Irish: Lesson Eleven

Impersonal in "-ar"

In the previous lesson we learned the past impersonal. The present impersonal adds the suffix "-tar" (or "-tear" if the last vowel in the root is "e" or "i") to the root of a 1st conjugation verb. 2nd conjugation verbs take "-aítear" (or, if they end in -igh, they take "-ítear"):
root: déan, "do, make"
--> Déantar an léine seo in Éirinn.  --  This shirt is made in Ireland.

root: múin, "teach"
--> Múintear Gaeilge sa scoil seo.  --  Irish is taught in this school.

root: ceannaigh, "buy"
--> Ceannaítear toitíní ann.  --  Cigarettes are bought there.

Relative Particle "go"

We have already encountered the relative particle "a" meaning "that", "which", or "who". "a" is used after a noun but before a verb, e.g. "the man that came yesterday", "the boy who threw the stone", etc. But the relative particle that comes after a verb and before a noun, for example in sentences like "I think that it is true" or "I see that the work has begun", is translated differently in Irish -- it is the word "go", which causes eclipsis. "Go" is used with the "dependent" form of the verb, which until now I've called the "question" form. If you take away the question word "an", what you're left with is the "dependent" form, for example:

An bhfuil sé tinn?  --  Is he ill?
An raibh sin ceart?  --  Was that right?

Taking away "an", we get the dependent forms "bhfuil" and "raibh". So the Irish for "that... is" and "that... was" are "go bhfuil" and "go raibh", respectively:

Cloisim go bhfuil sé tinn.  --  I hear that he is ill.
(clois, "hear")

Ceapaim go raibh sin ceart.  --  I think that was right.
(ceap, "think")

This is the case with other verbs as well:

Deir sé go mbeidh sé ag bualadh le Máire amárach. -- He says he will be meeting with Mary tomorrow.
(deir, "says" [irreg.])
Níl mé cinnte go dtuigeann siad. -- I'm not certain that they understand.
B'fhéidir go mbeinn sásta. -- Perhaps I would be satisfied.

The negative form of the relative pronoun "go" is "nach", which also eclipses:

Tuigim nach bhfuil sé furasta. -- I understand that it isn't easy.

"Go" and "nach" are not used for relative clauses in the past tense. Instead, the relative clauses are "gur" (positive) and "nár" (negative) are used, both of which aspirate:

Ceapaim gur bhuail sé le Máire inné. -- I think that he met Mary yesterday.
Ceapaim nár bhuail sé le Máire inné. -- I think that he didn't meet Mary yesterday.

preposition "go"

Another use for "go" is to mean "to" or "until". "Go" used in this sense doesn't cause aspiration or eclipsis, but does add "h" to a noun beginning with a vowel:

go hÉirinn  --  to Ireland
ag dul go Londain --  going to London
go maidin  --  until morning
go bráth  --  forever (lit: "until Judgement Day")

Before a definite noun "go" is "go dtí", which also doesn't cause aspiration or eclipsis:

ag dul go dtí an banc -- going to the bank

preposition "ó"

The preposition ó, which aspirates a following noun, means "from":

ó Dhoire go Corcaigh -- from Derry to Cork
ó thús  -- from the beginning (tús [m.])
litir ó Liam  -- a letter from Liam

"ó" combines with the definite article to form "ón" and causes eclipsis (or, in some dialects, aspiration) on the noun coming after -- in this way it has the same effect as "ag" and "ar" do:

ag teacht ón mbaile -- coming from the town

The prepositional pronoun forms of "ó" are:

ó  mé  uaim  (from me)
ó  tú  uait  (from you)
ó  sé  uaidh  (from him)
ó  sí  uaithi  (from her)
ó  muid  uainn  (from us)
ó  sibh  uaibh  (from you)
ó  siad  uathu  (from them)

The verb "teastaíonn ó" means "is wanting from"; it corresponds to the English verb "want" in meaning except that in Irish the subject (the thing or person doing the wanting) follows the "ó" and the verb itself is always in the third person, e.g.:

Teastaíonn airgid ó Sheán.  --  Sean wants money.
(lit: "money is wanted from Sean")
Teastaíonn cupán tae uaim.  --  I want a cup of tea.
(lit: "a cup of tea is wanted from-me")

"an-" for emphasis

The Irish for very is "an-". This is placed before an adjective and causes aspiration, except when the adjective begins with d, t, or s:

maith  (good)  --->  an-mhaith  (very good)
fuar  (cold)  --->  an-fhuar  (very cold)


sean  (old)  --->  an-shean  (very old)
dorcha  (dark) --->  an-dorcha (very dark)

Asking Questions

So far the interrogative pronouns we've learned have been "cé" (who?), "conas" (how?), and "cá" (where?). Of these, "cá" uses the relative form of the verb:

Cé hé sin?  --  Who is that?
Conas tá tú?  --  How are you?


Cá bhfuil sé?  --  Where is he?

Cá can also mean "what", though never when referring to people. It prefixes "h" before a noun beginning with a vowel:

Cá hainm atá ort?  --  What's your name?
(lit: "what name that is on-you?")
Cá haois tú?  --  What age are you?
(aois [f.])

"Cé" before the definite article becomes "cén". You can ask "why" using "cén fáth?" (literally, "what the reason?") and "how" using "cén chaoi?" (literally, "what the way?"). Both are followed by the dependent form of the verb:

Cén fáth nach dtuigeann tú?  --  Why don't you understand?
Cén chaoi a bhfuil tú?  --  How are you?

"Conas tá tú?" & "Cén chaoi a bhfuil tú?" are used in Munster and Connaught respectively. (Literally "how are you?" and "what way are you?".)

"Cad é mar atá tú?" is used in Ulster. (Literally "What is it you are like?")


"Cad" and "céard" are interchangeable words meaning "what":

Cad é sin? / Ceard é sin?  --  What's that?

Vocative Case

The vocative case of a noun or name is used when that name or noun is being directly addressed. For instance, when the sentences "go away, Liam" or "come here, Máire" or "thank you, friend" are translated into Irish, the words "Liam", "Máire", and "friend" respectively would be in the vocative case. To put a feminine name or noun in the vocative, you aspirate it and put "a" before it:

Síle  --  (a proper name)
--> Go raibh maith agat, a Shíle.  --  Thank you, Síle. (lit: "may there be good at-you")
Máire  --  (a proper name)
-->Dún an doras, a Mháire.  --  Close the door, Máire.

The same thing is done with a masculine noun or name except that an "i" is added after the final vowel of the name if that final vowel is broad (a, o, or u):

Seán  --  Sean
-Ná bac leis, a Sheáin.  --  Don't bother with it, Sean. (bac, "bother, obstruct")
Breandán  --  Brendan
-->Gabh isteach, a Bhreandáin.  --  Go inside, Brendan.

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