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  5. "Τα κλειδιά τα έχει ο πατέρας…

"Τα κλειδιά τα έχει ο πατέρας μου."

Translation:My father has the keys.

August 31, 2016



why is τα here twice?


The technical term for this is 'clitic doubling', i.e. the doubling of the article. The mechanics are not entirely understood (at least by my understanding), but it has to do with the information structure of the sentence. With an object initial sentence like this it can occur, but also with verb initial sentences like τα έχει τα κλειδιά ο πατέρας μου and subject initial like ο πατέρας μου τα έχει τα κλειδιά. These are grammatically correct, but in practice clitic doubling doesn't occur uniformly across all the different word orders. The important thing is that the doubled clitic goes in the position directly before the verb.


Is this common in formal speech or is it reserved only for colloquial speech


I really loves that it works like in Spanish or Italian:

Las llaves las tiene mi padre.

Le chiavi le ha mio padre.


Or in French: Les clés, c'est mon père qui les a. / Les clés, mon père les a.


Or in Romanian: Cheile le are tatal meu. Seems to be similar throughout Romance languages (Portuguese?)


Can you also say? Ο πατέρας μου έχει τα κλειδιά?

  • 257

Yes, that is another correct and accepted translation.


One of those interesting characteristic features that many languages have and are impossible to explain to a learner. But why does duoling introduce this for the first time in a listening task??? To make sure that we pay attention?


I got it as a listening exercise too! I couldn't work it out at all.


my guess is that the first "τα" is the article and the second one is the indicative pronoun (something like "the these keys")


Literally, it's a bit like "The keys: my father has them".

The first τα is the "the" in "the keys", the second is the "them".


Clitic doubling is related to the notion of resumptive accusative, a type of prolepsis (anticipation). I'm not surprised it's in modern Gk (MG) because ancient Gk had prolepsis (Smyth p. 488). Mackridge writes about this in his Modern Gk Language, p. 223: "An important function of the clitic pronoun is its proleptic and resumptive uses. When used proleptically, the clitic pronoun anticipates the object pronoun....when used resumptively it recalls an object which has already been stated." I think we have resumptive clitic here. Mackridge then gives examples and states that "a clitic pronoun is always used when όλα ('all') is the direct object." He has quite a bit more to say about the topic. It's a little bit like anticipatory indirect object pronouns in Spanish, such as les mando dinero a nuestros hijos, "I am sending money to my kids," which causes difficulty for English speakers who find the indirect object pronoun unnecessary, redundant, and so we forget to put it in when speaking Spanish. We'll have a similar problem remembering to put in the second τα in this sentence. My question is (slightly different from the one below): Will this sentence work with the clitic inserted proleptically? ο πατέρας μου τα έχει τα κλειδιά.


Yes, that's correct as well.



Thanks for your well-researched contributions. They are intellectually stimulating.


It makes me wonder if this is a clictic pronoun, can it really be clictic doubling?

τα τα


mizinamo, good explanation!


This now makes a lot of sense thinking about how my Greek friends sometimes English.


Is this like Spanish?: Las llaves las tiene mi padre.


    Judging by Schynd's comment right above, yes.


    Oh, I haven't seen the comment.


    To answer a question stated by some commenters, this phenomenon almost never occurs in the formal speech and written form of Greek. However, they are very common in the vernacular and they are used, as far as I can understand, for emphasis/focus. But the two τα must not be considered the same. There is not a full explanation of this, but I believe that the first τα is the article accompanying κλειδιά, while the second τα is the shortened version of the neuter plural form of the personal pronoun αυτός, αυτή, αυτό (pl. αυτά, i.e. they - neuter). Which means that literally this sentence would be: "My father has them (the) keys." Example: Έχεις τα κλειδιά; Ναι, τα έχω (τα κλειδιά)! (Do you have the keys? Yes, I have them (the keys)!)


    I appreciate your comment here. According to Mackridge (Modern Gk Language, p. 223), "The neuter singular τό [sic] (sometimes the plural τά) is often used to refer to a whole clause." He gives an example of τά 'μαθες; Πέθανε ο Μπρέζνιεφ. Ναί, το ξέρω. "Have you heard (it)? Brezhnev's died." "Yes, I know (it)." In this sentence, he says, τα "perhaps refers to τα νέα, 'the news,' while το ...is optional." His comment seems to back up your point that a full explanation of this phenomenon is hard to come by. He doesn't say anything about τα as possibly being a shortened form of αυτά. Horrocks has a section on clitic pronouns and syntax on pp. 108 ff. in his Greek: A History of the Language and Speakers (2nd edition). Apparently, he also wrote a seminal article on this topic in 1990, "Clitics in Greek: A Diachronic Review" in Greek Outside Greece II (Athens) pp. 35-52. I haven't read that article, but in the book (p. 109) he writes that classical Gk 3rd person anaphoric pronouns, αὐτόν, 'him,' etc., function effectively as clitics...they are, of course, the source of the modern clitic pronouns τον etc., via the reduced forms ἀτόν etc. that are sometimes attested in low-level texts of the Hellenistic and Roman periods." He corroborates your hunch.


    Can you say it the other way around? Ο πατερας μου εχει τα κλειδια τα.


      Yes, you can use the standard subject-verb-object structure (without that extra τα in the end). It is however very common to reverse the order and put the emphasis on the object.


      Same thing in Spanish:

      Mi padre tiene las llaves. Las llaves las tiene mi padre.


      The first las is an article and the second a pronoun.


      I somehow feel like the more logical way to say it would be "Ο πατέρας μου έχει τα κλειδιά."


      That is also a valid Greek sentence. It differs in focus/emphasis from Duo's.


      It's how English speakers will want to say the sentence. I appreciate DL giving us this interesting example of how Greek people might say a sentence with clitic doubling and the moderators' responses to help explain it.


      The second τα is redundant. Is it necessary? Yes, the phrase looks truncated without it for a native speaker. So, Object, τον/την/το etc, Verb, Subject. A reverse form Subject, Verb, Object, that is ο πατέρας έχει τα κλειδιά does not have τα. In this case the syntax Subject, Object, Verb is odd, and not used. Notice that this kind of Syntax is permitted in Greek, but not always, except for some poetic speech phrases, which have freedom in the Syntax.


      I feel pretty unconfortable with this translation as for my understanding "τα κλειδιά τα έχει ο πατέρας μου" is not the same as "ο πατερας μου εχει τα κλειδια". To me this sentence sounds more likes "The keys that my father has" or "Τα κλειδια οτι ο πατερας μου εχει"


      It is a correct structure though. We also have it in Spanish: "Las llaves las tiene mi padre." You're basically giving the keys the main role in the sentence.


      Those sentences are not the same, they emphasize different things, depending on what you want to say. As for the example, it should be "Τα κλειδιά που/τα οποία ο πατέρας μου έχει" ;)


      What the what?!? Doesnt this say the keys have my father?



      έχει is third person singular and ο πατέρας μου is in the nominative case, so "my father" has to be the subject.

      That means that τα κλειδία must be in the accusative case and thus the object.


      In colloquial German we have this as well, although I doubt it would be acceptable in formal writing: "Die Schlüssel, die hat der Papa." It's a way to emphasize the object of a sentence. In English this might be used in the following way: "The keys? The father has them."

      • 257

      Unlike English, some languages are very flexible. Your English sentence is very well expressed.


      In my audio, I cannot hear the "μου".


      When i came back to this exercise, I turned my volume way up and was able to hear it.


      I think about the only time you would see this in English is when the keys are the subject of the sentence and being in response to a selection of items and who might have which. Otherwise, the exact translation could be offered as the question no?


      Why can't we just say :ο πατέρας μου έχει τα κλειδιά. I am not getting the meaning of using τα twice

      • 257

      That is also a correct way of saying it and it is one of the accepted translations. In fact, it's mentioned above on this page.


      Τα κλειδια τα εχει ο πατερας μου. Nøklene, de har min far.

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