Catalan Tutorial: Basic Phrases, Vocabulary and Grammar

Written by Jonathan Maynard

Catalan, a Gallo-Romance language spoken with a speaking population of about 11.5 million people, can be heard in Spain (Catalonia, Valencia, the Balearic Islands, La Franja in Aragon, Carche in Murcia), France (Pyrénées-Orientales), and Italy (City of Alghero on Sardinia). Also, Catalan is the official language of the Principality of Andorra. Being at the geographic center of the Romance-speaking western Mediterranean, Catalan acts as a bridge between many of its sister Romance languages by displaying phenomena that occur in French but not Italian, or in Portuguese but not Spanish, etc. (with the exception of Romanian).

As for the tutorials offered here, I will cover the Central Catalan accent in its standard variety, as that is the most often heard abroad since it's spoken in the symbolic capital of the Catalan-speaking world: Barcelona. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of media in Catalan, being based in Barcelona, is thus in the Central accent. You may see in places that "Valencian" is a separate language but it is largely considered by linguists to be a dialect of Catalan, though with somewhat significant differences in pronunciations and aspects of morphology such as verb conjugations. Nonetheless, speakers of various Catalan dialects, like those who speak various dialects of English can still understand each other perfectly.


1. Basic Phrases (Expressions més freqüents)

 

Bon dia! Bona tarda! Bona nit!
Hello! Good morning! Good afternoon / evening! Good night!
Hola! Adéu!/A reveure! Per favor/Sisplau
Hi! Bye!/See you later! Please
(Moltes) gràcies!/Mercès! De res!  No es mereixen!/No hi ha per a tant!
Thank you (so much)! You're welcome! It was nothing, really!/Don't mention it!
Benvingut(m.) Benvinguda(f.) Benvinguts(m.pl.) Benvingudes(f.pl.) Som-hi!/Endavant!  Fins ara!/Fins aviat!
Welcome! C'mon!, Let's go!/ Go on! See you in a minute!/See you soon!
Que vagi bé! Quant (de) temps! Ja ens veurem!
Take care!  Long time, no see! We'll be in touch!
Encantat! Molt de gust! Com estàs? (informal)/Com està (vostè)? (formal) Com va (tot)? Què passa? Què tal?
Nice/pleased to meet you! How are you? How's everything/it going? What's up?
Perdó  Ho sento (molt)/Em sap greu Com et dius? (informal) Com es diu (vostè)? (formal)
Excuse me I'm (very) sorry What's your name?
Em dic ______. (Jo) sóc el/la _______. (Que) parla (formal)/parles (informal) català/anglès?
My name is ______. I'm ________. Do you speak Catalan/English?
Bona/Molta sort! T'estimo  D'on és vostè? (formal)/D'on ets? (informal)
Good luck! I love you Where are you from?
Sóc de ______.  Vinc de ________. (No) ho entenc./ (No) ho comprenc.
I'm from _____. I come from _______. I (don't) understand.

 


2. Pronunciation (La pronúncia)

 

a always a like in "father" and never a like in "apple"
b/v a.) b at beginning of a word or after m or n
b.) p at end of a word or before an s
c.) everywhere else: soft v produced without touching teeth to lower lip (many say this is actually more of a soft b, so it's really up to what the learner hears and can reproduce)
c a.) + e,i = s
b.) k everywhere else
ç s
d a.) voiced th in "that" when between two vowels or between an r and a vowel
b.) t at end of a word
c.) d everywhere else
e a.) sometimes like ay in way, same sound as Spanish e (sometimes accented thus: é )
b.) sometimes like e in "get" (sometimes accented thus: è ), equivalent to French "ai" in "américaine"
c.) neutral vowel that sounds like the first a in "separate" [sep-uh-rayt], essentially same as the e in French "le"; this sound of e occurs whenever it appears in an unstressed syllable
j/ge/gi French j sound, much like s in vision
g a.) g sound in "girl" when not followed by e or i
b.) k at end of a word
gu + i,e = g in "girl"
gua/guë/güi g is essentially silent, thus making the combinations sound like "wa," "way," and "we," respectively
h always silent
i a.) y when at beginning of word or between two vowels
b.) ee in "keep" unless rule from a.) applies or unless i is in a diphthong/triphthong
ll like the "lli" in "million" (corresponds to "lh" in Portuguese and "gl" in Italian), thus an English y sound with the tongue touching the roof of the mouth. however, many speakers today (as is the overwhelming case in Spanish as well) simply make a sound that corresponds to the English y
l·l "ela geminada"; pronounced as a single l
n m when before b/v in a word or phrase (e.g. enviar [em-bee-AH], un vas [oom BAHS] )
ny like ny in "canyon" (corresponds to Spanish ñ, Portuguese nh, or French/Italian gn)
nys same as ny but with the s being pronounced sh
inc/enc when found as last syllable of a word: first one (-inc) corresponds to English -ing but with a very slight or even more pronounced k sound afterwards depending on the speaker or even the specific word (much like how in French the "c" is pronounced in "donc" but not in "blanc"). Same applies for -enc, though instead of corresponding to English -ing, it more corresponds to -ang like in the word "pang"
o a.) sometimes open o like o in "dog" (sometimes accented thus: ò)
b.) sometimes closed o like o in "row" (sometimes accented thus: ó) same sound as Spanish o
c.) oo in "boot" when found in unstressed syllable (e.g. this occurs for every -o ending in the first person  present tense conjugation of regular verbs like "parlo" or "surto")
qu a.) + e,i = k
b.) + a, u, o = kw
+ e, i = kw
r a.) trilled when at beginning of word or when doubled (pretty much like in Spanish)
b.) essentially like d in "dad" when between two vowels
c.) silent at end of word with some exceptions, the most notable being the preposition "per"
NB: silent r at end of infinitive is pronounced when infinitive is followed by a weak pronoun (e.g. dir [dee] but dir-se [DEER-suh]
s a.) z when between two vowels. NB liason occurs generally when a word ending in s is followed by a vowel or mute h (e.g. els agrada [uhl-za-GRAH-thuh] )
 
b.) s everywhere else
t silent after n or l when at the end of a word, but English t everywhere else
u always oo in "boot"
v see rules for Catalan b
x a.) sh in ship when at beginning of word or in combination "-ix"
b.) x in "taxi" when between two vowels
ex + vowel egz just like in French and English
ex + consonant eks also like in French and English
z always z as in "zebra"

It should be assumed that any letter not treated above (but still found in the Catalan alphabet) has essentially the same pronunciation as in English (i.e. m, l, etc.)


Catalan Consonant Combinations, Diphtongs and Triphthongs

tj/tg/dj j in "jump"
tz dz in "adze"
tx/ig ch in "chip"
ou o in "row"
oi oy in "boy"
au ow in "cow"
ei ay in "bay"
ui wee in "week"
ai "eye"
iu "you"
eu no real English equivalent, simply try to pronounce both vowels quickly together
iai "yi" in "yikes!"
uai "why"
iau same as English exclamation of pain "yow!"
ieu no English equivalent: essentially "eu" with a y sound at beginning
ueu no English equivalent: essentially "eu" with a w sound at beginning

NB: in the combinations oix, oig, aig, aix, uix, etc. there is NO acting diphthong. The i present in those combinations is linked to the following x or g and not the preceding vowel (e.g. vaig [bahch] and not [bye-ch], caixa [kah-shuh] and not [keye-shuh] ). Basically "ix" and "ig" are treated as single letters.


Stress

a.) If a word ends in an unstressed vowel, an untressed vowel + s, the combination "-en", or the combination "-in", then the stress of the word is on the penultimate, or second-to-last syllable (e.g. cotxe [COHCH-uh] "car", cotxes [COHCH-uhs] "cars", parlen [PAR-luhn] "they speak", parlin [PAR-leen] "they speak (present subjunctive)")

b.) If a word ends in a consonant other than s (even if that consonant, notably r, is not pronounced) or ends in "-an", "-on", "-un", then the stress of that word is on the final syllable (e.g. estimar [uh-stee-MAH] "to love", perdut [puhr-THUT] "lost", parlaran [par-lah-RAN] "they will speak", Ramon [rrah-MOHN] man's name, algun [al-GOON] "some").

c.) If word has an accent on any vowel, the first two rules are ignored and the stress falls on the syllable containing the accented vowel (e.g. català [kah-tah-LAH] Catalan, telèfon [tuh-LEH-foon].


3. Alphabet (L'alfabet)

A a a J j jota S s essa
B b be alta K k ca T t te
C c ce L l ela U u u
D d de M m ema V v ve baixa
E e e N n ena W w ve doble
F f efa O o o X x ics
G g ge P p pe Y y i grega
H h hac Q q cu Z z zeta
I i i R r erra    

All letters in Catalan are feminine in gender (e.g. la ema).


4. Noun Gender, Articles, and Demonstratives (El gènere dels substantius, els articles i els adjectius demostratius)

As with the other Romance languages, Catalan nouns are marked as either masculine or feminine in gender and take different determiners (articles, demonstratives, etc.) and endings (for themselves and the adjectives that modify them) according to their gender and number, which is either singular or plural. Although a rule of thumb would be that nouns ending in consonants or stressed vowels are masculine and nouns ending in unstressed vowels are feminine, there are numerous exceptions to this rule. Quite simply, it's best to learn each noun as you come across it.


Definite Article (Els articles definits) - The

masculine feminine
el  sing., before consonants      la  sing., before consonants, unstressed i/hi or u/hu
l' sing., before vowel or h + a vowel l' sing., before vowel, h + a/o/e, stressed i/hi or u/hu
els plural les plural


Indefinite Article (Els articles indefinits) - A, an, some

masculine feminine
un singular una singular
uns plural unes plural

Uns and unes generally are used to mean "some" and can be left out in other situations (unlike French, which almost always requires the plural article for indefinite nouns).

There is no elision of the article (i.e. when it's spelled l' instead of la or el) before words that would sound the same (e.g. la normalitat and la anormalitat, NOT l'anormalitat).

Also, no elision occurs before the names of letters (e.g. la efa "the F"), before an i or a u that's acting as a consonant (e.g. el iaio "the grandpa", la UEFA "the UEFA"), or before certain words that don't take elision out of tradition (e.g. la una "one o'clock", la host "the host (of troops)")

NB the diphthongs "ai" and "au" occur between the feminine article and a non-elided noun beginning with an unstressed i or u (e.g. la imatge [leye-MAHJ-uh] "the image", la universitat [low-nee-ber-si-TAHT] (with the "ow" pronounced as the "ou" in "ouch!") "the university")


Demonstratives (Els adjectius i pronoms demostratius)

masculine feminine
this aquest* aquesta
these aquests** aquestes
that aquell aquella
those aquells aquelles


Neutral Pronouns (Els pronoms demostratius neutres)

this/that això
that allò

*The s in aquest is only pronounced when the word is followed by a noun beginning with a vowel or an h (e.g. aquest home [ah-kehs-tohm-uh] ), otherwise it's silent (e.g. aquest noi [ah-keht noy] ).

**Similarly, the first s in aquests is never pronounced. (e.g. aquests tipus [ah-kehts tee-poos] )


To form demonstrative pronouns in Catalan simply use the adjective form without any succeeding noun.
For example, I n the sentence: M'agrada molt aquesta camisa, però prefeixo aquella (I like this shirt a lot, but I prefer that one over there) aquesta is acting as a demonstrative adjective, whereas aquella is a demonstrative pronoun.

In everyday usage, aquell and its various forms really only designate things at a signifcant distance from the speaker, so much so that "that (insert noun) over there" is a better translation. This corresponds to the Spanish este-ese-aquel with aquest playing the role of both "este" and "ese" and aquell being more closely associate with "aquel."

However, in cases where clarification is needed, then aquell (as noted in the above chart) can simply translate to "that" in English (e.g. Vull aquell, no aquest" I want that one, not this one.")

The Neutral Demonstative Pronouns are used to refer to anything from an entire sentence (e.g. Facebook és gratuït. M'agrada això. "Facebook is free. I like that.") to an abstract genderless object (Què és això? "What is this/that?"). Això is much more preferred in everyday usage to allò and can thus function as either "this" or "that." However, allò is still possible and sometimes preferrable in certain cases.


5. Subject Pronouns (Els pronoms personals forts)

jo I nosaltres we
       
tu you (informal singular) vosaltres you (informal plural)
       
ell he ells they (masculine or feminine + masculine plural)
ella she elles they (feminine plural)
vostè you (formal singular) vostès you (formal plural)

Much like in Spanish or Portuguese, the subject pronouns in Catalan are rarely used except for adding emphasis. Also of note is the fact that ell, ella, and vostè all take the same verb forms and the same rule applies to their plural forms (ells, elles, vostès).

There exists a subject pronoun "hom" which translates to "one", "people", "you" (in a general sense) that is used for such things as passive constructions. It's equivalent to the pronoun "on" in French, minus the usage (that French has) of being an informal way of saying "we." However, "hom" is largely literary in usage and, as such, other ways of expressing passive or general statements are preferred in everyday spoken Catalan.


6. To Be & To Have (Ser/Ésser, Estar & Tenir)

 

ser / ésser - to be
present
past
future
sóc I am vaig ser I was seré I will be
ets you are vas ser you were seràs you will be
és he/she/it is / you are va ser he/she/it was / you were serà he/she/it / you will be
som we are vam ser we were serem we will be
sou you are vau ser you were sereu you will be
són they / you are van ser they / you were seran they / you will be
 
estar - to be
present
past
future
estic I am vaig estar I was estaré I will be
estàs you are vas estar you were estaràs you will be
està he/she/it is / you are va estar he/she/it was / you were estarà he/she/it / you will be
estem we are vam estar we were estarem we will be
esteu you are vau estar you were estareu you will be
estan they / you are van estar they / you were estaran they / you will be
 
tenir - to have
present
past
future
tinc I have vaig tenir I had tindré I will have
tens you have vas tenir you had tindràs you will have
he/she/it has / you have va tenir he/she/it / you had tindrà he/she/it / you will have
tenim we have vam tenir we had tindrem we will have
teniu you have vau tenir you had tindreu you will have
tenen they / you have van tenir they / you had tindran they / you will have

Ser is much more common than ésser (which is archaic in many senses) but it's beneficial to be familiar with both forms. Also of note is that ésser is the noun form of ser (e.g. un ésser humà "a human being")

Ser and estar differentiate pretty much along the same lines as do their Spanish counterparts. However, one key area in which they differ is location. Whilst Spanish uses estar for location, Catalan uses ser. However, below is a more thorough outline of their uses.


Ser

Identify person/object Aquest edifici és la meva residència. This building is my residence/dorm.
Permanent qualities Casa seva és molt gran. His home is very large.
Nationality/occupation Són metges. They're doctors.
Telling time Són dos quarts de dues. It's 1:30.
Express ownership La samarreta és del Xavi The T-shirt is Xavi's.
Impersonal expressions És possible que vingui a la festa. It's possible that (s)he'll come to the party.
Passive voice Els comprovants van ser firmats. The receipts were signed.
Location Els Pirineus són entre França i Catalunya. The Pyrenees are between France and Catalonia.


Estar

State of being Estic molt bé, gràcies! i tu? I'm doing very well, thanks! How about you?
Temporary condition La porta està tancada. The door is closed/locked.
Progressive tenses Estem buscant feina. We're looking for work/jobs.


Common expressions with Tenir

tenir fred to be cold tenir present algú/alguna cosa to keep something/somebody in mind
tenir calor to be hot/warm tenir por (de) to be afraid (of)
tenir gana to be hungry tenir ganes de + inf. to feel like verb-ing/to be excited to do something
tenir set to be thirsty tenir ______ anys to be ______ years old
tenir èxit to be successful tenir sort to be lucky
tenir son to be sleepy tenir gelosia (de) to be jealous (of)
tenir lloc to take place/to happen no tenir-les totes amb to not to be too sure about

 


7. Question Words (Paraules interrogatives)

 

what què whose de qui
why per què which quin / quina / quins / quines
where on how com
when quan how many quants / quantes
who qui how much quant / quanta

 


8. 'Que' for absolute questions ('Que' per a preguntes absolutes)

One of the many uses of "que" in Catalan is a marker of an absolute question. Occurring at the beginning of a question, this "que" is the sign of an absolute (e.g. a "yes/no") question. However, it's completely optional so one will not always hear it in a yes/no question.

This should not be confused with the question word "què" which is never optional in the sentences it occurs in and in fact has the pronunciation [keh], whereas "que" is either pronounced [kuh] or is elided with a followed word beginning with vowel or h + a vowel (e.g. que has après [kahz-ahs-prehs] "that you have learned" though it's pronounced as "qu'has après," such elision forms with "que" are never written, unlike in French where this written form would be grammatically correct).

(Que) vols menjar? Do you want to eat?

versus

Què vols menjar? What do you want to eat?

 


9. Cardinal and Ordinal Numbers (Els nombres cardinals i ordinals)

0 zero
1 u, un, una
2 dos, dues
3 tres
4 quatre
5 cinc
6 sis
7 set
8 vuit
9 nou
10 deu
11 onze
12 dotze
13 tretze
14 catorze
15 quinze
16 setze
17 disset
18 divuit
19 dinou
20 vint
21 vint-i-u
22 vint-i-dos
30 trenta
31 trenta-u
40 quaranta
50 cinquanta
60 seixanta
70 setanta
80 vuitanta
90 noranta
100 cent
200 dos-cents
1.000 mil
2.000 dos mil, dues mil

"U" is only used for 1 when it stands by itself (telling time, giving a phone number, counting out loud, etc.); otherwise use "un" for masculine nouns and "una" for feminine ones. Similarly, "dos" is used to go with masculine nouns and "dues" for feminine ones. When writing numbers out in words, Catalan observes the D-U-C (Desena-Unitat-Centena) rule which states that hyphens (except in the case of the 20s, e.g. 23 vint-i-tres) only occur between "D" (e.g. 10, 20, 30, etc.) and "U" (1,2,3, etc.) and/or "U" and "C" (100). To put this in perspective, here are several examples: mil nou-cents noranta-dos 1992 (nou is a "U" and cents is a "C", so nou-cents; noranta is a "D" and dos is a "U" so noranta-dos), dos-cents vuitanta-set 287, dos-cents seixanta mil cinc-cents 260.500, and tres-cents vint-i-set 327.

Just as in French, large Catalan numbers use . for every three digits, which is the opposite in English (e.g. "two thousand" English: 2,000 BUT Catalan: 2.000). The same is true of percents and decimals: where English uses . , Catalan uses , . Thus, "two point five percent" would be 2.5% in English, but 2,5% in Catalan.

  masculine singular masculine plural feminine singular feminine plural
1st primer (1r) primers (1rs) primera (1a) primeres (1es)
2nd segon (2n) segons (2ns) segona (2a) segones (2es)
3rd tercer (3r) tercers (3rs) tercera (3a) terceres (3es)
4th quart (4t) quarts (4ts) quarta (4a) quartes (4es)
5th cinquè (5è) cinquens (5ns) cinquena (5a) cinquenes (5es)
6th sisè (6è) sisens (6ns) sisena (6a) sisenes (6es)
7th setè (7è) setens (7ns) setena (7a) setenes (7es)
8th vuitè (8è) vuitens (8ns) vuitena (8a) vuitenes (8es)
9th novè (9è) novens (9ns) novena (9a) novenes (9es)
10th desè (10è) desens (10ns) desena (10a) desenes (10es)
11th onzè (11è) onzens (11ns) onzena (11a) onzenes (11es)
20th vintè (20è) vintens (20ns) vintena (20a) vintenes (20es)
21st vint-i-unè (21è) vint-i-unens (21ns) vint-i-unena (21a) vint-i-unenes (21es)
30th trentè (30è) trentens (30ns) trentena (30a) trentenes (30es)
100th centè (100è) centens (100ns) centena (100a) centenes (100es)
1000th milè (1000è) milens (1000ns) milena (1000a) milenes (1000es)

 


10. Days of the week (Els dies de la setmana)

Monday dilluns weekend el cap de setmana
Tuesday dimarts today avui
Wednesday dimecres tonight aquesta nit
Thursday dijous yesterday ahir
Friday divendres day before yesterday abans-d'ahir
Saturday dissabte last night anit / ahir a la nit
Sunday diumenge tomorrow demà
day el dia day after tomorrow passat demà
weekday el dia laborable / el dia de cada dia nowadays en els nostres dies
week la setmana in those days en aquells temps

The "t" in setmana is never pronounced.

As with most other languages (and countries), the days of the week are not capitalized and the week begins with Monday, unlike Sunday as is the case in the United States.

Normally, the days of the week are used without any modifiers to indicate a one time occurrence (e.g. Ja et veuré (el) divendres. "I shall see you (on) Friday."). However, the definite article is required when the day is modified by an adjective (e.g. El passat dissabte hi va haver un robatori. "Last Saturday, there was a burglary.").

When expressing something that happens regularly on a particular day, the plural article is required before the day of the week (e.g. Els diumenges anem a la platja. "On Sundays, we go to the beach.") NB as "dimumenge" and "dissabte" are the only two days of the week in Catalan that don't end in "s," they are consequently also the only two that add "s" when used for habitual actions (e.g. dissabte --> els dissabtes, but dimarts --> els dimarts).


11. Months of the year (Els mesos de l'any)

January gener October octubre
February febrer November novembre
March març December desembre
April abril month el mes
May maig year l'any
June juny decade la dècada
July juliol century el segle
August agost millennium el mil·lenni
September setembre the date la data

Centuries are generally written with Roman numerals (e.g. el segle XX "The 20th/Twentieth Century"). As with days of the week, months are never capitalized when written and are always masculine. For writing the date:

a.) el + day + de + month + de + year (e.g. el vint-i-cinc de desembre de vuit-cents OR el 25 de desembre de 800 = "December 25, 800")

b.) the "day" in a date is always a cardinal number, except for the first day which optionally uses the ordinal "primer" (e.g. el primer de gener de dos mil OR l'u de gener de dos mil "January 1, 2000"). Also, contrary to the norm used in the United States, Catalan dates (when written with numbers only) are recorded Day/Month/Year and not Month/Day/Year, as is the American style.


12. Seasons (Les estacions)

spring la primavera in spring a la primavera
summer l'estiu (m) in summer a l'estiu
autumn la tardor in autumn a la tardor
winter l'hivern (m) in winter a l'hivern

 


13. Directions (Les direccions)

to the right a la dreta
on the right-hand side a mà dreta
to the left a l'esquerra
on the left-hand side a mà esquerra
straight ahead tot recte


north el nord northeast el nord-est
south el sud northwest el nord-oest
east l'est southeast el sud-est
west l'oest southwest el sud-oest

 

northern del nord, septentrional
southern del sud, meridional
eastern de l'est, oriental
western de l'oest, occidental

 

NB "de l'oest" is generally only used for directions, whereas "occidental" is more for talking about items related to the "West" or Western civilization.


14. Colors & shapes (Els colors i les formes geomètriques)

red vermell / vermella circle el cercle
pink rosa square el quadrat
orange taronja rectangle el rectangle
yellow groc / groga triangle el triangle
green verd / verda oval l'oval (m.)
blue blau / blava cube el cub
purple morat / morada sphere l'esfera (f.)
violet violeta cylinder el cilindre
brown marró cone el con
black negre / negra octagon l'octàgon (m.)
gray gris / grisa box la caixa
white blanc / blanca pyramid la piràmide
golden daurat / daurada diamond el rombe
silver platejat / platejada dark clar / clara
platinum platí light fosc / fosca

NB some colors such as "marró" do not agree with the nouns they modify, this is due to the fact that they are really nouns themselves merely acting as adjectives. (la rosa = "rose", la taronja = "orange (piece of fruit)", platí = "platinum (the chemical element)")


15. Time (L'hora)

The traditional Catalan method of telling time is the quarter system. More specifically, it's based on how many quarters (i.e. 15 minute intervals) of the mentioned hour have passed (e.g. 'Són tres quarts de quatre de la tarda' would translate to 3:45PM and NOT 4:45PM because it's as if 4 o'clock is some glass and "3/4 of it" are full). In the phrase 'quart i mig,' generally this "half of 15 minutes" turns out to be 7 or 8 minutes. Thus, 'Són dos quarts i mig de tres de la matinada' would be either 3:37AM or 3:38AM. However, to be more precise (and less complex), time in Catalan can also be rendered as simply: 'Són les deu vint-i-cinc' (10:25) or by the equation: són/és + the hour + "i" + number of minutes + "minuts" (e.g. Són les onze i quaranta minuts (11:40)).

The above mentioned and some other ways are illustrated below.

Quina hora és? What time is it?
És la una de la nit. It's 1:00 AM.
Són les dues del vespre It's 2:00 PM.
Són tres quarts de quatre del vespre. It's 3:45 PM.
És un quart i mig d'una del migdia. It's 12:23 PM.
Són dos quarts i cinc de set del vespre. It's 6:35 PM.
Falten deu minuts per les set del matí / Són les set menys deu del matí. It's 10 to 7 AM.
Passen quatre minuts de la una del migdia. It's 4 past 1 PM.
de la matinada in the early morning / AM
del matí in the morning / AM
del migdia around noon / AM or PM
de la tarda in the early afternoon / PM
del vespre in the evening / PM
de la nit at night / PM
en punt exactly / sharp
Són les cinc en punt. It's 5 o'clock exactly.

Expressions like "de la matinada, del matí, etc." are generally only used with the traditional Catalan system of telling time (i.e. the quarter system). When telling time using the international system (i.e. the 24 clock), no such expressions are necessary (e.g. Són les divuit i set minuts "18:07," or "6:07PM" using the 12 hour clock).

The expression "quina hora és?" is always pronounced [keen-aw-rrays] with the "a" in "quina" and the "a" in "hora" becoming effectively silent and "o" in "hora" being pronounced as an open "o" (e.g. like the "o" in "dog").


16. Weather (El Temps)

Quin temps fa? What's the weather like?
el pronònostic del temps / la méteo the weather forecast
Fa bo. It's nice / beautiful out.
Fa bon temps. The weather's nice outside.
Fa fred. It's cold / chilly.
Fa calor. It's hot.
Fa vent. It's windy.
Fa sol. It's sunny.
Hi ha boira. It's foggy.
Hi ha núvols. / Està ennuvolat. It's cloudy / overcast.
Hi ha humitat. It's humid.
Està xafogós. It's muggy.
Plou (cada dia). It rains (every day).
Està plovent. It's raining.
Neva (a l'hivern). It snows (in the winter).
Està nevant. It's snowing.
Està calamarsejant. It's hailing.
el ruixat rainshower
el tempesta storm
la inundació flood

 


17. The Personal Article (L'article personal)

When a person's first name is mentioned in any context other than addressing him or her in the second-person, the personal article, which agrees based on gender, is used before his or her name.

masculine feminine
el / l' or en / n' la / l' or na / n'

El Ramon, En Xavi, N'Ignasi, L'Oriol, La Isabel, L'Anna, Na Meritxell, N'Assumpció

La Mireia i jo estem anant a la platja. Mireia and I are going to the beach.

L'Andreu va comprar unes flors per a la seva dona. Andreu bought some flowers for his wife.

However, the personal article is not used:

a.) with the verb "dir-se" (e.g. És la Magdalena BUT Es diu Magdalena)

b.) with full or last names in a formal context (Josep Pla va néixer el 20 d'abril de 1893)

The personal article is still permissible with full or last names in more informal contexts (e.g. Diuen que el Josep Pla tenia amics franquistes). In these (and all contexts involving the personal article, really), the article functions as a sign of familiarity towards the person to whom it refers.

In contemporary Catalan (at least in the varieties spoken in Catalonia), " el/l' and la/l' " are preferred by speakers over " en/n' and na/n' ", which are used more in literature and other dialects, notably in the Balearic dialect. Also, notice that the rules for elision with the definite article are the same with the personal article (e.g. La Isabel and NOT L'Isabel).


18. Family members and domestic animals (Els membres de la família i animals domèstics)

family la família cousin (m) el cosí
parents els pares cousin (f) la cosina
husband el marit, l'espòs, l'home cousins els cosins
wife la muller, l'esposa, la dona relatives els parents, els familiars
father / dad el pare/el papà stepfather el padrastre
mother / mom la mare/la mamà stepmother la madrastra
son el fill stepbrother el germanastre
daughter la filla stepsister la germanastra
children els nens stepson el fillastre
only child (m) el fill únic stepdaughter la fillastra
only child (f) la filla única godfather el padrí
boy el noi godmother la padrina
girl la noia baby el bebè
brother el germà teenager l'adolescent (m.,f.), el/la jove
sister la germana man l'home
brothers & sisters els germans woman la dona
half-brother el germanastre adult l'adult (m.), l'adulta (f.)
half-sister la germanastra twins (m) els bessons
father-in-law el sogre twins (f) les bessones
mother-in-law la sogra widower el vidu
brother-in-law el cunyat widow la vídua
sister-in-law la cunyada fiancé (m) el promès, el xicot
son-in-law el gendre fiancée (f) la promesa, la xicota
daughter-in-law la nora, la jove dog el gos, la gossa
kid (m) / little boy la criatura, el noiet, el nen cat el gat, la gata
kid (f) / little girl la criatura, la noieta, la nena bird l'ocell (m.)
grandfather / grandpa l'avi (m.), iaio fish el peix
great-grandfather el besavi horse el cavall
grandmother / grandma l'àvia (f.), iaia goat la cabra
great-grandmother la besàvia pig el porc
grandparents els avis cow la vaca
grandson el nét bull el toro
granddaughter la néta rabbit el conill
grandchildren els néts turtle la tortuga
uncle l'oncle (m.) mouse el ratolí
aunt la tia frog la granota
aunts & uncles els tiets lizard la sargantana
nephew el nebot guinea pig el conillet d'índies
niece la neboda rat la rata
nieces & nephews els nebots ferret el furó, la fura
girlfriend la xicota, la parella snake la serp
boyfriend el xicot, la parella chicken, hen la gallina


"La dona" is by far the most preferred term for "wife" in everyday spoken Catalan. "Marit" and "home" are equally heard on a daily basis but "home" is more colloquial. Similarly, "jove" is much more preferred when referring to teenagers or young adults.


19. To know people and things (Conèixer i Saber)

conèixer - to know people, places, works of art, etc. saber - to know facts / how to do things
conec
coneixes saps
coneix sap
coneixem sabem
coneixeu sabeu
coneixen saben

 


20. Possessive Adjectives and Pronouns (Els pronoms i adjectius possessius)

masculine

feminine

  singular plural singular plural
my el meu els meus la meva les meves
your el teu els teus la teva les teves
his/her/its/your el seu els seus la seva les seves
our el nostre els nostres la nostra les nostres
your el vostre els vostres la vostra les vostres
their/your el seu els seus la seva les seves

 

Just as in Italian, the possessive adjective in Catalan is "composed," meaning it is always preceded by a definite article of the same number and gender. Possessive forms similar to those in French: "mon, ton, son, etc." used to exist in Catalan but are now considered archaic and only found in fixed expressions, usually related to relatives (e.g. mon avi, ta mare, though even in these cases, the more normal "el meu avi" and "la teva mare" are certainly permissable and even more common depending on the dialect.)

Similarly, the possessive adjective "llur(s) (their)" is archaic and thus should only be learned if one is reading old Catalan texts.

To form possessive pronouns ("mine, yours, his, etc.") simply use the composed possessive adjective without a noun following it (e.g. Quin cotxe agafem, el meu o el teu? "Which car do we take, mine or yours?"). Sometimes, the possessive pronoun alone has its own implications (e.g. els nostres "our relatives")

The possessive adjective can, on occasion, follow the noun, especially in certain fixed expressions (most notably "casa meva/teva/seva/etc." = my/your/his/her/etc. home). In these cases the definite article is omitted (e.g. amic meu, "friend of mine/my friend")

 


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