Romanian grammar

Romanian (technically called "Daco-Romanian") shares practically the same grammar and most of the vocabulary and phonological processes with the other three surviving Eastern Romance languages: Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian, and Istro-Romanian.

As a Romance language, Romanian shares many characteristics with its more distant relatives: Italian, French, Spanish, etc. However, many linguists seem to agree that Romanian has preserved many features of Latin grammar, which could be explained by a host of arguments such as: relative isolation in the Balkans, possible pre-existence of identical grammatical structures in the Dacian or other substratum (as opposed to the Germanic and Celtic substrata that the other Romance languages developed in contact with), and existence of similar elements in the neighboring languages. Examples of Latin grammar elements that survived in Romanian while having disappeared from other Romance languages include: the retention of the neutral gender in nouns (albeit Romanian neuter is a mere combination of masculine and feminine) and the morphological case differentiation in nouns, reduced however to only three forms (nominative/accusative, genitive/dative, and vocative).

Many writings on Romanian grammar, in particular most of those published by the Romanian Academy ("Academia Română"), are prescriptive; the rules regarding plural formation, verb conjugation, word spelling and meanings, etc. are revised periodically to include new tendencies in the language. [James E. Augerot, "Romanian / Limba română: A Course in Modern Romanian," Center for Romanian Studies (2000)] [Laura Daniliuc and Radu Daniliuc, "Descriptive Romanian Grammar: An Outline," Lincom Europa, München, Germany (2000)] [Gheorghe Doca, "Romanian language. Vol. I: Essential Structures," Ars Docendi, Bucharest, Romania (1999)] [Gheorghe Doca, "Romanian language. Vol. II: Morpho-Syntactic and Lexical Structures," Ars Docendi, Bucharest, Romania (2000)] [ro icon Liana Pop, Victoria Moldovan (eds), "Gramatica limbii române / Grammaire du roumain / Romanian Grammar," Echinox, Cluj-Napoca, Romania (1997)] [ro icon Maria Aldea, "Valori referenţiale generate de articolul definit şi de cel indefinit românesc în determinarea substantivului. Studiu de caz: "Scrisoarea lui Neacşu" (1521)" [ (available online)] ]



Romanian nouns are categorized into three genders, masculine, feminine, and neuter, a feature preserved from Latin. Nouns which in their dictionary form (singular, nominative, with no article) end in a consonant or in vowel/semivowel u are mostly masculine or neuter; if they end in ă or a they are usually feminine. In the plural, ending i corresponds generally to masculine nouns, whereas feminine and neuter nouns often end in e. As there are many exceptions to these rules, each noun has to be learned together with its gender.

* Masculine: "om" (man, human being), "bou" (ox), "copac" (tree);
* Neuter: "drum" (road), "cadou" (present, gift), "exemplu" (example);
* Feminine: "bunică" (grandmother), "carte" (book), "cafea" (coffee).

For nouns designating people and animals the grammatical gender can only be masculine or feminine, and is strictly determined by the biological sex, no matter the phonetics of the noun. For example nouns like "tată" (father) and "popă" (priest) are masculine as they refer to male people, although phonetically they are similar to a large category of feminine nouns. Compare for example the German nouns "Kind" (child) and "Mädchen" (girl) which are neuter.

For native speakers the general rule for determining a noun's gender relies on the "one-two" test, which consists in inflecting the noun to both the singular and the plural, together with the numbers "one" and "two". Depending on the gender, the numbers will have different forms for each of the three genders, as illustrated below.

* Masculine: "un om, doi oameni" (one human being, two human beings), "un iepure, doi iepuri" (one rabbit, two rabbits). In this case both "un" and "doi" are in their masculine forms.
* Feminine: "o fată, două fete" (one girl, two girls), "o pasăre, două păsări" (one bird, two birds). In this case both "o" and "două" are in their feminine forms.
* Neuter: "un corp, două corpuri" (one body, two bodies), "un sertar, două sertare" (one drawer, two drawers). In this case "un" is in its masculine form while "două" is in its feminine form. This is the only case in which the two numbers have different genders.

Note: Romanian numbers generally have a single form regardless of the gender of the determined noun. Exceptions are the numbers "un/o" (one) "doi/două" (two) and all the numbers made up of two or more digits when the last digit is 1 or 2; these have masculine and feminine forms. Unlike languages such as Russian, in Romanian there is no neutral form for numbers, adjectives or other noun determiners.


Romanian has two numbers: singular and plural. Morphologically the plural form is built by adding specific endings to the singular form. For example, nominative nouns without the definite article form the plural by adding one of the endings -i, -uri, -e, or -le. The plural formation mechanism, often involving other changes in the word structure, is an intrinsic property of each noun and has to be learned together with it.

* -i: "pom" - "pomi" (tree), "cal" - "cai" (horse), "tată" - "taţi" (father), "barcă" - "bărci" (boat);
* -uri: "tren" - "trenuri" (train), "treabă" - "treburi" (job, task), "cort" - "corturi" (tent);
* -e: "pai" - "paie" (straw), "masă" - "mese" (table, meal), "teatru" - "teatre" (theater);
* -le: "stea" - "stele" (star), "cafea" - "cafele" (coffee), "pijama" - "pijamale" (pajama)


Romanian has inherited from Latin five cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, and vocative. Morphologically the nominative and the accusative are identical; similarly the genitive and the dative share the same form. The vocative is less used as it is normally restricted to nouns designating people or things we can address directly; additionally, nouns in the vocative often borrow the nominative form even when there is a distinct vocative form available.

The genitive-dative form can be derived from the nominative. If the noun is determined by an indefinite article then the genitive-dative mark is applied to the article, not to the noun, for example "un băiat - unui băiat" (a boy - of/to a boy); for feminine nouns the form used in the singular is most often identical to the "plural", for example "o carte - unei cărţi - două cărţi" (a book - of/to a book - two books). Similarly, if the noun is determined by the definite article (enclitic in Romanian, see that section), the genitive-dative mark is added at the end of the noun together with the article, for example "băiatul - băiatului" (the boy - of/to the boy), "cartea - cărţii" (the book - of/to the book). Masculine proper names designating people form the genitive-dative by placing the article "lui" before the noun: "lui Brâncuşi" (of/to Brancusi); the same applies to feminine names only when they don't have a typically feminine ending: "lui Carmen".

In usual genitival phrases such as "numele trandafirului" (the name of the rose), the genitive is only recognized by the specific ending ("-lui" in this example) and no other words are necessary. However, in other situations, usually if the noun modified by the genitive attribute is "indefinite," the genitival article is required, as for example in "câteva opere ale scriitorului" (some of the writer's works).

Romanian dative phrases have the particularity called clitic doubling similar to that in Spanish, in which the noun in the dative is doubled by a pronoun. The position of this pronoun in the sentence depends on the mood and tense of the verb. For example, in the sentence "Le dau un cadou părinţilor" (I give a present to [my] parents), the pronoun "le" doubles the noun "părinţilor" without bringing any additional information.

As specified above, the vocative case in Romanian has a special form for most nouns, but for convenience reasons the form of the nominative is often employed. The traditional vocative is retained in speech, however, in informal speech, or by people living in the countryside. It is seen as a mark of "unrefined" speech by the majority of city-dwellers, who refrain from its usage. The forms of the vocative are as follows. (Note that the vocative does not have both definite and indefinite forms, as it is not used with any specific function within sentences. The following rules are to be applied for the indefinite form of the nouns):

* Singular feminine nouns and proper names ending in an unstressed -ă/-a take the ending -o e.g. "fată" → "fato" (girl!) some popular plurals are different, though: "Maria" → "Mărie!" (Mary!)
* Singular feminine nouns ending in an unstressed -e take the ending -eo e.g. "punte" → "punteo!" (bridge!) although sometimes the "e" is dropped altogether
* Singular feminine nouns ending in a stressed -a take the ending -auo e.g. "nuia" → "nuiauo!" (stick!)
* Singular masculine and neuter nouns ending in a consonant take the ending -ule e.g. "băiat" → "băiatule!" (boy!) the vocative for animate nouns is sometimes formed as if the noun were a proper name: "băiat" → "băiete!" (see below)
* Singular masculine and neuter nouns ending in unstressed -e/-ă take no extra ending () e.g. "frate" → "frate!" (brother!)
* Masculine proper names take the ending -e e.g. "Ştefan" → "Ştefane!" (Stephen!) some words also experience some change in their vowels ("Ion" → "Ioane!" John!)
* All plural nouns take the ending -lor e.g. "mere" → "merelor!" (apples!)


Definite article

An often cited peculiarity of Romanian is that it is the only Romance language where definite articles are attached to the end of the noun as enclitics (as in North Germanic languages) instead of in front. They are believed to have been formed, as in other Romance languages, from Latin demonstrative pronouns. The table below shows the generally accepted etymology of the Romanian definite article.

The genitival article also has genitive/dative forms, which are used only with a possessive pronoun. They are: "alui" (m. sg.), "alei" (f. sg.), and "alor" (pl., both genders). These forms are rarely used—especially the singular ones—and the sentences are usually rephrased to avoid them.


Romanian adjectives determine the quality of things. They are always determinants of a noun, pronoun, numeral or "copulative verb", so they can only fulfill the syntactical functions of attribute and adjectival complement, which in Romanian is called "nume predicativ" (nominal predicative)

Endings and Flexionary Forms

The foreign borrowed adjective "oranj" (orange) is called "invariable", as it has only 1 ending, and 1 flexionary form. Adjectives that do not have only 1 flexionary form (and thus 1 ending) are called "variable." [ Information on the adjective in Romanian] ]

yntactical functions

Syntactical functions of the adjective can be:

* Attribute, in case it defines a noun, pronoun or numeral. (e.g.: The blond boy is here. "Băiatul blond este aici.")
* Adjectival complement, in case it defines a copulative verb. (e.g.: The boy is blond. "Băiatul este blond.")

Degrees of comparison

An adjective also can have degrees of comparison.

* Positive Degree ("frumos", beautiful)
* Comparative Degree:
** Of superiority ("mai frumos", more beautiful)
** Of equality ("la fel de frumos", as beautiful as)
** Of inferiority ("mai puţin frumos", less beautiful)
* Superlative Degree:
** Relative Superlative
*** Of superiority ("cel mai frumos", the most beautiful)
*** Of inferiority ("cel mai puţin frumos", the least beautiful)
** Absolute Superlative ("foarte frumos", very beautiful)


Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns come in four different cases, depending on their usage in the phrase.

Nominative Case

There are eight personal pronouns ("pronume personale") in Romanian: [ PPT file illustrating the Morphosyntax of the Pronoun] ]

Genitive Case

The genitive forms of the pronouns (also called possessive pronouns):

* The second person singular is "only" used when addressing a person that one finds undesirable, or not worthy of respect, but with whom one cannot resort to using the simple personal pronoun "tu" (you), due to not actually being acquainted with that person.

Demonstrative Pronouns

There are a lot of demonstrative pronouns ("pronume demonstrative") in Romanian. They are classified as: "pronume de apropiere, pronume de depărtare, pronume de diferenţiere, pronume de identitate," which mean, respectively, pronouns of proximity, pronouns of remoteness, pronouns of differentiation, and pronouns of identity.

Pronouns of Proximity and Remoteness

These pronouns describe objects which are either close to the speaker, or farther away from the speaker:

Relative and Interrogative Pronouns

"Pronumele relative şi interogative," these two types of pronouns are identical in form, but differ in usage. The relative pronouns are used to connect relative clauses to their main clause, whereas interrogative pronouns are used to form questions. The interrogative pronouns are usually written out with a question mark after them, to differentiate them from their relative counterparts.

The most common relative/interrogative pronouns are


In Romanian grammar, unlike English, the words representing numbers are considered to form a distinct part of speech, called "numeral" (plural: "numerale"). Examples:

* Cardinal
** Proper: "doi" ("two");
** Multiplicative: "îndoit" ("double");
** Collective: "amândoi" ("both");
** Distributive: "câte doi" ("in twos");
** Fractional: "doime" ("half");
** Adverbial: "de două ori" ("twice");
* Ordinal: "al doilea" ("the second").


As in all Romance languages, Romanian verbs are highly inflected according to person, number, tense, mood, voice. The usual word order in sentences is SVO (Subject - Verb - Object). Romanian verbs are categorized into four large conjugation groups depending on the ending in the infinitive mood. The actual conjugation patterns for each group are multiple.

*First conjugation: verbs ending in "–a (alternatively -are)", such as "a da" (to give), "a cânta" (to sing), including those ending in hiatus "ea" such as in "a crea" (to create);
*Second conjugation: verbs ending in "–ea (shortened from -are)" (only when "ea" is a diphthong), such as "a putea" (can), "a cădea" (to fall);
*Third conjugation: verbs ending in "–e' (alternatively -ere)', such as "a vinde" (to sell), "a crede" (to believe);
*Fourth conjugation: verbs ending in "–i/ire" or "–î/îre", such as "a veni(re)" (to come), "a urî(re)" (to hate).


The preposition before a noun determines which case the noun must take.

No prepositions take nouns in the nominative case.


* pe + "Direct Object (only for proper names)"
* cu (with), and others "+ Indirect Object"
* la (at), and others "+ Circumstantial Objects"
* pentru (for) "+ Attribute"


The only prepositions that demand the Dative Case, are: "graţie, datorită , mulţumită, conform, contrar, potrivit, aidoma, asemenea"


Other prepositions require the genitive case of nouns. Note that some prepositions of this sort have evolved from phrases with feminine nouns and, as a consequence, require a feminine possessive form when the object is a pronoun; e.g., "împotriva mea" (against me).


In Romanian there are many interjections, and they are commonly used. Those that denote sounds made by animals or objects are called "onomatopee," a form similar to the English language onomatopoeia. Below, some interjections and their approximative equivalent in English are shown.

Common Interjections

* "Vai!" - Oh, my! / Oh, dear!
* "Ah!" - "same as in English"
* "Oau!" - Wow!
* "Of!" - equivalent to a sigh
* "Hmmm..." - said when thinking
* "Mamă-mamă" - said when expressing something cool or extraordinary
* "Iată" - somewhat like "behold!"


* "lip-lip" - the sound made when slurping liquids (usually by dogs)
* "ţuşti" - a sound designating a quick move
* "mor-mor" - the sound a bear makes
* "cucurigu" - the sound a rooster makes, "cock-a-doodle-doo!"
* "ham-ham" - the sound a dog makes, "bark!"
* "miauuu" - the sound a cat makes, "meow!"
* "cip-cirip" - the sound birds make, "chirp!"
* "mu" - the sound a cow makes, "moo!"

Use within sentences

Within a sentence, interjectons can function as attributes, verbal equivalents, or they can be used as filler, which has no syntactical function at all.

* Attribute: Mi-am luat o fustă "mamă-mamă". "I bought a cool skirt."
* Verbal Equivalent: "Iată"-l pe Ion. "Look, there is Ion"
* Filler: "Hmmm..." Mă gândesc ce să fac. "Hmmm... I am thinking about what to do."

Phrase syntax

Romanian has terminology and rules for phrase syntax, which describes the way simple sentences relate to one another within a single complex sentence. There are many functions a simple sentence may take, their number usually being determined by the number of predicates. It is also noteworthy that Romanian terminology for the terms "simple sentence, complex sentence, and phrase" is somewhat counterintuitive. The Romanian term "propoziţie" means as much as "simple sentence" (or "clause"). To describe a complex sentence (or compound sentence), Romanian uses the word "frază," which can cause confusion with the English word "phrase," which describes not a complex sentence, but a grouping of words. In consequence, Romanian doesn't have terms for the English "noun phrase," or "verb phrase," preferring the more commonly understood term "predicate" for the latter. The former has no formal equivalent in Romanian.

Simple sentences can be of two types: "main clause"s and "subordinate clause"s

Main Clause

The main clause, within a complex sentence, does not rely on another sentence to be fully understood. In other words, it has stand-alone meaning. The following example has the "verb phrase" underlined.

Example::"Am văzut copiii din curtea şcolii.":I have seen the children in the school courtyard.

Even though this sentence is long, it is still composed of a single simple sentence, which is a main clause.

ubordinate Clause

A subordinate clause cannot have stand-alone meaning. It relies on a main clause to give it meaning. It usually determines or defines an element of another clause, be it a main clause, or a subordinate one. The following example has the "verb phrase" underlined, and the "element of relation," which is to say, the relative pronoun used to link the two sentences, is bold. The sentences are also separated and numbered.

Example: :"Am văzut copiii 1/ care sunt în curtea şcolii. 2/":I have seen the children 1/ who are in the school courtyard. 2/

There are also subordinate clauses other than the "relative clause," which is an attributive clause, since it determines a noun, pronoun or numeral, and not a verb phrase. Here is a list of examples illustrating some of the remaining cases:

Direct Object Clause ("propoziţie subordonată completivă directă"): :"Înţeleg 1/ ce zice profesoara. 2/":I understand 1/ what the teacher is saying. 2/

Indirect Object Clause ("propoziţie subordonată completivă indirectă"): :"Ma gandesc 1/ la ce spune profesoara. 2/":I am thinking 1/ at what the teacher is saying. 2/

Subject Clause ("propoziţie subordonată subiectivă"): :"Ceea ce zice profesoara, 1/ e corect. 2/":What the teacher is saying, 1/ is true. 2/

Local Circumstantial Object Clause ("propoziţie subordonată completivă circumstanţială de loc"): :"Mă văd cu Ionuţ 1/ unde (mi-)a propus el. 2/":I am meeting Johnny 1/ where he suggested (to me). 2/

Clauses introduced by Coordinating Conjunctions

Some conjunctions are called coordinating because they do not define the type of clause introduced. Rather, they "coordinate" an existing clause with another, making the new clause of the same type as the other one. The coordinating conjunctions are of four types (note that the list is not exhaustive):

* The "copulative conjunctions" are: "şi" (and), "nici" (neither), and "precum şi" (as well as).
* The "adversative conjunctions" are: "dar/însă/ci" (but) and "iar" (on the other hand).
* The "disjunctive conjunctions" are: "sau/ori/fie" (or/either).
* The "conclusive conjunctions" are: "deci/aşadar" (thus), "în concluzie" (in conclusion), and "prin urmare" (therefore).

An example of two main clauses (1, 2) linked together by a coordinative conjunction (bold) is::"Ana este o fată 1/ şi Ion este un băiat. 2/":Ana is a girl, 1/ and Ion is a boy. 2/

Two subordinate clauses (2, 3) can also be joined to the same end::"V-am spus despre băiatul 1/ care este la mine în clasă, 2/ şi care este foarte bun la matematică. 3/":I have told you about the boy 1/ who is in my class, 2/ and who is very good in mathematics. 3/

The same effect of two main clauses (1, 2) being tied together can also be achieved via juxtaposition of the sentences using a comma::"Am păzit palatul, 1/ palatul era şi foarte greu de păzit. 2/":I guarded the palace, 1/ the palace was very hard to guard, too. 2/

External links

* [ Very detailed Romanian grammar (PDF; 183 pages; 4.6 MB)]
* [ Verbix: Romanian verbs conjugation] (Attention: Generally good output, but a few verbs are not conjugated correctly.)
* [ Romanian <-> English online dictionary and Romanian verb conjugator (few mistakes)]
* [ Romanian online dictionary and lemmatizer]


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