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How the Language Works

Prepared by Eithne N Ghallchobhair


Adjectives
Comparative and superlative forms
Emphatic suffixes
Nouns
gender of nouns
genitive case, the
vocative case, the
Numbers
Cardinal numbers
Counting irregular nouns
Numerical adjectives
Ordinal numbers
Personal numbers
Orthography
Possessive adjectives
Prefixes
an
r
Prepositions
Simple prepositions
Compound prepositions
Prepositional pronouns
Pronouns
Verb, the
B
Copula
Future tense
Imperative mood
Irregular verbs
Past tense
Present tense
Vowels
Broad and slender vowels

ORTHOGRAPHY
In the Irish language, vowels are separated into two groups: slender (caol) and broad
(leathan). The slender vowels are i, e; the broad vowels are a, o, u.
Caol le caol agus leathan le leathan (Slender with slender and broad with broad)
If, in spelling, a slender vowel comes before a consonant or a group of consonants, there
should be a slender vowel after it as well. Similarly, a, o, u and ae before a consonant
should be followed by a broad vowel. This rule is called Caol le Caol agus leathan le
leathan.
slender
feicfidh t
ithig

broad
fgfaidh m
cramach

THE ARTICLE
The singular definite article the in the nominative case is an. An retains this form
preceding both feminine and masculine nouns. There is no indefinite article.
fear
an fear

(a) man
the man

Na is the plural form of an in all grammatical cases, with the exception of the genitive
singular case which will be dealt with in due course. Na does not affect the following
nouns, except those beginning in a vowel in which case a h precedes the noun:
na cailn
na heitlein

the girls
the planes

NOUNS
All nouns are either masculine or feminine, may be singular or plural and may assume
different cases.
1. Nouns in the nominative singular beginning with a vowel
Masculine nouns preceded by the definite article are prefixed by t-; feminine nouns are
unaffected.
Masculine
stn (hotel)
an t-stn (the hotel)

Feminine
aghaidh (face)
an aghaidh (the face)

ocras (hunger)
an t-ocras (the hunger)

ubh (egg)
an ubh (the egg)

2. Nouns in the nominative singular beginning with the consonants d, h, l, n, r, t, sc-, sl-,
sm-, sp-, st-.
All such nouns irrespective of gender are unaffected when preceded by the definite
article.
Masculine
doras (door)
an doras (the door)

Feminine
lmh (hand)
an lmh (the hand)

teach (house)
an teach (the house)

reilig (graveyard)
an reilig (the graveyard)

sprt (sport)
an sport (the sport)

scoil (school)
an scoil (the school)

3. Nouns in the nominative singular beginning with s, excepting those in 2 above.


Masculine nouns preceded by the definite article are unaffected, feminine nouns are
aspirated.
Masculine
sagart (priest)
an sagart (the priest)

Feminine
sil (eye)
an tsil (the eye)

4. Nouns in the nominative singular beginning with a consonant excepting those in 2


and 3 above.
Masculine nouns preceded by the definite article are unaffected; feminine nouns are
aspirated.
Masculine
fear (man)
an fear (the man)

Feminine
bean (woman)
an bhean (the woman)

Gender
The gender of a noun may frequently be deduced from its ending.
Masculine endings
- (a)ire
- n
- (e)acht*
- ad
- (e)adh
- al
- ar
- ir**
- eoir
- ir
- ir
- ste
- n
- r

iascaire (fisherman), ailtire (architect)


{exceptions: aire (care), trcaire (mercy)}
cosn (path), amhrn (song)
ceacht (lesson), fuacht (cold)
{exception: lacht}
ad (jealousy), buicad (bucket)
geimhreadh (winter), samhradh (summer)
bal (mouth), scal (story)
far (grass), pipar (paper)
{exceptions: mar (finger), smar (berry)}
bicir (baker), bistir (butcher)
minteoir (teacher), feirmeoir (farmer)
{exceptions: beoir (beer), deoir (drop), treoir (guidance)}
cntir (assistant)
{exceptions: altir (altar), agir (injustice), glir (glory),
onir (honour)}
saighdiir (soldier), dochtir (doctor)
coiste (committee), piste (child)
{exceptions: aiste (essay), timpiste (accident), tubaiste
(disaster)}
botn (mistake), prosn (prison)
casr (hammer), pictir (picture)
{exceptions: deirfir (sister), sir (sister)}

{* nouns with one syllable} {** when referring to jobs}

Feminine endings
- (a)l
- (e)il
- (e)ailt
- (a)int
- int
- is/s
- chan
- (a)irt
- (e)acht**
- (a)ocht**
- il
- int
- lann
- eog/g

feadal (whistling)
sbhil (saving)
oscailt (opening)
tuiscint (understanding) {exception: sirsint (sergeant)}
tiomint (driving)
uirlis (instrument)
athbheochan (revival) {exception: meachn (weight)}
scairt (call)
gluaiseacht (movement)
{exceptions: bunreacht (constitution), comhlacht (company)}
filocht (poetry)
baril (opinion)
canint (dialect)
bialann (restaurant)
{exceptions: anlann (sauce), salann (salt)}
bbg (doll) {exception: dallamullg (deception)}

{** nouns with more than one syllable}

An Astril (Australia), An Fhrainc (France), etc.


An Bhinn (The Boyne), An tSionainn (The Shannon)
An Fhraincis (French), An Ghaeilge (Irish)
{exception: An Barla (English)}

Countries:
Rivers:
Languages:
The Vocative Case

The vocative case is used when a person is being addressed. It may occasionally be used,
particularly in poetry, to address plants, animals or inanimate objects.
Female nouns are aspirated in the vocative case; masculine nouns are both aspirated and
slenderised.
Masculine
Samas
duine (person)
madadh (dog)

a Shamais
a dhuine
a mhadaidh

Feminine
Mairad
mn (women)
mthair (mother)

a Mhairad
a mhn
a mhthair

The Genitive Case


A noun assumes the genitive case in the following instances:
- when a noun is the subject of possession:
Samas
an bhean (the woman)

mthair Shamais (Samas mother)


teach na mn (the womans house)

- when a noun immediately follows a compound preposition:


an l (the day)
an it (the place)

i lr an lae (in the middle of the day)


ar fud na hite (all over the place)

- when a noun is the direct object of a verbal noun:


an tr (the country)
airgead (money)

ag taisteal na tre (touring the country)


ag saothr airgid (earning money)

- when a noun is the subject of indefinite quantity:


solas (light)
am (time)

tuilleadh solais (more light)


go leor ama (plenty of time)

- when a noun is the subject of the following prepositions:


chun (to), cois (beside), timpeall (around), trasna (across), fearacht (like):
an scoil (the school)
an phirc (the field)

chun na scoile (to the school)


trasna na pirce (across the field)

The Article in the Genitive Case


The article an is always used in the nominative singular, regardless of gender. In the
genitive case the feminine singular article is na.
an doras (the door)

doras na scoile (the school door)

Nouns in the Genitive Case


1. Nouns in the genitive singular beginning with a vowel
Masculine nouns lose the prefix t- of the nominative case. Feminine nouns are preceded
by a h. Both assume various endings depending on declension.
Nominative
Genitive

Masculine
an t-arn
(the bread)
cruth an arin
(the shape of the bread)

Feminine
an aghaidh
(the face)
dath na haghaidhe
(the colour of the face)

2. Nouns in the genitive singular beginning with the consonants d, h, l, n, r, t, sc-, sl-,
sm-, sp-, st-.
Nominative
Genitive

Masculine
an doras
(the door)
ag oscailt an dorais
(opening the door)

Feminine
an tine
(the fire)
ag lasadh na tine
(lighting the fire)

3. Nouns in the genitive singular beginning with s, excepting sc-, sl-, sm-, sp-, st-.
When preceded by the definite article, such masculine nouns are preceded by t. Feminine
nouns change towards the end.
Nominative
Genitive

Masculine
an siopa
(the shop)
doras an tsiopa
(the shops door)

Feminine
an tsil
(the eye)
dath na sile
(the colour of the eye)

4. Nouns in the genitive singular beginning with a consonant, excepting those in 2 and
3 above.
Masculine nouns preceded by the definite article are aspirated; feminine nouns lose the
aspiration of the nominative case.
Nominative

Masculine
an fear

Feminine
an fhuinneog

Genitive

(the man)
obair an fhir
(the mans work)

(the window)
ag glanadh na fuinneoige
(cleaning the window)

ADJECTIVES
The adjective assumes the gender, case and number of the associated noun or pronoun
and in the majority of instances it follows that noun.
Masculine
leabhar (a book)
leabhar maith (a good book)

Feminine
srn (a nose)
srn mhr (a big nose)

Some exceptions to the above generalisation are as follows:


aimsir (weather)
drochaimsir (bad weather)
scala (news)
dea-scala (good news)
bean (a woman)
seanbhean (an old woman)
In describing nouns in the plural, adjectives must also be added in plural.
Most adjectives ending in a vowel remain unaffected by a plural noun:
tana (thin)
daoine tana (thin people)
simpl (simple)
ceisteanna simpl (simple questions)
{exceptions: bre (fine), which changes to bretha in the plural; and te (hot) which
changes to teo in the plural}
Feminine nouns in the plural do not aspirate the following adjective(s):
oche fhada (a long night)

ocheanta fada (long nights)

Masculine nouns ending in a slender consonant in the plural aspirate adjective(s) that
follow them:
amhrn fada (a long song)

amhrin fhada (long songs)

In the case of adjectives with one syllable, an a is attached to the end of nouns ending in a
broad consonant, and an e to those ending in a slender consonant:
mr (big)
binn (sweet)

fadhbanna mra (big mouths)


guthanna binne (sweet voices)

Adjectives ending in il in the singular end in la in the plural:


flaithiil (generous)

daoine flaithila (generous people)

Adjectives ending in air in the singular end in ra in the plural:


ceist dheacair (a difficult question) ceisteanna deacra (difficult questions)

COMPARATIVE AND SUPERLATIVE FORMS


The comparative and superlative forms of the adjective are the same. Nos precedes the
adjective in the comparative form in the Present and Future Tenses; this becomes n ba in
the Past Tense and in the Conditional Mood. Is precedes the adjective in the superlative
form in the Present and Future Tenses; this becomes ba in the Past Tense and in the
Conditional Mood.
Comparative adjectives change form according to their endings in the nominative
singular.
Adjectives of one syllable are often slenderised: an i and e surround the final consonant:
adjective
glic (cunning)
deas (nice)

comparative
nos glice (more cunning)
nos deise (nicer)

superlative
is glice (most cunning)
is deise (nicest)

Adjectives ending in il in the nominative singular end in la:


adjective
dathil (pretty)
brdil (proud)

comparative
nos dathla
nos brdla

superlative
is dathla
is brdla

Adjectives ending in air in the nominative singular end in ra:


adjective
socair (settled)
deacair (difficult)

comparative
nos socra
nos deacra

superlative
is socra
is deacra

Adjectives ending in each in the nominative singular end in ; adjectives ending in ach in the nominative singular end in a:
adjective
uaigneach (lonely)
cramach (careful)

comparative
nos uaign
nos crama

superlative
is uaign
is crama

The following is a number of the irregular comparative adjectives:


adjective
beag (small)
fada (long)
maith (good)
mr (big)
te (hot)
bre (fine)
furasta (easy)

comparative
nos l
nos faide
nos fearr
nos m
nos teo
nos bretha
nos fusa

superlative
is l
is faide
is fearr
is m
is teo
is bretha
is fusa

THE PREFIXES AN- AND R


The prefix an- (very) aspirates the following noun beginning in a consonant, except those
beginning in d, h, l, n, r, t, s, sc-, sl-, sm-, sp-, st-:
an-mhaith (very good)
an-fhada (very long)
but
an-deas (very nice)
The prefix r (too) aspirates the following noun beginning in a consonant, except those
beginning in h, l, n, r, sc-, sl-, sm-, sp-, st-:
rshearbh (too bitter)
rthe (too hot)
but
r-neata (too neat)

POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVES
mo (my)
do (your)
a (his)
a (her)
r (our)
bhur (your)
a (their)

Consonant
mo mhac (my son)
do chat (your cat)
a bhean (his wife)
a fear (her man)
r gceacht (our lesson)
bhur dteach (your house)
a bhfonn (their tune)

Vowel
mathair (my father)
daird (your attention)
a aghaidh (his face)
a hilleacht (her beauty)
r n-eiteog (our kite)
bhur n-oifig (your office)
a n-uaigh (their grave)

EMPHATIC SUFFIXES
mo (my)
do (your)
a (his)
a (her)
r (our)
bhur (your)
a (their)

Consonant
mo mhacsa
do chatsa
a bheansan
a fearse
r gceachtne
bhur dteachsa
a bhfonnsan

Vowel
mathairse
dairdse
a aghaidhsean
a hilleachtsa
r n-eiteogna
bhur n-oifigse
a n-uaighsean

PRONOUNS
I, me
You
he/it
she/it
we/us
you
they

pronoun
m
t
*s/
*s/
muid
sibh
*siad/iad

emphatic form
mise
tusa
seisean/eisean
sise/ise
muidne
sibhse
siadsan/iadsan

*The forms s, s and siad, and their emphatic equivalent, are used when a pronoun is the
subject immediately following a verb. In all other instances the forms , , iad
and their emphatic equivalents are used.

THE CARDINAL NUMBERS


0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20

a nid
a haon
a d
a tr
a ceathair
a cig
a s
a seacht
a hocht
a naoi
a deich
a haon dag
a d dhag
a tr dag
a ceathair dag
a cig dag
a s dag
a seacht dag
a hocht dag
a naoi dag
fiche

21 fiche a haon
22 fiche a d
30 trocha
35 trocha a cig
40 daichead/ceathracha
46 daichead a s
50 caoga/leathchad
57 caoga a seacht
60 seasca
69 seasca a naoi
70 seacht
77 seacht a seacht
80 ocht
88 ocht a hocht
90 ncha
99 ncha a naoi
100 cad
200 dh chad
300 tr chad
1,000
mle

NUMERICAL ADJECTIVES
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

capall (aon chapall amhin)


dh chapall
tr chapall
ceithre chapall
cig chapall
s chapall
seacht gcapall
ocht gcapall
naoi gcapall
deich gcapall

11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20

aon chapall dag


dh chapall dag
tr chapall dag
ceithre chapall dag
cig chapall dag
s chapall dag
seacht gcapall dag
ocht gcapall dag
naoi gcapall dag
fiche capall

The singular form of the noun is usually retained following numbers.

COUNTING IRREGULAR NOUNS


There are a number of exceptions: ceann, bliain, fiche and uair.
bliain (year)
bliain amhin
dh bhliain
tr bliana
ceithre bliana
cig bliana
s bliana
seacht mbliana
ocht mbliana
naoi mbliana
deich mbliana
aon bhliain dag

one year
two years
three years
four years
five years
six years
seven years
eight years
nine years
ten years
eleven years

The same rules apply when counting 12-19 years


dh bhliain dag
tr bliana dag
seacht mbliana dag

twelve years
thirteen years
seventeen years

uair (hour or time)


uair
dh uair
tr huaire
ceithre huaire
cig huaire
s huaire
seacht n-uaire
ocht n-uaire
naoi n-uaire

one hour
two hours
three hours
four hours
five hours
six hours
seven hours
eight hours
nine hours

deich n-uaire

ten hours

PERSONAL NUMBERS
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

duine (aon duine amhin)


beirt
trir
ceathrar
cigear
seisear
seachtar
ochtar
naonr
deichnir

11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20

aon duine dhag


drag
tr dhuine dhag
ceithre dhuine dhag
cig dhuine dhag
s dhuine dag
seacht nduine dhag
ocht nduine dhag
naoi nduine dhag
fiche duine

Nouns following the personal numbers are usually written in the genitive plural.
seisear inonacha (six daughters)
seachtar mac (seven sons)
ceathrar deirfiracha (four sisters)
Nouns beginning with a consonant are aspirated following beirt.
beirt mhac (two sons)
beirt fhidlir (two fiddlers)

ORDINAL NUMBERS
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

an chad l (the first day)


an dara l
an tr l
an ceathr l
an cigi l
an s l
an seacht l
an t-ocht l
an nao l
an deichi l

11 an t-aon l dag
12 an dara l dag
13 an tr l dag
14 an ceathr l dag
15 an cigi l dag
16 an s l dag
17 an seacht l dag
18 an t-ocht l dag
19 an nao l dag
20 an fichi l

Nouns beginning with a consonant, except those beginning in d, h, l, n, r, t, sc-, sl-, sm-,
sp-, st-, aspirate the noun following an chad.
an chad fhear (the first man)
but
an chad duine (the first person)

Nouns beginning with a consonant are not affected by ordinal numbers an dara - an
deichi; nouns beginning with a vowel, however, are preceded by a h.
an dara bean (the second woman)
an tr hit (the third place)
an s hoche (the sixth night)
an deichi hiarracht (the tenth attempt)

THE VERB
The majority of verbs in Irish are regular.
Regular Verbs
Regular verbs are divided into two conjugations i.e. the first conjugation and the second
conjugation.
Remember!: Caol le caol agus leathan le leathan
The Imperative Mood
The first conjugation:
1 sg.
2 sg.
3 sg.
1 pl.
2 pl.
3pl.
Passive

Broad
bogaim
bog
bogadh s / s
bogaimis
bogaig
bogaids
bogtar

Slender
caillim
caill
cailleadh s / s
caillimis
caillig
caillids
cailltear

The second conjugation:


1 sg.
2 sg.
3 sg.
1 pl.
2 pl.
3pl.
Passive

Broad
admham
admhaigh
admhaodh s / s
admhamis
admhag
admhads
admhatear

Slender
bailm
bailigh
bailodh s / s
bailmis
bailg
bailds
bailtear

The negative of the imperative is formed by placing n before the verb. Verbs beginning
with a consonant remain unaffected when preceded by n; those beginning with a vowel
are preceded by h.
N bog sin. (Dont move that.)
N hl an t-uisce. (Dont drink the water.)
The Present Tense
In the first conjugation the endings ann or eann are placed at the end of the imperative
singular form of the verb.

Imperative
1 sg.
2 sg.
3 sg.
1 pl.
2 pl.
3pl.

Broad
bog (move)
bogaim
bogann t
bogann s/ s
bogann muid / bogaimid
bogann sibh
bogann siad

Slender
caill (lose)
caillim
cailleann t
cailleann s/ s
cailleann muid / ithimid
cailleann sibh
cailleann siad

In the second conjugation the igh contained in the imperative form of the verb is
reduced to and the ending onn is added.
Imperative
1 sg.
2 sg.
3 sg.
1 pl.
2 pl.
3pl.

Broad
admhaigh (admit)
admham
admhaonn t
admhaonn s/s
admhaonn muid
admhaonn sibh
admhaonn siad

Slender
bailigh (collect)
bailm
bailonn t
bailonn s/s
bailonn muid
bailonn sibh
bailonn siad

In the Present Tense a question is formed by placing an before the verb. An demands an
eclipse on all verbs beginning with a consonant except those beginning in l, n, r, t, sc-, sl, sm-, sp-, st-. Verbs beginning in a vowel remain unaffected.
An mbogann t as an teach sa samhradh? (Do you move from the house in summer?)
An mbailonn s na pist? (Does he collect the children?)
An lann t caife? (Do you drink coffee?)
N before the verb indicates a negative statement. N aspirates all verbs beginning with a
consonant except those beginning in l, n, r, t, sc-, sl-, sm-, sp-, st-. Verbs beginning in a
vowel remain unaffected.
N bhogaim. (I dont move.)
N laim an oiread sin. (I dont drink much.)
There is no Irish equivalent of yes/no; when answering yes or no, the verb used in the
question must be also used in the answer.
An gceannaonn t brga ansin? (Do you buy shoes there?)
Ceannam. / N cheannam. (Yes. / No.)
The Future Tense
In first conjugation the endings faidh or fidh are placed after the imperative form of
the verb.

Imperative
1 sg.
2 sg.
3 sg.
1 pl.
2 pl.
3pl.

Broad
bog (move / leave)
bogfaidh m
bogfaidh t
bogfaidh s / s
bogfaidh muid / bogfaimid
bogfaidh sibh
bogfaidh siad

Slender
caill (lose)
caillfidh m
caillfidh t
caillfidh s / s
caillfidh muid / caillfimid
caillfidh sibh
caillfidh siad

In the second conjugation the aigh contained in the imperative form of the verb is
replaced by idh or eoidh.
Imperative
1 sg.
2 sg.
3 sg.
1 pl.
2 pl.
3pl.

Broad
admhaigh (admit)
admhidh m
admhidh t
admhidh s / s
admhidh muid / admhimid
admhidh sibh
admhidh siad

Slender
bailigh (collect)
baileoidh m
baileoidh t
baileoidh s / s
baileoidh muid / baileoimid
baileoidh sibh
baileoidh siad

The format for asking a question in the Future Tense resembles that used in the Present
Tense. The same rules apply.
An + eclipse + verb (+ noun / pronoun).
N + aspiration + verb (+ noun/ pronoun).
An mbogfaidh t do rothar? (Will you move your bicycle?)
N bhogfaidh. (No. / I will not.)
An admhidh siad go raibh siad mcheart? (Will they admit they were wrong?)
N admhidh. (No. / They will not.)

The Past Tense


In the first conjugation the imperative form of verbs beginning with a consonant, with the
exception of those beginning with d, h, l, n, r, t, sc-, sl-, sm-, sp-, st-, are aspirated; verbs
beginning with a vowel are preceded by d; verbs beginning in f- are both aspirated and
preceded by d.
The first conjugation:
Imperative

Broad
bog (move)

Slender
caill (lose)

bhog m
bhog t
bhog s / s
bhogamar / bhog muid
bhog sibh
bhog siad

1 sg.
2 sg.
3 sg.
1 pl.
2 pl.
3pl.

chaill m
chaill t
chaill s / s
chailleamar / chaill muid
chaill sibh
chaill siad

The second conjugation follows the same rules as those used in the first conjugation in
the Past Tense.
Broad
admhaigh (admit)
dadmhaigh m
dadmhaigh t
dadmhaigh s / s
dadmhaigh muid
dadmhaigh sibh
dadmhaigh siad

Imperative
1 sg.
2 sg.
3 sg.
1 pl.
2 pl.
3pl.

Slender
fiafraigh (ask)
dfhiafraigh m
dfhiafraigh t
dfhiafraigh s / s
dfhiafraigh muid
dfhiafraigh sibh
dfhiafraigh siad

In the Past Tense a question is formed by inserting ar before the verb. Ar demands that
all following verbs beginning with a consonant be aspirated, except those beginning in d,
h, l, n, r, t, sc-, sl-, sm-, sp-, st-. Verbs beginning in a vowel remain unaffected.
Ar bhog t do rothar? (Did you move your bicycle?)
Ar fhiafraigh t de c raibh s? (Did you ask him where he was?)
Ar l siad an caife? (Did they drink the coffee?)
Nor before the verb indicates a negative statement. Nor aspirates all verbs beginning
with a consonant except those beginning in d, h, l, n, r, t, sc-, sl-, sm-, sp-, st-. Verbs
beginning in a vowel remain unaffected.
Ar bhog t do rothar? (Did you move your bicycle?)
Bhog. / Nor bhog. (Yes. / No.)
Ar l siad an caife? (Did they drink they coffee?)
Dl. / Nor l. (Yes. / No.)
Ar fhiafraigh t de c raibh s? (Did you ask him where he was?)
Dfhiafraigh. / Nor fhiafraigh. (Yes / No.)
Irregular Verbs
Imperative
Abair (Say)

Present Tense
Deirim
An ndeir t?
Deirim / N deirim

Future Tense
Past Tense
Darfaidh m
Dirt m
An ndarfaidh t?
An ndirt t?
Darfaidh / N darfaidh Dirt / N dirt

Imperative
Present Tense
Clois (Hear) Cloisim
An gcloiseann t?
Cloisim / N chloisim

Future Tense
Cloisfidh m
An gcloisfidh t?
Cloisfidh / N chloisfidh

Past Tense
Chulala m
Ar chuala t?
Chuala / Nor chuala

Imperative
Dan (Do)

Present Tense
Future Tense
Past Tense
Danaim
Danfaidh m
Rinne m
An ndanann t?
An ndanfaidh t?
An ndearna t?
Danaim / N dhanaim Danfaidh / N dhanfaidh Rinne / N dhearna

Imperative
Faigh (Get)

Present Tense
Future Tense
Past Tense
Faighim
Gheobhaidh m
Fuair m
An bhfaigheann t? An bhfaighidh t?
An bhfuair t?
Faighim / N fhaighim Gheobhaidh / N bhfaighidh Fuair/N bhfuair

Imperative
Feic (See)

Present Tense
Feicim
An bhfeiceann t?
Feicim / N fheicim

Future Tense
Feicfidh m
An bhfeicfidh t?
Feicfidh / N fheicfidh

Past Tense
Chonaic m
An bhfaca t?
Chonaic / N fhaca

Imperative
Ith (Eat)

Present Tense
Ithim
An itheann t?
Ithim / N ithim

Future Tense
osfaidh m
An osfaidh t?
osfaidh / N osfaidh

Past Tense
Dith m
Ar ith t?
Dith / Nor ith

Imperative
Tabhair
(Give)

Present Tense
Tugaim
An dtugann t?
Tugaim / N thugaim

Future Tense
Past Tense
Tabharfaidh m
Thug m
An dtabharfaidh t?
Ar thug t?
Tabharfaidh / N thabharfaidh Thug / Nor thug

Imperative
Tar (Come)

Present Tense
Tagaim
An dtagann t?
Tagaim / N thagaim

Future Tense
Tiocfaidh m
An dtiocfaidh t?
Tiocfaidh / N thiocrfaidh

Past Tense
Thinig m
Ar thinig t?
Thinig / Nor thinig

Imperative
Tigh (Go)

Present Tense
Tim
An dtann t?
Tim / N thim

Future Tense
Rachaidh m
An rachaidh t?
Rachaidh / N rachaidh

Past Tense
Chuaigh m
An ndeachaigh t?
Chuaigh / N dheachaigh

Imperative
B (Be)

Present Tense
T m / Tim
An bhfuil t?
T m / Nl m

Future Tense
Beidh m
An mbeidh t?
Beidh / N bheidh

Past Tense
Bh m
An raibh t?
Bh / N raibh

The verb b (be)


The verb to be in Irish is unique in that it has two distinct forms in the Present Tense: the
Present Indicative and the Present Habitual.

1st sg.
2nd sg.
3rd sg. masc.
3rd sg. fem.
1st pl.
2nd pl.
3rd pl.

Present Indicative
t m (tim)
t t
t s
t s
t muid
t sibh
t said

Present Habitual
bonn m (bm)
bonn t
bonn s
bonn s
bonn muid
bonn sibh
bonn siad

Dependent forms of the verb following go and nach are as follows:


Present Indicative
Present Habitual
Past Indicative
Future Indicative

Positive
go bhfuil
go mbonn
go raibh
go mbeidh

Negative
nach bhfuil
nach mbonn
nach raibh
nach mbeidh

THE COPULA
The copula is frequently used in conjunction with nouns / pronouns:
Is mise ine. Is altra m. (Im ine, Im a nurse.)
in discussing possession:
Is liomsa an mla. (The bag is mine.)
in comparing nouns:
Is ille Mirn n Aisling. (Mirn is prettier than Aisling.)
in describing feelings:
Is maith liom fon dearg. (I like red wine.)
Is fuath liom an tobac. (I hate tobacco.)
A question is formed in the Present and Future Tenses by replacing is with an.
N preceding the noun / pronoun indicates a negative statement.
An maith leat fon dearg? (Do you like red wine?)
Is maith / N maith. (Yes / No.)
An fuath leis peil? (Does he hate football?)
Is fuath / N fuath. (Yes / No.)
An minteoir ine? (Is ine a teacher?)
N hea, is altra . (No. shes a nurse.)

The Past Tense


The copula acts similarly in the Past Tense and Conditional Mood.
Ba replaces is. Ba aspirates following nouns beginning in consonants, with the exception
of l, n, r, t, sc-, sl-, sm-, sp-, st-. It is abbreviated to b when preceding nouns begin in a
vowel and both abbreviates and aspirates nouns beginning in f.
Ba mhinteoir ine. (ine was a teacher.)
Ba mhaith leis peil. (He liked football.)
Bfhuath leat uisce beatha. (You hated whiskey.)

PREPOSITIONS
There are two groups of prepositions
1. simple prepositions
2. compound prepositions
Simple Prepositions
Nouns following ag, as, chuig, remain unchanged.
Nouns following do, de, f, faoi, ar, are aspirated.
Nouns beginning with a vowel and following le, go are preceded by a h
Nouns following i are eclipsed.
Compound prepositions
Nouns following compound prepositions (e.g. ar feadh, ar son, os comhair) assume the
genitive case.
Prepositions with the Singular Article
When joined to the definite article, a number of prepositions change form. This is usually
for pronunciation reasons.
do + an
i + an
i + an
le + an
+ an
1
2

> don (to / for the)


> sa (in the)1
> san (in the)2
> leis an (with the)
n (from the)

When preceding a noun beginning with a consonant


When preceding a noun beginning with a vowel

Prepositions eclipse (or aspirate in the case of Ulster Irish) following nouns beginning
with a consonant, with the exception of those beginning with d, h, l, n, r, t, sc-, sl-, sm-,
sp-, st-.
ag an bhfuinneog (Ulster: ag an fhuinneog) (at the window)
leis an bpiste (Ulster: leis an bpiste) (with the child)
but
n scoil (from the school)
Nouns that follow don, den and sa are aspirated:
don bhean (for the woman)
sa bhaile (at home)

1
2

When preceding a noun beginning with a consonant


When preceding a noun beginning with a vowel

Feminine nouns beginning with a vowel and used in conjunction with a preposition and
the definite article remain unaffected; masculine nouns lose the t-:
an t-arn (the bread)
an gbhean (the young woman)

ar an arn (on the bread)


leis an gbhean (with the young woman)

Prespositions with the Plural Article


With the exception of i and le, prepositions remain in their original form when used in
conjunction with the plural article.
i + na > sna (in the)
le + na > leis na (with the)
The plural article na does not aspirate following nouns but does demand a h in front of
nouns beginning with a vowel.
ar na fir (on the men)
leis na hair (with the ministers)

PREPOSITIONAL PRONOUNS

ag (at)
ar (on)
as (from)
chuig (to)
do (to / for)
le (with)
(from)

1st sg. 2nd sg. 3rd sg. masc.


m
t
s
agam agat
aige
orm
ort
air
asam asat
as
chugam chugat chuige
domh duit
d
liom leat
leis
uaim uait
uaidh

3rd sg. fem.


s
aici
uirthi
aisti
chuici
d
li
uaithi

1st pl.
muid
againn
orainn
astainn
chugainn
dinn
linn
uainn

2nd pl.
sibh
agaibh
oraibh
asaibh
chugaibh
daoibh
libh
uaibh

3rd pl.
siad
acu
orthu
astu
chucu
dibh
leo
uathu