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Luxembourgish Lessons #25: Ginn - One Word, Four Meanings

Welcome to number twenty-five of the Luxembourgish lessons, which will discuss the different uses of the verb ginn and how to tell them apart from one meaning and another.


The verb ginn can mean one of four things-

To Go

The first meaning of ginn translates as "to go". However, the verb in this sense is not the infinitive. That honor actually goes to goen. In fact, ginn is only used for the 1st person singular and 1st and 3rd person plural pronouns (Ech, Mir, and Si respectively).

The present tense conjugation of goen is shown below

goen - to go

To give

The second meaning of ginn translates as "to give". Unlike the previous translation, ginn in this instance (and in the rest of the instances) is the actual infinitive

The present tense conjugation of ginn is show below

ginn - to give

To become

The third meaning of ginn translates as "to become", as in Ech ginn e Mann "I become/am becoming a man".

The present tense conjugation is the same as that for "to give".

ginn - to become

How to Tell the Difference

The key in telling the difference between these translations would usually have to rely on context. For example, the sentence Ech ginn all on its own leaves a lot of ambiguity, as it can be easily translated to one of those three meanings. But depending on whatever follows, it can become more clear what action is taking place. Let's consider some scenarios:

1. Ech ginn in de Hotel

In this sentence, there are no objects that can be affected by a certain action, and the preposition likely indicates a change in position rather than a change in status or form. Thus, ginn in this instance likely means "to go".

2. Ech ginn en Apel

In this sentence, there are no prepositions in sight, which would likely eliminate the possibility of ginn referring to "to go". However, the other two translations can make sense (although "I become an apple" may sound "off" to say the least). Let's go a bit further with the sentence:

Ech ginn der Fra en Apel

Now this sentence clears up this ambiguity. "To become" will never be associated with the dative case, so it becomes apparent that ginn in the sentence refers to "to give"

3. Ech ginn déck

In this sentence, ginn is followed by just an adjective, in this case déck (thick, fat). With this, it's clear that ginn in this instance means "to become". This won't always be full-proof, because there are adjectives that can act like adverbs. For example, Ech gi schnell could mean "I become fast" or "I go quickly".

The Fourth Meaning

So far I've only talked about three of the four aforementioned meanings of the verb ginn. That's mainly because the last meaning of the verb will be the topic of discussion for the rest of this section.

This last version of ginn is an auxiliary verb used to form the passive voice, wherein an action is being done to the subject as opposed to being done by the subject. It's like the difference between "I eat the cake" and "The cake is eaten by me".

The passive voice will be the main subject of this section.

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February 27, 2017


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