The Catalan pronouns el, els/-los, la/les, hi/ho and en.
Catalan has some pronouns used to substitute nouns in the sentence. There are personal pronouns and pronouns for objects, which we’ll see in this post. This was a request, so I hope that the anon who asked for it finds it useful!
EL, LA, ELS, LES, HO, EN
These are the English “it” (I’ve bought it).
In Catalan, though, we will use each depending on the gender and whether the object is singular or plural.
- EL: masculine singular
- LA: feminine singular
- ELS: masculine plural
- LES: feminine singular
- HO: used for neutral words, with the verbs ser/estar (to be), parèixer and semblar (to seem, to look like) and with subordinate clauses
- EN: quantity
The article will go before the verb in most cases.
Jo compro el llibre ( I buy a book: masculine, singular)
Jo el compro
Has vist la nova pel·lícula de Meryl Streep? (Have you seen Meryl Streep’s new movie?: feminine, singular)
Portaràs la bicicleta? (Will you bring the bicycle?)
As you can see, in the first example “la” becomes l’ because the next word begins with h+vowel. And the participle (vist, from veure) ends with an -a because the object is feminine. Same happens with els and les (vists, vistes). More examples below.
Necessito els teus ordinadors (I need your computers: masculine, plural)
You can also find LOS after the verb if it is in the INFINITIVE FORM.
He decidit comprar els llibres (I’ve decided to buy the books)
He decidit comprar-los (I’ve decided to buy them)
However, you can use els if you place it before the verb (Els he decidit comprar).
Compraré les llibretes que necessites (I will buy the notebooks you need, feminine, plural)
“Ho” is quite unique and it has many uses.
- NEUTRAL WORDS (açò, això, allò - this, that, that)
This pronoun substitutes “this” and “that”.
Heu comprat això? (Have you bought that?: you is in plural)
Ho heu comprat?
Has vist açò? (Have you seen this?)
Ho has vist?
- SER/ESTAR, PARÈIXER/SEMBLAR
These verbs are used to talk about how people/things/events look/are (estar as a verb that talks about a trait, not a location). With “ho” we substitute the trait of the person/object/event
SER/ESTAR (to be)
La teva amiga és molt alta (Your friend is very tall)
La teva amiga ho és
Ara mateix estic content (I’m very happy right now)
Ara mateix ho estic
PARÈIXER/SEMBLAR (to look like, to seem)
Aquell noi pareix/sembla intel·ligent (That guys seems clever)
Aquell noi ho pareix/sembla
- SUBORDINATE CLAUSES
Subordinate clauses are introduced with “that” or “que” in Catalan.
Example: Penso que no deuries anar a la festa (I think that you shouldn’t go to the party)
In Catalan, you can substitute the whole clause with “ho”.
Els polítics diuen que solventaran la situació (Politicians say that they will solve the situation)
“que solventaran la situació” is the subordinate clause, and we can substitute it with ‘ho’.
Els polítics ho diuen.
En is used for quantity (this exists in Italian as well, so if you speak it it’ll be easier).
Compro un llibre (I’ve bought a book)
En compro un. As you can see, you say “un” at the end.
El client compra tres peres (El client compra tres peres)
El client en compra tres.
If the verbal tense includes a participle, this one has to match with the article we’re using to substitute the noun. This DOES NOT apply to EN or HO, only to EL, LA, ELS, LES.
Has vist el llibre? (Have you seen the book?)
L’has vist? (No changes here)
Havien comprat una casa, però ara no poden pagar-la (They had bought a house, but now they can’t pay it)
L’havien comprada, però ara no poden comprar-la (They had bought it, but now they can’t pay it). As you can see, before the a the t changes to d.
Han arreplegat els llapis (They’ve picked up the pencils)
Els han arreplegats (They have picked them up)
Hauran comprat les entrades quan arribem (They will have bought the tickets when we arrive)
Les hauran comprades quan arribem (They will have bought them when we arrive)
As you can see, before e the t changes to d.
Catalan has a really interesting system to substitute other complements (time, place, direction, relative clauses, “complements of regime”, predicative complements, etc.). If anyone is interested, let me know and I’ll write a post.
Feel free to add more information if you want to!