Romanian conjugation rules
I've always struggled with conjugation, that's why I chose my first language to learn on here. So far, in Norwegian, I haven't had to conjugate anything.
I don't understand when or how to conjugate the verbs. Obviously there is noun verb agreement but exactly how do I change infinitives into their conjugated form?
And if you could please explain it to me like I was a five year old that would be helpful. I have no clue what declensions or indefinite articles mean.
Disclaimer : I am not a native Romanian. I have been studying it for 5 months, so if something is inaccurate a native can correct me.
I struggled with Romanian conjugation for the first few weeks - but trust me, you start doing it naturally once you progress. I will only explain present tense, as other tenses in Romanian are formed easy enough and you will master them if you know the present tense well.
The most important thing we should know about a verb to find out how it's conjugated is its infinitive form. In Romanian that is "a [infinitive]". For example: "a putea" (to be able to), "a vorbi" (to speak), "a vrea" (to want).
There are 4 types of verb groups in Romanian and they are distinguished by the ending of the infinitive form:
Type 1 - ends in just "-a". Examples: "a înota" (to swim), "a cânta" (to sing)
Type 2 - ends in "-ea". Examples: "a putea" (to be able to), "a vedea" (to see)
Type 3 - ends in "-e". Examples: "a merge" (to go/walk), "a plânge" (to cry)
Type 4 - ends in "i" or "î". Examples: "a găsi" (to find), "a urî" (to hate)
Okay! That's simple enough. Now, there are different conjugations for each group, but there are some subgroups of conjugation. Let's explore those:
For type 1:
We have two subgroups with different conjugation rules. Those are normal verbs and "-ez" verbs. For example:
We have "a înota" which for first-person singular is "eu înot" (I swim). That's a normal verb. However, we have verbs like "a picta" (to paint) which for first-person singular is "eu pictez" (I paint) and NOT "eu pict" as one might expect. Those are the only two subtypes in type 1 verbs and they have different conjugation rules. There is no easy way to identify which subtype it is by knowing just the infinitive, so you have to write down which one it is every time you learn a new verb.
For type 2:
Fortunately, there are no subtypes and there is just one type of conjugation for these verbs.
For type 3:
Just as for type 2 - just one type of conjugation.
For type 4:
Here we have some subtypes. We will break them down in two parts.
I. Verbs that end in "i".
Those are verbs like "a găsi"(to find), "a dormi" (to sleep). Just as in type 1 verbs, here we also have two ways to conjugate. Normal verbs and "-esc" verbs.
For "a dormi" the first-person singular is "eu dorm" (I sleep) - normal verb. For "a găsi", however, we have "eu găsesc"(I find) - so that's an "-esc" verb. Once again, there is no easy way to guess which one it's gonna be - so you have to remember that when learning the verb.
II. Verbs that end in "î"
Those are verbs like "a omorî" (to kill), "a urî" (to hate). Two conjugation types once again. Normal ones and "ăsc" verbs. As you can guess we simply have:
"a omorî"(to kill) - "eu omor" (I kill), but
"a urî" (to hate) - "eu urăsc" (I hate)
As you can guess - no easy way to guess which one it is gonna be, so just memorize for each verb.
Okay, that's all! Let's sum up!
Basically, considering all subtypes we have in total 8 different ways a verb can be conjugated. By knowing the infinitive you can narrow it down to one or two and then just memorize. But how does the actual conjugation work?
Basically, for each form you have to remove the suffix from the infinitive (that is, remove the "a" or "ea" or "e" or "i" or "î" at the end) and then add a different suffix depending on the situation. To find the suffixes you will have to add just open the Wikipedia page about Romanian verb conjugation:
Scroll down to "Moduri personale (Personal moods)" and look up the very first table for "Prezent (Present)". You will find the 8 types of conjugations I described and all the different suffixes you have to add in different cases.
You basically have to memorize this table. I did so in the first few days of learning Romanian and then with time it became very natural to me. Do not be scared, there are many patterns in it that will help you learn it quicker.
Sounds good, but is that all?
Unfortunately, just as any other language, Romanian has irregular verbs. This basically means it has "exceptions to the rules". There are some verbs whose conjugations you just have to memorize - there are no rules. They aren't that many so do not be afraid. I will give some examples:
The verb "a fi" (to be) is probably the most common one and it really doesn't follow any rules. Its conjugation is:
eu sunt - I am
tu ești - You are
el/ea este/e - He/She is
noi suntem - We are
voi sunteți - You are (plural)
ei/ele sunt - They are
Clearly, it has nothing to do with the infinitive! However, in other forms of the verb (different tenses/voices) the infinitive plays a role. So you just have to remember all those forms. One other example with the verb "a avea" (to have):
eu am - I have
tu ai - You have
el/ea are - He/She has
noi avem - We have
voi aveți - You have (plural)
ei/ele au - They have
There aren't too many irregular verbs and you will quickly catch the hang of it. Do not feel bad if you mistake conjugations sometimes - after 5 months and almost finished tree, I still do it all the time with irregular verbs. People will still understand you and it's all about practice.
Tips, tricks and observations to help you conjugate:
I will tell you some things that helped me when conjugating that may perhaps help you in the future. You should probably read them once you're more comfortable with the conjugations, as now they might just confuse you:
- I. There are some patterns you will start seeing quickly. First-person singular usually has no suffix. Second-person singular mostly ends on "i". Third-person singular ends on "e" or "ă". First-person plural ends on "m". Second-person plural mostly ends on "ți".
Things like this will help you in identifying the way the verb is used when reading quicker. It also helps a lot in memorizing all the conjugations.
- II. When you add an "i" suffix after "d" it often turns to "z":
"a vedea" - "tu vezi" (you see)
Similarly, when you add an "i" suffix after "n" it might just disappear, but not always:
"a spune" - "tu spui" (you say)
"a veni" - "tu vii" (you come) - the verb is irregular, but the "n" still disappears.
BUT "a turna" - "tu torni"
(seems to happen mostly when the "n" is surrounded by vowels)
And in general, not only in verbs, usually when you have an "i" after "s" it turns into "și" and if you have an "i" after "t" it turns into "ți". Not always, though.
- III. An "u" in the beginning sometimes turns in "o" in conjugations:
"a putea" - "eu pot" - "tu poți" ..
"a turna" (to pour) - "eu torn" - "tu torni"
- IV. Often if you have "o" in the second-to-last syllable and you conjugate with suffix "ă" or "e", then the "o" will change to "oa". For example
"a putea" - "el/ea poate"
"a turna" - "el/ea toarnă"
"a omorî" - "el/ea omoară"
- V. First-person plural (noi - we) and second-person plural (voi - you[plural]) are very often (not always) regular even in irregular verbs:
"a avea" - "noi avem" - "voi aveți"
"a veni" - "noi venim" - "voi veniți"
This means that sometimes the u-o change (explained in III.) might disappear for those two cases only:
"a putea" - "noi putem" - "voi puteți"
"a turna" - "noi turnăm" - "voi turnați"
- VI. For type 1 verbs the third-person singular (el/ea) and third-person plural (ei/ele) have the same form.
For all other types - first-person singular (eu) and third-person plural (ei/ele) have the same form.
Hope I helped and feel free to ask anything! I'm open to corrections from natives as well.
Wow, top post! I'm very impressed that you understand all this after just 5 months of learning the language.
Thank you! I really spent a lot of time in the beginning to get the hang of it all. It is a lovely language :)
What made you go so hard on this course? Five months seems to be a rather short time to have memorized all of that.
Would you be able to help me get a grasp on the plurality of Romanian? I've been looking and it seems there are no rules for knowing a noun gender nor form it takes when it is pluralized. That and apparently it is also conjugated further by the intention of the sentence? Example I hit him, he hit me.
I am replying to this because it won't let me reply to your latest comment.
I wanna start off by saying that the word "conjugation" refers to verbs. Only verbs are conjugated. For nouns it is called declensions.
There are surely a lot of things that you won't be used to in Romanian since English is quite simple in many ways. What you are referring to is known as "cases". Romanian has five cases and those are : nominative, accusative, dative, genitive and vocative.
What a case does is basically tell you what role a noun is playing in the sentence. This allows more flexibility with word order when speaking and it compresses more information in fewer words. For example, in a language that has different declension for nominative and accusative case (Romanian is not such language), it wouldn't matter if you say "The girl hit the boy" or "The boy hit the girl", because both "girl" and "boy" would change to signify which is nominative and which is in accusative.
I will shortly explain the five cases in case you don't know them:
This is the 'main' case. It is used when the noun is the subject of the sentence.
This is the second most common case and it is used when the noun is the (direct) object of the sentence.
The dative was initially used for verbs related to giving something, but it is used in more contexts today. Basically, a noun is in the dative if it is an indirect object. Dative can generally be formed just by preposition+accusative, but depending on the language that might not be allowed in certain cases. In English that is exactly what happens. You say "I gave the cat to the boy" - and "to the boy" is basically the dative, but formed with a prepositions, of course. You can not use the accusative directly and say "I gave the cat the boy" - that's wrong.
The genitive is generally used to indicate possession. Just like English nouns get " 's " at the end to indicate possession.
The vocative case is used when addressing someone. In English you would just use nominative, but that's not the case in some languages. In Romanian specifically the vocative can be replaced with the nominative in most cases without sounding bad, so you really shouldn't worry about this one.
Now, let's talk about the declensions specifically in Romanian:
Romanian has three declensions of nouns. One for nominative and accusative case, one for dative and genitive and one for vocative. Since we won't bother with the vocative, you essentially have to remember two.
Duolingo has lessons on both, with the dative/genitive coming later as it is not present in most simple sentences.
Romanian indicates by suffixes all pluralisation, definite articles and noun declensions of cases, hence it does take time to get used to combining them. I will show you some forms of pâine and some sentences (which I hope are correct, I'm not a native) to show you all the combinations in action:
nominative/accusative, singular, indefinite - o pâine - a bread
nominative/accusative, singular, definite - pâinea - the bread
nominative/accusative, plural, indefinite - pâini - breads
nominative/accusative, plural, definite - pâinile - the breads
genitive/dative, singular, definite - pâinii ~ of/to the bread
genitive/dative, plural, definite - pâinilor ~ of/to the breads
Cumpăr o pâine. - I buy a bread.
Culoarea pâinii e albă. - The color of the bread is white.
Pâinea e bună. - The bread is good.
Pâinile sunt scumpe. - The breads are expensive.
Feel free to ask any questions :)
Rereading your explanation I now see that you asked about verbs and cases. The verbs don't change depending on the case. The case is for nouns and pronouns, so the pronouns around the verb may change, but the verb conjugation is not related to cases. The relation is usually the other way around - you figure out the cases the nouns are in by the verbs used. For example "give" would require accusative for "something" and dative for "to someone".
I do not understand your second question about conjugation. Please elaborate on that. What is conjugated further? What do you mean the intention of the sentence?
About pluralisation - there is a lesson on Duolingo that deals quite well with plurals, but I will still tell you what I know.
Same disclaimer as my original post.
I see that your native language is English, so I suppose that you are not used to many of the things Romanian has. I promise you that if you study it long enough you will start to do many of the things by intuition, even when there are no rules.
Let's start with genders. Romanian has three genders - masculine, feminine and neuter. The general rule is that neuter is similar to masculine when dealing with singular nouns and similar to feminine when dealing with plural nouns - so it is like a mix of the other two genders.
Identifying the genders:
If a word ends on "ă" then it is feminine. There are very few exceptions, most notable one being "tată"(father) which is masculine simply because it refers to a male person. So it is safe to assume that if a word ends on "ă", then it is of feminine gender.
If a word ends on a consonant then it is either masculine or neuter gender.
Those two are your general rules and the ones you will use the most. Unfortunately, there are some words for which the gender is not obvious, and those are mostly words ending on "e". There is no solid rule and a great example of that is:
câine - dog - masculine noun
pâine - bread - feminine noun
There are some rules in theory, but they do not cover all words and I haven't found them useful. I would personally say that the feminine words ending on "e" are more than the masculine ones, but you still have to remember it for every word.
A good tip is that if the word ends on "ie" then it probably is feminine:
bucătărie - kitchen (feminine)
femeie - woman (feminine)
cutie - box (feminine)
However, for words such as "castravete"(cucumber) you just have to remember it (cucumber is masculine).
There also aren't any good rules to find out whether a noun is masculine or neuter, so you kind of have to remember that, too.
Let's start with masculine. You simply add a suffix "-i". That's it! Nothing complicated. If the word ends on a vowel then that vowel is replaced by the suffix:
morcov -> morcovi (carrot -> carrots)
câine -> câini (dog -> dogs)
Feminine, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated. Feminine plural gets a suffix that is generally either "-i" or "-e". There are no specific rules about it, so when learning feminine nouns it is good to check the plural. Since feminine nouns end on a vowel, it is replaced by the suffix:
salată -> salate (salad -> salads)
pisică -> pisici (cat -> cats)
There are also rare words that end on "-ea" in singular. Those are feminine and they get the suffix "-ele" (replacing "ea"):
cafea -> cafele (coffee -> coffees)
saltea -> saltele (mattress -> matresses)
It is important to note that if a feminine noun ends on "-e", then you know that the plural has to end on "-i", which can help you in many cases:
bere -> beri (beer -> beers)
pâine -> pâini (bread -> breads)
The feminine words that end on "-ie" are also important to note. When the "ie" is preceded by a consonant, they just follow the normal rule of replacing the "e" with "i" and hence get the ending "-ii". However, if the "ie" is preceded by a vowel, then the plural is formed just by removing the "e":
bucătărie -> bucătării (kitchen -> kitchens)
femeie -> femei (woman -> women)
lămâie -> lămâi (lemon -> lemons)
For neuter nouns the suffix added for pluralisation is either "-e" or "-uri". If the noun already ends on "u", then just "-ri" is added. The suffix "-e" is possible only on nouns that end on a consonant:
desert -> deserturi (dessert -> desserts)
mesaj -> mesaje (message -> messages)
meniu -> meniuri (menu -> menus)
When pluralising a word many changes might occur and not only at the end. This isn't the case only for pluralisation - I have explained some phonetical changes when conjugating, too (II. and IV. in my original post). I will try to mention the ones I can think of here:
I. Since "-i" is a very common suffix for pluralisation, it is important to know how it affects the sounds before it. If we add "-i" to a word ending on "t", it most probably will become "ți", and similarly, if it ends on "s", it will become "și":
castravete -> castraveți (cucumber -> cucumbers)
urs -> urși (bear -> bears)
I believe that if it ends on "st", then it turns into "ști".
II. If a word ends on a vowel followed by "l", then adding an "i" makes the "l" disappear:
cal -> cai (horse -> horses)
copil -> copii (child -> children)
III. If in the second-to-last syllable there is an "e" or an "o", then if the word gets an "ă" at the end, it sometimes changes to "ea" or "oa" respectively. When pluralising you can notice the reverse effect of that:
seară -> seri (evening -> evenings)
dimineață -> dimineți (morning -> mornings)
IV. Finally, there are sometimes just random changes that you can not predict. Those you just have to remember:
carte -> cărți (book -> books)
varză -> verze (cabbage -> cabbages)
Just as everything else, there are always exceptions. Fortunately, the exceptions in plural in Romanian are extremely rare. The most common one is:
ou -> ouă (egg -> eggs)
It is, in fact, the only one I have come across so far.
Feel free to ask any other questions and to elaborate on your other question about conjugations, which I did not understand :)
I was reading a post on Romanian and it stated that the nouns had to be conjugated according to their nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, (one more here) status. Does that also mean that the verbs have to be conjugated according to such. And how does all of that work with the pluralization of the nouns? If we take pâine and make it pluralized pâini does it have to change even further if it is the subject or object of a sentence?
No I am not used to a lot of things in Romanian, namely the gendered nouns. That and the conjugation. I just find it so funny how hard that is for me even though I conjugate English all the time!
Incredible! This is exactly what I'm struggling with right now. I can comprehend Romanian well enough while reading, but I cannot produce the language to save my life.
Any chance you've across a resource that can better one's skill specifically at this level?
Not really. I mostly practiced on Duolingo and chatting with natives + watching/reading things in Romanian. It slowly becomes a habit to conjugate the verbs correctly.
I'd add that some verbs finishing in "ea" can enter in the Category I you mention, as long as the phonem sounds like /ea/, for example, a Crea, a Veghea are all category I, while in category II you can find the "ea" ending verbs but it's pronounced as /a/, for example: A cădea, a vedea.
I'll try to keep this as simple as possible. Unfortunately, the rules for verb conjugation in Romanian are so complicated that there really aren't many tricks or shortcuts, your best shot is constant exercise.
Verbs are conjugated based on what you want to express (a reality, a desire, a possibility etc.), the time (now, in the past, in the future, in the past but after another mentioned event etc.) and the person to whom the verb applies (the speaker, the interlocutor, someone else). You should start focusing on verbs that express a reality, especially one that is happening in the present.
Two of the most common verbs in any language are "to be" and "to have"; because of that they are usually irregular (their conjugation doesn't look like anything else and you just have to learn them as they are).
"a avea" - "to have"
"a fi" - "to be"
Aside from ugly, irregular verbs, the rest should fit nicely into 13 categories. If you know just one verb from one category, you know all of them (ok, this is practically not true because of various exceptions, but it's a start). I gave one example from each category here. You can ignore the rest of that comment and just focus on the examples.
=== PAST ===
For the past you need to know a special form of the verb: the "participle" (sorry for technical terms). Here's two examples:
"a alerga" - "to run"
participle = alergat
eu am alergat - I ran
tu ai alergat - you ran
el/ea a alergat - etc.
noi am alergat
voi ați alergat
ei/ele au alergat
"a râde" - "to laugh"
participle = râs
eu am râs
tu ai râs
el/ea a râs
noi am râs
voi ați râs
ei/ele au râs
You only need to remember the bold forms, which vary from person to person, but are the same for each verb. The verb itself doesn't change, so you just need to find the participle (which is the hard part, because it's not always intuitive).
=== FUTURE ===
Similarly, for the future, you only need the "infinitive", which is how the verb appears in the dictionary.
"a alerga" - "to run"
eu voi alerga - I will run
tu vei alerga - you will run
el/ea va alerga - etc.
noi vom alerga
voi veți alerga
ei/ele vor alerga
"a râde" - "to laugh"
eu voi râde
tu vei râde
el/ea va râde
noi vom râde
voi veți râde
ei/ele vor râde
Again, you only need to memorize that auxiliary verb and that's it.
=== OTHER VERB FORMS ===
I believe focusing on these three situations is more than enough for now. As mentioned in the beginning, there are a bunch of other forms, similar to English ("I had done that", "I had been doing that", "I will have done that", "I would do that", "do that!"), and some of them are pretty friendly in Romanian, they don't imply much variation in form, a lot of them use an extra part and the participle/infinitive of a verb, just like the past and future.
=== EXTRA STUFF ===
You could use this website if you ever need the conjugation of a verb. Just search the verb (it can handle any form of it) and you will find the definition. There's a tab called "conjugări/declinări" in which you will find all conjugations of the verb.
Oh god, what did I get myself into? Alright better start studying these. Thank you very much.
In Romanian you have eight types of conjugation, which you have to learn, otherwise you won't know it. I also had to learn them. I write down them here with an example verb:
to learn=a învăța, I learn=eu învăț, you learn(singular)=tu înveți, he learns=el învață, she learns=ea învață, we learn=noi învățăm, you learn(plural)=voi învățați, they learn=ei(masculine)/ele(feminine) învață;
to work: a lucra, I work=eu lucrez, you work(singular)=tu lucrezi, he works=el lucrează, she works=ea lucrează, we work=noi lucrăm, you work(plural)=voi lucrați, they lucrează=ei(masculine)/ele(feminine) lucrează;
to enter= a intra, I enter=eu intru, you enter(singular)=tu intri, he enters=el intră, she enters=ea intră, we enter=noi intrăm, you enter(plural)=voi intrați, they enter=ei(masculine)/ele(feminine) intră;
to seem= a părea, I seem=eu par you seem(singular)=tu pari, he seems=el pare, she seems=ea pare, we seem=noi părem, you seem(plural)=voi păreți, they seem=ei(masculine)/ele(feminine) par;
to go= a merge, I go=eu merg, you go(singular)=tu mergi, he goes=el merge, she goes=ea merge, we go= noi mergem, you go(plural)=voi mergeți, they go=ei(masculine)/ele(feminine) merg;
to sleep=a dormi, I sleep=eu dorm, you sleep(singular)=tu dormi, he sleeps=el doarme, she sleeps=ea doarme, we sleep=noi dormim, you sleep(plural)=voi dormiți, they sleep=ei(masculine)/ele(feminine) dorm;
to love=a iubi, I love=eu iubesc, you love(singular)=tu iubești, he loves=el iubește, she loves=ea iubește, we love=noi iubim, you love(plural=voi iubiți, they love=ei(masculine)/ele(feminine) iubesc;
to decide=a hotărî, I decide=eu hotărăsc, you decide(singular)=tu hotărăști, he decides=el hotărăște, she decides=ea hotărăște, we decide=noi hotărâm, you decide(plural)=voi hotărâți, they decide=ei(masculine/ele(feminin) hotărăsc.
P.S.:This is in present, indicative mode.
How would i know when to use which? Is it a verb by verb basis or is there some criteria that helps categorize them? Such as the first and second examples. They both end in an a. What makes me change the first one into "invat" and the second into "lucrez"? Sorry I don't know how to add in the special letters.
Thank you so much for your response it looks like it will help so much!
For the type I verbs (the ones that end in -a in the infinitive), you unfortunately just have to learn which ones have the -ez- infix and which ones don't. There's no shortcut that I'm aware of.
I have the same problem, I always fail at the conjugation of verbs in Romanian.
I've tried looking online for rules like in Spanish. Verbs ending in e a or i all change according to who the verb is referring to. To drink is beber, I drink is bebo, you drink is bebe or bebes I think. I just haven't been able to find rules like that for Romanian. Also holy cow! All those languages. I'm barely keeping up with the three I'm learning.
I am a native spanish speaker, i know all the rules of spanish, but Romanian is very different, even when they both are Romance languages.