Archive for March, 2010

¿Estas conmigo, amigos y amigas?

March 27, 2010

Somebody asked me today about some words they heard in a Spanish song.


Waterfall – by Jim Warren – my fav work by my fav artist – it has nothing to do with today’s blog post, but it’s very nice, don’t you agree?

Ok, back to those three Spanish words.  It looks like conmigo (with me), contigo (with you), and consigo (with her/him/it) are …

… very commonly-used …

… irregular structures, exceptions, special cases …

… of Spanish prepositions, pronouns, and prepositional pronouns.

the “con-” and the “-go” are redundant.

“con mi go” is “with me with”.

You ask, since when does “-go” mean “with” in Spanish?  Not any more. “-go” is an archaic obsolete Spanish prepositional suffix that meant “with.”

Hm..  But the “-go” came after, not before, the “me.”  Maybe I should say it’s a post-positional suffix, a post-position vs. a pre-position.  Ever notice that what we in English pronounce as “PREP-osition” is really re-pronouncing, “PRE-position” ? : )  The preposition pre-positions our thought.  The preposition, “above,” pre-positions our thinking to expect something, well, positioned, well, above whatever noun object follows.  “above the chair.”  Some languages use post-position words or suffixes that come after the noun.  “chair above.”

While we’re playing with offbeat items, there’s another interesting thing that shows up in languages sometimes.  I know you’ve heard of a “prefix,” a word part that attaches to the front of a word, before the word.  Like adding “un-” and “re-” to “prepared” and “play” to make “unprepared” and “replay.”  I know you’ve heard of a “suffix,” a word part that’s attached to the end of a word, after the word.  Like adding “ing” or “ed” to “sing” or “toast” to make “singing” or “toasted.”  But have you ever seen an “infix”?  A word part that is added into the middle of a word?  There’s an Arabic verb form, Form VIII or one of those, that “infixes” a “t” sound between the first two root consonants.  See?  We learn something new every day.

More little stuff.  Why do we call “the” and “a” … “articles”?  I never thought about it until I thought it was strange that, in some languages, little words and word parts were called, “particles.”  It occurred to me that it was no more strange to call something a “particle” than an “article.”  Both are ways of saying a “thing,” with the idea of a “small thing.”  Article.  Particle.  Thingamajig.  Whoever was inventing the terms of English grammar wanted to have a name for the “a” and “an” and “the” and said, “ok, i’m not going to call them ‘specks’ or ‘bits’ or ‘pieces’ or ‘crumbs’, so I’ll just call them, ‘articles.’ ”  Right.  Absolutely essential information to have handy at all times!  : )

This page …

… says, correctly, that English has subject and object pronouns, and that  English uses the same object pronouns for direct objects and objects of prepositions

It also says spanish uses three separate sets of pronouns for subjects, objects, and objects of prepositions.

None of these standard (regular, as in regularity, as in conforming to the basic rule and not being an exception to the rule) prepositional pronouns are conmigo, contigo, and consigo.  There’s mi and ti and si (have to check this), but no -migo, -tigo, or -sigo.  -migo, -tigo, and -sigo are used only with con (with).  That’s triple redundancy, with con (with) … triple what where? … nevermind … : )


A few google hits and the wikipedia article below say this irregular usage comes from the influence of Latin on Spanish and that Latin has a suffix that means “with.”

This wikipedia excerpt on spanish pronouns explains why it happened:

Con, derives from the Latin CVM (“with”), is an idiosyncratic preposition that combines with the personal pronouns ti, and  as the forms: conmigo (“with me”), contigo (“with you”), and consigo (“with her-, himself”). Linguistically, the denotation of the -go suffix originally was inherent to con, that is — in Latin, CVM was often placed after its pronoun, thus the MECVM, TECVM, SECVM, et cetera, usages. This popular Latin usage gave Spanish the migotigo, and sigo … forms, their usages now lost; like-wise the denotations of the -go and -co suffixes, in the event, speakers redundantly prefixed con- to these words, hence this Spanish prepositional usage.

  • Ven conmigo y con él ahora = “Come with me and him now.”
  • Iré a la fiesta con vosotras = “I will go to the party with you.”
  • Es raro llevar un billete de 200€ consigo = “It is unusual to carry a €200 note on oneself