Old Occitan > Syntax, Part Two


The nominative case is used as the subject, and the predicate of verbs like eser to be, to remain and the like. It is usually the case of address (the vocative), but the oblique sometimes takes that role.

The oblique is used for the direct object of transitive verbs, after prepositions (com like may also take the nominative).

With nouns referring to particular individuals (and Dèus, God) the oblique may act like a possessive: per amor Deu by the love of God. When people in general are referred to, or are plural, a construction with de of is preferred: reis dels Engles king of the English.

In the same way, the oblique of particular individuals and God may act as an indirect object, Dieu lau praise (to) God.

The oblique may express adverbs for a point time (la nuoit at night), duration (un gran briu for a great while) or distance.

The third person pronouns have distinct forms for direct and indirect objects, as well as forms which follow prepositions.


Adjectives agree with their nouns in number, case and gender, cortes hom fo "he was a courtly man;" e fetz bons sirventes e bonas cansos and he made good satires and good songs (BdT 315, ll.3-4).

Adjectives may stand alone as nouns, sabra lo ver he will know the truth.

Adjectives may come before or after then nouns they modify.

Verb Tense

The present tense indicates action in the present, either ongoing or as an instant, conosc que vers es I know that it is the truth. It is also used for making generalizations. Present forms are sometimes used in past narrative, either as a stylistic remedy to avoid constant repetition of the same verb, or for vividness.

The future tense refers to the future, dirai vos I'll tell you. Like English, the Old Occitan future can be used for commands, tu m'iras al mati you will go for me in the morning.

The preterit is the main tense of past narrative, and indicates simple past, cavaliers fon vostre paire your father was a knight. The imperfect indicates habitual or ongoing action in the past, li dizia he was saying to her. When these two are used together, the imperfect provides background, the preterit forground information.

The present perfect indicates a past action continuing into the present, ai perdut mon gaug I have lost my joy. However this force of the perfect is often weak, and there may be little obvious difference between the preterit and the present perfect.

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