HomeQ&A Can anyone explain the term: periphrasis

Can anyone explain the term: periphrasis

1
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Hi I am seeing this term in a lot discussions. I have tried looking it up for clarification and I am still lost.

7200 views
updated SEP 5, 2009
posted by Tamara-Van-Hook

5 Answers

3
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1.the use of an unnecessarily long or roundabout form of expression; circumlocution.

2.an expression phrased in such fashion.

None of those definitions are suitable for verbal periphrases in Spanish.

In Spanish, a periphrasis is a special construction with at least two verbs (and sometimes other words) that behave as a group like a single verb would. Periphrases have a helper verb, which is fully conjugated, but does not provide the main meaning in the periphrasis, and another non-finite verb (ie. an infinitive or a participle) which is not conjugated, but provides the main meaning of the periphrasis

For example:

Voy a pensar.

is a periphrasis. "Voy" is the helper verb, and unlike in normal sentences, you are not "going anywhere", you are not moving at all. This loss of meaning is one of the features of a periphrasis. "Pensar" is the helped verb, which doesn't change, and tells you that the whole periphrasis is about thinking (and not going).

Some of the most common periphrases include:

  • estar + gerundio
  • seguir + infinitivo
  • llevar + participio
  • llevar + gerundio
  • empezar a + infinitivo
  • ponerse a + infinitivo
  • ir a + infinitivo
  • deber + infinitivo
  • terminar de + infinitivo
  • poder + infinitivo
  • soler + infinitivo
updated SEP 5, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
1
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If only I knew how to say it.

In the above sentence, "to say" is a use of periphrasis.

English doesn't have an infinitive verb form, so it uses another "helping word" to construct the infinitive.

That is one definition of periphrasis.

Another COMPLETELY DIFFERENT definition is to use multiple words to express an idea that could be expressed much more simply.

I could say "In view of the fact that I haven't eaten dinner, I would like a snack before bed."

Or I could say, "Because I haven't eaten dinner, I would like a snack before bed.

The first sentence is considered to be an example of periphrasis.

updated SEP 5, 2009
posted by Goyo
The first one doesn't fit Lazarus' definition of a Spanish periphrasis. - 0074b507, SEP 5, 2009
Verdad. - Goyo, SEP 5, 2009
1
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Don't let the formality intimidate you. It just means that you use a phrase rather that a single word. An example would be "Ir+a+ verb infinitive"

periphrasis -

pe?riph?ra?sis??/p??r?fr?s?s/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [puh-rif-ruh-sis]
–noun, plural -ses ?/-?siz/

1.the use of an unnecessarily long or roundabout form of expression; circumlocution.

2.an expression phrased in such fashion.

updated SEP 5, 2009
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
0
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Another example of periphrasis - "did go" instead of "went"

updated SEP 5, 2009
posted by Eddy
Not a Spanish periphrasis I take it, but an English one. - 0074b507, SEP 5, 2009
0
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smile Thank you all very much for all your help I have a much better understanding

updated SEP 5, 2009
posted by Tamara-Van-Hook
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