitchen is large.
  • The rest of the sentence specifies the thing well enough:
    • El ia perde la numeros de telefon de sua amis. – She's lost the phone numbers of her friends.
  • The listener can perceive the thing directly:
    • La musica es bela, no? – The music is lovely, isn't it?
  • The thing is well known to everyone. This includes fields of study and abstract nouns:
    • La luna es multe distante de la tera. – The moon is a long way from the earth.
    • Me no comprende la matematica. – I don't understand mathematics.
    • El ama la cafe. – She loves coffee.
    • La felisia es plu importante ca la ricia. – Happiness is more important than wealth.

Un introduces a singular noun that refers to something the listener is not yet aware of. It is not used with plural or uncountable nouns. (It also serves as a quantifier meaning “one”.)

  • Me vole leje un libro. – I want to read a book.
  • Un gato ia veni en la sala. – A cat came into the room.

Some languages have a partitive article that indicates an indefinite quantity of an uncountable noun. Elefen uses la, or no article at all:

  • Me gusta la cafe. – I like coffee / I like the coffee.
  • Me gusta cafe. – I like coffee.
  • Me bevi cafe. – I drink coffee.

Demonstratives

The demonstratives point to the noun's referent, locating it in time or space or the discourse itself.

Esta means “this”. It is similar to la, but points to an item that is near the speaker, either physically or metaphorically:

  • Me posese esta casa. – I own this house.
  • Esta libros es merveliosa. – These books are wonderful.
  • Me gusta esta cafe. – I like this coffee.
  • Esta mense ia es difisil. – This month was difficult.
  • Esta frase conteni sinco parolas. – This sentence contains five words.

Acel means “that”. It is also similar to la, but points to an item that is distant from the speaker, or at least more distant than esta:

  • Acel xico regarda acel xicas. – That boy is looking at those girls.
  • Atenta denova en acel modo. – Try that way again.
  • Acel torta es noncomable. – That cake is inedible.

Esta and acel can be converted to pronouns.

Interrogatives

The interrogative determiners are one way to create questions.

Cual asks “which” or “what”:

  • Cual animal es acel? – What animal is that?
  • Cual vejetales es la plu bon? – What vegetables are the best?
  • Tu veni de cual pais? – What country do you come from?
  • Cual fenetras es rompeda? – Which windows are broken?
  • Cual pinta tu prefere? – Which paint do you prefer?

Cuanto asks “how many” with a plural countable noun, and “how much” with an uncountable noun:

  • Cuanto casas es en tua strada? – How many houses are on your street?
  • Cuanto pan tu pote come? – How much bread can you eat?

Cual and cuanto are also used as pronouns.

Selection determiners

The selection determiners pick out specific individuals from the whole set:

  • cada – each, every
  • cualce – whichever, any
  • alga – some, a few, a little, any
  • no – no
  • sola – only

Cada means “each” or “every”, considering all the items separately as individuals. The noun must be countable but singular:

  • Cada can ave un nom. – Each dog has a name.
  • Me no ia leje cada parola. – I didn't read every word.
  • Tu fa la mesma era a cada ves. – You make the same mistake every time.

Cualce means “any”, i.e. it doesn't matter which. The noun is normally countable. “Any” with an uncountable noun is usually “alga”:

  • Prende cualce carta. – Pick any card.
  • Cualce contenadores va sufisi. – Any containers will do.

Alga indicates that the identity of the noun's referent is unspecified:

  • Me ia leje acel en alga libro. – I read that in some book (or other).
  • Cisa me va reveni a alga dia. – Maybe I will come back some day.
  • Alga cosa es rompeda. – Something is broken.

When used with a noun that is uncountable, or a noun that is countable and plural, alga indicates that not only is the referent's identity unspecified, but its quantity is too. The quantity is often understood to be fairly small – otherwise you would say multe – but not as emphatically small as with poca:

  • Me va leje alga libros. – I'm going to read some books / a few books.
  • Alga polvo ia cade de la sofito. – Some dust fell from the ceiling.
  • El ave alga pan en sua sesto. – She has some bread in her basket.

No means “no”. It indicates that the noun's referent is absent or non-existent:

  • Me ave no arbores en me jardin. – I have no trees / I don't have any trees in my garden.
  • Tu va senti no dole. – You will feel no pain.
  • No arbor es plu alta ce la tore Eiffel. – No tree is taller than the Eiffel tower.
  • Me ia encontra no person en la parce. – I met nobody in the park.

Sola means “only”, i.e. just this and no others:

  • El es la sola dotor en la vila. – He is the only doctor in town.
  • Estas es la sola du parolas cual nos no comprende. – These are the only two words we don't understand.
  • Me va destrui la mur con un sola colpa. – I shall destroy the wall with a single blow.

These determiners, with the exception of no and sola, can also be used as pronouns. They also form the special pronouns cadun, cualcun, algun and nun, which refer to people. To refer to things, the determiners are simply followed by cosa.

Possessives

The possessive determiners are mea, tua, nosa, and vosa:

  • Mea gato ia come un mus. – My cat ate a mouse.
  • Me gusta multe tua dansa. – I like your dance very much.
  • Nosa ecipo va gania la premio. – Our team will win the prize.

Possession can also be indicated with a phrase like de me:

  • Acel es la casa de tu. – That is your house.

The third-person possessive is sua, regardless of whether the equivalent pronoun would be el, lo, los, on, or se:

  • La ipopotamo abri sua boca. – The hippopotamus opens its mouth. (reflexive)
  • Nos regarda sua dentes. – We look at its teeth. (not reflexive)

Quantifiers

Quantifiers are determiners that help express the amount or quantity of the noun's referent:

  • -s – -s (plural marker)
  • un – one, a
  • du, tre, cuatro… – two, three, four…
  • multe – many, much
  • poca – few, little
  • plu – more
  • la plu – most
  • min – fewer, less
  • la min – least

The plural marker -s is the most basic quantifier. A noun phrase that includes a plural noun does not require any other determiner:

  • Me va leje libros. – I'm going to read [some] books.
  • Me va leje la libros. – I'm going to read the books.

As well as being the indefinite article, un is the number “one”. It indicates a single quantity of the noun's referent. The noun must therefore be countable but singular:

  • Me ave un frate e du sores. – I have one brother and two sisters.

The other cardinal numbersdu, tre, cuatro, etc – are likewise quantifiers.

  • Me ave tre gatos obesa. – I have three fat cats.
  • Me ave cuatro plu anios ca mea frate. – I am four years older than my brother.

Multe indicates a large quantity of the noun's referent. It means “many” with a plural countable noun, and “much” with an uncountable noun:

  • Esta casa ia sta asi per multe anios. – This house has stood here for many years.
  • La pijones come multe pan. – The pigeons eat a lot of bread.

Poca is the opposite of multe, and indicates a small quantity. It means “few” with a plural countable noun, and “little” with a uncountable noun:

  • Me reconose poca persones. – I recognize few people. (really not many)
  • El pote dona poca aida. – He can give little help. (really not much)
  • Compare: Me pote leje alga parolas. — I can read a few words. (a small number)

Plu means “more”. It indicates a larger quantity of the noun's referent, and can be used with plural and uncountable nouns. La plu means “most” – the largest quantity:

  • Tu ave plu libros ca me. – You have more books than me.
  • La plu linguas es bela. – Most languages are beautiful.
  • Plu pan es en la cosina. – There's more bread in the kitchen.
  • La plu fango es repulsante. – Most mud is revolting.

Min is the opposite of plu, and means “less” or “fewer”. It indicates a smaller quantity, and can be used with plural and uncountable nouns. La min means “least” or “fewest”:

  • Me desira min vejetales ca el. – I want fewer vegetables than her.
  • Tu ia leje la min libros de cualcun ci me conose. – You have read the least books of anyone I know.
  • El ave min interesa a cada dia. – He has less interest every day.

With the exception of no, the quantifiers can all be converted to pronouns.

Similarity determiners

Four additional determiners are concerned with similarity and difference:

La mesma means “the same”. The word la cannot normally be omitted, although it can be changed to esta or acel:

  • Tu porta la mesma calsetas como me. – You're wearing the same socks as me.
  • La gera ia comensa en la mesma anio. – The war began in the same year.
  • Nos va reveni a esta mesma tema pos un semana. – We will come back to this same topic in a week's time.

Otra means “other”:

  • Nos ave aora esta tre otra problemes. – We have these three other problems now.
  • La otra solve ia es plu bon. – The other solution was better.
  • Tu ave otra pan? – Do you have any other bread?

Tal means “such”, i.e. of this or that kind:

  • Me construi un macina de tempo. – I'm building a time machine.
    • Tal cosas es nonposible. – Such things are impossible.
  • Me xerca un abeor. – I'm looking for a beekeeper.
    • Me no conose un tal person. – I don't know such a person.
  • Tu vole jua futbal con nos? – Do you want to play football with us?
    • Me prefere evita tal eserse. – I prefer to avoid such exercise.
  • Tu ave plu libros como estas? – Do you have more books like these?
    • Si, me ave du otra tal libros. – Yes, I have two other such books.

Propre means “own”, as in “my own”, emphasizing the possessor of the noun. It is particularly useful after the determiner sua to clarify that the meaning is reflexive, i.e. that the noun belongs to the subject of the sentence:

  • Mea propre idea es an plu strana. – My own idea is even stranger.
  • El ia trova la xarpe de sua sposo e ia pone lo sirca sua propre colo. – She found her husband's scarf and put it round her (own) neck.

Order of determiners

The determiners follow a certain order:

For example:

  • El ia colie sua poca posesedas e parti. – She gathered her few possessions and left.
  • Nos no ia tradui ancora acel otra cuatro frases. – We still haven't translated those other four sentences.
  • Tota la omes ia vade a la costa. – All the men went to the coast.
gramatica/en/determiners.txt · Editada: 2019/08/10 11:45 par Simon