Word of the Day: Iar


Speaking of absolutely no Slavic influence whatsoever in the Romanian language, it’s a good time to look at the word iar (yar).

If you are a native English (or Italian/Spanish/French etc) speaker than you have to understand that in some *coughcough* languages there’s actually two ways to say the word “and”.

If you’re a beginner student of the Romanian language the word you need to know is și (she). This is a really basic word and it does indeed mean “and”.

This word și will be just fine in all situations and Romanians will certainly understand you. It is also used in all numbers (ex: 42 is actually “40 și 2″).

So what’s iar? Well sometimes it means “one more time” or “again”.

You might remember my post with the lyrics to Asa Beau Oamenii Buni and the last line in the lyrics is “iara-s bat”.

This would be translated to “and once again I am drunk”.

But wait, that’s iara and the word of the day is iar. What gives? Well I guess on a deeply technical level iar might be a little more “correct” but many Romanians have a habit of adding an extra “a” to some words that end on a consonant sound.

Therefore iara and iar are identical.

Another variant (and this one very correct) is iarași (yar-osh) which is simply “iara + și”.

Note: The word iarași always means “once again” or something similar.

But while the primary use of the word iar(a) is to say “once again”, sometimes it just means a kind of regular old “and”.

Ex: Doi poliţişti au murit iar un altul a fost grav rănit

This means “two police officers died AND another one was gravely injured”. Clearly there’s no sense of “once again” in this sentence – it just means “and” or perhaps “meanwhile”.

This is because of an idea that iar is used to connect two things in an equal manner. In other words, the action in the sentence (in this case, a car crash) affects both noun1 iar noun2 “equally”.

Again, if you speak Russian, you’ll have no trouble understanding this word but otherwise it does seem a little odd. You as a speaker can certainly always use și and be understood perfectly.

Iar also has one more use (this one non-Slavic) which is very similar to yesterday’s ba. In other words, it’s a rejoinder to contradict something and say “but actually”.

Ex: Android nu este un sistem deschis, iar un iPad de 7 inch

This means “Android is not an open system but actually a 7-inch iPad”.

So it can mean “and”, it can mean “once again” and it can mean “but actually”. I know it’s a little confusing but if you’ve been reading Romanian and didn’t quite understand this word…

NOW YOU KNOW!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Alina says:

    It’s worth noticing that “si” can easily replace “iar” but “iar” cannot replace “si” in all the cases. For example, you’d say “Vii si tu?” = as in “Are you coming TOO?” (in which case si = TOO) but you cannot say “Vii iar tu?”.

    Also, in your example “Android nu este un sistem deschis, iar un iPad de 7 inch”, you can replace “iar” with “ci”, which means exactly “but actually”.

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    1. Adriana says:

      Sorry but I have never heard of using “iar” in this context “Ex: Android nu este un sistem deschis, iar un iPad de 7”. It might be used “dar” as “Ex: Android nu este un sistem deschis, dar un iPad de 7” in which extense “dar” is similar with “ci” that Alina spoke about. And take into consideration that I have had 12 years of romanian grammar and I have lived from Cluj to Bucharest and Timisoara and traveled from Bistrita to Radauti and the sea-side.

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      1. alex says:

        i agree with Adriana. in that last example you can use “dar” (although it’s rarely used for such purpose) but most frequently it would be “ci” (Android nu este un sistem deschis, ci un iPad de 7″).
        as for “iar” and its general use, yes, it basically means “again”. you can’t always use it to replace “si” though.
        e.g. “o carte si un pix” (a book and a pen). you can’t say “o carte iar un pix”.
        you can use “iar” to replace “si” if you connect two sentences in a phrase.
        e.g. “El ramane aici iar tu vii cu mine” (He stays here and you come with me). it would be the same if saying “el ramane aici si tu vii cu mine”, but using “iar” in this case the difference is it hints a bit towards “while” or “as for (you)”. and its use in this context is also a bit more pretentious than common and boring “si” ;)

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