"We spy on the girls."
Translation:Noi le spionăm pe fete!
"Îi" is only used for masculine plural nouns and "le" is for feminine plural nouns. They are the unstressed forms of the direct object personal pronouns. To help you out in distinguishing them think of the definite article which these pronouns somewhay ressemble: băieții - the boys îi... pe băieți - them ... the boys (dorect object) fetele - the girls le ... pe fete - them (fem. pl) the girls (direct object) !!!!! These pronouns act a little like the articles they ressemble, so don't think they're superfluous!
I'm working on puzzling out how the accusative/direct object unstressed pronouns fit together with accusative/direct object articles.
I'd normally try to write 'the girls' as 'fetele,' but here 'pe fete' seems to me to be "[acc] girls" without an article. However, the missing 'le' corresponds exactly to the 'le' unstressed accusative object pronoun at the beginning of the sentence.
My interpretation right now is that for definite accusative/direct objects, the definite article is broken off and moves to the front of the verb, where it becomes the accusative/direct unstressed object pronoun. In exchange, the direct/accusative object gains "pe XXX" to show that it lost the definite article.
If the accusative/direct object has an indefinite article, it doesn't move. That is, I would write "Noi spionăm o fată" instead of "Noi o spionăm pe fată."
Could a better speaker than I point out any mistakes? This doesn't seem to be quite the same rules Spanish uses, or I misunderstand it there too.
I'm not a native speaker, but what I see that's similar to spanish is that humans (and possibly pets) are treated differently from other direct objects: in spanish with 'a' and in romanian with 'pe'. To me, when one makes the personal object into a prepositional phrase (as do spanish and romanian), then technically it stops being a direct object (even if those languages keep referring to it as such). This preposition-with-humans/no-prep-with-nonhumans distinctions seems to go back to Latin, where we would say 'vulneratus sum AB milite' (I was wounded BY the soldier) but 'vulneratus sum gladio' (I was wounded BY the sword).
I think your connection between Romanian 'pe' and Spanish 'a' makes sense--helpfully, that was something 5 years of high school Spanish completely forgot to teach me.
In https://www.duolingo.com/comment/19935055$comment_id=20051620 potestasity just explained it in a similar way, that 'pe' is preferred when using personal pronouns and proper nouns. I could see that rule extending to including other people-accusative-objects like 'fete' here.
I'm trying to work out why it is' le' and not 'ii' (circumflex on first i).
On the other issue when I learn French at school there were certain conjunctives that behaved is certain ways (such as taking the subjunctive) from what I remember.
We've been doing 'per masa' (mark over final a) since we started so 'pe' looks like it takes the indefinite form after it.