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Basics 1 updated 2018-10-25

Fáilte | Welcome!

Welcome to Duolingo's Irish course! In this course you will learn the official standard (an Caighdeán Oifigiúil) of Irish. But note, this is a written, and not a spoken standard. Irish is spoken in three main dialects, corresponding to three Irish provinces of Munster (south), Ulster (north), and Connacht (west). The audio in this course was recorded by a native speaker of the Connacht dialect.

So what makes Irish different? What might challenge you as you try to learn? Well, tonnes of things! To be honest, even the basics of Irish are very different from what you're probably used to.

The best advice we can give is that with Irish, learning things off by heart and trying to base your learning on grammar will only get you so far. It's a very irregular language, and most rules that try to generalise come with many exceptions.

Just take it as slowly as you need to, and nothing should challenge you very much. There is a really good article about some of the more fascinating peculiarities here: https://multikulti.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/10-reasons-why-irish-is-an-absolutely-awesome-language/

We'll also address a couple below. So let's get started then!


Intro

The Irish alphabet is short and sweet:

a b c d e f g h i l m n o p r s t u

The vowels can take an added accent, the fada (pronounced 'foddah'):

á é í ó ú

The fada lengthens and alters the sound on the vowel.

The rest of the English alphabet, j k q v w x y z, especially v, is gradually being naturalised into Irish due to the many loanwords we take in.

Learn how to type accented letters here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/4278237


Word Order

Most English sentences use the "Subject-Verb-Object" word order. For example, in the sentence He eats food, he is the subject, eats is the verb, and food is the object.

In Irish, a slightly different word order is used: "V-S-O". Here is the same sentence in Irish: Itheann sé bia. The verb in this sentence is itheann (a form of the verb to eat), the subject is (he), and the object is bia (food).

In summary: Irish sentences start with their verbs!


To be, or not to be...

Irish makes it interesting when you want to say what something "is", because you need to choose the right version of the verb "to be"! There are two versions. called and an chopail.

to be
tá mé/táim I am
tá tú you (sing.) are
tá sé he/it is
tá sí she/it is
tá muid/táimid we are
tá sibh you (pl.) are
tá siad they are

Notes: tá + mé (I) = táim, tá + muid (we) = táimid. These contractions are called the synthetic form.

copail copula
is ... mé I am
is ... tú you (sing.) are
is ... é he/it is
is ... í she/it is
is ... sinn/muid we are
is ... sibh you (pl.) are
is ... iad they are

The copula is for when you're introducing something or someone, like "Is bean í" (She is a woman) or "Is úll é" (It is an apple). Bí is for when you're describing something or someone, like "Tá sí ard" (She is tall) or "Tá sé blasta" (It is tasty). You'll learn the basics of both here, and later you'll learn some more about each of them!

Basics 2 updated 2018-10-25

Buntús 2 | Basics 2

You're still here. That's wonderful! We'll start with a strange but important little rule:

"Caol le caol agus leathan le leathan."

This is the golden rule of Irish spelling and it is important for all sorts of things all the time. It's actually quite a consistent and well-observed rule across Irish, which is very rare. You should get very used to it, to the point that a word which doesn't follow the rule will stand out to you.

The phrase literally means "slender with slender and broad with broad", and it refers to vowels in a word.

Slender vs broad is a way to group the vowels in two distinct groups:

leathan broad caol slender
a e
o i
u

The rule says that the vowels on either side of any consonant should match: they should both be slender, or both be broad. It's actually an important rule, because certain consonants, especially s and t will change their sound appreciably depending on whether they are slender or broad.

To see if the stem of a verb is broad or slender, look at the last vowel in that stem.

For example, take the verbs dún and bris. The last vowel in dún is broad, so you would use broad endings when conjugating this verb. Similarly you would use slender endings when conjugating bris.


A bit about Verbs

We do have two present tenses in Irish, which function just like in English. Let's start with the present habitual. This describes what one does on a regular basis, not what one is doing right now. Verbs in Irish are split into three main groups: the first conjugation, the second conjugation and the irregular verbs.


1. The first conjugation

Basically, these verbs have only one syllable. In the present tense the ending is, generally, added directly onto the stem. Examples are dún ("close"), ól ("drink"), bris ("break")

Examples:

Notice how sometimes it takes two words, and sometimes just one. In present tense verbs, and muid are often not used; they can be incorporated into their verb to make the 'synthetic form'.


2. The second conjugation

These verbs have more than one syllable. To conjugate and use them correctly takes a bit more intuition, but you'll be grand!

The words come in two halves for you to identify. They will have a root and a stem. To conjugate them, you will remove the stem and replace it with an appropriate ending. There aren't too many endings to learn.

Examples of 2nd-conjugation verbs are bailigh, ceannaigh, oscail, and inis. Watch how their stems are removed/altered to take the ending:


3. Irregular verbs

Oh no, a different beast altogether... No hassle, there are only 11 of these! Some of them appear quite regular most of the time, but all of them have at least one tense in which they don't obey the standard rules, so it is necessary to memorise these 11 verbs in all their forms and tenses! Just to warn you, they are:

But seriously, they're not that bad.


See you in the next skill!

Common Phrases updated 2018-10-25

Welcome to Phrases!

Hello!

The formal way to greet someone is by saying Dia duit. Literally this means God to you. Here is something to note:

The proper response is Dia is Muire duit, which literally means God and Mary to you.

Note on the Sociology of Ireland: These forms are old, formal, and in sharp decline. There is a complicated relationship between Ireland and the Catholic church in recent history, and many younger speakers consciously avoid the nearly-obsolete religious constructions of yore. We don't officially teach you this here, because we decided to stick with The Standard so we have to teach you "dia duit" and so on. Just be aware you're more likely to hear somebody greet you with a typical English greeting like "hiya", or even by avoiding a "hello" and just asking how you are – Conas atá tú? –


To have

We don't say "have" in Irish, that's way too simple and direct. Instead the verb (be) is used together with the preposition ag (at).

To express that you have something, you say that it is "at you" - implying that it is close by you, in your possession. If you want to say Paul has a book, think of this as meaning A book is at Paul, or There is a book at Paul . The Irish for this is Tá leabhar ag Pól.

When you want to write at followed by a pronoun, the two words join together to make a "prepositional pronoun". For example, ag and combine to form agam (at me). Here is ag in all its forms:

English Irish
at ag
at me agam
at you (singular) agat
at him aige
at her aici
at us againn
at you (plural) agaibh
at them acu

Examples of + ag:


To speak or to have?

When talking about languages in Irish there are distinct ways to translate the two meanings of the English "speak".

1) "I speak Irish" would translate as "Labhraím Gaeilge" if "speak" was referring to the act of speaking the language ("I speak Irish every day")

2) "I speak Irish" would translate as "Tá Gaeilge agam" (literally "I have Irish") if "speak" was referring to the ability to speak, or the knowledge of, the language.

So when you say "I (can) speak [language]", in Irish you literally say "I have [language]"

See you in the next skill!

Food updated 2020-06-23

Bain sult as do bhéile!

Let’s dig into the food skill! In this (very important) skill, you will learn all about how to talk about food.

——

Language Feature

An saghas...

Saghas means ‘sort’, ‘type’ or ‘kind’.

As you might guess, to say ‘sort of’, ‘type of’ or ‘kind of’, we need to use the genitive case (the ‘of’ form) to say what kind of food we’re talking about.

——

Language Feature

I’m at the eating of the food

In Irish, this would be Táim ag ithe an bhia. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering hang on, isn’t bia masculine? Why is there lenition??. Don’t fret we’re here to explain!

Plurals updated 2018-10-25

Definite and Indefinite Articles

Let's review Irish articles so you know how to apply your existing knowledge to plurals.

Indefinite Articles

There are no indefinite articles in Irish. Where in English you would say a or an before a noun, in Irish you just say the noun itself. For example, buachaill can mean either boy or a boy.

When it comes to plurals, the Irish system is similar to that in English. Buachaillí means boys, so no definite article is used in either language.

Definite Articles

There are two forms of the definite article in Irish.

An is used for singular nouns and is translated as the in English. For example, an buachaill means the boy*.✝

Na is used for plural nouns and is also translated as the in English. For example, na buachaillí means the boys.✝

Note

There are two things you should note!

✝: In the nominative case. The way these articles are used change a bit in the other cases, but we will deal with these later when we come to them.

Eclipsis updated 2018-10-25

Welcome to Eclipsis!

It's time to learn a very peculiarly Celtic feature; initial mutation!

Urú (eclipsis) is where one or two letters are added before a word in certain situations. This changes the spelling and pronunciation of the word, but not the meaning. Only some initial letters can be eclipsed: b, c, d, f, g, p, and t. Words that begin with other letters do not undergo eclipsis at all.

Here are the extra letters that are added before the word:

Initial letter Example Eclipsis Example
b baile m mbaile
c cailín g gcailín
d doras n ndoras
f fuinneog bh bhfuinneog
g geata n ngeata
p poll b bpoll
t teach d dteach

Different dialects of Irish have different rules about when eclipsis should be used. It would be extremely confusing to list them all here! It is more important to pick a single system and to stick with it for consistency - so in this course, we will teach the system traditionally used in Standard Irish.

Eclipsis is used in the following situations:


1. Possessive Adjectives

Eclipsis occurs where a word comes after ár our, bhur your (plural), and a their.

Examples:


2. Numbers

Eclipsis occurs after the numbers seven to 10.

Examples:


3. Preposition + Definite Article

Eclipsis occurs after certain prepositions where they are joined by the singular definite article an:

Preposition + singular definite article English translation
ag an at the
ar an on the
faoin (faoi + an) under/about the
leis an with the
ón (ó + an) from the
roimh an before the
thar an over the
tríd an through the
um an about/around the

Other prepositions used with an (for example, idir an between the) do not cause eclipsis.

Examples:

An exception to this rule is that the word should not be eclipsed if it begins with d or t.

Examples:

If the word begins with s and is feminine, a t is placed in front of it — except for nouns beginning with sc, sf, sm, sp, st or sv.

Example:

If the word begins with s and is masculine, no change occurs.

Example:


4. Other Words

Eclipsis is also added after the words i in, if, mura if/unless.

Example:


Words starting with a vowel

Words that start with a vowel do not technically undergo eclipsis, but they do get the letter n- added to them wherever other words would be eclipsed — unless they come after a word that finishes with the letter n.

Examples:

A dash is placed between the letter n and the vowel — unless that vowel is a capital letter.

Examples:

Some words that start with a vowel are normally preceded by t- when they follow the word an the. For these words, after preposition + definite article combinations the t- is left out.

Examples:

That might be a lot of information to process, but it should make sense once you see it in action. Good luck and see you in the next skill :D

Lenition updated 2018-10-25

Welcome to the Lenition skill!

Séimhiú (lenition) is where an extra h is added between the first and second letters of a word in certain situations. This changes the spelling and pronunciation of the word, but not the meaning. Only some initial letters can be lenited: b, c, d, f, g, m, p, s, and t. Words that begin with other letters do not undergo lenition at all.

Here are examples of words being lenited:

Initial letter Example Lenition Example
b buachaill bh bhuachaill
c cailín ch chailín
d doras dh dhoras
f fuinneog fh fhuinneog
g geata gh gheata
m mála mh mhála
p poll ph pholl
s seomra sh sheomra
t teach th theach

Lenition is used in the following situations.


1. Feminine Nouns

Feminine nouns are lenited after the definite article an in the nominative case.

Examples:

An exception to this rule is that feminine nouns beginning with d or t are not lenited. Another exception is that nouns beginning with s becomes ts if the s precedes a vowel, l, n or r.

Examples:


2. Feminine Adjectives

Singular feminine nouns cause lenition of the following adjective.

Examples:

Note: Only when the adjective directly follows its noun.


3. Possessive Adjectives

Lenition occurs after mo my, do your, a his.

Examples:


4. Numbers

Lenition occurs after the numbers one to six.

Examples:


5. Vocative Case

The vocative case is used when directly addressing someone or something, as in Cá bhfuil tú, a chailín? Where are you, girl? Lenition is used after the vocative particle a.

(Note that masculine nouns and names are also slenderised after the vocative particle: fear becomes a fhir, and Pól becomes a Phóil.)

More on this case in a later skill.


6. Prepositions

Lenition occurs after the words ar on, de off, den off the, do to/for, don to the, faoi under/about, ó from, roimh before, sa/san in the, trí through, um around/about.

Examples:

An exception is that words beginning with d, t, s are not lenited after den, don, sa or san.

Examples:


7. Other Words

Lenition is also used after the phrase nuair a when, the prefixes ró- too and an- very, and the word if (unless the next word is a version of or deir). Other special cases will be highlighted in other lessons.

Examples:


DeNTaLS-DoTS

This is a handy mnemonic! If a word begins with d, t or s and it would normally be lenited according to the above rules, but the word that came before it in the sentence ends with d, n, t, l or s, then the word is not lenited.

Examples:

Phew! I hope that wasn't too complicated. It will start to make sense when you see some more examples! Good luck and see you in the next skill :D

Possessives updated 2018-10-25

When possessives are used in Irish, certain changes occur to the following word. There are two systems: one for words starting with a consonant, and one for word starting with a vowel.

Words starting with a consonant

Here are the possessive adjectives and changes that occur when a word begins with a consonant:

English Irish Change Example
my mo lenition mo chóta
your (singular) do lenition do chóta
his/its a lenition a chóta
her/its a no change a cóta
our ár eclipsis ár gcóta
your (plural) bhur eclipsis bhur gcóta
their a eclipsis a gcóta

Before words starting with fh + a vowel, mo and do are abbreviated to m' and d', with no space before the next word.

Examples:

If the word begins with a consonant that does not undergo lenition (or eclipsis), the spelling remains unchanged.

Examples:

Words starting with a vowel

Here are the possessive adjectives and changes that occur when a word begins with a vowel:

English Irish Change Example
my m' no change m'oráiste
your (singular) d' no change d'oráiste
his/its a no change a oráiste
her/its a h a horáiste
our ár n- ár n-oráiste
your (plural) bhur n- bhur n-oráiste
their a n- a n-oráiste

Instead of lenition or eclipsis, here you can see two other initial letter mutations used in Irish: the h-prefix and the n-prefix.

You can also see from the examples above that m' and d are used instead of mo or do, with no space before the next word.

A

The possessive adjective a can mean his, her, its or their. If you look at the tables above, you can see how to identify which one is used. It is usually clear from context, and from the word that follows the possessive.

Verbs: Present 1 updated 2018-10-25

In Irish, it is important to note that there are two present tenses: the present, and the present habitual. The present describes what one is doing (right now) and the present habitual is used to describe what one does (every day, every week, and so on).

In this skill you will learn verbs in the present habitual. You previously met the endings for conjugating regular verbs in the present habitual tense in Basics 2. But, lets revisit them here.

1. The first conjugation

These verbs have only one syllable¹, and the root form seen in the dictionary is identical to the stem used for verb conjugation. In the present tense the ending is, generally, added directly onto the stem. Examples are dún ("close"), ól ("drink"), bris ("break")

Pronoun Broad ending Example Slender ending Example
I -aim¹ dúnaim -im² brisim
you (singular) -ann tú dúnann tú -eann tú briseann tú
he/it -ann sé dúnann sé -eann sé briseann sé
she/it -ann sí dúnann sí -eann sí briseann sí
we -aimid¹ dúnaimid -imid² brisimid
you (plural) -ann sibh dúnann sibh -eann sibh briseann sibh
they -ann siad dúnann siad -eann siad briseann siad

¹There is a small handful of first conjugation verbs that have more than one syllable. They aren't considered irregular- just a bit odd. These will be dealt with later.

²In present tense verbs, and muid are generally not used; instead, they are incorporated into the verb that precedes it, to make what is known as the "synthetic form".

Examples:


2. The second conjugation

These verbs have more than one syllable.

Many end in -aigh and -igh in the root form seen in the dictionary; to get the stem used for conjugation, the last syllable of the root is removed (i.e. remove the -aigh/-igh). The endings are then added to that stem. Examples include ceannaigh buy, bailigh collect. The stems for these would be ceann- and bail-.

Others end in -ail/-il, -ain/-in, -ais/-is or -air/-ir. To get the stem, the last syllable of the root is removed but the very last letter is kept, and then the appropriate ending is added. Examples include inis tell and oscail open. The stems for these would be ins- and oscl-.

Pronoun Broad ending Example Slender ending Example
I -aím osclaím -ím bailím
you (singular) -aíonn tú osclaíonn tú -íonn tú bailíonn tú
he/it -aíonn sé osclaíonn sé -íonn sé bailíonn sé
she/it -aíonn sí osclaíonn sí -íonn sí bailíonn sí
we -aímid osclaímid -ímid bailímid
you (plural) -aíonn sibh osclaíonn sibh -íonn sibh bailíonn sibh
they -aíonn siad osclaíonn siad -íonn siad bailíonn siad

Examples:


3. Irregular verbs

The last group of verbs in Irish are the irregular verbs. There are only 11 of these. Some of them appear quite regular most of the time, but all of them have at least one tense in which they don't obey the standard rules, so it is necessary to memorise these 11 verbs in all their forms and tenses!

The question form

To ask a question in this tense using a verb, you use the question word an and add an eclipsis (urú) to the verb if possible.

Examples:

The irregular verb be is an exception:

The negative form

To put a verb in the present habitual tense into the negative form, you use the negation word and add a lenition (séimhiú) to the verb if possible.

Examples:

Again, the verb is an exception in this tense, as well as the verb abair say:

Abair

Yes or No?

Irish has no word for "yes" or "no". That means when someone asks a questions using a verb like those above, you either answer with the positive form of the verb (the standard conjugated form) or the negative form (as seen above)

Example:

Colors updated 2018-10-25

Adjectives (such as colors) generally come after the noun in Irish. Their spelling is modified so that they agree with the noun, in number and in gender.

Masculine singular nouns

An adjective that follows a masculine singular noun does not change (for example, an bosca dubh the black box).

Feminine singular nouns

An adjective that follows a feminine singular noun is lenited if possible (for example, an eilifint dhubh the black elephant).

Plural nouns

An adjective that follows a plural noun has its spelling changed to the plural form of that adjective. If the noun ends with a slender consonant, the adjective is also lenited.

What is a slender consonant? A slender consonant is a consonant with a slender vowel (e é or i í) next to it. For example, in the word beoir, r is a slender consonant.

Getting Descriptive

In this skill, we give you the basic vocabulary to describe most of the colours. One fun quirk in Irish is that there aren't of lots of words for all the different shades on the spectrum. Instead, you describe a particular colour by naming something that has that colour, or adding some detail (such as another colour!). So for example, you could distinguish something that is spéirghorm sky-blue from something that is gormghlas blue-green, or contrast dearg red with bándearg pink (literally white-red). Use the vocabulary you learn and get creative to think of how you could say things like 'blood-red', and 'forest green'!

Questions updated 2018-10-25

C question words

When asking a question in English, you generally use a W question word such as who, where, what. Similarly, in Irish you generally use a C question word such as , , cad.

Here are some examples of C question words:

English Irish
who
what cad / céard
which cén
where
when cathain
what time cén uair / cá huair / cén t-am
whose cé leis
what place cá háit / cén áit
why cén fáth
how conas / cad é mar
how many / how much cé mhéad / cá mhéad

Yes and no

There is no direct translation for the words yes and no in Irish. Where in English you would use these words to answer a question, in Irish you repeat the verb from the original question in either the positive or the negative form. (You can choose to omit the pronoun if you like - unless you are using a synthetic form of the verb.)

Examples:

Prepositions 1 updated 2018-12-30

Prepositions (réamhfhocail) are short words that express relationships between things, like to, for, with, on, between.

In Irish most prepositions are usually written on their own, but when you use them together with a pronoun (me, you, he, she, it, us, them), the two words get contracted together to make what are known as prepositional pronouns (forainmneacha réamhfhoclacha).

Here are five prepositional pronouns in all their forms:

Pronoun on with at from to, toward/s
(none) ar le ag ó chun (chuig)
me orm liom agam uaim chugam
you (singular) ort leat agat uait chugat
he, it air leis aige uaidh chuige
she, it uirthi léi aici uaithi chuici
us orainn linn againn uainn chugainn
you (plural) oraibh libh agaibh uaibh chugaibh
them orthu leo acu uathu chucu

Examples:

When used in specific ways, some prepositions have special idiomatic meanings in Irish. You already met the idiomatic use of ag to mean have in Basics 2; here are some other examples.


Ar

The basic meaning of this word is on. For example, Ritheann sé ar bhóthar means He runs on a road.

When used with the verb , it conveys the idea of obligation to do something. For example, Tá orm rith means I must run. (The literal translation of the phrase would be "It is on me to run".)


Ó

The basic meaning of this word is from. For example, Ritheann sé ó theach means He runs from a house.

When used with the verb , it conveys the idea of wanting something. For example, Tá bia uaim means I want food. (The literal translation of the phrase would be "food is from me".)

Another way to express wanting something is to use the verb teastaigh (to be wanted/needed), followed by a version of ó. Written this way, Teastaíonn bia uaim is the alternative way to say I want food; it can also mean I need food. (A literal translation would be "food is needed from me".)

Ireland 1 updated 2018-10-25

Voccab and topics specificially related to Ireland craic, gardaí, taoiseach, eachtarán etc... Can be used to explain things about Ireland.

Dates and Time updated 2018-10-25

In previous skills you will already have met lenition and eclipsis, the two most important initial mutations that can occur to words in Irish. Here are some other more minor changes that can occur.

Words beginning with vowels

If a masculine singular noun starts with a vowel, a t- is added at the start of the word after the definite article an (for example, am time, an t-am the time; uisce water, an t-uisce the water). A hyphen is placed between the letter t and the vowel —unless that vowel is a capital letter (for example, an tUachtarán the President).

Exceptions include euro euro, iomad a great number, and oiread amount. These are written as an euro, an iomad and an oiread respectively. Other exceptions include the following number words: aon one, aonú first, ochtó eighty, ochtú eighth, ochtódú eightieth.

If a plural noun starts with a vowel, a h is added at the start of the word after the definite article na (for example, ainmneacha names, na hainmneacha the names). No hyphen is used.

Words beginning with s

If a feminine singular noun starts with s, AND the s is itself followed by a vowel, l, n or r, then a t is added at the start of the word after the definite article an (for example, seanbhean old woman, an tseanbhean the old woman). No hyphen is used.

The Irish calendar

The names of the seasons and months in the Irish calendar reflect ancient Gaelic culture and tradition.

The seasons of the year are:

English Irish Duration
Spring Earrach February to April
Summer Samhradh May to July
Autumn, Fall Fómhar August to October
Winter Geimhreadh November to January

The seasons are based around the summer and winter solstices (the longest and shortest days of the year, which take place around 21 June and 21 December respectively in the northern hemisphere) and the equinoxes (the days in spring and autumn on which night and day are of equal length, around 20 March and 22 September in the northern hemisphere). The summer solstice in June is deemed to be the high point of summer and the months of summer are May, June and July accordingly. The other seasons are similarly centred around the winter solstice in December, and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes in March and September.

The months of the year are:

English Irish
January Eanáir
February Feabhra
March Márta
April Aibreán
May Bealtaine
June Meitheamh
July Iúil
August Lúnasa
September Mean Fómhair
October Deireadh Fómhair
November Samhain, Mí na Samhna
December Nollaig, Mí na Nollag

Bealtaine, Lúnasa and Samhain were all originally pagan festivals occuring around these times. Meán Fómhair and Deireadh Fómhair literally mean middle of the harvest and end of the harvest. Nollaig also means Christmas.

Family updated 2018-10-25

Muintir, teaghlach, clann

If you look up family in an English-Irish dictionary, you could be presented with all of the above as potential translations - but each has a different meaning!

Muintir is probably the closest to the English word family or kinsfolk, and in its broadest sense it can include parents, children and siblings as well as extended relations.

Teaghlach means family in the sense of household, a group of people living together under the same roof - most commonly parents and children.

Clann refers to the group of children that belong to a set of parents. For example, mo chlann could mean my own children, or my siblings and I. If a girl says that there are five people in her clann, it means that she has four other brothers or sisters.

Verbs: Present 2 updated 2018-10-25

Unusual First Conjugation Verbs

In this skill, you will also be introduced to some...peculiar first conjugation verbs such as tiomáin (to drive), taispeáin (to show) and sábháil (to save). These verbs clearly have 2 syllables, not the usual 1 syllable you've come to expect of first conjugation verbs. These verbs are not considered irregular...they're just a bit odd. Even though they are not monosyllabic, they are conjugated like other verbs in the first conjugation.

Examples:

Exception: The Habitual Present Bím/Bíonn

The Habitual Present is used for actions that occur regularly (normally, generally, often, sometimes, seldom, never). The only verb conjugated in the habitual present tense in Irish is the verb Bí (to be) which becomes Bím (first person singular) or Bíonn sé/sí/muid etc.... In Hiberno-English (the English that is spoken in Ireland) the Irish present habitual has be incorporated into the language using the English verb 'do' as an auxiliary verb followed by a verb in the present continuous tense. This structure is commonly used throughout Ireland.

Examples:

Prepositions 2 updated 2018-10-25

Here are five more prepositional pronouns in all their forms:

Pronoun in before out of under, about off, of, from
(none) i, in roimh as faoi de, d'
me ionam romham asam fúm díom
you (singular) ionat romhat asat fút díot
he, it ann roimhe as faoi de
she, it inti roimpi aisti fúithi di
us ionainn romhainn asainn fúinn dínn
you (plural) ionaibh romhaibh asaibh fúibh díbh
them iontu rompu astu fúthú díobh

I

The basic meaning of this word is in. When the next word begins with a vowel, you write in instead of i. For example, Ritheann sé i bpáirc means He runs in a field, and Oibríonn sé in ospidéal means He works in a hospital.

When i is followed by the singular definite article an, the two words combine to form sa (before a consonant) or san (before a vowel or f followed by a vowel). Similarly, i + na becomes sna.

The preposition i also combines with the possessive adjectives a and ár to form ina and inár.

When used with special forms of the verb , it is possible to use this preposition to describe what something is, instead of using the copula is.


Faoi

The basic meaning of this word is under or about. For example, Ritheann sé faoi dhroichead means He runs under a bridge, and Léann sé faoi eolaíocht means He reads about science.

When used with the verb , it conveys the idea of intention to do something, or planning to do something. For example, Tá fúm rith means I intend to run. (The literal translation of the phrase would be "It is about me to run".)

Genitive Case updated 2018-10-25

Cases

Nouns in Irish have different forms depending on their gender (masculine or feminine), number (singular or plural), and case. Irish has several cases, and each one has a specific grammatical function. The case you will have used in previous lessons is called the nominative case (tuiseal ainmneach), which is used for the subjects and objects of sentences.

The genitive case

The genitive case (tuiseal ginideach) is used to demonstrate a relationship between two nouns. It can often be translated literally as "of". For example, in the phrase "noun A of noun B", noun A would be written in the nominative, and noun B would be in the genitive.

It is used:

Just as when forming a plural, the ending of a noun may change when writing the genitive form, and most nouns obey a regular pattern. For some words the genitive spelling is the same as the nominative singular spelling (or even the plural spelling), but it is always clear from the context which case is being used.

Here is an example of the genitive:

This example highlights three separate features:

  1. The definite article (in this case an) is used only once in Irish, where it is used twice in English.
  2. The noun in the genitive case is lenited (an fhir), whereas it is not lenited in the nominative case (an fear). For singular nouns in the genitive, the rules of lenition in response to gender are reversed compared to the nominative case (in other words, masculine nouns are lenited and feminine nouns are not lenited).
  3. The genitive singular form of fear (fir) is the same as the plural (fir). It will be clear from context and/or from the associated article (an or na) which case is being used.

Examples:

The plural form in the genitive is eclipsed where this is possible. For example, the men's hats is hata na bhfear.

It is helpful to think of the forms in a table like this:

Case Singular Plural
Nominative an fear na fir
Genitive an fhir na bhfear

As for the genitive plural, there are many rules to how it is formed and these are best learned by observing patterns. In the example above, the vowel groups change from broad to slender and vice versa [ea] to [i].

For feminine nouns, the definite article na is used in both the genitive singular and genitive plural, as in the following example:

Case Singular Plural
Nominative an bhialann na bialanna
Genitive na bialainne na mbialann

Declensions

All nouns in Irish belong to one of five groups called declensions (díochlaontaí). Nouns in each declension follow similar rules for the way they form the genitive and the plural, although there are often exceptions. Most dictionaries indicate the declension to which a given noun belongs.

The first declension

These nouns are all masculine and end with broad consonants. In the genitive singular, the last consonant is slenderised by swapping the vowels or adding an extra -i-. Some of these nouns end in -ach; the genitive singular for these nouns will change this to -aigh.

The second declension

These nouns are all feminine. Some end in broad consonants and some end in slender consonants. The genitive singular will usually end in -e. Some of these nouns end in -ach; the genitive singular for these nouns will change this to -aí.

The third declension

Some end in -óir, -éir or -úir; these are masculine. Others end in -íocht, -acht or -int; these are feminine (with the exception of some short words like acht or ceacht which are masculine). The genitive singular ends in -a*.

The fourth declension

These end in -ín or with a vowel. They can be either masculine or feminine. For these nouns, the genitive is identical to the nominative.

The fifth declension

Most of these are feminine. The genitive singular is varied for these nouns; they can end in -ach, -n, -nn or -d.

Negatives updated 2018-10-25

Níl

You have already seen the present habitual tense of the verb conjugated (tá mé/táim, tá tú, and so on). When this is put into the negative, it is conjugated differently.

English Irish
I am not níl mé / nílim
you are not (singular) níl tú
he is not / it is not níl sé
she is not / it is not níl sí
we are not níl muid / nílimid
you are not (plural) níl sibh
they are not níl siad

Comparison updated 2018-10-25

Comparative

The comparative form of the adjective is used to describe something that is more than the other (e.g. bigger, smaller, louder). The word "níos" is used in Irish when using the comparative form.

Superlative

The superlative form of the adjective is used to describe something that is the most (e.g. biggest, smallest, loudest). The word "is" is used in Irish when using the superlative form.

Forming the Comparative and Superlative Forms

There are 5 groups of adjectives when forming the comparative and superlative forms in Irish. They may seem intimidating at first, but the patterns are quite simple.

Group 1

The 1st group is made up of adjectives that end with -ach or -each. To form the comparative/superlative in this group, remove the ending and add -aí (in place of -ach) or -í (in place of -each). Examples: Brónach (sad) and Neirbhíseach (nervous)

ComparativeSuperlative
níos brónaíis brónaí
níos neirbhísíis neirbhísí

Group 2

The 2nd group is made up of adjectives that end with -úil. To form the comparative/superlative in this group, remove the ending and add -úla. Example: Leisciúil (lazy)

ComparativeSuperlative
níos leisciúlais leisciúla

Group 3

The 3rd group is made up of other adjectives that end with a consonant. To form the comparative/superlative in this group, make the adjective slender (if necessary) and add -e. Examples: Saibhir (rich) and Óg (young)

ComparativeSuperlative
níos saibhreis saibhre
níos óigeis óige

Group 4

The 4th group is made up of adjectives that end with a vowel. These usually do not change. Example: Cróga (brave)

ComparativeSuperlative
níos crógais cróga

Group 5

The 5th group is made up of adjectives that are irregular in the comparative and superlative forms.

AdjectiveComparativeSuperlative
fada (long)níos faideis faide
gearr (short)níos giorrais giorra
maith (good)níos fearris fearr
mór (big)níos móis mó
beag (small)níos lúis lú
olc (bad)níos measais measa
tapaidh (fast)níos tapúlais tapúla
te (hot)níos teois teo

Places updated 2018-10-25

Position vs Direction

One note about what we teach in this lesson:

Prepositions 3 updated 2018-10-25

Here are five more prepositional pronouns in all their forms:

Pronoun between to about, around through over
(none) idir do um trí thar
me - dom umam tríom tharam
you (singular) - duit umat tríot tharat
he, it - uime tríd thairis
she, it - di uimpi tríthi thairsti
us eadrainn dúinn umainn trínn tharainn
you (plural) eadraibh daoibh umaibh tríbh tharaibh
them eatarthu dóibh umpu tríothu tharstu

Idir

This preposition normally means between. In this case, no lenition occurs:

When used in the construction idir ... agus ..., it has the special meaning of both ... and ..., or partly ... and .... In this case, the words are lenited:

Passive updated 2018-10-25

The passive is a form of a verb that uses no pronoun. An action is done but no person is given (e.g. apples are eaten every Friday)

In Irish, this form of the verb is known as an briathar saor or an saorbhriathar, meaning free verb or autonomous verb

Passive in the First Conjugation

Here are the endings that are added on to the root in the present tense of first conjugation verbs to form the passive.

Broad Slender Example
-tar -tear dúntar (is/are closed), tuigtear (is/are understood)

You might notice that in English, you use a different form of the verb for singular and plural (an apple is eaten, but apples are eaten). In Irish, the same form is used for both (Itear úll an apple is eaten, Itear úlla apples are eaten)

Passive in the Second Conjugation

Here are the endings that are added on to the root in the present tense of second conjugation verbs to form the passive.

Broad Slender Example
-aítear -ítear ceannaítear (is/are bought), insítear (is/are told)

Passive for Irregular Verbs

Though these verbs are irregular, in the passive they generally use the endings -tar and -tear, with some exceptions that should be learned by heart.

Numbers updated 2021-04-03

In Irish, there are three systems of numbers: disjunctive, general conjunctive, and human conjunctive.

1. Disjunctive numbers

These are known in Irish as maoluimhreacha. They are used when the number is not immediately followed by a noun, such as:

If the number is less than 20, the root word is preceded by the word a (for example, a dó two). Numbers beginning with a vowel have a h added to them after a (for example, a haon one).

For the numbers 11 to 19, the unit (one to nine) is written first, followed by déag (-teen) (for example, a trí déag thirteen). The number 12 is an exception: déag should be lenited (a dó dhéag twelve).

Number Irish
0 a náid
1 a haon
2 a dó
3 a trí
4 a ceathair
5 a cúig
6 a sé
7 a seacht
8 a hocht
9 a naoi
10 a deich
11 a haon déag
12 a dó dhéag
13 a trí déag
14 a ceathair déag
... ...
20 fiche
21 fiche a haon
22 fiche a dó
... ...
30 tríocha
40 daichead
50 caoga
60 seasca
70 seachtó
80 ochtó
90 nócha
100 céad
1000 míle

2. General conjunctive numbers

These are known in Irish as bunuimhreacha. These numbers come before a noun and are used to count the amount of things that are present. In almost all situations, you use the singular version of the noun and not the plural version when counting with bunuimhreacha (for example, to count dogs you use the singular madra instead of the plural madraí). They are used as follows:

1-6

The number is placed before the noun, and the noun is lenited (for example, trí gheata three gates).

7-10

The number is placed before the noun, and the noun is eclipsed (for example, deich ngeata ten gates).

11-19

The unit (one to nine) is placed before the noun, with the noun being lenited or eclipsed as above, and déag (-teen) is placed after the noun (for example, aon bhuachaill déag eleven boys, ocht mbuachaill déag eighteen boys). If the noun ends with a vowel, déag should be lenited (for example, trí oráiste dhéag thirteen oranges.

20+

The unit (one to nine) is placed before the noun, with the noun being lenited or eclipsed as above. The noun is followed by the word is (and), plus the appropriate multiple of ten such as 20, 30, 40 or similar (for example, ceithre chat is fiche twenty-four cats, naoi gcat is tríocha thirty-nine cats). If the number is a multiple of ten (20, 30, 40 or similar), the number is simply placed before the noun with no change of spelling (for example, caoga madra fifty dogs).

Number Irish
1 aon chat amháin
2 dhá chat
3 trí chat
4 ceithre chat
5 cúig chat
6 sé chat
7 seacht gcat
8 ocht gcat
9 naoi gcat
10 deich gcat
11 aon chat déag
12 dhá chat déag
... ...
19 naoi gcat déag
20 fiche cat
21 cat is fiche / aon chat is fiche

An exception applies for nine particular nouns: they use special plural forms instead of the singular form when they are counted with bunuimhreacha. They are:

English Irish Special plural form for counting
year bliain bliana
head/end/one ceann cinn
skull cloigeann cloiginn
twenty fiche fichid
penny pingin pingine
week seachtain seachtaine
third trian treana
foot (measurement) troigh troithe
hour/time uair uaire

3. Human conjunctive numbers

These are called uimhreacha pearsanta. They are used to count people from two up to 12.

Number Irish
1 duine / aon duine amháin
2 beirt
3 triúr
4 ceathrar
5 cúigear
6 seisear
7 seachtar
8 ochtar
9 naonúr
10 deichniúr
11 aon duine dhéag
12 dháréag

Note that duine in 1 and 11 is not lenited. For all other numbers of people you use the general conjunctive numbers as before (for example, trí dhuine dhéag thirteen people).

In fact, these numbers are nouns themselves. If they are followed by the word that is being counted, that word goes into the genitive plural. The number used for two people, beirt, is feminine so it causes the following noun to be lenited, except when the noun begins with d, t or s (for example, beirt bhuachaillí two boys, a couple of boys; beirt déagóirí two teenagers, a couple of teenagers). All the others are masculine and do not cause lenition (for example, cúigear fear five men).

These numbers are used on their own when referring to people in the generic sense (for example, Bhí triúr ann Three people were there). Thus, it is incorrect to refer to triúr daoine.

The word duine used alone has the meaning of one person/a person, but this can be emphasised by adding amháin to it (for example, Bhí duine [amháin] ann There was one person there).

Feelings and Traits updated 2018-10-25

Feelings

There are several ways to express felling in Irish.

Method 1

This method uses a noun and the prepositional pronoun "ar" (on). Here is the prepositional pronoun in all its forms:

EnglishIrish
On meOrm
On you (singular)Ort
On him (it)Air
On her (it)Uirthi
On usOrainn
On youOraibh
On themOrthu
Example: Tá ocras orm. ( I am hungry)

Method 2

This method uses the verb "bí" and and adjective. Example: Táim ocrasach (I am hungry)

Verbs: Past 1 updated 2018-10-25

In Irish, the past tense is used very often and is quite easy to form.

First conjugation

Here are the changes that occur to single syllable (monosyllabic) verbs in the past tense.

Pronoun Broad ending Example Slender ending Example
I lenition + mé dhún mé lenition + mé bhris mé
you (singular) lenition + tú dhún tú lenition + tú bhris tú
he/it lenition + sé dhún sé lenition + sé bhris sé
she/it lenition + sí dhún sí lenition + sí bhris sí
we lenition + muid / lenition + -amar¹ dhún muid / dhúnamar lenition + muid / lenition + -eamar¹ bhris muid / bhriseamar
you (plural) lenition + sibh dhún sibh lenition + sibh bhris sibh
they lenition + siad dhún siad lenition + siad bhris siad
(autonomous) -adh dúnadh -eadh briseadh

¹In the past tense, muid is often not used; it can be incorporated into the verb that precedes it instead, to make what is known as the "synthetic form".

If the verb begins with a vowel, then it is prefixed with d' (instead of a lenition), with no space between d' and the verb. The autonomous form is unchanged.

Examples:

If the verb begins with the letter f, then not only does it undergo lenition, but it is also prefixed with d'. The autonomous form is unchanged.

Examples: D'fhág mé I left * D'fhág muid / D'fhágamar We left * Fágadh an carr ar oscailt The car was left open

Second conjugation

Here are the changes that occur to multiple syllable (polysyllabic) verbs in the past tense.

Pronoun Broad ending Example Slender ending Example
I lenition + mé cheannaigh mé lenition + mé bhailigh mé
you (singular) lenition + tú cheannaigh tú lenition + tú bhailigh tú
he/it lenition + sé cheannaigh sé lenition + sé bhailigh sé
she/it lenition + sí cheannaigh sí lenition + sí bhailigh sí
we lenition + muid / lenition + -aíomar cheannaigh muid / cheannaíomar lenition + muid / lenition + -íomar bhailigh muid / bhailíomar
you (plural) lenition + sibh cheannaigh sibh lenition + sibh bhailigh sibh
they lenition + siad cheannaigh siad lenition + siad bhailigh siad
(autonomous) -aíodh ceannaíodh -íodh bailíodh

If the verb begins with a vowel, then it is prefixed with d'. No change applies to the autonomous form.

Examples:

If the verb begins with the letter f, then it undergoes lenition and is prefixed with d'. The autonomous form is unchanged.

Examples: D'fhreagair sé He answered Freagraíodh an cheist The question was answered

Irregular Verbs

Although some of them look very similar in their conjugation, the 11 irregular verbs do not always follow these rules, so it is necessary to learn these off by heart.

Question and Negative Forms

Question Form To ask a question using a verb in this tense, you use the question word "ar" and the verb is lenited (séimhiú) if possible. Example: Ar dhún sí? (Did she close?)

Bí: An raibh...?

Téigh: An ndeachaigh...?

Déan: An ndearna...?

Feic: An bhfaca...?

Faigh: An bhfuair...?

Abair: An ndúirt...?

Negative Form To make a verb in this tense negative, you use the word "níor" and the verb in lenited (séimhiú) if possible: Example: Níor dhún mé (I did not close), Níor ól sí (She did not drink), Níor fhág sé (He did not leave)

Bí: Ní raibh...

Téigh: Ní dheachaigh...

Déan: Ní dhearna...

Feic: Ní fhaca...

Faigh: Ní bfuair...

Abair: Ní dúirt...

Characteristics updated 2018-10-25

In Irish, when talking about hair, you use the prepositional pronoun "ar" (orm, ort, etc.) when discussing the hair someone has. (E.g. Tá gruaig fhada orm, I have long hair)

Verbs: Past 2 updated 2018-10-25

You should be familiar with the past tense by now, but here are the conjugation rules once again to refresh your memory:

First conjugation

Here are the changes that occur to single syllable (monosyllabic) verbs in the past tense.

Pronoun Broad ending Example Slender ending Example
I lenition + mé dhún mé lenition + mé bhris mé
you (singular) lenition + tú dhún tú lenition + tú bhris tú
he/it lenition + sé dhún sé lenition + sé bhris sé
she/it lenition + sí dhún sí lenition + sí bhris sí
we lenition + muid / lenition + -amar¹ dhún muid / dhúnamar lenition + muid / lenition + -eamar¹ bhris muid / bhriseamar
you (plural) lenition + sibh dhún sibh lenition + sibh bhris sibh
they lenition + siad dhún siad lenition + siad bhris siad
(autonomous) -adh dúnadh -eadh briseadh

¹In the past tense, muid is often not used; it can be incorporated into the verb that precedes it instead, to make what is known as the "synthetic form".

If the verb begins with a vowel, then it is prefixed with d' (instead of a lenition), with no space between d' and the verb. The autonomous form is unchanged.

Examples:

If the verb begins with the letter f, then not only does it undergo lenition, but it is also prefixed with d'. The autonomous form is unchanged.

Examples: D'fhág mé I left * D'fhág muid / D'fhágamar We left * Fágadh an carr ar oscailt The car was left open

Second conjugation

Here are the changes that occur to multiple syllable (polysyllabic) verbs in the past tense.

Pronoun Broad ending Example Slender ending Example
I lenition + mé cheannaigh mé lenition + mé bhailigh mé
you (singular) lenition + tú cheannaigh tú lenition + tú bhailigh tú
he/it lenition + sé cheannaigh sé lenition + sé bhailigh sé
she/it lenition + sí cheannaigh sí lenition + sí bhailigh sí
we lenition + muid / lenition + -aíomar cheannaigh muid / cheannaíomar lenition + muid / lenition + -íomar bhailigh muid / bhailíomar
you (plural) lenition + sibh cheannaigh sibh lenition + sibh bhailigh sibh
they lenition + siad cheannaigh siad lenition + siad bhailigh siad
(autonomous) -aíodh ceannaíodh -íodh bailíodh

If the verb begins with a vowel, then it is prefixed with d'. No change applies to the autonomous form.

Examples:

If the verb begins with the letter f, then it undergoes lenition and is prefixed with d'. The autonomous form is unchanged.

Examples: D'fhreagair sé He answered Freagraíodh an cheist The question was answered

Irregular Verbs

Although some of them look very similar in their conjugation, the 11 irregular verbs do not always follow these rules, so it is necessary to learn these off by heart.

Question and Negative Forms

Question Form To ask a question using a verb in this tense, you use the question word "ar" and the verb is lenited (séimhiú) if possible. Example: Ar dhún sí? (Did she close?)

Bí: An raibh...?

Téigh: An ndeachaigh...?

Déan: An ndearna...?

Feic: An bhfaca...?

Faigh: An bhfuair...?

Abair: An ndúirt...?

Negative Form To make a verb in this tense negative, you use the word "níor" and the verb in lenited (séimhiú) if possible: Example: Níor dhún mé (I did not close), Níor ól sí (She did not drink), Níor fhág sé (He did not leave)

Bí: Ní raibh...

Téigh: Ní dheachaigh...

Déan: Ní dhearna...

Feic: Ní fhaca...

Faigh: Ní bfuair...

Abair: Ní dúirt...

Verbal Noun updated 2018-10-25

Each verb in Irish has its own verbal noun (ainm briathartha). The verbal noun is used in similar ways to the infinitive and the gerund in other languages. There is no absolute way to predict what the verbal noun will look like for a given verb, so you should learn them off by heart when learning new verbs.

Examples:

Objects after a verbal noun

Nouns

When the object of a sentence comes after a verbal noun, and those two words form a complete concept by themselves, the object goes into the genitive case.

Examples:

However, if the verbal noun clause needs to be followed by a prepositional phrase in order for it to make complete sense, then the genitive case is not used.

Pronouns

There are special systems to write things when a pronoun is used as the object of a verbal noun. One system applies when the verbal noun starts with a consonant, and another system is used when it starts with a vowel.

Verbal nouns starting with a consonant

To illustrate this, we will use:

Object pronoun Change Irish English
me do mo + lenition Tá Pól do mo ghlanadh Paul is cleaning me
you (singular) do do + lenition Tá Pól do do ghlanadh Paul is cleaning you
him (it) á + lenition Tá Pól á ghlanadh Paul is cleaning him
her (it) á Tá Pól á glanadh Paul is cleaning her
us dár + eclipsis Tá Pól dár nglanadh Paul is cleaning us
you (plural) do bhur + eclipsis Tá Pól do bhur nglanadh Paul is cleaning you
them á + eclipsis Tá Pól á nglanadh Paul is cleaning them
Verbal nouns starting with a vowel

To illustrate this, we will use:

Object pronoun Change Irish English
me do m' Tá sé do m'aistriú He is transferring me
you (singular) do d' Tá sé do d'aistriú He is transferring you
him (it) á Tá sé á aistriú He is transferring him
her (it) á + h-prefix Tá sé á haistriú He is transferring her
us dár + n-prefix Tá sé dár n-aistriú He is transferring us
you (plural) do bhur + n-prefix Tá sé do bhur n-aistriú He is transferring you
them á + n-prefix Tá sé á n-aistriú He is transferring them

Ireland 2 updated 2018-10-25

Welcome back to Ireland!

On this visit to the Land of Saints and Scholars, you will learn about Irish inventions, traditions and symbols.

Have fun!

Pronouns Reflexive updated 2018-10-25

Pronouns Reflexive

Reflexive pronouns are very easy in Irish. To make a reflexive pronoun, all you have to do is add "féin" after the pronoun.

English Irish
myself mé féin
yourself tú féin
himself/itself é féin
herself/itself í féin
ourselves muid féin/sinn féin
yourselves sibh féin
themselves iad féin

These are then added after the verb and pronoun. For example:

Directions updated 2018-10-25

Position vs Direction

In Irish, there are different words for the same place depending on whether something is there already, or moving relative to it. English kind of has this, with words like in (being there) vs into (going there).

Irish takes this idea much further. As one example, there are different words for up, depending on whether something is going up, already up, or coming back having been up. Let's see it in action:

en ga
I'm going up. Táim ag dul suas.
I'm up. Táim thuas.
I'm coming down (from above). Táim ag teacht anuas.

You may not be too familiar with such a feature, but don't be discouraged! It's actually quite useful. In fact, the very cool thing is that because the word itself indicates relative movement and postion, you can sometimes drop the verb! Example:

Tá sé anuas. He's (on his way) down (having been above).

Go learn all the words, and tell your friends easily and in great detail how things are situated relative to each other!

One more fun fact: the cardinal directions have the features we just learned, plus one more. They have a noun name. Here's an example to explain:

en ga
going towards east soir
situated east thoir
coming from the east anoir
the east an t-oirthear

If this seems slightly out there, don't fret. Enjoy this skill and learn by example, it will make much more sense in context.

Sport updated 2019-02-20

Cúilín or Pointe

In this skill, you will learn two words for point, cúilín and pointe. These words are sometimes used interchangeably, but in general:

Verbs: Future 1 updated 2018-10-25

The future tense is a very common tense in Irish and is easy to form.

The first conjugation

These verbs have only one syllable. In the future tense the ending is, for the most part, added directly onto the root of the verb. Here are the endings that are added:

Pronoun Broad ending Slender ending
I -faidh mé -fidh mé
you (singular) -faidh tú -fidh tú
he/it -faidh sé -fidh sé
she/it -faidh sí -fidh sí
we -faimid / faidh muid -fimid / fidh muid
you (plural) -faidh sibh -fidh sibh
they -faidh siad -fidh siad
(passive voice) -far -fear

Examples:

The second conjugation

These verbs have more than one syllable. The pattern for forming the future tense is very similar to forming the present tense. For verbs ending in -gh, the last syllable of the word is removed to get a root and the endings are then added to that root. For verbs ending in -il, -in, -is or -ir, the last syllable is removed except for the very last letter, and then the appropriate ending is added.

Here are the endings that are added to the stem:

Pronoun Broad ending Slender ending
I -óidh mé -eoidh mé
you (singular) -óidh tú -eoidh tú
he/it -óidh sé -eoidh sé
she/it -óidh sí -eoidh sí
we -óimid / óidh muid -eoimid / eoidh muid
you (plural) -óidh sibh -eoidh sibh
they -óidh siad -eoidh siad
(passive voice) -ófar -eofar

Examples:

Irregular verbs

The irregular verbs do not all follow the above conjugation rules, though you will notice some similarities.

Question form

To make the question form in the future tense, you use the question word an, which causes the verb that comes after it to be eclipsed (if possible).

Examples:

Exceptions include the verb faigh get:

Negative form

To make the negative form in the future tense, you use the negation word , which causes the verb that comes after it to be lenited (if possible).

Examples:

Exceptions include the verbs abair say and faigh get:

Imperative updated 2021-03-11

To form the imperative in Irish, it is very simple.

Second Person Singular

If you are ordering one person, you use this form. It simply uses the verb root.

Examples: Dún! (Close!), Bí ciúin! (Be quiet)

Second Person Plural

If you are ordering several people, you use this form.

In the first conjugation, you add -aigí (broad) or -ígí (slender) to the stem of the verb.

In the second conjugation, first form the stem (if a verb ends in -aigh/-igh, just remove this part of the verb, e.g. ceannaigh -> ceann (stem), if a verb ends in -ail/-il, -ais/-is, -air/-ir, etc., remove this part of the verb but keep the last letter, e.g. cosain -> cosn (stem), imir -> imr (stem)), then just add -aígí (broad) or -ígí (slender) to the stem of the verb.

Example: Dúnaigí (Close!), Imrígí! (Play!), Ceannaígí nuachtáin! (Buy newspapers!)

Negative

To turn an imperative phrase negative, you use the imperative negative particle (this serves the purpose of English don't with relation to the imperative). If the verb starts with a vowel, add a h to the verb after .

Example: Ná dúnaigí! (Don't close!), Ná hól alcól! (Don't drink alcohol!)

Verbs: Imperfect updated 2018-10-25

The imperfect tense (or the past habitual tense) is used to describe what one used to do (e.g. I used to run every Wednesday)

First Conjugation

Here are the endings that are added to the root of single syllable (monosyllabic) verbs in the imperfect tense. (i.e. the first conjugation)

Pronoun Broad Ending Slender Ending Other Changes
-ainn -inn Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
-tá -teá Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Sé/Sí/Sibh -adh -eadh Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Muid -aimis -imis Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Siad -aidís -idís Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Passive -taí -tí Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú

Examples: Mholainn (I used to praise), Thuigteá (You used to understand)

Second Conjugation

Here are the endings that are added to the stem (i.e. last part of the verb's root is removed) of multi-syllable (polysyllabic) verbs in the imperfect. (i.e. the second conjugation)

PronounBroad EndingSlender EndingOther Changes
-aínn-ínnConsonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
-aíteá-íteáConsonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Sé/Sí/Sibh-aíodh-íodhConsonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Muid-aímis-ímisConsonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Siad-aídís-ídísConsonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Passive-aítí-ítíConsonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú

Examples: Cheannaíodh sé (He used to buy), D'insídís (They used to tell)

Question and Negative Forms

Question Form

To make the question form in the imperfect tense, you use the question word "an" and add an urú to the verb. Example: An gceannaíteá? (Did you used to buy?)

Negative Form

To make the negative form in the conditional, you use the word "ní". The verb is lenited. Example: Ní cheannaínn(I did not used to buy)

Verbs: Conditional updated 2018-10-25

The conditional is used to describe what one would do.

First Conjugation

Here are the endings that are added to the root of single syllable (monosyllabic) verbs in the conditional. (i.e. the first conjugation)

Pronoun Broad Ending Slender Ending Other Changes
-fainn -finn Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
-fá -feá Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Sé/Sí -fadh -feadh Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Muid -faimis -fimis Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Sibh -fadh -feadh Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Siad -faidís -fidís Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Autonomous -faí -fí Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú

Examples: Thuigfinn (I would understand), D'éistfeadh sí (She would listen)

Second Conjugation

Here are the endings that are added to the stem (i.e. last part of the verb's root is removed) of multi-syllable (polysyllabic) verbs in the conditional. (i.e. the second conjugation)

Pronoun Broad Ending Slender Ending Other Changes
-óinn -eoinn Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
-ófá -eofá Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Sé/Sí -ódh -eodh Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Muid -óimis -eoimis Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Sibh -ódh -eodh Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Siad -óidís -eoidís Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú
Autonomous -ófaí -eofaí Consonant: Séimhiú, Vowel: D', F: D' and Séimhiú

Examples: Chabhrófá (You would help), D'éalódh sibh (You would escape)

Irregular Verbs

Though these 11 verbs are irregular, some are conjugated similarly to regular verbs in the conditional.

It is hard to give any meaningful rule or pattern for this group as a whole, so you will just have to learn these exceptions by heart.

Question and Negative Forms

Question Form

To make the question form in the conditional, you use the question word "an" and add an urú to the verb. Example: An gcodlófá? (Would you sleep?)

Faigh: An bhfaighinn?

Negative Form

To make the negative form in the conditional, you use the word "ní". The verb is lenited. Example: Ní chodlóinn (I would not sleep)

Faigh: Ní bhfaighinn...

If

When using the conditional mood (yes, this form is technically a mood and not a tense), we use the word to mean if.

causes eclipsis if possible (remember: you can't have move eclipsis and lenition at the same time, so it would be dá mbeadh and never dá mbheadh (which is a monster to pronounce)).

adds an n- ("n fleiscín") before verbs starting with a vowel (e.g. dá n-ólfá (if you would drink/if you drank)

Then, the word mura is used as the negative of (or, opposite of) (mura could be translated as if not)

Mura causes the same changes as

e.g. Mura mbeadh sí tinn (If she were not sick)

Translating the Conditional Mood

You will quickly learn that Irish and English treat the conditional quite differently. In this Irish conditional, the conditional mood is used throughout. For example:

Ólfainn uisce dá mbeadh tart orm.

A literal translation would be: I would drink water if I would be thirsty

This seems a bit unnatural in English. A more common translation would be I would drink water if I were thirsty (using the past subjunctive) or, common in some dialects, I would drink water if I was thirsty (using the preterite).

This is an example where tenses and moods don't match up perfectly between two languages.


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