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Lesson 1

The purpose of the course is to give Americans, whether of Irish descent or not, a working knowledge of the Irish language. This course begins with the basics and is entirely self-contained. We have planned it especially for persons who are studying alone or in small groups without a teacher, books or recordings. To keep your past study lessons handy, each week remove the lesson from the paper and paste or staple it into a notebook, so that you will have the lessons available for review or reference. Pronunciation and study methods are important for you who are learning Irish in this way. We will say a few words about these two subjects first.

Pronunciation Americans studying Irish have always learned pronunciation from either an Irish speaker or from one of several recordings accompanying text- books. Because we will not be able to teach pronunciation in these ways, we will give you a simple pronunciation guide system and then extra instruction from time to time. If you have the chance to listen to a native speaker, however, do so. There are differences in regional pronunciation in Irish, as in other languages, but if the speaker talks slowly and clearly, you should have little trouble in understanding the words you know. The pronunciation given in the guide for this lesson series is not based exclusively on any one region of Ireland. Where the differences are sig- nificant, we will give you some of the other pronunciations and usage, to make it easier to talk to all speakers.

Study Method

Learn the pronunciation guide system and do the practice work for English words that we will give you.

For each Irish word, phrase, or sentence, first look at the pronunciation guide (which will always be in parentheses) and say the word or words several times out loud. Then look at the Irish word and pronounce it several more times. After you have gone over the lesson in this way, write the Irish words, copying them from the lesson and saying them out loud as you copy them.

Each time you say an Irish word or phrase, try to form a picture in your mind of the meaning. Although this is difficult with some single words, persist and it will become easier as the phrases and sentences become longer.

Translation is the next step. Read the Irish word or phrase out loud and then translate it into English. Do this several times, until you are sure that you know it. Then translate the English into Irish several times. If you are learning Irish with others, each person can give another a word or phrase to translate and can take a part in the conversation in the lessons.

In the conversation exercises, look first at the pronunciation and meaning, then look up from the lesson before you say the Irish words out loud. Work phrase by phrase at first, until you can memorize entire sentences. If you study with others, take turns in reading what each character says. In the conversation exercises, you will see words and phrases that will seem difficult at first. Memorize them and don’t worry about the grammar. It will be explained later.

Pronunciation guide system Most of the symbols are letters and letter groups for sounds common in familiar English words. If you pronounce them in that way for the first few lessons, you will be close enough for a beginning. We will gradually correct you and improve your pronunciation as you advance, so that you will soon have a genuine Irish pronunciation. For most consonants, such as b, d, f, g, h, l, m, n, p, r, s, and t we will use the letters themselves as pronunciation symbols. In the lessons you will get instructions on how to pronounce these sounds in the Irish way. Nearly all these consonants have two sounds in Irish, depending on what vowels are next to them. (English “c” and “g” also have this characteristic. Notice how you start to pronounce “king” and “coat”, and then “give” and “go”.)

The vowel symbols may need some explanation, so here are the symbols and description of their pronunciation:

Symbols and pronunciation (ah) as in English “ah-hah”.

(a) as in English “at”.

(aw*) as in English “tot”. but held for a longer time

(ay*) as Irish pronounce English “say” without a trace of (ee) as in English “mean”.

(i) as in English “pin”.

(eye) as in English “eye”.

(oh) as in English “toe”, but without the trace of (oo) sound at the end as in English “food”. (oo) as in English “food”.

(u) as in English “put”.

(uh) as in English “but”. (ou) as in English “shout”

We will capitalize the letters in the accented part of the word or phrase. We will use asterisks, as in some symbols above, to indicate a sound fairly different from usual English sounds. Remember, too, that many Irish sounds are not exactly like their English counterparts. Some English sounds, such as “z” and “th” are not in Irish.

Now try these English words as practice in using the pronunciation guide system:

(boht) (HAM-muhr) (kin) (KUH-stuhm-ayr-ee) (de-LIV-uh-ree) (giv) (trans-LAYT) (ad-MEYE-uhr) (ful-FIL) (fuhn-duh-MENT-uhl) (wohnt) (wawnt) (tawt).

The actual English words for these are: boat, hammer, kin, customary, delivery, give, translate, admire, fulfill, fundamental, won’t, want, taught. These sounds are not always exact, as you can see, but are close enough to be understood.

Lesson 2

You are now ready to make a classic entry into the Irish language, by way of an important verb: Tá (taw*). “Tá” serves to tell where something is or what its condition is, and therefore it has some of the functions of English “is”.

For the (t) sound next to an “a”, “o” or “u”, put the front part of your tongue up along the top of your mouth, with the tip against the upper front teeth and almost--but not quite--protruding between the teeth. Pronounce the (t) sound a few times. If you extend the tongue too far between the teeth, you will say English “th” as in “that” or “throw”. Irish does not have those sounds.

For the (aw*) sound, say the English word “tot”, but start the word with the Irish (t) you have just learned. Repeat several times, then drop the final “t” and lengthen the (aw*) sound. As a check, try making the (aw*) sound in another way: Say English “awful” several times slowly, and notice that your lips are pushed far out. Try the word with your lips held in closer and more rounded. You may recognize the sound as the way some Irish pronounce “awful”.

Now learn these words, referring back to the Lesson 1 pronunciation guide as necessary:

Tá sé (TAW* shay*) he is, it is tá sí (TAW* shee) she is tá mé (TAW* may) I am fuar (FOO-uhr) cold mór (mohr) big te (te) hot óg (ohg) young sean (shan) old lán (law*n) full

Next, learn these sentences, then translate them. Form a mental picture each time.

Tá sé fuar. Tá mé mór. Tá sí óg. Tá sé lán. Tá sé te. Tá sí sean.

Learn these new words thoroughly:

fear (far) man, a man cat (kaht) cat, a cat bean (ban) woman, a woman cailín (kah-LEEN) girl, a girl bord (bohrd) table, a table ard (ahrd) high, tall gairid (GAH-rid) short anseo (un-SHUH) here ansin (un-SHIN) there fada (FAH-duh) long bosca (BOHSK-uh) box, a box íseal (EE-shuhl) low, short sráid (sraw*d) street, a street agus (AH-guhs) and láidir (LAW*-dir) strong tanaí (TAH-nee) thin ramhar (ROU-wuhr) fat cam (koum) crooked

We can substitute these into the basic sentence “Tá sé fuar”, he is cold, to make new sentences:

Tá fear anseo (taw* FAR un-SHUH). A man is here. Tá Seán anseo (taw* SHAW*N un-SHUH). John is here. Tá bean agus fear ansin (taw* BAN AH-guhs FAR un-SHIN). A women and a man are there. Tá Bríd láidir (taw* BREED LAW*-dir). Bridget is strong. “Tá” is irregular, one of only ten or eleven Irish verbs that are. For the negative of “tá”, the basic word is “níl” (neel).

Read these:

Níl sé mór (NEEL shay* mohr). He is not big. Níl mé fuar (NEEL may* FOO-uhr). I am not cold. Níl Seán ramhar (NEEL shaw*n ROU-wuhr). John is not fat.

For questioning with “tá”, the basic group is “an bhfuil” (un VWIL). In the West of Ireland this may be pronounced (un WIL).

Read these:

An bhfuil fear ansin? (un vwil FAR un-SHIN) Is a man there? An bhfuil Nóra óg? (un vwil NOH-ruh ohg) Is Nora young? An bhfuil bosca anseo? (un vwil BOHSK-uh un-SHUH) Is there a box here?

Pronunciation Irish t and d. Every Irish consonant has two different sounds. The one selected depends on what kind of vowel is next to the consonant. The vow- els “a”, “o” and “u” are called broad and give the broad sound to consonants next to them. The slender vowels are “e”, “i”, “ea” and often “ai”.

You learned how to pronounce broad “t” above, in the word “tá”. Pronounce a broad “d” with the front part of the tongue in the same position, along the roof of the mouth, with the tongue tip almost protruding between the teeth.

Try: dá (daw*), dó (doh), dún (doon), drom (drohm), dlú (dloo), dath (dah).

For slender “d” and “t”, place the tongue tip, and only the tip, on the hard ridge just behind your upper front teeth. Then pronounce the “t “ or “d”. (In the West there is a tendency to pronounce these by sliding the tongue off the ridge, giving sounds closer to ch or j). Practice on these:

deil (del), déan(day*n), dílis (DEE-lish), ding (ding), deacair (DAK-uhr), dlí (dlee), te (te), téann (TAY*-uhn), timire (TEEM-i-re), teas (tas).

Conversation Read this carefully until you can go from one language to the other quickly, phrase by phrase and sentence by sentence.

Do not try to understand the grammar of the words or phrases yet. Pay special attention to “duit”. This is generally pronounced with a (g) sound at the start, and we will do that in this lesson. The letter “u” in the word merely tells you that the “d” or “g” gets its broad sound. The “t” must get a slender sound.

Séamas: (SHAY*-muhs): Dia duit, a Nóra (DEE-uh git, uh NOH-ruh). Hello, Nora. Nóra: Dia’s Muire duit, a Shéamais (DEE-uhs MWIR-uh git, uh HAY*-mish). Hello James. Séamas: Conas tá tú? (KUN-uhs TAW*too). How are you? Nóra: Tá mé go maith, agus conas tá tú féin? (TAW* may* goh MAH, AH-guhs KUN-uhs TAW* too fay*n). I am well, and how are you? Séamas: Tá mé go maith, leis. (TAW*may* goh MAH, lesh). I am well, too.

Lesson 3 One of the characteristics of modern printed Irish is the frequency of the letter “h” after consonants in words. Generally the “h” is not sounded by itself but instead indicates a pronunciation change in the consonant directly ahead of it. This change, called “aspiration”, occurs in other languages, too. In English, for example, you know that the word “philosophy” is pronounced with “f” sounds, not “p” sounds. The “h” after the “p” tells you this, as it does in “Philip” and “triumph.” A German pronounces “ach” differently from “ac” or “ak”, too, because he knows that the “h” indicates a change, which we call “aspiration” in Irish.

Aspiration is nothing more than a relaxation of the tongue as you say a consonant, so that air can flow out of the mouth more easily. Aspiration can occur for initial consonants under the effect of preceding words or word groups, such as “my” or “in the”. Aspiration can also occur in the middle or at the end of a word. We will now give you an “aspiration vocabulary,” so that you will be able to pronounce aspirated consonants more easily as you read them.

Nearly all the aspirated sounds are close to English sounds, but the aspirated “c” sounds are somewhat different. Learn them separately first:

When ordinary, unaspirated “c” is next to “a”, “o”, or “u”, pronounce it like the “c” in “coat” or “coal.” This is called “broad c.” Notice that your tongue rises at the back and touches the roof of your mouth for the “c” sound. Try these Irish words: cáil (kaw*l), cóta (KOH-tuh), cúpla (KOOP-luh).

To make the aspirated sound, pronounce the “c” without letting the tongue rise so high. Try the German word “ach” first. Then try the aspirated sounds in: lach (lahk*), loch (lohk*), dúchas (DOOK*-uhs).

Next, try the sound at the start of words: cháil (k*aw*l), chóta (K*OH-tuh), chúpla (K*OOP-luh). We will use the symbol (K*) for the aspirated “broad c” sound.

Pronounce “c” next to “e”, “i”, or before “ea” like the “k” in “kill” or “kit”. Notice that the tongue top touches the roof of the mouth farther forward than for “broad c.” Try these Irish words: ceil (kel), cíos (kees), ceannaigh (KyAN-ee).

To aspirate, say the “c” without letting the tongue touch the roof of the mouth. The sound will be like a “y” in English with a slight “h” sound before it; we will use (hy) as the symbol.

Try: cheil (hyel), chíos (hyees), cheannaigh (HYAN-ee). In parts of Ireland, the sound is closer to English “h.”

Now learn this aspiration vocabulary. (“Mo” means “my” and aspirates the nine aspirable consonants after it.):

béal, mo bhéal (bay*l, muh VAY*L) mouth, my mouth. bád, mo bhád (baw*d, muh VAW*D) boat, my boat. cistin, mo chistin (KISH-tin, muh HYISH-tin) kitchen, my kitchen. cóta, mo chóta (KOH-tuh, muh K*OH-tuh) coat, my coat. deis, mo dheis (desh, muh YESH) opportunity, my opportunity. dóthain, mo dhóthain (DOH-hin, muh GOH-hin) enough, enough for me. fear, mo fhear (far, mar) man, my man. fáinne, mo fháinne (FAW*-nye, MAW*nye) ring, my ring. géag, mo ghéag (GAY*-ugh, muh YAY*-uhg) arm, my arm. gairdín, mo ghairdín (gahr-DEEN, muh gahr-DEEN) garden, my garden. mian, mo mhian (MEE-uhn, muh VEE-uhn) wish, my wish. mála, mo mhála (MAW*-luh, muh VWAW*-luh) bag, my bag. peata, mo pheata (PAT-uh, muh FAT-uh) pet, my pet. póca, mo phóca (POH-kuh, muh FOH-kuh) pocket, my pocket. séire, mo shéire (SHAY*-ruh, muh HAY*-ruh) supper, my supper. sál, mo shál (saw*l, muh HAW*L) heel, my heel. tír, mo thír (teer, muh HEER) country, my country. talamh, mo thalamh (TAH-luhv, muh HAH-luhv) land, my land.

Conversation After you have learned this conversation, go over it again to look for examples of aspiration in it, and see how the pronunciation is changed. Séamas: (SHAY*-muhs): Dia duit, a Nóra (DEE-uh git, uh NOH-ruh) Hello, Nora. Nóra: Dia’s Muire duit, a Shéamais (DEE-uhs MWIR-uh git, uh HAY*-mish) Hello James. Séamas: Conas tá tú inniu? (KUN-uhs TAW* too in-YOO) How are you today? Nóra: Tá mé go maith, agus conas tá tú féin? (TAW* may* goh MAH, AH-guhs KUN-uhs TAW* too fay*n) I am well, and how are you your- self? Séamas: Tá mé go maith leis, ach níl mé ag obair anois (TAW* may* go MAH lesh, ahk* NEEL may* eg UH-bir uh-NISH) I am well, too, but I am not working now. Nóra: Níl an aimsir go maith inniu (neel un EYEM-sheer goh MAH in-YOO) The weather isn’t good today. Séamas: Tá an ceart agat. Tá sé fuar anseo (taw* un KART uh-GUHT. taw*shay* FOO-uhr uhn-SHUH FRESH-in) You’re right. It is cold here too). Nóra: Níl an seomra te, pé scéal é (neel un SHOHM-ruh shuh te, pay* SHKAY*L ay*) The room isn’t warm. anyway.

Lesson 4

We began on the verb “tá” in Lesson 2, and we will continue with it now. Here is the entire present tense:

Tá mé (TAW* may*), I am Tá tú (TAW* too), you (singular) are Tá sé (TAW* shay*), he, (it) is Tá sí (TAW* shee), she is Táimid (TAW* mid), we are Tá sibh (TAW* shiv), you (plural) are Tá siad (taw* SHEE-uhd), they are

Níl mé (NEEL may*), I am not Níl tú (NEEL too), you (singular) are not Níl sé (NEEL shay*), he is not Níl sí (NEEL shee), she is not Nílimid (NEEL-i-mid), we are not Níl sibh (NEEL shiv), you (plural) are not Níl siad (neel SHEE-uhd), they are not

An bhfuil mé? (un VWIL may*), am I? An bhfuil tú? (un VWIL too), are you? (singular) An bhfuil sé? (un VWIL shay*), is he? An bhfuil sí? (un VWIL shee), is she? An bhfuilimid? (un VWIL-i-mid), are we? An bhfuil sibh? (un VWIL shiv), are you? (plural) An bhfuil siad? (un vwil shee-uhd), are they?

To give you fluency and practice in pronunciation, we now introduce a progressive drill. Repeat the drill several times when the lessons call for it. Each time you repeat it, it becomes easier. The drill takes you through a verb or grammar form progressively, changing from question to nega- tive to declarative and back to the question form. Remember to form a mental picture for each sentence. Here is the basic form:

An bhfuil mé sa ghairdín? (un VWIL may* suh gahr-DEEN), Am I in the garden? Níl mé sa ghairdín (NEEL may* suh gahr-DEEN), I am not in the garden. Tá tú sa ghairdín (TAW* too suh gahr-DEEN), You are in the garden. An bhfuil tú sa ghairdín? (un VWIL too suh gahr-DEEN), Are you in the garden? Níl tú sa ghairdín (NEEL too suh gahr-DEEN), You are not in the garden. Tá sé sa ghairdín (TAW* shay* suh gahr-DEEN), He is in the garden. An bhfuil sé sa ghairdín? (un VWIL shay* suh ghar-DEEN), Is he in the garden?

[note the progression from Mé - Tú - Sé in the above] Go on from here. Your last sentence will be: Tá mé sa ghairdín (TAW* may* suh gahr-DEEN), I am in the garden.

Vocabulary The Irish word for “the” is “an”. Irish nouns can be either masculine or feminine, and “an” before a feminine noun aspirates most of the initial consonants that can be aspirated. Exceptions are “d”, “t”, and sometimes “s”. “An” does not aspirate the initial consonant of a masculine noun. Learn this vocabulary:

Masculine nouns lá (law*), day clog (kluhg), clock bus (bus), bus

Feminine nouns bean, an bhean (ban, un VAN), woman cos, an chos (kuhs, un K*UHS), foot duais, an duais (DOO-ish, un DOO-ish), prize grian, an ghrian (GREE-uhn, un YREE-uhn), sun fuinneog, an fhuinneog (fwin-YOHG, un in-YOHG), window teanga, an teanga (TANG-uh, un TANG-uh), language tír, an tír (teer, un TEER), country

Other words and phrases ag dul abhaile (uh duhl uh-VWAHL-e), going home breá (bir-RAW*), fine fliuch (flyuk*), wet tirim (TIR-im), dry álainn (AW*-lin), beautiful fuar (FOO-uhr), cold


Bríd (breed): Dia duit, a Sheáin (DEE-uh git, uh HYAW*in). Hello John.

Seán (shaw*n): Dia’s Muire duit, a Bhríd (DEE-uhs MWIR-uh git, uh VREED) Conas tá sibh go léir? (KUN-uhs TAW* shiv goh lay*r) Hello, Bridget. How are you all?

Bríd: Táimid go maith (TAW*-mid goh MAH), agus conas tá tú féin? (AH-guhs KUN-uhs TAW* too fay*n). We are well, and how are you yourself?

Seán: Ó, ar fheabhas (oh er OUS). Nach breá an lá é? (nahk* bir-RAW un LAW* ay*). Oh, excellent. Isn’t it a fine day?

Bríd: Is breá, go deimhin (is bir-RAW*, goh DEYE-in) Tá an ghrian ag soilsiú. (taw* un YREE-uhn uh SEYEL-shoo), agus tá an aimsir go hálainn. (taw* un EYEM-sheer goh HAW*-lin). It is fine, certainly. The sun is shining and the weather is beautiful.

Seán: Níl an aimsir chomh fuar agus a bhí sé inné. (neel un EYEM-sheer hoh FOO-uhr AH-guhs uh vee shay* in-YAY). The weather is not as cold as it was yesterday.

Bríd: Agus níl an lá chomh fliuch agus a bhí sé inné. (AH-guhs neel an LAW* hoh flyuk* AH-guhs uh vee shay* in-YAY). And the day is not as wet as it was yesterday.

Seán: Tá orm dul abhaile anois, a Bhríd. (TAW* OH-ruhm duhl uh-VWAHL-e uh-NISH, uh VREED). Féach, tá sé a cúig a chlog beagnach. (FAY*-uhk*, TAW* shay* un KOO-ig uh K*LUHG BYUHG-nahk*). I must go home now, Bridget. Look, it is almost five o’clock.

Bríd: Slán leat (slaw*n lat) Good-bye.

Seán: Slán agat, a Bhríd. ( slaw*n uh-GUHT, uh VREED). Good-bye, Bridget.

Note: “Slán agat” (health be at you) is said to someone staying behind. “Slán leat “(health be with you) is said to someone going away.

Lesson 5

You have already noticed the frequent use of what looks like an accent mark over vowels in Irish words. The slanting line (síneadh fada (SHEEN-uh FAH-duh) or sometimes “síneadh”) is not really an accent mark, however, but instead basically indicates the length of time that you pronounce the vowel. For example, the word “pósta” (POHS-tuh), meaning “married”, has the same (oh) sound that is in the word “cnoc” (kuh- NOHK), meaning “hill”, but for “pósta” the (oh) sound is held longer. Often a short vowel in an Irish word will sound to an American somewhat like the (uh) in “unfit”. We have represented the sound by (uh) in some cases, because Americans will find the (uh) sound closer to their pronunciation experience. The Irish word “clog” is an example. We rep- resent it by (kluhg), but as your pronunciation improves, you will learn to pronounce it with a short (oh) sound, rounding your lips more than for (uh).

Irish makes less use of the (uh) sound than does English, and this is important to remember as you refine your pronunciation.

The síneadh fada can indicate significant pronunciation differences. For example, “Seán” is a name, but “sean” means “old”. “Fear” (far) is “man”, but “féar” (fay*r) is “grass”. The word “Éire” (AY-re) means “Ireland”, but “eire” (E-re) is “burden”. On Irish stamps a few years ago, Ireland was called “Eire”, through either ignorance or malice.


In Irish, nearly all adjectives follow the noun, and if the noun is feminine, the initial consonant of the adjective is aspirated. Learn these exam-

ples thoroughly:

First, masculine nouns:

an lá mór (un law* mohr), the big day an fear beag (un far byuhg), the little man bus dearg (bus DYAR-uhg), a red bus an bord mór (un bohrd mohr), the big table mo bhord mór (muh vwohrd mohr), my big table do bhord beag (duh vwohrd byuhg), your little table do bhád beag (duh vwaw*d byuhg), your little boat

Next, feminine nouns:

bean mhór (ban vwohr), a big woman an bhean mhór (un van vwohr), the big woman fuinneog bheag (fwin-YOHG vyuhg), a little window

an fhuinneog bheag (un in-YOHG vyuhg), the little window

tír fliuch (teer lyuk*), a wet country

an tír fhliuch (un teer lyuk*), the wet country cos fhada (kuhs AH-duh), a long foot an chos fhada (un k*uhs AH-duh), the long foot oíche mhaith (EE-hye vwah), a good night an oíche mhaith (un EE-hye vwah), the good night

A few adjectives come before the noun. “Sean” (shan), meaning “old”, is one of these. It aspirates the initial consonant of the noun. Learn these


sean-bhord (shan vwohrd), an old table an sean-bhord (un shan vwohrd), the old table an sean-fhear (un shan ar), the old man

Practice “Tá X sa chistin (taw* X suh HYISH-tin) means “X is in the kitchen”.

With this as the basic sentence, go through the progressive drill that you learned in Lesson 4, inserting these word groups for “X”:

bean mhór (ban vwohr), a big woman an bhean bheag (un van vyuhg), the little woman cailín álainn (kah-LEEN AW*-lin), a beautiful girl an fhuinneog mhór (un in-YOHG vwohr), the big window mo bhord íseal (muh vwohrd EE-shuhl), my low table do chat ramhar (duh k*aht ROU-wuhr), your fat cat

Start with: An bhfuil bean mhór sa chistin? (un VWIL ban vwohr suh HYISH-tin) Is there a big woman in the kitchen? Níl bean mhór sa chistin. Tá an bhean bheag sa chistin. An bhfuil an bhean bheag sa chistin? And so on. The last two sentences will be: Níl do chat ramhar sa chistin. Tá bean mhór sa chistin.

Where you stand You should now know some basic pronunciation of the simpler words. The words that you have learned were given chiefly to illustrate pronun- ciation. We will devote more space henceforth to vocabulary and grammar. The emphasis will always be on building your speaking ability, with phrases rather than separate words as the basic units. You should also be able to initiate a conversation by now, if you have studied the conversa- tion for each lesson.


Brian (BREE-uhn): Dia duit, a Phádraig (DEE-uh git, uh FAW*-drig). Hello Patrick

Pádraig (PAW*-drig): Dia’s Muire duit, a Bhriain (DEE-uhs MWIR-uh git, uh-VREE-in.) Conas tá tú? (KUN-uhs taw* too) Hello, Brian. How are you?

Brian: Tá mé go maith (TAW* may* goh MAH). Agus conas tá tú féin? (AH-guhs KUN-uhs taw* too fay*n) I am well. And how are you your- self?

Pádraig: Tá mé go maith, freisin (FRESH-in). Tá báisteach air anois (taw* BAW*SH-tuhk* er uh-NISH). I am well, too. It looks like rain now.

Brian: Bhí sé ag cur báistí aréir (vee shay* uh kur BAW*SH-tee uh-RAY*R). Féach! Tá an t-sráid fluich fós (FAY*-ahk*! taw* un traw*d flyuk* fohs). It was raining last night. Look! The street is still wet.

Pádraig: Tá an aimsir fuar fliuch, go cinnte (taw* un EYEM-sheer FOO-uhr flyuhk*, goh KIN-te). The weather is cold and wet, certainly.

Lesson 6

Pronunciation The pronunciation of “l” in Irish differs somewhat from English pronunciation of “l”. If the “l” starts a word and is followed by “a”, “o”, or “u”, the tongue is spread wider than for English “l” and is pressed against the upper front teeth. Try: lá (law*), lán (law*n), lón (lohn), lúb (loob). This is the broad sound. In English, you probably point the tongue and touch it to the hard ridge behind the upper front teeth. For an “l” that starts a word but is followed by “e” or “i”, hold the tongue with the tip against the back of the lower front teeth and raise the front of the tongue so that it touches the upper front teeth and the hard ridge behind them. This is a slender “l”. Try: léan (lay*n), léir (lay*r) leis (lesh), leat (lat), lín (leen), lia (LEE-uh), lios (lis), litir (LI-tir).

If inside a word, “l’ is more likely to be pronounced with the tongue tip on the hard ridge, much as in English.

You should now be able to understand why some Irish persons pronounce English words with “l” as they do. Take “lovely” as an example. Re- member what Lesson 5 told you--that in Irish the (uh) sound is not as common as in English. Then try the word “lovely” with the broad “l” you have just learned and with a vowel sound closer to (oh) than to (uh). For another example, try pronouncing English “line” with either the broad “l” or the slender “l” that you have just learned.

Most persons learning a foreign language tend to apply the sounds of their native language to the new language.

This is what gives us German, French, Russian and Spanish accents. The Irish, similarly, have applied the sounds of Irish to English to create an Irish accent. Do not call it a “brogue.”

Vocabulary Masculine Nouns aon duine (ay*n DIN-e), anyone aon rud (ay*n ruhn), anything seomra *SHOM-ruh), room bosca (BOHSK-uh), box bord (bohrd), table Éireannach, an t-Éireannach (AY*R-uh-nahk*, un TAY*R-un-nahk*), Irishman or Irish person Meiriceánach (mer-i-KAW*-nahk*), an American

Feminine Nouns oíche, an oíche (EE-hye, un EE-hye), night, the night traein (tray*n) train cathair, an chathair (KAH-hir, un K*AH-hir), city, the city sa seomra (suh SHOHM-ruh), in the room sa bhaile (suh VWAHL-e) at home eile (EL-e), other seo (shuh), this sin (shin), there anseo (un-SHUH), here ansin (un-SHIN), there ag teacht isteach (uh tyahk*t ish-TYAHK*) coming in ag dul amach (uh duhl uh-MAHK*), going out

Grammar “Cá bhfuil X?” (kaw* vwil eks) means “Wher is X?” “Nach bhfuil sé anseo?” (nahk* VWIL shay* un-SHUH) means “Isn’t he here?”

The complete tense for the “nach bhfuil” form is:

Nach bhfuil mé? (nahk VWIL may*) am I not? Nach bhfuil tú? (nahk VWIL too) are you (singular) not? Nach bhfuil sé? (nahk VWIL shay*) isn’t he? Nach bhfuilimid? (nahk VWIL-i-mid) aren’t we? Nach bhfuil sibh? (nahk VWIL shiv) aren’t you (plural)? Nach bhfuil siad? (nahk VWIL SHEE-uhd) aren’t they?

To make you more proficient in the vocabulary and verb forms of this lesson, go through this progressive drill:

Nach bhfuil Seán anseo? (nahk* vwil SHAW*n un-SHUH) Isn’t John here? Níl sé anseo (NEEL shay* un-SHUH). He’s not here. Tá sé ansin (TAW* shay* un-SHIN) He’s there.

Continue with: Nach bhfuil Seán ansin? Níl sé ansin. Tá sé sa seomra. Then continue with: sa bhaile, ag teacht isteach, ag dul amach, ag teacht amach, ag dul isteach.

If you have time, replace “Seán” by: an t-Éireannach, an Meiriceánach, an bhean mhór, an fear mór.

For the form “Cá bhfuil


go through this progressive drill:

Cá bhfuil mé? (kaw* vwil may*) Nach bhfuil mé sa chistin? (nahk* VWIL may* suh HYISH-tin) Níl mé sa chistin (NEEL may* suh HYISH-tin).

Tá tú sa chistin (TAW* too suh HYISH-tin).

Continue with: Cá bhfuil tú?, and go through “sé”, “sí”, “

Conversation Brian: (BREE-uhn): A Phádraig, cá bhfuil an fear a bhí sa seomra eile? (uh FAW*-drig, kaw* vwil un far uh vee suh SHOHM-ruh EL-e) Patrick, where is the man who was in the other room?

imid”, “sibh”, and “siad”, coming back to “Tá mé sa chistin.”

Pádraig: Níl a fhios agam (neel is uh-GUHM). B’fhéidir go bhfuil sé sa bhaile (BAY*dir goh vwil shay* suh VWAHL-e). I don’t know. Per- haps he is home.

Brian: Nach bhfuil tú féin ag dul abhaile anois? (nahk* VWIL too fay*n uh duhl uh-VWAHL-e uh-NISH) Aren’t you yourself going home now?

Pádraig: Is dócha (is DOHK*-uh). Féach! (FAY*ahk*) tá bus ag teacht síos an tsráid (taw* BUS uh tyahk*t shees un traw*d). I suppose so. Look! There’s a bus coming down the street.

Brian: Isteach leat, a mhic, (ish-TYAHK* lat, uh vik). In with you, son.

Notes on conversation “Níl a fhios agam” means literally “There is not its knowledge at me.” “Fios” is “knowledge”, and “agam” is “at me”. Learn it as a phrase and use it as a quick reply to questions.

“B’fhéidir” is often followed by “go bhfuil.” Learn it as a phrase, to which you can add other phrases, such as “

Seán ag teacht.”

Lesson 7

Pronunciation The sounds of the letter “r” in Irish differ from those of the “r” in English. When next to an “a”, “o”, or “u”, the sound is usually rolled. To pro- nounce this “r”, bring the tip of the tongue near the hard ridge behind your upper front teeth and vibrate the tongue as you say the “r”. Keep the tongue relaxed. Then try: rá (raw*), rón (rohn), rún (roon).

If the “r” begins a word and is followed by “e” or “i”, it usually has this broad sound, too, as in: ré (ray*), rí (ree).

The rolling or vibration of the tongue is in the front of the mouth, not in the back as in some other European languages.

Inside a word, the broad “r” sound may not be rolled or trilled as much as it is at the beginning of a word. A double “r” next to an “a”, “o”, or “u”

is more likely to be rolled, as in: carraig (KAHR-rig).

When the “r” is next to an “e” or “i” inside a word or at the end of a word, it gets its slender sound. To make this sound, which is a difficult one for most Americans, place the tongue tip close to the top of your upper teeth and form a shallow pocket or hollow in the tongue tip. Don’t make the hollow too deep. Then pronounce “r” by blowing air at the tongue tip and dropping the tongue tip down. Try this several times, and try say- ing “tír” (teer).

Notice how you start with your tongue tip on the hard ridge behind your upper front teeth and then move the tongue tip forward into position for the slender “r”. The “r” sound may remind you somewhat of the slender “d” of Lesson 2, but there is a clear difference.

Now try: fir (fir), mír (meer). Next, try it beside a consonant: trí (tree), briste (BRISH-te), creid (kred). Work on the “t” and “d” in these words, too. See Lesson 2.

For a little more help with this sound, think back to the way in which some Irish persons pronounce the sentence “Where is it?” You may have heard this imitated on radio or television by persons attempting to speak with an Irish accent. The sound is the slender “r” of the Irish language, brought by Irish from their own language into the foreign language of English.

VOCABULARY Masculine Nouns mac (mahk), son bóthar (BOH-uhr), road carr (kahr), car, automobile doras (DUH-ruhs), door nuachtán (NOO-uhk*-taw*n), newspaper ceacht (kyahk*t), lesson athair, an t-athair (A-hir, un TA-hir), father, the father ag scríobh (uh shkreev), writing ag caint (uh keyent), talking ag rith (uh ri), running ag léamh (uh LAY*-uhv), reading

Feminine nouns máthair, an mháthair (MAW*-hir, un VWAW*-hir), mother, the mother iníon, an iníon (in-EEN, un in-EEN), daughter sa bhus (suh vus), in the bus sa charr (suh k*ahr), in the car sa stáisiún (suh STAW*-shoon), in the station sa chathair (suh K*AH-hir), in the city sa tsráid (suh traw*d), in the street sa train (suh tray*n), in the train

READING PRACTICE Táimid sa bhaile anois. Níl aon duine sa tsráid inniu. Tá an aimsir go dona (DUHN-uh). Tá sé fuar fliuch, agus tá sé ag cur báistí. Sa teach, tá an seomra seo te tirim. Tá bord sa seomra, agus bord eile sa chistin. Féach! Tá fear ag teacht isteach. M’athair, is dócha, agus tá mo mháthair ansin, freisin. Nach bhfuil siad fliuch? Tá, go cinnte.

(TAW*-mid suh VWAHL-e uh-NISH. neel ay*n DIN-e suh traw*d in-YOO. taw* un EYEM-sheer goh DUHN-uh. taw* shay* FOO-uhr flyuk*, Ah-guhs taw* shay* uh kur BAW*SH-tee. suh tyahk*, taw* un SHOHM-ruh shuh te TIR-im. taw* bohrd suh SHOHM-ruh, AH-guhs bohrd EL-

e suh HYISH-tin.)

(FAY*-ahk*! taw* far uh tyahk*t ish-TYAHK*. MA-hir, is DOHK*-uh, AH-guhs taw* muh VWAW*-hir un-SHIN, FRESH-in. nahk* vwil SHEE-uhd flyuk*? taw*, goh KIN-te).

We are at home now. There is no one in the street today. The weather is bad. It’s cold and wet, and it’s raining. In the house, this room is warm and dry. There is a table in the room, and another table in the kitchen. Look! A man is coming in. My father, probably, and my mother is there, too. Aren’t they wet? They are, indeed.

Notes: In Irish, the word “agus” (AH-guhs), and, is often omitted between adjectives starting with the same letter. “Fuar fliuch” and “te tirim” are examples.

CONVERSATION Liam (LEE-uhm): A Shíle, seo dhuit nuachtán (uh HEEL-uh, shuh git NOO-uhk*taw*n). Sheila, here’s a newspaper for you.

Síle (SHEEL-uh): Nuachtán Éireannach, an ea? (NOO-uhk*-taw*n AY*R-uh-nahk*, un a) An Irish paper, is it?

Liam: Ní hea, ach nuachtán Meiriceánach, agus tá ceacht Gaeilge ann (nee ha, ahk* NOO-uhk*-taw*n mer-i-KAW*-nahk*, AH-guhs taw* kyahk*t GAY*lig-e OUN). It is not, it’s an American paper, and there’s an Irish lesson in it.

Síle: Cá bhfuair tú é? (kaw* VOO-ir too ay*) Where did you get it?

Liam: Sa siopa sin, thíos an tsráid (suh SHOHP-uh shin, HEE-uhs un traw*d). In that store, down the street.

Notes on the conversation “Ní hea” does not mean “no”. Irish has no words for “yes” and “no”. Instead, the verb or form of the question is always in the answer. For exam- ”

ple, you answer, “An bhfuil

“Gaeilge” means “Irish language”, or “Irish” for short. The adjective “Irish” is “Éireannach”. “Leabhar Ghaeilge” (LOU-wuhr GAY*-lig-e) is an Irish-language book, but “cóta Éireannach” is an Irish


?” or “Nach bhfuil

?” by “Tá

or “Níl


Lesson 8

Pronunciation You may have wondered about the meaning of the letters “bhf” in “bhfuil”. The basic word is “fuil” (fwil), but Irish speakers change the (f) sound by using the vocal cords, or humming, while they pronounce the “f”, causing a (v) sound. Certain words and phrases, such as “an” or “nach”, or “ar an” (er un), which means “on the”, bring about this change. They also cause the speaker to close off the flow of air somewhat for other consonants, altering the sound to a nasal hum: “d” becomes “n”, and “b” becomes “m”. The changes are called “eclipsis”, but you will learn them easily from the reference list below. You already know the sounds themselves. “Ár” (aw*r) means “our” and is one of the words that cause eclipsis in following initial consonants.

bia, ár mbia (BEE-uh, aw*r MEE-uh) food, our food cistin, ár gcistin (KISH-tin, a*wr GISH-tin) kitchen, our kitchen deis, ár ndeis (desh, aw*r nesh) opportunity, our opportunity fear, ár bhfear (far, aw*r var) man, our man peata, ár bpeata (PAT-uh, aw*r BAT-uh) pet, our pet tír, ár dtír (teer, aw*r deer) country, our country pócaí, ár bpócaí (POH-kee, aw*r BOH-kee) pockets, our pockets talamh, ár dtalamh (TAH-luhv, aw*r DAH-luhv) land, our land bád, ár mbád (baw*d, ar*r maw*d) boat, our boat cótaí, ár gcótaí (KOH-tee, aw*r GOH-tee) coats, our coats dóthain, ár ndóthain (DOH-hin, aw*r NOH-hin) enough, enough for us fáinne, ár bhfáinne (FAW*-nye, aw*r VAW*-nye) ring, our ring

One more, which will be a little harder for you to pronounce at first, although you know the individual sounds from English:

When eclipsed, the initial letter “g” takes the sound of “ng” that is at the end of the English word “sung”. This is a little difficult at first to put before a word. Try this: ár ngeata (aw*rng A-tuh), our gate. Join the (aw*r) sound to the (ng) sound, saying it separately at first and then adding on the (A-tuh). Try “ár ngairdín” (aw*rng ahr-DEEN). Practice on: ár ngluaisteán (aw*rng LOOSH-taw*n), our auto; ár ngrá (aw*rng raw*), our love; ár nguí (aw*rng ee), our prayer; ár ngúnaí (aw*rng OON-ee), our dresses.

Vocabulary Masculine Nouns cúpla (KOOP-luh), a couple sneachta (SHNAHK*-tuh), snow staighre (STEYE-ruh), stairs urlár, an t-urlár (oor-LAW*R, un toor-LAW*R) floor uisce, an t-uisce, (ISH-ke, un TISH-ke), water bainne (BAHN-ye), milk

Feminine Nouns aimsir (EYEM-sheer), weather maidin, an mhaidin (MAH-din, un VWAH-din), morning lámh (law*v), hand súil, an tsúil (SOO-il, un TOO-il), eye ach (ahk*), but ó shin (oh HIN), ago ach oiread (ahk* IR-uhd), either istigh (ish-TEE), inside amuigh (uh-MWEE), outside ag foghlaim Gaeilge (uh FOU-lim GAY*-lig-e), learning Irish ag dul suas an staighre (uh duhl SOO-uhs un STEYE-ruh), going upstairs ag dul síos (SHEE-uhs) an staighre , going downstairs Tá sé thuas (HOO-uhs) an staighre, He’s upstairs Tá sé thíos (HEE-uhs) an staighre, He’s downstairs GRAMMAR Use the words “isteach” (ish-TYAHK*) and “amach” (uh-MAHK*) when movement is meant. To indicate that someone is remaining inside or outside, use “istigh” and “amuigh”.

DRILL translate: a good hand, a good eye, the good eye, a long morning, the long morning, a crooked street, the crooked street. The proper forms are given below, after the conversation.

Next, go through a progressive drill on:

An bhfuil mé ag dul suas an staighre? Níl mé

Tá tú

Etc. Repeat with “síos an staighre”.

CONVERSATION Éamann (AY*-muhn): Cá bhfuil Séamas anois? (kaw* vwil SHAY*-muhs uh-NISH) Where is James now?

Cáitlín (kaw*t-LEEN): Níl a fhios agam (neel is uh-GUHM).Bhí sé ag dul suas an staighre cúpla noiméad ó shin (vee shay* uh duhl SOO-uhs STEYE-ruh KOOP-luh NOH-may*d oh hin.) I don’t know He was going up the stairs a couple of minutes ago.

Éamann: B’fhéidir go bhfuil sé thuas an staighre anois (BAY*-dir goh vwil shay* HOO-uhs un STEYE-ruh uh-NISH). Perhaps he’s upstairs now.

Séamas: Tá mé ag teacht anois (taw* may* uh tyahk*t uh-NISH). Bhí mé istigh an lá go léir (vee may* ish-TEE un law* goh lay*r). I’m coming now. I was inside the whole day.

DRILL FORMS: Lámh mhaith (law*v vwah); súil mhaith (SOO-il vwah); an tsúil mhaith (un TOO-il vwah); maidin fhada (MAH-din AH-duh); an mhaidin fhada (un VWAH-din AH-duh); sráid cham (sraw*d k*oum); an tsráid cham (un traw*d k*oum).

Lesson 9

PRONUNCIATION We will now look more closely at some vowel sounds before taking up any more consonants. First comes “o”. We represent its sound by (oh) for simplicity, but the actual Irish sound is noticeably different from English “oh”. To see this, stand before a mirror and watch your lips as you pronounce the word “oh” slowly. You will see them contract and move out to make an (oo) sound at the end. English “oh” is really a diphthong, a close combination of two vowels.

The Irish sound is a single vowel, made with lips held rounded. Watch you lips again as you say English “oak” slowly. Then try to say it without contracting your lips. You will have the distinctive sound that has sometimes come into English. Try: óg, ól, ón, ór, ós. This vowel sound should be held longer than in English.

If there is no síneadh fada (SHEEN-uh FAH-duh) over an “o” which is nevertheless stressed in a word, pronounce it in the same way but do not hold it as long. Try: obair (OH-bir), oscail (OH-skil), ocht (ohk*t). Notice that this shorter sound may resemble (uh), but in Irish you should not make the error of saying (uh) for this shorter “o”. Keep your lips more rounded and contracted than for (uh). Next, try “ocht” and then “ucht” (uk*t), and notice the difference.

REFLEX EXPRESSIONS In everyday speech in any language, there are certain phrases or sentences with which a speaker reacts instantly to given situations. The expres- sions are closer to reflex action than to careful selection of words. “Níl a fhios agam” (neel is uh-GUHM) is one example. You must learn some of these to be fluent in speech and to understand written and spoken Irish.

Ná bac leis (naw* bahk lesh), never mind, don’t worry about it. Buíochas le Dia (BWEE-uhk*-uhs le DEE-uh), Thanks be to God, thank Heaven. Tá go maith (taw* goh mah), All right. Is cuma liom (is KUM-uh luhm), I don’t care, it’s all the same to me. An ndéir tú liom é? (un NAY*R too luhm ay*), You don’t say (literally: Do you say it to me?) Fan go fóill (fahn goh FOH-il), Wait a minute, take it easy.

CHECK LIST Are you working on your pronunciation of d, t, c, and g, with the instructions in Lesson 2 and 3? Are you reading aloud? Do you translate back and forth from Irish to English and then from English to Irish in the Vocabulary and Conversation? Do you form a picture in your mind every time you say an Irish word or phrase? If you answered “No” to any of these questions, you can benefit from reading Lessons 1 to 3 over again.

GRAMMAR AND VOCABULARY To give a command to another person, you must know the imperative form of the verb. This form is almost always the shortest and most basic part of the verb. Later on, you will learn how to change and add to this basic part to tell, for example, that an action happened in the past or will happen in the future.

Here are some imperatives to learn. Note that if you want to tell a person not to do something, you put “Ná” (naw*) before the imperative.

Déan é (day*n ay*), Do it.

Ná déan é (naw* day*n ay*), Don’t do it.

Léigh é (lay* ay*), Read it.

Ná léigh é (naw* lay* ay*), Don’t read it.

Scríobh é (shkreev ay*), Write it.

Ná scríobh é (naw* shkreev ay*), Don’t write it.

Cuir ar an mbord é (kir er un mohrd ay*), Put it on the table.

Ná cuir an bosca ar an mbord (naw* kir un BOHSK-uh er un mohrd), Don’t put the box on the table.

Éist liom (ay*sht luhm), Listen to me.

Ná héist leis (naw* hay*sht lesh), Don’t listen to him

Ól an bainne (ohl un BAHN-ye), Drink the milk.

Ná hól an tae (naw hohl un tay), Don’t drink the tea.

When “Ná” precedes a verb that starts with a vowel, an “h” is put before the verb, as in two examples above. Note also that “é” (ay*), which means “him” or “it”, and “í” (ee), which means “her” or “it”, are usually put at the end of the sentence.


Máire (MAW*-re): Ar chuala tú mo chat aréir, a Sheoirse? (er K*OO-uh-luh too muh k*aht uh-RAY*R, uh HYOHR-she) Did you hear my cat last night, George?

Seoirse (SHOHR-she): Chuala mé é, go cinnte (K*OO-uh-luh may* ay*, goh KIN-te). I heard it, certainly. Bhí sé ag screadadh an oíche go léir (vee shay* uh SHKRAD-uh un EE-huh goh lay*r). It was screeching the whole night. Agus bhí cat eile ann, freisin (AH-guhs vee kaht EL-e oun, FRESH-in). And there was another cat there, too.

Maire: Cara leis, is dócha (KAH-ruh lesh, is DOHK*-uh) A friend of his, I suppose.

Seoirse: Codladh sámh agat anocht (KUHL-uh saw*v uh-GUHT uh-NOHK*T). Sound sleep to you tonight.

Notes: In pronouncing “Máire”, you must put a faint (i) sound between the (maw*) and the (re) sounds. This makes the word sound somewhat like “Moyra” or “Moira”, English attempts to represent the sound.

Lesson 10

PRONUNCIATION You know by now how to pronounce broad “c” and “g”. These sounds occur when the nearest vowel in the word is “a”, “o”, or “u”. The sounds in general resemble those in the English words “coal” and “go”. In some Irish words, however, a sound resembling the (uh) sound follows the “c” or “g”. The groups “cao” and “caoi” cause this sound to be heard. “Caol”, meaning “slender”, is an example.

To learn its pronunciation, first say the English “quail”.

Notice how your lips close in to form a “w” sound. Next, try it without closing your lips as much, making a short sound closer to (uh) right after the (k) sound.

Now try the Irish word “caol” (kay*l). Extend the lips for the (k) sound, as you did in “quail”, but do not close the lips as you go to the (ay*) sound. Practice with: caoin (keen), weep; caoga (kay*guh), fifty; Caoimhín (kee-VEEN), Kevin; caoch (KAY*-uhk*), blind. Notice that “ao” is pronounced (ay*), but “aoi” is pronounced (ee).

For “g,” much of the above holds true. The groups “gao”, “gaoi”, “gae” and “gaoi” all have the slight (uh) sound between “g” and the vowel. To learn this sound, first pronounce English “Guam”, and notice again how your lips close in to form the “w” sound. Next, try it without closing the lips as much after the (g).

Then try the Irish word “gaol” (gay*l). Extend the lips as you did in starting to pronounce “Guam”, but do not close them as you go to the (ay*) sound. Then try: gaoth (gay*), wind: gaoithe (GEE-huh), of wind: Gael (gay*l), Gael; gaeilge (GAY*-lig-e), Irish language.

GRAMMAR The useful verb “tá” serves to tell where someone is or how he is. Often it answers the question “Cá bhfuil

nas tá

?” (KUN-uhs taw*), how is?

?” (kaw* vwil), Where? or “Co-

To tell what kind of object something is, we must employ a different verb: is (is). (Never pronounce this (iz); remember that Irish has no (z) sound.)

Learn these examples of how to say that a person or thing is in a general class:

Is bosca é (is BOHSK-uh ay*), it is a box; that is, it is in the general class of all boxes. Is cat é (is kaht ay*), It is a cat. Is Éireannach í (is AY*R-uh-nahk* ee), She is an Irishwoman, Irish citizen.

Usually “is” indicates a permanent state, but you may use it for states that can change slowly, or after a time, or for states that have been attained. For example:

Is cailín í (is kah-LEEN ee), She is a girl. Is scoláire tú (is skuh-LAW*-re too), you are a student. Is dochtúir Seán (is dohk*-TOO-ir shaw*n), John is a doctor. Adjectives can make subclasses, as in these examples:

Is bosca mór é (is BOHSK-uh MOHR ay*), it’s a big box. Is Éireannach óg mé (is AY*R-uh-nahk* OHG may*), I am a young Irishman, Irish citizen. Is Cailín deas tú (is kah-LEEN DAS too), you are a pretty girl. Is múinteoir maith Seán (is moo-in-TYOHR MAH shaw*n), John is a good teacher.

One form of question to be answered by “is” in this way is:

Céard é seo? (kay*rd ay* shuh), what is this? Céard é sin? (kay*rd ay* shin), What is that?

Correct use of “is” (is) ranks in importance with correct use of “tá”. English does not have two verbs for “to be”, so you will have to do some exercises to familiarize yourself with the Irish verbs.

VOCABULARY Masculine nouns arán, an t-arán (uh-RAW*N, un tuh-RAW*N), bread caife (KAH-fe), coffee bainne (BAHN-ye), milk cupán (ku-PAW*N), cup pláta (PLAW*-tuh), plate tar isteach (tahr ish-TYAHK*), come in cheana (HAN-uh), already

Feminine nouns spunóg (spun-OHG), spoon scian (SHKEE-uhn), knife léine (LAY*-ne), shirt

glan (gluhn), clean salach (suh-LAHK*), dirty suigh síos (si SHEE-uhs), sit down téigh amach (tay* uh-MAHK*), go outside

CONVERSATION Máiréad (maw*-RAY*D): An bhfuil aon duine sa bhaile? (un vwil ay*n DIN-e suh VWAHL-e) Is anyone home?

Pól (pohl): Tá mé anseo istigh (taw* may* un-SHUH ish-TEE). Tar isteach (tahr ish-TYAHK*). I’m here inside. Come in.

Máiréad: Ó, tá tú ag foghlaim Gaeilge anois (oh, taw* too uh FOU-lim GAY*-lig-e uh-NISH). Céard é seo? (kay*rd ay* shuh). Oh, you’re studying Irish now. What’s this.

Pól: Is cupán é. (is ku-PAW*N ay*). It’s a cup.

Máiréad: Tá mórán Ghaeilge agat cheana (taw* moh-RAW*N GAY*-lig-e ug-GUHT HAN-uh). You know a lot of Irish already.

Pól: Beagáinín gach lá (be-GAW*-neen gahk* law*). A little bit every day.

Lesson 11

PRONUNCIATION The pair of letters “ea” within a word or at a word end often gets an (a) sound like that in the English word “hat”. Examples: fear (far), man; bean (ban), woman; leat (lat), with you; is ea (sha), it is; ní hea (nee HA), it is not.

At the beginning of a word, the “ea” often gets the (ah) sound in the English word “psalm”. Examples: eagla (AH-gluh), fear; eaglais (AH-glish), church; each (ahk*), horse.

Sometimes “ea” is pronounced (ou), as in English “out”, when it is inside a word.

Examples: ceann (kyoun) head; leabhar (LOU-wuhr), book; gleann (gloun), glen; seabhac (shouk), hawk.

If in an unaccented syllable, “ea” is usually pronounced (uh). Examples: seisean (SHESH-uhn), he (emphatic); aingeal (ANG-uhl), angel.

We will continue to give you the pronunciation guide for all new words and most of the exercises, but you will gradually develop ability to pro- nounce words by drawing on your experience with similarly spelled words, so that after a time you will not depend on the pronunciation guide.


Here are several more expressions that you should learn for quick use in conversation and thought.

B’fhéidir (BAY*-dir), Perhaps. Gan amhras (guhn OU-ruhs), Without doubt. Fan go bhfeicfidh mé (fahn goh VEK-hee may*), Wait till I see. Is maith é sin (is MAH ay* shin), That’s good.

Notice that the second “f” in “bhfeicfidh” is pronounced like an “h”. This letter “f” indicates the future tense.


Last week we learned how to say that a person or thing is in a general class. An example:

Is seomra é (is SHOHM-ruh ay*), It is a room.

Here are the basic forms for this:

Is scoláire mé (is skuh-LAW*-re may*), I am a student. Is scoláire tú (is skuh-LAW*-re too), You are a student. Is scoláire é (is skuh-LAW*-re ay*), He is a student. Is scoláire í (is skuh-LAW*-re ee), She is a student. Is scoláirí sinn(is skuh-LAW*-ree shin), We are students. Is scoláirí sibh (is skuh-LAW*-ree shiv), You (plural) are students Is scoláirí iad (is skuh-LAW*-ree EE-uhd), They are students.


Masculine nouns

dinnéar (DIN-yay*r), dinner Im, an t-im (im, un tim), butter, the butter siúcra (SHOOK-ruh), sugar fo-chupán (FOH-k*upaw*n), saucer ith, ag ithe (i, eg I-he), eat, eating éist, ag éisteacht (ay*sht, eg AY*shtyahk*t), listen, listening

Feminine nouns

scoil, an scoil (skuhl, un skuhl), school, the school subh, an tsubh (soov, un toov), jam, the jam cathaoir, an cathaoir (KAH-heer, un K*AH-heer), chair, the chair ól, ag ól (ohl, eg ohl) drink, drinking milis (MIL-ish), sweet dána (DAW*-nuh), bold


Go through the basic forms for “is” (is), with:

dochtúir, dochtúirí (dohk*-TOO-ir, dohk*-TOO-IR-ee), doctor, doctors múinteoir, múinteoirí (moo-in-TYOHR, moo-in-TYOHR-ee), teacher, teachers

péintéir, péintéirí (PAY*N-tay*r, PAY*N-tay*r-ee), painter, painters


Máirín (maw*-REEN), Maureen: Tar isteach sa chistin agus suigh síos (tahr is-TYAHK* suh HYISH-tin AH-guhs si SHEE-uhs). Tá do dhin- néar ullamh (taw* duh YIN-yay*r UL-uhv). Come into the kitchen and sit down. Your dinner is ready.

Dónall (DOHN-uhl), Donald: Ach cá bhfuil Pádraigín? (ahk* caw* vwil PAW*-dri-geen) Nach bhfuil sí abhaile ón scoil fós? (nahk* vwil shee uh-VWAHL-e ohn skuhl fohs) But where is Patricia? Isn’t she home from school yet?

Máirín: Níl sí (neel shee). Níl a fhios agam cá bhfuil sí (neel is uh GUHM kaw* vwil shee). She’s not. I don’t know where she is.

Dónall: Tá gach rud ar an mbord, go cinnte, ach tá an fochupán seo salach (taw* gahk* rud er un mohrd, goh KIN-te, ahk* taw* un FOH-k* u- paw*n shuh suh-LAHK*). Everything’s on the table, certainly, but this saucer is dirty.

Máirín: Nigh é, mar sin (ni ay*, mahr shin). Tá mé an ghnóthach (taw* may* AHN-gnoh-huhk*). Wash it then. I’m very busy.

Dónall: Ó, tá Pádraigín ag teacht anois (oh, taw* PAW*-dri-geen uh tyahk*t uh-NISH). Tá sí ag siúl trí gach áit fhliuch ar an tsráid. (taw* shee uh shool tree gahk* aw*t lyuk* er un traw*d). Oh, Patricia’s coming now. She’s walking through every wet place on the street.

Máirín: Agus í gan a buataisí! (AH-guhs ee guhn uh BOO-ti-shee) And she without her boots!

Notes: In Irish, “an-” before an adjective means “very”. It usually aspirates the next consonant, as in “an-fhliuch” (AHN-lyuk*), very wet. Ac- cent is usually on the “an-” prefixed to the word.

Lesson 12

The letter pair “eo” usually represents the sound “oh”. Hold it somewhat longer than if it were in an English word, and do not add the short (oo) sound in English (oh). Examples of “eo” beginning a word: eolas (OH-luhs), knowledge; eorna (OHR-nuh), barley. If a consonant comes before the “eo”, the consonant gets its slender sound, and there is often an audible (y) sound, between consonant and “eo”. Examples, with slender consonants you learned to pronounce in Lessons 1 and 2: ceo (kyoh), mist; deo (dyoh), end; geoin (GYOH-in), hum; teo (tyoh), warmth. Other examples: beo (byoh), living; feoil (FYOH-il), meat; meon (myohn), mind; neodrach (NYOH-druhk*), neutral.

If an “s” comes before the “eo”, no (y) sound is heard, only the (sh) of slender “s”. Examples: seoid (SHOH-id), jewel; seomra (SHOHM-ruh), room; seó (shoh), show. Do not confuse “seó” with “seo” (shuh), meaning “this”. “Seo” is an exception to the general (oh) pronunciation for “eo”. “Deoch” (dyuhk*), a drink, is also an exception.

The word “seomra” is another exception in parts of Ireland, where it is pronounced (SHUHM-ruh). In general, the (oh) sound in “seomra” is not held as long as in most “eo” examples.


To say that a person or object is not in some general class, use these forms:

Ní dochtúir mé (nee dohk*-TOO-ir may*), I am not a doctor. Ní dochtúir tú (nee dohk*-TOO-ir too), You are not a doctor. Ní dochtúir é (nee dohk*-TOO-ir ay*), He is not a doctor. Ní dochtúir í (nee dohk*-TOO-ir ee), She is not a doctor. Ní dochtúir sinn (nee dohk*-TOO-ir shin), We are not doctors. Ní dochtúirí sibh (nee dohk*-TOO-ree shiv), You (plural) are not doctors. Ní dochtúirí iad (nee dohk*-TOO-ree EE-uhd), They are not doctors.

The questions connected with this are:

An dochtúir mé? (un dohk*-TOO-ir may*) Am I a doctor?, etc., and: Nach dochtúir mé? (nahk* dohk*-TOO-ir may*), Am I not a doctor? Etc.

To answer these questions , the forms are:

Is dochtúir mé, or:

Is ea (sha), It is so, I am.

The negative answer is:

Ní hea (nee HA), It is not so, I am not. A longer answer is: Ní hea, ach múinteoir (nee HA, ahk* moo-inTYOHR), I am not, but I am a teacher.


Masculine nouns páiste (PAW*SH-te), child páistí (PAW*SH-tee), children Éireannaigh (AY*R-uh-nee), Irish persons Meiriceánaigh (mer-uh-KAW*-nee), Americans dlíodóir (dlee-uh-DOH-ir), lawyer dlíodóirí (dlee-uh-DOH-i-ree), lawyers feirmeoir (fer-im-OH-ir) farmer feirmeoirí (fer-im-OH-i-ree) farmers

Feminine nouns banaltra, an bhanaltra (BAHN-uhl-truh, un VAHN-uhl-truh), nurse, the nurse banaltraí (BAHN-uhl-tree), nurses buatais, an bhuatais (BOO-tish, un VOO-tish), boot, the boot buataisí (BOO-ti-shee), boots garbh (GAHR-ruhv), rough dona (DUH-nuh), bad; (as weather) go leor (goh lohr), enough ar dtús (er DOOS), at first, first trom (truhm), heavy


Go through “is”, substituting all the nouns above except “buatais”, in the following pattern: An páiste mé?, Ní hea, ach Éireannach. An páiste tú? Ní hea, ach Meiriceánach. An páiste é? Ní hea, ach dlíodóir. Etc. Continue to: An páistí iad? Ní hea, ach Meirceánaigh.

Then change to: An Éireannach mé? Ní hea, ach Meirceánach. Etc. In each sentence, make sure that you use the proper number, either singular or plural.


Pádraigín (PAW*-dri-geen): Dia daoibh, a mham agus a dhaid (DEE-uh-geev, uh vwahm AH-guhs uh gahd). Hello mom and dad.

Máirín (maw*-REEN): Dia duit, a stór (DEE-uh git, uh stohr). Conas tá tú? (KUN-uhs taw* too) Hello, dear. How are you?

Pádraigín: Tá mé go maith (taw* may* goh mah). Lá garbh sa scoil inniú (law* GAHR-ruhv suh skuhl in-YOO). Céard é sin ar an mbord? (kay*rd ay* shin er un mohrd) I’m well. Rough time in school today. What’s that on the table?

Máirín: Is subh í, ach bain diot an cóta agus na bróga, ar dtús (is soov ee, ahk* bwin DEE-uht un KOH-tuh AH-guhs nuh BROHG-uh er DOOS). Tá do chosa fliuch (taw* duh K*UH-suh flyuk*). It’s jam, but take off the coat and shoes first. Your feet are wet.

Pádraigín: Tá an aimsir dona go leor (taw* un EYEM-sheer DUH-nuh goh lohr), The weather’s bad enough.

Dónall (DOH-nuhl): Suas an staighre leat, agus ná bí ag piocadh ar an arán (SOO-uhs un STEYE-ruh lat, AH-guhs naw* bee uh PIK-uh er un uh-RAW*N). Up the stairs with you, and don’t be picking at the bread.

Máirín: Cá bhfuair mé an páiste sin? (kaw* VOO-ir may* un PAW*SH-te shin) Where did I get that child?

Note: In the word “aimsir”, the first syllable approximately rhymes with the English word “chime” not with the phrase “buy ‘em”.

Lesson 13

You learned in Lesson 2 that each Irish consonant has two sounds:

A broad sound if the nearest vowel in the word is “a”, “o”, or “u”.

A slender sound if the nearest vowel in the word is “e”, or “i”.

Two closely related consonants, “p” and “b”, are a good example of this. They are closely related because they are pronounced in the same way except that the vocal cords are vibrated for the “b” but mot for the “p”. You can feel the vibration or humming in your vocal cords as you start to

say “bet” but not as you start to say “pet”.

To pronounce broad “b” or “p”, extend your lips much farther than for the English sounds and round the opening. Then pronounce the letter. Try:

bád, bó, bun (bun), bláth (blaw*), blúire (BLOO-i-re), bróg, brú, brád, pá, post, punt (punt), plúir (PLOO-ir), práta (PRAW*-tuh).

For the slender sound of “b” and “p”, spread the lips somewhat, as if you were beginning to smile. Try: bean, beir (ber), bí (bee), bith (bi), bliain (BLEE-in), breá (bir-RAW*), bris (brish). Then try “b” next to “eo”, which usually gets a (yoh) sound: beo (byoh), alive.

You can now realize the clear difference in Irish between “brách” (braw*k*), meaning “ever”, and “breá” (bir-RAW*), meaning “fine”. “Erin go bragh” is actually a badly anglicized form of “Éire go brách”, meaning “Ireland forever”.

In going from a broad “b” or “p” sound to a slender vowel such as “i”, you will naturally make a sound somewhat like English “w”. Try: buí

(bwee), bain (bwin). Notice that the “u” and “a” in these words are there chiefly to tell you to make the broad “b” sound instead of the slender, as

in bí (bee), beir (ber). Last, try: buíochas (BWEE-uhk*-huhs), thanks.

The sounds for “m” are akin to those for “b”, except that air is expelled through the nose for “m”. Protrude and round the lips, then try: mó (moh), mór (mohr), má (maw*), mála (MAW*-luh) múch (mook*), múin (MOO-in), mná (muh-MAW*), mura (MUR-ruh).

For slender “m”, hold the lips as for slender “b” and “p” Try: mín (meen), minic (MIN-ik), méad (may*d), Meiriceá (MER-i-kaw*).


Masculine nouns bricfeasta (brik-FAS-tuh), breakfast lón (lohn), lunch tae (tay*), tea

trí bhéile bidh (tree VAY*L-uh bee) three meals

práta, na prátaí (PRAW*-tuh, nuh PRAW*-tee), potato, the potatoes

Feminine nouns feoil, an fheoil (FYOH-il, un OH-il), meat mias, an mhias, na miasa (MEE-uhs, un VEE-uhs, nuh MEE-uhs-uh) dish, the dishes


faigh (feye), get cuir (kir), put ith (i), eat téigh (tay*), go nigh (ni), wash

Other words

réidh (ray*), ready


To help you learn the difference between “is” and “tá”, do the following drill, either alone or with classmates:

Ask “Céard é seo? (kay*rd ay* shuh), pointing to an object or person mentioned in the Vocabularies of the previous lessons. Use drawings if necessary.

Answer “Is

é”, or “Is

í”. Use some adjectives, too.

Ask “Nach


Answer “Ní hea, ach

” (nee HA, ahk*)

Ask: “Cá bhfuil sé?”, or Cá bhfuil sí?”, meaning “Where is it?”

Answer “Tá sé

Repeat this for at least ten objects or persons. Some words are: arán, feoil, bainne, uisce, cupán, spúnóg, fear, bean, cailín, páiste, feirmeoir, dochtúir, lámh, súil.

” Use phrases from past vocabularies.


Here are additional expressions that you should learn for quick use in conversation and thought.

Ceart go leor (kart goh lohr), Right enough Isteach leat anois (ish-TYAHK* lat uh-NISH), In with you now. Ar chor ar bith (er HUHR er BI), at all. (Put at sentence end.)


Seán: An bhfuil an bricfeasta réidh? (un vwil un brik-FAS-tuh ray*) Is the breakfast ready?

Bríd: Tá, ach níl na miasa ar an mbord fós (taw*, ahk* neel nuh MEE-uhs-uh er un mohrd fohs) It is, but the dishes are not on the table yet. Cuir ar an mbord iad (kir er un mohrd EE-uhd). Put them on the table.

Seán: Déanfaidh mé sin (DAY*N-hee may* shin). I’ll do that.

Bríd: go raibh maith agat (gu-ruh MAH huh-guht). Tá mé an-ghnóthach anois (taw* may* AHN-gnoh-huhk* uh-NISH). Faigh spúnóg mhór dom (feye spun-OHG vwohr duhm), más é do thoil é (MAW* shay* duh HIL ay*). Thank you. I am very busy now. Get me a big spoon, please.

Seán: Seo duit é (shuh git ay*). Here it is.

Bríd: Go raibh maith agat (gu-ruh MAH huh-guht). Cad ba mhaith leat le haghaidh an dinnéir? (kahd buh vwah lat le HEYE-ee un din-YAY*R) Thank you. What would you like for dinner?

Seán: Ba mhaith liom feoil, prátaí, agus cabáiste (buh vwah luhm FYOH-il, PRAW*-tee, AH-guhs kuh-BAW*SH-te). I would like meat, pota- toes, and cabbage. Nach maith an dinnéar é sin? (nahk* mah un din-YAY*R ay* shin) Isn’t that a good dinner?

Bríd: Nach agatsa atá an ceart? (nahk* uh-GUHT-suh uh-TAW* un kart) Aren’t you the one who’s right?

Lesson 14

Irish has two sounds for the letter “n”. If “n” starts a word and is followed by a broad vowel--”a”, “o”, or “u”--then “n” gets its broad sound To learn this sound, place the front part of the tongue along the mouth top, with the tongue end touching the inside of the upper front teeth. Then pronounce “n”. Try: ná (naw*), nach (nach*), náire (NAW*-re), nó (noh), nua (NOO-uh), nóis (NOH-ish), Nollaig (NUHL-ig). If “n” starts a word and is followed by a slender vowel--”e” or “i”--then “n” gets its slender sound. Place the front of the tongue on the hard ridge in the roof of the mouth behind your upper front teeth and pronounce “n”. It will have a faint (yuh) sound at the end as you go to the rest of many words. try: néall (nyay*l), nead (nyad), neamh (nyav), ní (nee), níl (neel), neodrach (NYOH-druhk*).

In pronouncing slender “n”, do not pronounce a separate (yuh) sound. For example, don’t pronounce “néall” as (nyuh-AY*L), but as (nyay*l). In “níl”, the faint (yuh) sound disappears in the (eel).

If “n” is inside or at the end of a word and has “a”, “o”, or “u” near it, pronounce it more like an English “n”. Examples: bean (ban), bán (baw*n), lón (lohn), dúnadh (DOON-uh).

This gives you most of the pronunciation for “n”. One more sidelight will show how noticeable is the difference between broad and slender sounds in Irish. In Lesson 10 you learned that “aoi” is pronounced (ee), as is “í” (ee). If “n” is before “aoi”, the “n” gets its broad sound, made as described in the first paragraph above. Say “naoi” (nee) and then “ní” (nee) with a slender “n”, described in the second paragraph.

There is a clear difference. Remember that our simple pronunciation guide does not show this difference, so you must learn to watch for the vowel next to the consonant, as Irish people do when they read Irish.

GRAMMAR Before we return to “tá” next week, we will look at another use for “is” (is). Irish speakers often make a statement stronger by “is”. For example, instead of saying “Tá an lá go breá” (taw* un law* goh bir-RAW), meaning “the day is fine”, they will say “Nach breá an lá é?” (nahk* bir- RAW* un law* ay*), Isn’t it a fine day? The answer is “Is breá, go deimhin” (is bir-RAW* goh DEYE-in), It’s fine, certainly.

Here are some examples to repeat until you understand how the Irish do this:

Nach fliuch an aimsir í?” (nahk* flyuk* un EYEM-sheer ee) Is fliuch, go deimhin (is flyuk* goh DEYE-in), It is indeed wet. Is deas an cailín í (is das un kah-LEEN ee), She’s a pretty girl. Is deas, go deimhin, She is indeed pretty. Is mór an fear é (is mohr un far ay*), He’s a big man. Is mór, gan amhras (is mohr, guhn OU-ruhs), He’s big, without a doubt. Nach fada an bóthar é seo? (nahk* FAH-duh un BOH-uhr ay* shuh), Isn’t this a long road? Is fada, go cinnte (is FAH-duh, goh KIN-te), It’s long, certainly. Ní dona an lá é (nee DUH-nuh un law* ay*), It’s not a bad day. Ní dona, ar chor ar bith (nee DUH-nuh, er HUHR er BI), it’s not bad at all.

This last sentence pair shows you how to disagree with the original statement or question. For example:

Nach fuar an lá é? Ní fuar, ar chor ar bith, ach té.

Note that in all sentences above, the verb “tá” could have been used, as in “Tá an aimsir fliuch.” Irish speakers like variety, however, and often think that “Tá an aimsir fliuch” will sound flat and dull. They say “Nach fliuch an aimsir í?” instead.


Bríd (breed): Seo duit do uibreacha agus do bhagún (shuh git duh IV-ruh-huh AH-guhs duh vwuh-GOON). tá an bagún beagán dóite, ach ná bac leis (taw* un buh-GOON beg-AW*N DOH-i-te, ahk* naw* bahk lesh). Here are your eggs and bacon. The bacon is a little burned, but don’t worry about it.

Seán (shaw*n): Is cuma liom (is KUM-uh luhm). Tá an caife te, ar aon chuma (taw* un KAH-fe te, er AY*N K*UM-uh). Cuir braon bainne air, mas é do thoil é (kir BRAY*-uhn BAHN-ye er, MAW* shay* duh HIL-ay*). I don’t care. The coffee is hot anyway. Put a drop of milk in it, please.

Bríd: Déanfaidh mé sin (DYAY*N-hee may* shin). I’ll do that.

Seán: Ba mhaith liom sú oráiste (buh VWAH luhm soo oh-RAW*SH-te), mas é do thoil é. I would like orange juice, please.

Bríd: seo duit gloine de (shuh git GLIN-e de). Here’s a glass of it.

Seán: Go raibh maith agat, a Bhríd (guh ruh MAH huh-guht, uh vreed). Anois, rud amháin eile (uh-NISH, rud uh-WAW*-in EL-e. Cuir chugam píosa arán (kir HOO-uhm PEES-uh uh-RAW*-in), mas é do thoil é. Thank you, Bridget. Now, one other thing. Pass me a piece of bread, please.

Bríd: Seo duit é, agus bíodh im agat, freisin (AH-guhs BEE-ohk* im uh-GUHT FRESH-in). Here it is, and have butter, too.

Seán: Beidh mé chomh ramhar le muc (beg may* hoh ROU-wuhr le muk). I will be as fat as a pig.

Bríd: B’fhéidir (BAY*-dir). Perhaps.

Lesson 15

PRONUNCIATION The Letter “s” in Irish is sounded (s), as Americans pronounce “s” in “sun”, if the nearest vowel in the word is “a”, “o”, or “u”. This is the broad “s”. Try: sál (saw*l), saol (say*l), só (soh), solas (SUH-luhs), sú (soo), súil (SOO-il). If “s” is next to an “e” or an “i”, pronounce it (sh), like the “sh” in English “shawl”. This is the slender “s”. Examples: sean (shan), séid (shay*d), seilide (SHEL-i-de), sín (sheen), siar (SHEE-uhr).

If another consonant is between the “s” and the “e” or “i”, the broad sound may be heard. For example: smig (smig), spéir (spay*r), srian

(SREE-uhn), stríoc (streek).

Remember that “is” is an exception. Always say (is), never (ish), and of course never (iz).


We return to “tá” this week, following your introduction to “is”. Before we take up the new work, review “tá” quickly by reciting “tá mé, tá tú, etc. Níl mé, níl tú, etc. An bhfuil mé, an bhfuil tú, etc. Nach bhfuil mé, nach bhfuil tú, etc.” Review lessons 4 to 6 if you have forgotten any of this. It is vital to know.

To say the equivalent of “I am reading” in Irish, we add a word called a verbal noun to “tá mé”, with the preposition “ag”, meaning “at”, before the verbal noun. Learn these examples:

Tá mé ag léamh (taw* may* uh LAY*-uhv), I am reading. Níl sé ag scríobh (neel shay* uh shkreev), He is not writing. An bhfuil siad ag imeacht? (un vwil SHEE-uhd eg im-AHK*T), Are they departing? Nach bhfuil tú ag éisteacht? (nahk* vwil too eg AY*SH-tyahk*t), Aren’t you listening?

Pronounce the “ag” as (uh) before a verbal noun starting with a consonant, and as (eg) before a verbal noun starting with a vowel.

This grammar form serves as in English--to show that an action is going on at present. There is also a way, as in English, to say that an action takes place off and on but may not be going on now. To understand the difference, compare “I am walking” with “I walk”.


few verbs do not follow this pattern

Irish is much like English in this. In Irish we say:


understand you”, not “I am understanding you”.


see it”, not “I am seeing it”.


hear him”, not “I am hearing him”.

The first part of a verbal noun nearly always looks and sounds somewhat like the imperative of the verb, although the verbal noun is usually longer and has an added syllable. From now on, learn the verb’s imperative and verbal noun together, as in the vocabulary below.

The term “ag léamh” (uh LAY*-uhv) literally means “at reading”. “I am reading a book” becomes “I am at reading of a book”. The word “book”

in this form takes a slightly different look and pronunciation from the one you have learned, (LOU-wuhr). It changes to “leabhair” (LOU-wir),

the genitive case. We will introduce you to this by the phrase method, so that you will have a good background and an inventory of examples by

the time we begin studying how nouns change.

REFLEX EXPRESSIONS Learn these expressions for quick use in thought and speech:

Más é do thoil é (MAW* shay* duh HIL ay*), Please. Go raibh maith agat (gu-ruh MAH huh-guht), Thank you. Fáilte romhat (FAW*L-tye ROH-uht), Welcome to you. Go sabhála Dia sinn (goh suh-VWAW*-luh DEE-uh shin), May God save us.

VOCABULARY téigh, ag dul (tay*, uh DUHL), go tar, ag teacht (tahr, uh TYAHK*T), come scríobh, ag scríobh (shkreev, uh SHKREEV), write ith, ag ithe (i, eg I-he), eat imigh, ag imeacht (IM-ee, ag im-AHK*T) depart, leave ól, ag ól (ohl, eg OHL), drink faigh, ag fáil (feye, uh FAW*-il), get déan, ag déanamh (day*n, uh DAY*N-uhv) do, make siúil, ag siúl (SHOO-il, uh SHOOL) walk rith, ag rith (ri, uh RI) run éist, ag éisteacht (ay*sht, eg AY*SH-tyahk*t) listen foghlaim, ag foghlaim (FOU-lim, uh FOU-lim), learn fan, ag fanacht (fahn, uh FAHN-uhk*t), wait

CONVERSATION Diarmaid (DEER-mwid): A Dhóirín, tá sé ag éirí dorcha (uh GOH-i-reen, taw* shay* eg EYE-ree DUHR-uh-huh). Cá bhfuil Una? (kaw* vwil OON-uh) Jerry: Doreen, It’s getting dark. Where is Una?

Dóirín (DOH-i-reen): Níl a fhios agam (neel is uh-GUHM) cad atá sí a dhéanamh (kahd taw* shee uh YAY*N-uhv). I don’t know what she is doing. Fan nóiméad go bhfeicfidh mé (fahn NOH-may*d go VEK-hee may*) Wait a minute until I see. Go sabhála Dia sinn! (goh suh-VWAW*- luh DEE-uh shin) May God save us! Tá sí ag siúl amuigh i lár na sráide! (taw* shee uh SHOOL uh-MWEE i law*r nuh SRAW*-de) She’s walk- ing out in the middle of the street!

Diarmaid: Agus tá na gluaisteáin ag dul thairis (AH-guhs taw* nuh GLOOSH-taw*-in uh duhl HA-rish). And the autos are going past her. Téigh amach agus faigh í (tay* uh-MAHK* AH-guhs feye ee). Go out and get her.

Dóirín: Tá mé ag dul amach go díreach anois (taw* may* uh duhl uh-MAHK* goh dee-RAHK uh-NISH). I going out right now. Nach díol trua mise? (nahk* DEE-uhl TROO-uh MISH-e). Isn’t it an object of pity that I am?

Lesson 16

PRONUNCIATION The letter “f” in Irish is pronounced almost like the “f” in English, except that you must start with the inside of the lower lip against the edge of the upper front teeth. Then, if “a”, “o” or “u” is the nearest vowel to the “f”, move both lips out for the vowel sound. Examples: fá (faw*), fód (fohd), fuar (FOO-uhr), scríofa (SHKREE-fuh). This is the broad sound of “f”.

Start the slender sound the same way, but draw the lower lip back a little to make the vowel sound. Try: fear (far), féin (fay*n), fill (fil), deifir (DE-fir), fliuch (flyuhk*).

In some cases “f” is pronounced (h). We will study this later.


Masculine nouns solas (SUH-luhs), light balla (BAHL-luh), wall sorn (SOHR-ruhn), stove cúisneoir (koosh-NYOH-ir), refrigerator gloine (GLIN-e), glass doirteal (DUHRT-uhl), sink forc (fohrk), fork fó-chupán (FOH-k*u-PAW*N), saucer citeal (KIT-uhl), kettle naipcín (nap-KEEN), napkin pota (POHT-uh), pot sconna (SKOHN-uh), faucet éadach boird, an t-eadach boird (AY*-duhk*BWIRD, un TAY*-duhk*BWIRD), tablecloth, the tablecloth oigheann, an t-oigheann (EYE-uhn, un TEYE-uhn), oven, the oven

Feminine nouns scian, an scian (SHKEE-uhn), knife síleáil, an tsíleáil (SHEEL-aw*-il, un TEEL-aw*-il), ceiling cathaoir, an chathaoir (KAH-heer, un K*AH-heer), chair

Phrases i lár na sráide (i LAW*R nuh SRAW*-de), in the middle of the street ag ól bainne (eg OHL BAHN-ye), drinking milk ag ól tae (eg OHL tay*), drinking tea ag ól uisce (eg OHL ISH-ke), drinking water ag ithe a bhricfeasta (eg I-he uh vrik-FAS-tuh), eating breakfast Go hiontach (goh HOON-tuhk*), Great!


We will try a vocabulary drill first, to help you learn the larger vocabulary that you are acquiring. Go to the kitchen and begin this drill for each object you can name:

Céard é seo? (kay*rd ay* shuh), What is this? Or ( Céard é sin? (shin), What is that?


é. Tá an

anseo (un-SHUH), The

is here.

Continue for as many objects as you can name. If necessary, replace “anseo” by one of these:

ansin (un-SHIN), there; ar an mbord (er un mohrd), on the table; ar an urlár (er un oor-LAW*R), on the floor; ar an mballa (er un MAHL-luh), on the wall.

The next drill is a mini-conversation drill. Do these short exercises alone or with another student. Repeat them several times to get the full ben- efit from them.

1. Cé atá ag teacht? (kay* taw* uh TYAHK*T), Who is coming?

Tá Séamas, an ea? (un A) Séamas is it? Is ea (sha), It is. Nach bhfuil Brian ag teacht freisin? (FRESH-in), also. Ó, níl. Tá sé amuigh sa tsráid (uh-MWEE), He’s out in the street.

2. Cé atá imeacht? (eg im-AHK*T), Who is leaving?

Tá Ruairí (ROH-i-ree) ag imeacht. Nach bhfuil Seán ag imeacht freisin? Ó, níl. Tá sé sa seomra eile fós (suh SHOHM-ruh EL-e fohs), He’s still in the other room.

Liam, an ea? Is ea. Nach bhfuil sé ag obair fós? (eg OH-bir), Isn’t he at work yet? Níl sé ag obair fós. Tá sé déanach (DAY*N-uhk), He’s late.

4. Céard atá tú a dhéanamh? (uh YAY*N-uhv), What are you doing?

Tá mé ag déanamh báid (BAW*-id), I’m making a boat. Bád, an ea? (baw*d, un A), A boat, is it? Is ea. Nach maith an buachaill tú! (BOO-uhk*-il), Aren’t you the good boy!

5. Cá bhfuil Seoirse ag siúl? (SHOHR-she uh SHOOL), Where is George walking?

Tá sé ag siúl ar an gcosán (er un guh-SAW*N), He’s walking on the sidewalk.

Ar an gcosán, an ea? Is ea. Maith an fear é! (mah un far ay*), He’s a good man!

6. An bhfuil tú ag ól bainne? (eg ohl BAHN-ye), Are you drinking milk?

Níl mé ag ól bainne, ar chor ar bith (er HUHR er BI), not at all. Céard atá tú ag ól, mar sin? (mahr shin), What are you drinking, then? Tá mé ag ól uisce (ISH-ke), I am drinking water. Uisce fuar, an ea? Is ea.

7. An bhfuil tú ag scríobh litreach? (uh shkreev LI-trahk*), Are you writing a letter?

Níl mé ag scríobh litreach anois (uh-NISH). Tá mé tuirseach (taw* may* toor-SHAHK*), I am tired. Tuirseach, an ea? Is ea.

8. Cé atá ag fanacht amuigh? (uh fahn-uhk*t uh-MWEE), Who is waiting outside?

Nach bhfuil do mháthair amuigh ar an gcosán? (duh VWAW*-hir), Isn’t your mother out on the sidewalk? Má tá sí, abair léi teacht isteacht (maw* taw* shee, AH-bir lay* tyahk*t ish-TYAHK*), If she is, tell her to come in.

Note: To tell someone to give an order to a man, say “Abair leis” (AH-bir lesh) and add a verbal noun, such as “teacht” or “dul”. An example:

Abair leis dul abhaile (uh-VWAHL-e), Tell him to come home.

Lesson 17

PRONUNCIATION You know the basics of pronunciation by now. Although you should be able to sound out most new words, we will continue to give you the pro- nunciation guide for all new words--and most of the old ones, too--for a few more lessons. We will also begin reviews to help you maintain your pronunciation if you have no speakers, records, or tapes available.

We will now begin to take up some of the details of pronunciation and some of the regional variations. First, the word “maith” (mah), good. The “th” at the end of the word means that the vowel sound of (ah) gets cut short, rather than running long as it if were (maaah).

We do the same in English sometimes. For example, when you say “ah” to indicate pleasant surprise, the sound is held for a much longer time than when you say “ah” to indicate disgust or impatience. In the second “ah”, you cut the sound off short, as you do for the Irish word “maith”. This cutting short of the sound for “th” also occurs inside words, usually at the end of a syllable before a vowel, as in: leathan (LA-huhn), wide; athair (A-hir), father. We will indicate where this happens from now on.

At the start of a word, “th” gets an (h) sound, like English “h”. For example: tharla sé (HAHR-luh shay*), it happened.

“Maith” is pronounced (meye) in some parts of Ireland, and you must learn to listen for this. If a speaker says (goh MEYE), you will know that it is the equivalent of the (go MAH) that you have learned. Regional differences exist in Ireland, as in the United States where, for example, the word “rifle” may be pronounced (REYE-fuhl), (RAH-fuhl) or (ROY-fuhl) along the Eastern seaboard alone.


Irish has no word for the verb “to have”. Instead, Irish speakers say the equivalent of “it is at me” or “the book is at him”. The preposition “ag” (eg), at, serves here. “A man has the book” becomes “Tá an leabhar ag fear” (taw* un LOU-wuhr eg far), the book is at a man. This is very annoying at first to the average English speaker, because it requires him to rearrange his thought patterns slightly. WIth a little prac- tice and drill, however, it will become second nature to you.

The preposition “ag” combines with “me”, tú”, and other pronouns to form the following, which you should learn now:

agam (uh-GUHM), at me agat (uh-GUHT), at you aige (eg-GE), at him aici (a-KI), at her againn (uh-GIN), at us agaibh (uh-GIV), at you (plural) acu (ah-KUH), at them

The term “ag an” (eg un) means “at the” and it often causes eclipsis. For example, “at the man” becomes “ag an bhfear” (eg un VAR). We will drill on this to make you fluent in the form.

VOCABULARY Masculine Nouns cuirtín (koor-TEEN), curtain sáspan (SAW*S-puhn), saucepan lampa (LAHM-puh), lamp buicéad (bwi-KAY*D), bucket crúscín (kroosh-KEEN), jug, pitcher cófra (KOH-fruh), cupboard buidéal (bwi-DAY*L), bottle ciseán (ki-SHAW*N), basket; ciseán páipéir (paw*-PAY*-ir), wastebasket

Feminine Nouns fuinneog, an fhuinneog (fwin-YOHG, un in-YOHG) window scuab, an scuab (SKOO-uhb), broom, brush

Verbs faigh, ag fáil (feye, uh FAW*-il), get cuir, ag cur (kir, uh-KUHR), put glan, ag glanadh (gluhn, uh GLUHN-uh), clean tóg, ag tógáil (tohg, uh TOHG-aw*-il), take, lift stad, ag stad (stahd), stop


First, for “have”:

Tá cupán agam (taw* ku-PAW*N uh-GUHM), I have a cup. Tá cupán agat (taw* ku-PAW*N uh-GUHT), You have a cup. Tá cupán aige (taw* ku-PAW*N eg-GE), He has a cup. Tá cupán aici (taw* ku-PAW*N a-KI), She has a cup. Tá cupán againn (taw* ku-PAW*N uh-GIN), We have a cup. Tá cupán agaibh (taw* ku-PAW*N uh- GIV), You (pl) have a cup. Tá cupán acu (taw* ku-PAW*N ah- KUH), They have a cup.

Next, go through the negatives:

Níl cupán agam (neel ku-PAW*N uh-GUHM), I don’t have a cup. Níl cupán agat (neel ku-PAW*N uh-GUHT), You don’t have a cup. And so on.

Then the questions:

An bhfuil cupán agam? (un vwil ku-PAW*N uh-GUHM), have I a cup? And so on.

Finally, the negative questions:

Nach bhfuil cupán agam? (nahk* vwil ku-PAW*N uh-GUHM, Don’t I have a cup? And so on.

You are now ready, after a short rest, for a progressive drill. Go through this form: Nach bhfuil leabhar ag Seán? (nahk* vwill LOU-wuhr eg shaw*n), Hasn’t John a book? Níl leabhar ag Seán. An bhfuil leabhar ag Máire? (MAW*-re). Has Mary a book? Tá leabhar ag Máire.

Continue with “Máire”, but then substitute: Séamas, Liam, Bríd, Úna and Diarmaid in succession. Your last sentence will be: Tá leabhar ag Seán. Each time you say a sentence, form a picture of a person holding a book or without a book.

For the second drill, go to the kitchen again and run through:

Céard é seo? or Céard é sin? for each object in the kitchen as given in the vocabularies of Lesson 16 and this lesson. Also, ask the question “cá

bhfuil an

son 16. Visualization of the object should be easy, since it will be before you.

(kaw* vwil un


Where is the


for each object and answer by “Tá sé


using the phrases in the drill of Les-

Lesson 18

PRONUNCIATION In going from the broad vowel “á” in a word to a slender consonant, such as slender “d”, “r”, “s”, or “t”, the movement of the tongue to get into position for the slender consonant will result in an extra sound between vowel and consonant.

The extra sound is called a “glide”. It is usually shown in writing by the letter “i”, and this indicates that the following consonant gets its slender sound. The overall effect can be somewhat like (oy) in English “boy”, but you should not try to pronounce an (oy) for these cases.

To see what this means, first review the pronunciation of slender and broad “t” in Lesson 2, and then slowly pronounce: át (aw*t), áit (AW*-it). Notice that in “áit” you make a slight (i) sound as your tongue tip goes to the hard ridge behind your upper teeth. In some parts of Ireland, the word “áit” may even sound like (oych).

Here are some examples for practice. Review the pronunciation of slender and broad consonants if necessary, before starting:

bád *baw*d); báid (BAW*-id) pád (paw*d); Páid (PAW*-id) lár (law*r); láir (LAW*-ir) pás (paw*s); páis (PAW*-ish); páista (PAW*-ish-te) trád (traw*d); tráid (TRAW*-id) srád (sraw*d); sráid (SRAW*-id) i lár na sráide (i LAW*R nuh SRAW*-id-e)

It is a shortcoming of our simplified pronunciation guide that we can not show this transition or glide as well as it should be, so it will be your task to watch for it and make sure that your pronunciation includes it. We will usually show a word like ‘báid” to be pronounced (baw*d), and you must note the “id” at the word end and give the “d” its slender sound, with the tongue tip against the hard ridge behind your upper front teeth.


“Ag” means “at”, and it also serves to express “to have”, as in “Tá cóta ag Seán” (taw* KOH-tuh eg shaw*n), John has a coat. You may think that use of “ag” for these two purposes would be confusing, but that is not so in the actual Irish language. You can tell from the nature of the sentence and the circumstances in which it is used whether “ag” is “at” or is part of the idea of “having”.

For example, Tá Seán ag an doras” must mean that John is at the door. Obviously the door does not “have” John. On the other hand, “Tá carr ag Seán” means that John has a car, rather than a car is “at John”, or even at John’s house. Irish has another expression for “at some one’s house”:

“tigh Sheáin” (tee HYAW*-in).


Go through the following drill for expressing “to have” in Irish. Remember to recite aloud and form a mental picture for each sentence.

An bhfuil nuachtán agam? (un vwil NOO-uhk*-taw*n uh-GUHM). Níl nuachtán agam (neel NOO-uhk*-taw*n uh GUHM) Tá nuachtán agat (uh-GUHT). An bhfuil nuachtán agat? Níl nuachtán agat. Tá nuachtán aige (eg-GE).

An bhfuil nuachtán aige? And so on, until you return to “Tá nuachtán agam” as the last sentence.


Here are some phrases to help you learn how “ag an” (eg un), at the, causes eclipses. “Ag an” does not always cause eclipses, especially in the case of words starting with “d” or “t”, but learn the eclipses for all cases initially.

bean, ag an mbean (ban, eg un man), woman, at the woman fear, ag an bhfear (far, eg un var), man, at the man doras, ag an ndoras (DUH-ruhs, eg un NUH-ruhs), door, at the door carr, ag an gcarr (kahr, eg un gahr), car, at the car páista, ag an bpáiste (PAW*SH-te, eg un BAW*SH-te), child, at the child geata, ag an ngeata (GAT-uh, eg ung AT-uh), gate, at the gate teach, ag an dteach (tahk*, eg un dyahk*), house, at the house


Pól: (pohl): Dia duit, a Róisín (DEE-uh git, uh roh-SHEEN). Hello, Rose.

Róisín: Dia’s Muire duit, a Phóil (DEE-uhs MWIR-uh git, uh FOH-il). Conas tá tú? (KUN-uhs taw* too) Hello, Paul. How are you?

Pól: Tá mé go maith (taw* may* goh mah). Agus conas tá tú féin? I am well. And how are you?

Róisín: Tá mé go maith leis (lesh). I am well, too.

Pól: An bhfuil aon scéal nua agat? (un vwil ay*n shkay*l NOO-uh uh-GUHT) Have you any news? (“new story,” literally). Róisín: Níl. Ach bhí mé ag léamh an nuachtáin aréir (uh LAY*-uhv un NOO-uhk-taw*-in uh-RAY*R). I don’t. But I was reading the paper last night. Rud suimiúil a chonaic mé (rud sim-OO-il uh K*UHN-ik may*). An interesting thing I saw. Tá raidió agus teilifíseán ag beagnach gach duine sa tír seo (taw* RAH-dee-oh AH-guhs TEL-i-fee-shaw*n eg BYUHG-nahk* gahk* DIN-e suh teer shuh). Nearly everyone in this country has a radio and television set.

Pól: Níl teilifíseán agamsa (uh-GUHM-suh). I don’t have a television. An bhfuil teilifíseán agatsa? Have you one?

Róisín: O, tá, agus tá ceann (kyoun) ag gach cara eile liom (KAH-ruh EL-e luhm). Oh, I do, and every other friend of mine has one.


Lesson 19

Two letter groups, “adh” and “agh”, are usually pronounced (eye) when in accented syllables inside a word. Here are examples for “adh”:

adharc (EYE-uhrk), horn radharc (REYE-uhrk), sight Tadhg (teyeg), Tadhg, a man’s name gadhar (GEYE-uhr), hound fadhb (feyeb), problem

Some examples for “agh”:

aghaidh (EYE-ee), face laghad (LEYE-uhd), least slaghdán (SLEYE-daw*n), a cold, hay fever

Ó Raghallaigh (oh REYE-lee), O’Reilly

If the letter group “adh” is at a word end or in an unaccented syllable, it does not take the (eye) sound. For example:

samhradh (SOU-ruh), summer; ionadh (OON-uh), wonder. Many verbal nouns are similar: dúnadh (DOON-uh), closing; briseadh (BRISH-uh), breaking; glanadh (GLUHN-uh), cleaning.

VOCABULARY Masculine Nouns néal, na néalta (nay*l, nuh NAY*L-tuh), cloud, the clouds biseach (BI-shahk*), recovery slaghdán (SLEYE-daw*n) a cold

Feminine Nouns feoil, an fheoil (FYOH-il, un OH-il), meat, the meat beoir, an bheoir (BYOH-ir, un VYOH-ir), beer, the beer

bain, ag baineadh (bwin, uh BWIN-uh), cut, reap; also part of expressions such as “bain diot an cóta” (bwin DEE-uht un KOH-tuh), take off your coat. ith, ag ithe (i, eg I-he), eat ag ithe an aráin (un uh-RAW*-in), eating the bread ag ithe an bhricfeasta (vrik-FAS-tuh), eating the breakfast ag ithe mo lóin (muh LOH-in), eating my lunch ag ithe feola (FYOH-luh), eating meat ag ithe prátaí (PRAW*-tee), eating potatoes

á ithe (aw* I-he), eating it

á ithe sin, eating that

á ithe seo, eating this

Tá biseach orm (OH-ruhm), I am recovering

cnag, ag cnagadh (kuh-NAHG, uh kuh-NAHG-uh), knock; as in “ag cnagadh ar an doras”, knocking at the door ól, ag ól (ohl, eg OHL), drink ag ól bainne (BAHN-ye), drinking milk ag ól tae (tay*), drinking tea ag ól uisce (ISH-ke), drinking water ag ól caife (KAHF-e), drinking coffee ag ól mo chaife (muh K*AHF-e), drinking my coffee ag ól beorach (BYOH-ruhk*), drinking beer

á ól (aw* ohl), drinking it

á ól sin, drinking that

á ól seo, drinking this

féach, ag féachaint ar (FAY*-ahk, uh FAY*-uhk*-int er) looking at Tá slaghdán ort (OH-ruht), you have a cold

NOTES ON VOCABULARY This vocabulary gives you many phrases combining “ag ithe” and “ag ól” with nouns. The drills for the next few weeks will stress these to famil- iarize you with ways of phrase formation.

The forms “ag ithe”, “ag cur”, etc., are often followed by nouns in the genitive case, becoming in English : “of the

literally “at eating of meat”. The genitive case of Irish nouns is formed in several ways. You will gradually learn to recognize these, so that you can form the case for new words. Some nouns don’t change at all for the genitive, such as “bainne”. Others may change a final broad consonant to a slender, such as “lón, an lóin”, or “arán, an aráin”. A few nouns add a syllable, such as “beoir, na beorach” or “feoil, na feola”.

”. “Ag ithe feola” is

In Irish, you don’t “have” illnesses. Instead, they are “on” you. “Tá slaghdán ar Shéamas” means “James has a cold”. Recovery,happiness, sor-

row, anger and the like are also “on” you.


Nioclás (NEE-klaw*s): Éist (ay*sht)! Tá duine éigin ag cnagadh ar an doras (taw* DIN-e AY*-gin uh kuh-NAHG-uh er un DUH-ruhs). Listen! Someone is knocking on the door.

Córa (KOH-ruh): Cé hé sin (kay* hay* shin) ag an doras? Who’s that at the door?

Seán: Seán anseo. Oscail an doras agus lig isteach sa teach mé. It’s John here. Open the door and let me in the house. Tá sé ag cur báistí amuigh anseo (uh KUR BAW*SH-tee uh MWEE un-SHUH). It’s raining out here.

Nioclás: O, tá tú anseo faoi dheireadh (fwee YER-uh). Fan nóiméad, más é do thoil é (fahn NOH-may*d, MAW* shay* duh HIL ay*). -- Isteach leat, a Sheáin (ish-TYAHK* lat, uh HYAW*-in). Oh, you are here at last. Wait a minute please. -- In with you, John.

Seán: Dia daoibh, a Niocláis agus a Chóra (DEE-uh yeev, uh NEE-klaw*sh AH-guhs uh K*OH-ruh). Hello, Nicholas and Cora.

Córa: Dia’s Muire duit, a Sheáin. Conas tá tú ar chor ar bith? (HUHR er bi) Hello, John. How are you, anyway?

Seán: Tá me go maith, agus conas tá sibh (shiv) féin? I am well and how are you yourselves?

Nioclás: Táimid go maith leis, ach tá slaghdán ar Chóra. We are well, too, but Cora has a cold.

Córa: Tá biseach orm anois (uh-NISH), áfach (AW*-fuhk*). I am recovering now, however.

Nioclás: Bain diot an cóta, a Sheáin. Take off your coat, John. Ina dhiaidh sin (in-uh YEE-uh shin), tar amach i seomra an bhidh (tahr uh- MAHK* i SHOHM-ruh un VEE), agus bíodh (BEE-ohk*) cupán tae agat (uh-GUHT). After that, come out into the dining room and have a cup of tea.

Córa: Oíche dhorcha is ea í (EE-hye GUHR-uh-huh sha ee). Féach ar na néalta dubha (nuh NAY*L-tuh DOOV-uh). A dark night it is. Look at the black clouds.

Lesson 20

PRONUNCIATION The letter group “omh” in a word often gets the sound of (oh). This sound is held for the same length of time as “ó”. Examples are: romham (ROH-uhm), before me; romhat (ROH-uht), before you; comhar (KOH-uhr), aid; comhairle (KOHR-le), council, advice; comhrá (KOH-raw*), conversation; fómhar (FOH-uhr), autumn; comhacht (KOH-uhk*t), power; comhlacht (KOH-luhk*t), a corporation.


To say “I had a book”, rather than “I have a book”, you merely replace “tá” by “bhí”, as in:

Bhí leabhar agam (vee LOU-wuhr uh-GUHM), I had a book. The literal meaning is, of course, “There was a book at me”.

Forms for “had” parallel those needed to express “have”. Here is practice reading to help you recognize and use the forms. Only the new or less familiar words have a pronunciation guide directly after them.

Bhí airgead (AR-i-guhd) agam inné. Nach raibh bainne agat? Níl mórán bainne againn anois. Tá scian ag Tomás. An raibh cóta ag an mac? Nach bhfuil nuachtán agat? Ní raibh cnaipe (kuh-NAHP-e) ag an gcóta.

An bhfuil carr aige? Níl caife nó tae aici. Nach raibh bróg ag Peadar? Bhí bord mór acu. An bhfuil léine mhaith aige? Tá leabhar agaibh. An raibh mála bán aici? Nach bhfuil hataí acu? Ní raibh ceann (kyoun) eile agam.

The pronunciation guide and translation for these sentences follow:

vee AR-i-guhd uh-GUHM in-YAY*. nahk* rev BAHN-ye uh-GUHT? neel moh-RAW*N BAHN-ye uh-GIN uh-NISH. taw* SHKEE-uhn eg toh-MAW*S. un rev KOH-tuh eg un MAHK? nahk* vwil NOO-uhk*-taw*n uh-GUHT? nee rev kuh-NAHP-e eg un GOH-tuh.

un vwil KAHR eg-GE? neel KAH-fe noh tay* a-KI. nahk* rev brohg eg PAD-uhr? vee bohrd mohr ah-KUH. un vwil LAY*-ne vwah eg-GE? taw* LOU-wir uh-GIV. un rev MAW*-luh baw*n a-KI? nahk* vwil HAHT-ee ah-KUH? nee rev kyoun EL-e uh-GUHM.

I had money yesterday. Didn’t you have milk? We don’t have much milk now. Thomas has a knife. DId the son have a coat? Don’t you have a newspaper? The coat didn’t have a button.

Has he a car? She doesn’t have coffee or tea

have a white bag? Don’t they have hats? I didn’t have another one.

Didn’t Peter have a shoe? They had a large table. Has he a good shirt? You have books. Did she


It is necessary for you to practice with masculine and feminine nouns accompanied by adjectives, so that you will be familiar with the changes needed. Here are some drill expressions. Go over them until you are completely in mastery of them:

Máthair mhaith (MAW*-hir vwah); an mháthair mhaith (un VWAW*-hir vwah); mo mháthair mhaith (muh VWAW*-hir vwah). cailín maith (kah-LEEN mah); an cailín maith; do chailín maith (duh k*ah-LEEN mah). bróg shalach (brohg huh-LAHK*); an bhróg shalach (un vrohg huh-LAHK*); a bhróg shalach (uh vrohg huh-LAHK*). bord salach; an bord salach; ár mbord salach ( aw*r mohrd suh-LAHK*). traein fhada (tray*n AH-duh); an traein fhada; do thraein fhada. carr fada; an carr fada; mo charr fada ( muh K*AHR FAH-duh). cathaoir chrua (KAH-heer K*ROO-uh), a hard chair; an chathaoir chrua (un K*AH-heer K*ROO-uh); a cathaoir chrua, her hard chair. cóta beag (KOH-tuh byuhg); an cóta beag; mo chóta beag (muh K*OH-tuh byuhg). sráid dheas (sraw*d yas), a nice street; an tsráid dheas (un traw*d yas); a shráid dheas (uh hraw*d yas), his nice street. fuinneog ghlan (fwin-YOHG gluhn); an fhuinneog ghlan (un in-YOHG gluhn); do fhuinneog ghlan (duh in-YOHG gluhn). fear mór (far mohr); an fear mór; do fhear mór (duh ar mohr). scian ghéar (SHKEE-uhn yay*r), a sharp knife; an scian ghéar; mo scian ghéar (muh SHKEE-uhn yay*r). pingin bheag (PEENG-in vyuhg), a small penny; an phingin bheag (un FEENG-in vyuhg); mo phingin bheag.

These changes are annoying to you at first, but a little practice will make them seem very natural. Writing them out after you have gone over the pronunciation several times is another good way to become used to the changes required.

The verbal nouns with “tá” and “bhí” also require some drilling. Repeat this drill until you can do it with full understanding and without hesita- tion:

Nach bhfuil Seán ag léamh sa chistin? (nahk* vwil shaw*n uh LAY*-uhv suh HYISH-tin). Níl sé ag léamh sa chistin. An bhfuil sé ag léamh thuas an staighre? (HOO-uhs un STEYE-ruh). Tá sé ag léamh ansin.

Nach raibh do mháthair ag caint leat? (uh KEYENT lat) Ní raibh sí uh caint liom (luhm) An raibh sí ag caint le Máire? (MAW*-re) Bhí sí ag caint le Máire agus le Bríd, freisin (le BREED FRESH-in).

Nach bhfuil ár n-athair ag scríobh na litreach? (nahk* vwil aw*r NA-hir uh SHKREEV nuh LI-trahk*), writing the letter? Níl sé ag scríobh na litreach. An bhfuil sé ag obair sa bhaile? (eg OH-bir suh VWAH-le) Tá sé ag obair sa ghairdín (suh gahr-DEEN).

Nach raibh cat agaibh? (uh-GIV) Ní raibh cat againn anuraidh (uh-GINN uh-NOOR-ee), last year. An raibh madra agaibh? Bhí madra álainn

againn anuraidh.

Nach bhfuil nuachtán agat? (NOO-uhk*taw*n uh-GUHT) Níl nuachtán ar bith agam. An bhfuil airgead agat (AR-i-guhd uh-GUHT), have you money? Tá mórán airgid agam (moh-RAW*N AR-i-gid uh-GUHM), I have a lot of money.

Nach raibh cathaoir eile agat sa teach? (KAH-heer EL-e) Ní raibh ach cathaoir amháin againn (uh-WAW*-in uh-GIN), we had only one chair. An raibh bord agaibh? O, bhí dhá bhord againn (GAW* vwohrd uh-GIN), We had two tables. Note: The word for “two” of anything (escept persons) is “dhá” (gaw*), and it is followed by the aspirated singular. Examples: dhá bhád (gaw* VWAW*D), two boats; dhá léine, two shirts; dhá fháinne (gaw* AW*-nye), two rings; dhá chat (gaw* K*AHT), two cats.

Lesson 21

PRONUNCIATION In this lesson, we will begin a review of the elements of Irish pronunciation that you learned in the first 20 lessons. This will help those of you who did not join the lesson series at the beginning or who missed some of the lessons.

Those who have followed all the lessons may benefit from the review, too, because additional notes and pointers will be given.

In addition, next week, the complete pronunciation guide (from Lesson 1) will be reprinted.

Our pronunciation guide (always in parentheses) represents Irish sounds by closely related English sounds. Where the difference is significant, an asterisk (*) will follow the letter symbol to let you know. Capital letters in the pronunciation guide mean an accented syllable or word. For example, our pronunciation guide would represent the English word “pronunciation” by (proh-NUHN-see-AY-shun).

For consonants b, d, f, g, h, l, m, n, p, r, s, and t, the letters themselves serve. (k) is used for “c” where the “c” is pronounced as in English “cold”. All these consonants except “h” have at least two sounds in Irish, depending on whether the nearest consonant is either a, o, u, or else e or i. You will learn these sounds as we progress.

Since our pronunciation guide is a simplified compromise, we will run into odd-looking cases at times. For example, (keyent) may look strange at first, but a second look will tell you that it rhymes closely with English “pint”. Then, too, (byuhg) is not (BEYE-uhg) but is closer to (bee- UHG) with a very short (ee) sound.

Vowel sounds have a little more complicated system. Learn these first:

(ah) as in English “ah-hah”


as in English “at”


as in English “let”

(ee) as in English “seen”

(i) as in English “pin”

(eye) as in English “eye” (oh) as in English “toe” but with out the trace of (oo) at the end (oo) as in English “food” (uh) as in English “run”

(u) as in English “put”

(ou) as in English “shout”

Two other vowel sounds are followed by asterisks to indicate difference from the common English pronunciation of the letters. The first sound is (ay*). Pronounce this like the first part of the vowel group in the English word “say”, but omit the second part, a trace of (ee). Irish persons often carry this pronunciation into English. Recall to yourself how they would pronounce “say”, “day”, “pray”.

The second is (aw*). This sound is close to the way many Irish persons pronounce the vowel in “thaw”, “awful”, or “saw”, although most Americans do not pronounce those three words that way. For Americans, the sound (aw*) in words like “tá” is closer to the “o” in “otter”, “top”, or “tot” but is held longer. In Irish spelling, the sound is represented by “á”.

Another way to get the (aw*) pronunciation is to watch your lips in a mirror as you say “awful”, noticing that the lips are pushed far out. If you try the word with your lips help in closer and more rounded, you will be very close to the (aw*) in words like “tá”.

Now practice (aw*) in these words:

ábalta (AW*-buhl-tuh) able, capable ál (aw*l) brood, progeny ár (aw*r) our áras (AW*-ruhs) a dwelling ádh (aw*) luck áit (aw*t) place álainn (AW*-lin) beautiful áil (aw*l) desire arán (uh-RAW*N) bread bán (baw*n) white dá (daw*) if mórán (moh-RAW*N) much


In Lessons 10 to 12, you learned how to answer the questions:

Céard é seo? (kay*rd ay* shuh) what is this? Céard é sin? (kay*rd ay* shin) what is that? and to classify, that is, to say that a person or object is in some class or group. For example: “is dochtúir í” (is dohk*-TOO-ir ee ) means “She is a doctor”, and “is bord é” (is bohrd ay*) means “it is a table”.

To identify a person or object as having a name or being the particular one that you are talking about, Irish has a slightly different form. Learn these examples by heart:

Is mise Seán (is MISH-e shaw*n), I am John. (“Mise” is the emphatic form of “mé”.) Is tusa Séamus (is TU-suh SHAY*-muhs), You are James. (“Tusa” is the emphatic form of “tú”.) Is sinne na dochtúirí (is SHIN-ye nuh dohk*-TOO-i-ree), We are the doctors. Is sibhse na scoláirí (is SHIV-she nuh skoh-LAW*-ree), You (plural) are the pupils.

Note that the word order is reversed from: Is dochtúir mise (is dohk*-TOO-ir MISH-e), I am a doctor.

The same is true of “é seo” or “í seo” meaning “this”, and or “é sin” and “í sin” meaning “that”. For example:

Is é seo Brian (shay* shuh BREE-uhn), This is Brian. Is í sin Bríd (shee shin breed), That is Bridget.

This also holds true for “iad seo” (EE-uhd shuh), these, and “iad sin” (EE-uhd shin), those. An example is: Is iad sin Cormac agus Una (SHEE- uhd shin KOHR-muhk AH-guhs OON-uh), Those are Cormac and Una. The annoying part, however, is that with “é”, “í”, and “iad” alone, a doubling of the pronoun occurs, as in:

Is é Brian é (shay* BREE-uhn ay*), It’s Brian Is í Máire í (shee MAW*-re ee) It’s Mary. Is iad na fir iad (SHEE-uhd nuh fir EE-uhd), They are the men. Is iad Peadar agus Dónall iad (SHEE-uhd PAD-uhr AH-guhs DOHN- uhl EE-uhd), They are Peter and Donald.

This will be clumsy and annoying to you at first, but persevere and you will develop the proper thought pattern, so that the right phrase will come to you quickly in any situation.

Lesson 22

In this issue, we rerun the full pronunciation guide and study method, for the purpose of review and for those readers who have joined recently and need this information.

PRONUNCIATION Americans studying Irish have always learned pronunciation from either an Irish speaker or from one of several recordings accompanying text- books. Because we will not be able to teach pronunciation in these ways, we will give you a simple pronunciation-guide system and then extra instructions from time to time. If you have the chance to listen to a native speaker, however, do so. There are differences in regional pronuncia- tion in Irish, as in other languages, but if the speaker talks slowly and clearly, you should have little trouble in understanding the words you know.

The pronunciation given in the guide for this lesson series is not based exclusively on any one region of Ireland. Where the differences are sig- nificant, we will give you some of the other pronunciations and usages, to make it easier to talk with all speakers.


Learn the pronunciation-guide system and do the practice work for English words that we will give you.

For each Irish word, phrase or sentence, first look at the pronunciation guide (which will always be in parentheses) and say the word or words several times out loud. Then look at the Irish word and pronounce it several more times. After you have gone over the lesson in this way, write the Irish words, copying them from the lesson and saying them out loud as you copy them.

Each time you say an Irish word or phrase, try to form a mental picture in your mind. Although this is difficult with some single words, persist and it will become easier as the phrases and sentences become longer.

Translation is the next step. Read the Irish word or phrase out loud and then translate it into English. Do this several times, until you are sure that you know it. Then translate the English into Irish several times. If you are learning Irish with others, each person can give another a word or phrase to translate and can take a part in the conversation in the lessons.

In the conversation exercises, look first at the pronunciation and meaning, then look up from the lesson before you say the Irish words out loud. Work phrase by phrase at first, until you can memorize entire sentences. If you study with others, take turns in reading what each character says. In the conversation exercises, you will see words and phrases that will seem difficult at first. Memorize them, and don’t worry about the gram- mar. It will be explained later.


Most of the symbols are letters and letter groups for sounds common in familiar English words. If you pronounce them in that way for the first few lessons, you will be close enough for a beginning. We will gradually correct you and improve your pronunciation as you advance, so that you will soon have a genuine Irish pronunciation.

For most consonants, such as b, d, f, g, h, l, m, n, p, r, s and t, we will use the letters themselves as pronunciation symbols. In the lessons, you will get instructions on how to pronounce these sounds in the Irish way. Nearly all these consonants have two sounds in Irish, depending on what vowels are next to them. (English “c” and “g” also have this characteristic. Notice how you statrt to pronounce “king” and “coat”, and then “give” and “go”.) The vowel symbols may need some explanation, so here are the symbols and description of their pronunciation:

Symbols and pronunciations:

(ah) as in English “ah-hah”

(a) as in English “at”

(aw*) as in English “tot”, but held for a longer time (ay*) as Irish pronounce English “say”, without a trace of (ee) sound at the end

(e) as in English “let”

(ee) as in English “mean”

(i) as in English “pin”

(eye) as in English “eye” (oh) as in English “toe”, but without the trace of (oo) sound at the end (oo) as in English “food” (uh) as in English “run”

(u) as in English “put”

(ou) as in English “shout”

We will capitalize the letters in the accented part of the word or phrase. We will use asterisks, as in some symbols above, to indicate a sound fairly different from usual English sounds. Remember, too, that many Irish sounds are not exactly like their English counterparts. Some English sounds, such as “z” and “th”, are not in Irish.

Now try these English words as practice in using the pronunciation-guide system:

(boht) (HAM-muhr) (kin) (KUH-stuhm-ayr-ee) (de-LIV-uh-ree) (giv) (trans-LAYT) (ad-MEYE-uhr) (ful-FIL) (fuhn-duh-MENT-uhl) (wohnt)

(wawnt) (tawt)

The actual English words for these are: boat, hammer, kin, customary, delivery, give, translate, admire, fulfill, fundamental, won’t, want, taught. These sounds are not always exact, as you can see, but are close enough to be understood.

Lesson 23

PRONUNCIATION REVIEW Our next stage of pronunciation review covers the consonants “c” and “g”. Irish consonants have two sounds, depending on whether the nearest vowel in the word is in the group of “a”, “o”, “u” or in the group of “e”, “i”.

The explanation for this (which you need not remember) is that the “a, o, u” group sounds are formed farther back in the mouth than the “e,


group sounds. The tongue and mouth positions for the two groups’s sounds make it easier for a speaker to pronounce such adjacent letters


“c” and “g” in two different ways. This occurs in English speech, too, although it is not as extensive as in Irish. Notice how differently you

pronounce the (k) sound in “king” and in “cold”. The “k” in king is next to an “i”, and it is natural for you to pronounce it differently from a “c” next to an “o”. Now try exchanging the (k) sounds, pronouncing “king” with the (k) from “cold” and “coat” with the (k) from “king”. The conso- nants adjacent to “a, o, u” vowels are called broad consonants. Slender consonants are near “e, i” vowels.

The Irish sounds for “c” and “g” are much like the sounds you already know in English, and you can transfer the English sounds. Later, if you wish to make a minor improvement in your pronunciation of the slender “c” and “g”, pronounce them with the tip of the tongue against the inside of the lower front teeth, which is probably slightly different from your English pronunciation.

Here is a practice series of word groups. In each group, an English word comes first and contains the broad or slender (k) sound of the Irish word

in the group.

Call; cá (kaw*), where; cóta (KOH-tuh), coat; cúig (KOO-ig), five. King; cill (kill), cell; ceart (kart), right; cé (kay*), who. Cold; cos (kuhs), foot; cúpla (KOOP-luh), couple; cupán (ku- PAW*N), cup. Kettle; cinnte (KIN-te), certain; ceil (kel), conceal; cistin (KISH-tin), kitchen. Clod; cluas (KLOO-uhs), ear; clár (klaw*r), board; clois (klish), hear. Clip; clis (klish) fail; cliste (KLISH-te), clever; clé (klay*), left.

Now try these words, making sure that you watch to see whether an “a, o, u” or an “e, i” vowel is nearest to the “c”:

clós (klohs);

céad (KAY*-uhd);

cara (KAH-ruh);

ceist (kesht);

clog (kluhg);

cliste (KLISH-te)

crua (KROO-uh);

cré (kray*).

A “g” is pronounced like a “c”, except that the vocal cords are made to hum during the sound. To see how the two sounds of “g” are made, pro-

nounce English “go” and “give”.


the nearest vowel is “a, o, u” pronounce the “g” as in English “go”.


the nearest vowel is “e, i”, pronounce the “g” as in English “give”.

Try these:

garda (GAHR-duh), guard; geata (GAT-uh), gate; gol (guhl), crying; géar (gay*r) sharp; glan (gluhn), clean; glic (glik), clever; grá (graw*), love; grian (GREE-uhn), sun.

Our pronunciation guide usually does not indicate whether the consonants get their broad or slender sound. You must learn to watch for this yourself, noting the nearest vowel in the word.

VOCABULARY Masculine Nouns buachaill (BOO-uhk*-il) boy capall (KAHP-uhl) horse cosán (kuh-SAW*N) sidewalk

Feminine Nouns cluas, an chluas (KLOO-uhs, un K*LOO-uhs) ear bó, an bhó (boh, un vwoh) cow bán (baw*n) white gorm (GUH-ruhm) blue buí (bwee) yellow uaine (oo-IN-e) green (for cloth, etc.) dearg (DYAR-uhg) red dubh (doov) black glas (glahs) green (for grass) donn (doun) brown corcra (KOHR-kruh) purple

GRAMMAR To use “tá” and “is” confidently, you must have a good idea of the conditions under which you use one or the other of these verbs. “Tá” tells where a person or object is and what it is doing (the verbal noun can follow “tá”). “Tá” also serves to describe a person or object by introducing adjectives.

For examples of these usages:

Tá sé anseo. He is here. Tá sé ag dul amach. He is going out. Tá sé fuar. It is cold.

Select “is” when you want to say that a person or object is in a fairly permanent class, or when you want to identify a person or object as being the specific one about whom you are talking.

Céard é seo? (kay*rd ay* shuh) What is this? is one question calling for “is”. Is bosca é, or: is bosca beag é, are answers. Here are other exam- ples:

Is feirmeoir Seán (is fer-im-OH-ir shaw*n) John is a farmer. Is garda an fear sin, that man is a guard. Is fear mór Séamas, James is a big man. An Meiriceánach tú? Are you an American? Nach scoláirí sibhse? (nahk* skuh-LAW*-ree SHIV-she), arn’t you students?

Note the word order. What the person or thing is comes first, then the person or thing. To give a name to someone, or to say that a person of thing is the specific one, reverse the word order.


Cé tusa? (kay* TU-suh), Who are you? Is míse Máirín. Ní míse Bríd. Cé hé sin? Who is that? Is é sin Brian. Ní hé sin Séamas. Cé hí seo? Who is this? Is í sin Máire. Ní hí seo Nóra. Is é seo mo nuachtán (shay* shuh muh NOO-uhk*-taw*n), this is my paper. Ní hé sin an nuachtán eile (nee hay* shin un NOO- uhk*-taw*n EL-e), that is not the other paper.

Notice the difference in word order in:

Is bord é sin, that is a table. Is é sin an bord (shay* shin un bohrd), that is the table.

Lesson 24

Pronunciation Review We now review the consonants “t” and “d”. These are related in both English and Irish, because a “d” is pronounced like a “t” except for use of the vocal cords.


Irish, each of these two letters has a broad sound when the nearest vowel in the word is “a, o, u”, and a slender sound when the nearest vowel


“e, i”.

For the broad sound, place the tongue front up against or close to the roof of the mouth, behind the upper front teeth and touching the back of them. Then say the “t” or “d” sound. Examples:

Tá, tóg, tú, tusa (TU-suh), tamall (TAH-muhl), tosaigh (TUH-see), tús (toos). Dá, dó, dún (doon), dara (DUH-ruh), doras (DUH-ruhs), duine (DIN-e), duibheagán (DIV-uh-gaw*n).

Notice that in “duine” and “duibheagán”, the “u” following the “d” tells you to give the “d” its broad sound, even though the next actual vowel sound is for the “i”.

A few more examples: trá, trom (truhm), trua (TROO-uh), drad (drahd), dlú (dloo), droch (druhk*).

For the slender “t” and “d”, touch the tip of the tongue against the hard ridge behind the upper front teeth. The tongue can be inclined forward and even touch the back of the upper front teeth. The pronounce the “t” or “d”. The sound will have a trace of a “y” sound at the end of it. Try:

Te(te), tine (TIN-e), tír (teer), teach (tyahk*), trí (tree). Déan (day*n), dian (DEE-uhn), deas (das), dearg (DYAR-uhg), díol (DEE-uhl), dlí (dlee).

In some Irish speech, the traces of the “y” sound may be changed so that a slender “t” sounds like an English “ch”, and a slender “d” like an

English “j”. “Tine” may sound like (CHIN-e), and “deas” may sound like (jas). In our pronunciation guide, we sometimes put a (y) in to famil-

iarize you with this feature of Irish.

From now on, you must watch to see whether an “a, o, u” or “e, i” is nearest the “t” or “d”, so that you can give the “t” or “d” its proper sound.


Masculine nouns leanbh ((LAN-uhv), child airgead, an t-airgead (AR-i-guhd, un TAR-i-guhd), money baile (BAHL-e), town, home ceacht (kyahk*t), lesson cara (KAH-ruh), friend spota (SPOH-tuh), spot

Feminine nouns síleáil, an tsíleáil (SHEE-aw*-il, un TEE-aw*-il), ceiling, the ceiling cnámh, un chnámh (kuh-NAW*V, un k*uh-NAW*V), bone, the bone Smig, an smig (smig), chin geal (gal), bright breá (bir-RAW*), fine deas (das), nice, pretty


For practice with “is”, do the following drill until you can repeat the groups without hesitation.

Céard é seo? (kay*rd ay* shuh), What is this?

Is leabhar é (is LOU-whur ay*).

An leabhar Gaeilge é? (GAY*-lig-e), Is it an Irish book? Ní hea, ach leabhar Béarla (nee ha, ahk* LOU-wuhr BAY*R-luh). It is not; it is an English book.

Céard é sin? Nach baile é? (nahk* BAHL-e ay*) Sea, ach ní baile deas é (sha, ahk* nee BAHL-e das ay*). An fear mór é? Ní hea, ach fear beag (byuhg).

Nach cailín deas í sin? Sea, agus cailín galánta freisin (guh-LAW*N-tuh FRESH-in), Yes, and a fashionable girl, too. Cé tusa? (kay* TU-suh), Who are you?

Is mise Séan Ó Rian (is MISH-e shaw*n oh REEN), I am John Reen.

Cé mise? (kay* MISH-e), Who am I?

Is tusa an fear eile (EL-e).

Cé sinne? (kay* SHIN-ye), Who are we?

Is sibhse na múinteoirí (is SHIV-she nuh moo-in-TYOHR-ee), You are the teachers.

Cé hé sin? Who is that?

Is é sin Liam (shay* shin LEE-uhm), That’s William. Agus cé hiad seo? (AH-guhs kay* HEE-uhd shuh) And who are these? Is iad seo Máire agus Séamas (SHEE-uhd shuh MAW*-re AH-guhs SHAY*-muhs), These are Mary and James. Cé hé an fear ag an doras? (kay* hay* un far eg un DUHR-uhs) Who is the man at the door? Is é Brian é (shay* BREE-uhn ay*), It’s Brian. Cé hí an cailín leis? (kay* hee un kah-LEEN lesh) Who is the girl with him? Is í Brid í (shee breed ee), It’s Bridget.


Seán (shaw*n); Táimid ag baile arís (TAW*-mid eg BAHL-e uh-REESH). We’re home again. Máire (MAW*-re): Táimid, tar éis bheith in Éirinn trí mhí (tuhr ay*sh ve in AY*R-in tree vee). We are, after being in Ireland three months.

Seán: Céard é sin ar an tsíleáil? (kay*rd ay* sin er un TEEL-aw*-il) What’s that on the ceiling?

Máire: Spota uisce, go cinnte (SPOH-tuh ISH-ke, goh KIN-te). A water spot, for sure.

Seán: Tá piopa briste thuas an staighre, is dócha (taw* PEEP-uh BRISH-te HOO-uhs un STEYE-ruh, is DOHK*-uh). There’s a pipe broken upstairs, probably.

Lesson 25

PRONUNCIATION REVIEW Three consonants whose pronunciation we can study together are “b, p, m”. If a vowel nearest any of these in a word is “a, o, u”, the consonant gets its broad sound. You make it by protruding the lips, then pronouncing the sound to resemble the corresponding English sound. Try:

bád, buan (BOO-uhn), bac (bahk), bocht (bohk*t), bun (bun); blas (blahs), blúire (BLOO-ir-e), bradán (bruh-DAW*N), brón, brú (broo).

pá, Pól, púdar (POO-duhr), paca (PAH-kuh), póca (POH-kuh), punt (poont); plab (plahb), pláta (PLAW*-tuh), prás (praw*s), próca (PROH- kuh).

má, mór, muc (muk), maith (mah), mar (muhr), mol (muhl), mullóg (mu-LOHG), mná (muh-NAW*).

Sometimes a slender vowel follows the broad consonant sound, and an “a, o, u” is placed between to indicate this. The result in pronunciation is a sound like that for the English “w” between consonant and vowel. Examples:

bain (bwin), buidéal (bwi-DAY*L), buí (bwee), buile (BWIL-e), puinn (pwin), moil (mwil).

You can see why this is so when you form the broad “b, p, m” and then change to the (i) or (ee) sound in the examples above.

For the slender “b, p, m” sounds, bring the lips in close to the teeth and spread the lips slightly as if you were beginning to smile. Then pro- nounce the letters. Examples:

béal (bay*l), bia (BEE-uh), blian (BLEE-in), bleachtaire (BLAK*-tuhr-e), breac (bir-RAK), bréan (BRAY*-uhn).

pé (pay*), pian (PEE-uhn), pic (pik), plé, preab (pir-RAB), príosún (pree-SOON).

mé (may*), milis (MIL-ish), mian (MEE-uhn), meil (mel).


With this lesson, we begin the past tense of verbs, so that you will be able to say, “I wrote a letter” or “He ate”. At present, you know how to say “I was writing a letter” and “He was eating”.

Remember that the command to a single person is the simplest form of the verb. For example: Léigh (lay*), read. Scríobh é (shkreev ay*), write it. Ol é (ohl ay*), drink it.

To form the past tense, merely use this command or imperative, but aspirate the initial consonant, if that is possible. If the imperative form be- gins with a vowel or an “f”, you must put a (d) sound befor the verb. Here are examples:

Bhain sé an cóta de (vwin shay* un KOH-tuh de), He took off his coat. Chuir mé ar an mbord é (k*ir may* er un mohrd ay*), I put it on the table. Dhíol tú é (yeel too ay*), You sold it. D’fhan sé (dahn shay*), He remained. Ghlan mé an fhuinneog (gluhn may* un in-YOHG), I cleaned the window. Léigh sí a leabhar (lay* shee uh LOU-wuhr), She read her book). Mhol mé an cailín (vwuhl may* uh kah-LEEN), I praised the girl. Nigh (ni) sé an carr, He washed the car. Phóg (fohg) sí a máthair (MAW*-hir), She kissed her mother. Rith siad amach (ri SHEE-uhd uh-MAHK*), They ran out. Sheas sé ann (has shay* oun), He stood there. Thóg sibh é (hohg shiv ay*), You took it.

Next come examples for verbs beginning with vowels:

D’alp sé é (dahlp shay* ay), He gulped it down. D’éist sé liom (day*sht shay* luhm) He listened to me. D’ith (di) siad é, They ate it. D’ol tú an bainne (dohl too un BAHN-ye), You drank the milk. D’ullmhaigh mé (DUL-vwee may*), I prepared.

Go over these examples until you are able to read them quickly. Notice that initial “l, n, r” cannot be aspirated and so do not change from the imperative. In some cases, the consonants that can be aspirated are followed by other consonants that would make it difficult for a speaker to aspirate the first consonant. An example:

Scríobh (shkreev) sé é, He wrote it.

Try aspirating the “s” in “scríobh”. You would have to say (huh-KREEV), which would be too difficult.

The examples above give you a good idea of how to form the past tense of most of the verbs you know. You will not be able to form the past tense of the few irregular verbs yet. These you must learn separately, and we will have separate drills for these. “Tá” is one irregular verb whose

past tense, “bhí”, you already know.


caith, ag caitheamh (kah, uh KAH-huhv), throw, wear, spend buail, ag bualadh (BOO-il, uh BOO-luh), strike tuig, ag tuiscint (tig, uh TISH-kint), understand fan, ag fanacht (fahn, uh FAHN-uhk*t), wait creid, ag creidiúint (kred, uh kred-YOO-int), believe scuab, ag scuabadh (SKOO-uhb, uh SKOO-buh), sweep ceannaigh, ag ceannach (KAN-ee, uh KAN-uhk*), buy díol, ag díol (DEE-uhl, uh DEE-uhl), sell ól, ag ól (ohl, eg OHL), drink ith, ag ithe (i, eg I-he), eat


The verbs above are put into the past tense like this:

Chaith siad an leabhar (k*ah SHEE-uhd un LOU-uhr), They threw the book. Substitute “mé, tú, sé, sí, sibh (shiv)” for “siad” in this and the fol- lowing sentences (do not substitute “sinn”, we, yet):

Bhuail siad an buachaill (BOO-uhk*-il), They struck the boy. Cheannaigh siad mórán rud (HAN-ee SHEE-uhd moh-RAW*N rud), they bought many things. Thuig siad an fear eile (hig SHEE-uhd un far EL-e), they understood the other man. D’ól siad gloine uisce (dohl SHEE-uhd GLIN-e ISH-ke), They drank a glass of water. Chreid siad an scéal (hyred SHEE-uhd un shkay*l), They believed the story. (Run the “h” and the “y” sounds together for the aspirated “c”.)

Lesson 26

PRONUNCIATION REVIEW The Letter “f” gets two slightly different sounds in Irish, depending on whether the nearest vowel is “a, o, u” or “e, i”. Each sound differs a little from the usual English sound.

For the broad sound, near an “a, o, u”, start with the inside of the lower lip against the edge of the upper front teeth. Then move the lips out to an extended, rounded form as you make the sound. Try:

fá, fán, fód, fúm (foom), fuar (FOO-uhr), fáilte (FAW*L- tye), faisean (FASH-uhn), folamh (FUHL-uhv), fud (fud).

Also: flaith (flah), flós, flúr, fras (frahs), frog (frohg), scríofa (SHKREE-fuh), tógfar (TOHK-fuhr).

For the slender sound, near an “e, i”, start with the lower lip in the same position, but then draw it back slightly as you make the “f” sound. Try:

féin (fay*n), féach (FAY*-ahk*), fill (fil), fear (far), feirm (FER-im) caithfear (KAH-fuhr).

If an (i) sound is to follow a broad (f) sound, a “u” is placed between the “f” and “i”. In pronouncing the combination, you will find that a sound resembling an English “w” comes between. For example: fuil (fwil), fuinneog (fwin-YOHG), fuinneamh (FWIN-yuhv).

Make sure you go over the pronunciation sections regularly, so that you will improve your pronunciation and develop the ability to pronounce new words before you look at the pronunciation guide. By now you should be ready to read most of the Irish in these lessons before you look at the pronunciation guide. We will gradually drop more of the pronunciation guide from the Irish words and sentences.


To express the negative in the past tense for most verbs, you must put “níor” (NEE-uhr) before the imperative, and you must also aspirate the imperative’s initial consonant, if possible. For example:

Níor dhíol sé an bád (NEE-uhr yeel shay* un baw*d), He didn’t sell the boat. Níor fhan sé liom (NEE-uhr ahn shay* luhm), He didn’t wait for me. Níor ól sé é, He didn’t drink it.

To ask a question in the past tense, put “ar” (er) before the imperative and aspirate the imperative’s initial consonant if possible. Some examples:

Ar thuig tú í? (er hig too ee), Did you understand her? Ar fhan sibh? (er ahn shiv), Did you wait? Ar ól siad é? (er ohl SHEE-uhd ay*), Did they drink it?

To say “Didn’t she put it on the table?”, which is the negative imperative, put “nár” (naw*r) before the imperative and again aspirate the initial consonant if possible, as in:

Nár chuir sí ar an mbord é? (naw*r k*ir shee).

The answer to this question is either “Chuir sí” or “Níor chuir sí”.


This is a suitable time for a simultaneous drill on aspiration pronunciation and the past tense of irregular verbs.

Here is a list of verbs that includes all the aspirated sounds, both broad and slender. Go over them until you can say the past-tense forms, having covered the last three forms (in the third column) and looking only at the imperative (in the second column).


Bris!(brish) Bhris mé níor bhris mé ar bhris mé (vrish may*)

Strike Buail! (BOO-il) Bhuail mé níor bhuail mé ar bhuail mé? (VOO-il may*)

Buy Ceannaigh! (KAN-ee) Cheannaigh mé níor cheannaaigh mé ar cheannaigh mé? (HYAN-ee may*)

Put Cuir! (kir) Chuir mé níor chuir mé ar chuir mé? (k*ir may*)

Sell Díol! (DEE-uhl) Dhíol mé níor dhíol mé ar dhíol mé? (YEE-uhl may*)

Close Dún! (doon) Dhún mé níor dhún mé ar dhún mé? (GOON may*)

Look Féach! (FAY*-ahk*) D’fhéach mé níor fhéach mé ar fhéach mé? (DAY*-ahk* may*)

Wait Fan! (fahn) D’fhan mé níor fhan mé ar fhan mé? (DAHN may*; NEE-uhr AHN may*)

Cut Gearr! (gyahr) Ghearr mé níor ghearr mé ar ghearr mé? (YAHR may*; NEE-uhr YAHR may*)

Clean Glan! (gluhn) Ghlan mé níor ghlan mé ar ghlan mé? (GLUHN may*)

Explain Mínigh! (MEEN-ee) Mhínigh mé níor mhínigh mé ar mhínigh mé? (VEEN-ee may*) Teach Múin! (MOO-in) Mhúin mé níor mhúin mé ar mhúin mé? (VOO-in may*)

Torture Pian! (PEE-uhn) Phian mé níor phian mé ar phian mé? (FEE-uhn may*)

Marry Pós! (pohs) Phós mé níor phós mé ar phós mé? (FOHS may*)

Stand Seas! (shas) Sheas mé nior sheas mé ar sheas mé? (HAS may*)

Sit Suigh! (si) Shuigh mé níor shuigh mé ar shuigh mé? (HI may*)

Drive Tiomáin! (ti-MAW*-in) Thiomáin mé níor thiomáin mé ar thiomáin mé? (hi-MAW*-in may*)

Take Tóg! (tohg) Thóg mé níor thóg mé ar thóg mé? (HOHG may*)

Lesson 27

PRONUNCIATION REVIEW To pronounce the letter “l” when it starts a word and is followed by “a, o, u”, spread the tongue somewhat and press it against the upper front teeth while making the sound. This will give the initial broad “l” sound. As examples, try: lá, lán, lón, lúb (loob), lacha (LAHK*-uh), loch (lohk*). Sometimes a slender vowel sound (ay*) or (ee), follows the broad “l” sound. Examples: laoch (LAY*-uhk*), luí (lee). These words begin with the broad “l” sound.

When “ll” is adjacent to “a, o, u”, the sound is similar, as in: allas (AHL-uhs), mall (mahl), balla (BAHL-uh). The initial slender “l” sound, before “e, i”, requires you to press your tongue tip against the back of the lower front teeth and raise the front of the tongue to touch both the up- per front teeth and the hard ridge behind them. Examples: léamh (LAY*-uhv), lig (lig), lín (leen), leis (lesh), leaba (LA-buh), leath (la), leabhar (LOU-wuhr). When “ll” is next to “e, i”, the sound is similar. Try: caill (keyel), fill (fil), cailleadh (KEYEL-uh), milliún (mil-YOON). Pronun- ciation of a single “l” inside a word or at the end of it may vary slightly, depending on the word. Often it is pronounced like the English “l”, as in: geal (gal), milis (MIL-ish), álainn (AW*-lin), folamh (FUHL-uhv). In “baile” (BAHL-e), the sound is closer to initial slender “l”, giving a sound resembling (BAHL-ye).


In the past tense of verbs, “we” is indicated by “--amar” or “--eamar” added to the imperative. For example, “d’fhanamar” (DAHN-uh-muhr) means “we stayed,” and “thuigeamar” (HIG-uh-muhr) means “we understood”. One minor point, chiefly involving spelling, concerns this “we” form (i.e., first-person plural): For the two-syllable verbs ending in “--igh”, such as “ceannaigh” and “mínigh”, the “we” form is “cheannaíomar” (hyan-EE-uh-muhr), “mhíníomar” (veen- EE-uh-muhr), etc. “Suigh”, sit, is treated similarly. Years ago, these verb forms were spelled as you would tend to spell them from your present knowledge of the other verbs: “cheannaigheamar”, “mhínigheamar”. A few years ago, however, the spelling was simplified. Verbs of this type have other minor differences that we will study soon.


Here is a complete list of a verb in the past tense, “mol” (muhl), meaning “praise”. Repeat the list several times, and then say the same forms for the verbs in the drill at the end of lesson 26. It will be tedious work, but you will find it of benefit when we begin the reading exercises in a few weeks.

mhol mé (vwuhl may*); mhol tú; mhol sé; mholamar (VWUHL-uh-mar); mhol sibh; mhol siad níor mhol mé (NEE-uhr vwuhl); níor mhol tú; níor mhol sé; níor mhol sí; níor mholamar; níor mhol sibh; níor mhol siad ar mhol mé? (er); ar mhol tú?; ar mhol sé?; ar mhol sí?; ar mholamar?; ar mhol sibh?; ar mhol siad? nár mhol mé? (naw*r); nár mhol tú?; nár mhol sé?; nár mhol sí?; nár mholamar?; nár mhol sibh?; nár mhol siad?

PRACTICE Read the sentences below out loud and simultaneously form a mental picture of what they mean. At the lesson end there is a translation, but do not look at it unless absolutely necessary.

Ceannaigh é (KAN-ee ay*)! Níor cheannaigh mé é (HYAN-ee). Nár cheannaíomar na rudaí eile? Cheannaigh Seán na prátaí. Rith abhaile (uh- VWAHL-e) agus cnag ar an doras. Chnagamar (K*NAHG-uh-muhr) ar an doras inné (in-YAY*), ach ní raibh duine ar bith ann. Ná léigh an nuachtán, a Sheáin (uh HYAW*-in)! Chuir do mháthair do bhricfeasta ar an mbord cheana. Léamar an leabhar sin aréir (uh-RAY*R). Nár léigh tú fós é? Níor léigh mé é. Nár mhínigh sí an ceacht duit? Níor thuig (hig) Máire an scéal, agus níor mhíníomar an scéal di (di). Ól an tae anois! Nár ól sibh é? Ar ól na páistí an bainne go léir? D’ól siad cuid de (kid de). Fan anseo. D’fhan d’athair an lá go léir. Nár fhanamar sa teach? Ar fhan an bus leat? Níor fhan sé, ar chor ar bith. D’fhanamar leis go meán-lae (myaw*n lay*).

Buy it! I didn’t buy it. Didn’t we buy the other things? John bought the potatoes. Run home and knock on the door. We knocked on the door yes- terday, but no one was there. Don’t read the paper, John. Your mother put your breakfast on the table already. We read that book last night. Didn’t you read it yet? I didn’t read it. Didn’t she explain the lesson to you? Mary didn’t understand the story, and we didn’t explain it to her. Drink the tea now! Didn’t you (pl.) drink it? Did the children drink all of the milk? They drank part of it. Stay here! Your father remained all day. Didn’t we stay in the house? Did the bus wait for you? It didn’t wait at all. We waited for it until noon (midday). Lesson 28

PRONUNCIATION GUIDE The letter “n” has two basic sounds. The broad sound, made with the tongue spread soemwhat and pressed against the upper front teeth, occurs when the “n” begins a word and the next vowel is “a, o, u”. Examples: ná, nó, nús, nasc (nahsk), náisiún (naw*-SHOON), nocht (nohk*t).

The slender sound of “n” occurs when “n” starts a word in which the first vowel is “e, i”. The “n’ is pronounced with the front of the tongue on the hard rim behind the upper front teeth. There will be a faint sound resembling “yuh” at the end as you begin to pronounce the rest of the word. Do not pronounce a separate (yuh) sound, however. Examples: néid (nyay*d), ní (nee), níl (neel), nead (nyad), neimh (nyev), neoin (NYOH-in).

Notice that in “ní” and “níl”, the (yuh) sound trace disappears.

If “n” is inside a word or at the end, the pronunciation is usually similar to the American pronunciation of “n”. Compare “ainm” (AN-im) with “anam” (AH-nuhm). See Lesson 25 for the difference in “m” pronunciation. The “m” is slender in “ainm” and broad in “anam”, but the “n” in both words resembles the “n” you know from English.

Slender double “n” at a word end after “e, i” can be pronounced either (n) or have a faint (y) sound at the end. The sound may resemble the (ng) sound at the end of English “sing”. Try: sinn (shin); linn (lin), crainn (krin).

Pronounce double “n” broad like a broad “n” that starts a word, such as “ná”. Try: tagann (TAHG-uhn), donn (doun).

A slender double “n” inside a word gets a clear (y) sound, as in bainne (BAHN-ye), rinne (RIN-ye), fuinneog (fwin-YOHG).

A broad “n” sound can begin a word in which the next vowel sound is slender, (ay*) or (ee). “Naoi” and “naíonán” are examples. A faint, short

(uh) sound occurs between the (n) and (ee). Try: naoi (nee), naíonán (NEE-uh-naw*n). This “n” differs from the slender “n” in “ní” or “Nioclás”



Although the ending “-amar” or “eamar” is common for indicating “we” in the past tense of verbs, the seperate word “muid” (mwid) is used, too. For example: bhuail muid (VWOO-il mwid), we struck; thuig muid (HIG mwid), we understood; cheannaigh muid (HYAN-ee mwid), we bought. Both ways are acceptable. Most moden grammars give the “-mar” ending for their examples, but you should be familiar with the two forms.


fág, ag fágáil (faw*g, uh FAW*G-aw*-il) leave. Also in: fág fúmsa é (faw*g FOOM-suh ay*), Leave it to me. deisigh, ag deisiú (DESH-ee, uh DESH-yoo) repair, “fix” tóg, ag tógáil (tohg, uh TOHG-aw*-il), take, raise crith, ag crith (kri), shake mag, ag magadh (mahg, uh MAHG-uh) mock, “slag” As in: ag magadh fúm (foom), making fun of me. síl, ag síleadh (sheel, uh SHEEL-uh), think troid, ag troid (trid, uh trid) fight léim, ag léim (lay*m, uh lay*m) jump



tamall (le TAH-muhl), for a while


fíor sin (is FEE-uhr shin), That’s true


fada (le FAH-duh), for a long time

saor go leor (SAY*-uhr goh LOHR), cheap enough áit éigin (aw*t AY*-gin) some place


We will first review the use of “is” (is). Repeat this sentence group: Céard é seo? (kay*rd) Céard é sin? Is leabhar é. Is sráid é. Ní scoil é.

An bosca é? (BOHSK-uh) Ní hea, ach buidéal (nee ha, ahk* bwi- DAY*L). An bord é seo? Is ea.

Now substitute into the sentences Irish words for objects you know. Go through the entire sequence for each word.

Next, repeat this sentence group:

Cé hé seo? (kay* hay* shuh) Cé hí seo? Cé hé sin? Cé hí sin?


é Seán é (shay* shaw*n ay*). Ní hí Nóra í.


é Seán an fear (far). Is í Máire an dochtúir (dohk*-TOO-ir).


é sin Brian (shay* shin BREE-uhn). Is í seo Cáit (kaw*t).


é seo Liam. Is í sin Bríd (shee shin breed).

Now substitute into the sentences Irish names that you know from the conversations, and also nouns with “the” before them, such as: the room, the road, the place, the table, the girl, the car, etc.

Then try to add sentences in the past tense to: Is é Seán an fear a --. Example: Is é Seán an fear a cheannaigh an carr nua. Try verbs such as:

caith, cuir, rith, scríobh, etc.


A translation follows this:

Tá Liam sa bhaile. Ní raibh sé amuigh inné. Bhí sé ag scríobh litreach. Bhíomar ag féachaint air (FAY*-uhk*-int er). Chuir sé an litir sa phost agus ansin d’ith sé a shuipéar (hu-PAY*R). Thógamar ár mbróga (MROHG-uh) chuig (hig) an gcathair (GAH-hir), agus dheisigh an fear sin iad. D’imíomar linn abhaile ansin. Ag baile, bhí an cat agus an madra ag troid. Throid siad cúpla nóiméad, agus ansin chaitheamar amach iad.

[William is at home. He wasn’t out yesterday. He was writing a letter. We were watching him. He put the letter in the post and then he ate his supper. We took our shoes to the city, and that man repaired them. We departed (departed with ourselves) homeward then. At home, the cat and the dog were fighting. They fought for a couple of minutes, and then we threw them out.]

(Note: Both “abhaile” (uh-VWAHL-e) and “ag baile” (eg BAHL-e) mean “at home.”)

Lesson 29

PRONUNCIATION REVIEW The letter “r” is pronounced with two principal sounds in Irish, and both sounds differ from the American pronunciation. If the “r” begins a word and is followed by an “a, o, u”, roll the sound by placing the tongue tip near enough to the hard ridge behind the upper front teeth to make the tongue vibrate as you say the “r”. Examples: rás, ramhar (ROU-wuhr), raca (RAHK-uh), ród, roc (rohk), rún (roon), rud (ruhd).

Give “r” the same sound when it begins a word and is followed by “e, i”, as in: réim (ray*m), reilig (REL-ig), rí (ree), riamh (reev), rith (ri).

The broad “r” sound inside a word or at the end, and near “a, o, u”, is not as likely to be rolled. It often resembles the American pronunciation. A double “r” near “a, o, u”, is rolled, however, as in: barr (bahr), cearr (kyahr), carraig (KAHR-rig), bearraim (BYAHR-rim), borradh (BOHR-ruh).

Next to an “e, i” inside or at the end of a word, the “r” gets its slender sound. This is perhaps the most difficult Irish sound for Americans. Place the tongue tip near the top of your upper front teeth and form a shallow pocket in the tongue front. Then pronounce “r”. The air should blow downwards toward the lower lip as you drop the tongue. Try: fir (fir), beirim (BER-im), litir, féir (fay*r), Máire (MAW*-re), creid (kred), Bríd (breed). Compare “féar” with “féir”. The former word has an “r” like the American “r” at its end.

The slender “r” faintly resembles a “d” or “zh” sound in English. In parts of Ireland, a word like “Máire” may sound like (MAW*-zhe).

Slender “r” after a consonant sometimes seems to add a syllable, as in: breá (bir-RAW*).

In Irish, “r” is pronounced in the front of the mouth, never in the back with a guttural rolling as in some other European languages.


Up to now, all the verbs that you have studied, with one exception, have been “regular”. In a regular verb, the forms are based on the imperative, which you can always recognize in the verb form. For instance, “cuir” (kir) means “Put!” In the past tense, “chuir sé” (k*ir shay*) means “he put”. “Chuireann (KIR-uhn) sé” means “he puts”, and “chuirfinn” (K*IR-hin) means “I would put”. All forms are easily recognizable as belong- ing to “cuir”.

The irregular verbs change more in going from tense to tense, and some change going from affirmative to negative. One irregular verb is “tá”. It becomes “níl” and “an bhfuil” in the present, and then changes to “bhí”, “ní raibh”, and “an raibh” in the past. About ten other Irish verbs are irregular, many fewer than in English, but the Irish verbs change more. We will learn them gradually. The first two are “come” and “go”, in the past tense.

“Came” is:

tháinig mé (HAW*-nig may*), I came tháinig tú, you came tháinig sé, he came tháinig sí, she came thángamar (HAW*NG-uh-muhr), we came tháinig sibh (shiv), you came tháinig siad (SHEE-uhd), they came

níor tháinig mé, I didn’t come níor thángamar, we didn’t come níor tháinig tú, etc.

ar tháinig mé?, did I come? ar thángamar?, did we come?

nár tháinig mé?, didn’t I come? nár thángamar?, did we come? etc.

“Went” is:

chuaigh mé (K*OO-ig may*), I went chuaigh tú, you went chuaigh sé, he went chuaigh sí, she went chuamar (K*OO-uh-muhr), we went chuaigh sibh, you went chuaigh siad, they went (The word “chuaigh” is pronounced (K*-OO-uh) in parts of Ireland.)

ní dheachaigh mé (nee YAK*-hee may*), I didn’t go ní dheachaigh tú, you didn’t go ní dheachaigh sé, he didn’t go ní dheachaigh sí, she didn’t go ní dheachamar (nee YAK*-uh-muhr), we didn’t go ní dheachaigh sibh, you didn’t go ní dheachaigh siad, they didn’t go

an ndeachaigh mé? (un NYAK*-hee may*), did I go? an ndeachamar? (unNYAK*-uh-muhr), did we go? an ndeachaigh tú?, did you go?, etc.

nach ndeachaigh mé? (nahk* NYAK*-hee may*), didn’t I go? nach ndeachamar? (nahk* NYAK*-uh-muhr), didn’t we go? etc.

Remember that the “ch” next to an “a, o, u” is pronounced by dropping the back of the tongue somewhat while you pronounce the “c” that is in “coat”. The result is a guttural sound like that in the German “ach”. Don’t drop the tongue so far that all you get is an “h” sound. Our phonetic guide employs (k*) for the sound.


Go through a progressive drill with each of these two verbs. Start with: Ar tháinig mé? Níor tháinig mé. Tháinig tú. Ar tháinig tú? Níor tháinig tú. Tháinig sé. Continue to the last phrase: Tháinig mé. “Went” requires some alertness. Start with: An ndeachaigh mé? Ní dheachaigh mé. Chuaigh tú. An ndeachaigh tú? Ní dheachaigh tú. Chuaigh sé. Continue to the last phrase: Chuaigh mé.

Then join the following phrases to all forms to make sentences: amach; isteach; suas an staighre; síos an staighre; amach sa ghairdín; isteach sa teach; inné; abhaile; inniu.

Remember that “I was going” is “Bhí mé ag dúl”, and that “I was coming” is “Bhí mé ag teacht”. “I went” and “I came” are this lesson’s subject.

Lesson 30

PRONUNCIATION REVIEW The letter “s” recieves its broad sound if an “a, o, u” is the nearest vowel in the word. The sound is very close to the American (s), with lips relaxed and a little trace of hissing. Try: sámh (saw*v), sampla (SAHM-pluh), só (soh), sú (soo), súil (SOO-il), san (suhn), saor (say*r), saoirse (SEER-she), slat (slaht), smál (smaw*l), spúnóg (spun-OHG), srón (srohn), stad (stahd), snas (snahs), stró (stroh), bás (baw*s), bosca (BOHSK- uh).

The slender sound of “s” is (sh), as in the English word “shun”. It is heard when the nearest vowel is “e,i”, unless the combinations “sm”, “sp” or “str” occur. With those combinations, “s” always has its broad sound of (s). First try: sean (shan), séid (shay*d), seift (sheft), síl (sheel), simné (SHIM-nay*), seo (shuh), siopa (SHOHP-uh), leis (lesh), cliste (KLISH-te), slí (shlee), sneachta (SHNAHK*-tuh), stiúir (SHTYOO-ir), scríobh (shkreev). Then, for examples of the exceptions to the slender sound, memorize these words: smig (smig), chin; spéir (spay*r), sky; srian (SREE-uhn), bridle; stríoc (streek) stripe.

“Is” is an exception and is pronounced (is).


You know the word “ag” (eg), meaning “at”, and you have learned how it combines with “me, you”, etc., to form “agam, agat” and so on.

Other Irish prepositions change similarly. One of these is “le” (le), meaning “with”. Here are some examples of “le” with names and nouns that don’t have “the” before them: le Seán; le Nóra; le fear, with a man; le bróg, with a shoe.

“Le” does not cause aspiration or eclipsis. The name or noun (without “the”) is merely added. To say “with me, with you,” etc. these are the forms:

liom (luhm) with me leat (lat) with you leis (lesh) with him léi (lay*) with her linn (lin) with us libh (liv) with you (pl) leo (loh) with them

Pronounce these with a slender “l” (see Lesson 27). Do not make an audible (y) sound; say (luhm), not (lyuhm).

If you want to say “with the man”, or “with the book”, the form is: leis an bhfear (lesh un var), with the man; leis an leabhar (lesh un LOU-wuhr) with the book. Eclipsis often occurs, and here are examples of it:

leis an mbád (lesh un maw*d) with the boat leis an gcarr (lesh un gahr) with the car leis an ndoras (lesh un NUH-ruhs) with the door leis an bhfeirm (lesh un VER-im) with the farm leis an ngairdín (lesh uhng ahr-DEEN) with the garden leis an bpáipéar (lesh un baw*-PAY*R) with the paper leis an dteanga (lesh un DYANG-uh) with the tongue (or language)

“D” and “t” are not eclipsed by “leis an” as often as are the other letters above. “Leis an doras” and “leis an teanga” are common.

VOCABULARY “Le” serves in many expressions in Irish. It commonly follows some important verbs, sometimes being used where English would use “to”. Learn these expressions and verbs:

Dúirt sé liom é (DOO-irt shay* luhm ay*), he said it to me. Abair leis dul abhaile (AH-bir lesh duhl uh-VWAHL-e), tell him to go home. Imigh leat (IM-ee lat), be off with you. Dimigh sé leis (DIM-ee shay* lesh), he departed (went off with himself). Tig liom rince (tig luhm RINK-e), I can dance. Ní thig leat léamh (nee hig lat LAY*-uhv), you can’t read. An dtig leat é a dhéanamh? (un dig lat ay* uh YAY*N-uhv), can you do it? Éist liom (ay*sht luhm), listen to me. D’éist sí liom (day*sht shee luhm), she listened to me. Fan liom (fahn luhm), wait for me. Dfhan sé liom (dahn shay* luhm), he waited for me. Níor fhan sé leo (NEE-uhr ahn shay* loh), he didn’t wait for them.

DRILL With each of the forms in the Vocabulary (except “imigh” and “d’imigh”), substitute: le Seán; leis an bhfear; leis an gcailín.


Now that our pronunciation review is largly complete, we will emphasize conversation again. This week, we stress the past tense and “le”. Next week, we will begin conversation drills in which you will take part by forming you own replies and answers.

Dónall (DOHN-uhl): Cé bhuail an teach sin? Tá balla leagtha (BAHL-uh LAG-huh). Who hit that house? There’s a wall knocked down.

Pól (pohl): Ó, bhí timpist ann aréir (uh-RAY*R). Oh, there was an accident there last night. Chuaigh (K*OO-ig) tiománaí (ti-MAW*-nee) trí solas dearg (DYAR-ruhg) agus carr eile ag teacht go tapaidh (TAHP-ee). Chas an chéad (HYAY*-uhd) charr, ach ní raibh an t-ádh (taw*) air. A driver went through a red light while another car was coming fast. The first car turned, but luck wasn’t with him. Tháinig sé suas ar an gcosán (guh-SAW*N) agus direach isteach sa bhalla. D’éistíomar leis na tiománaithe ag caint le chéile. Drochchaint (druhk*-K*EYENT) ar fad. He came up on the sidewalk and right into the wall. We listened to the drivers talking to each other. Terrible language.

Dónall: Cad a tharla (HAHR-luh) ansin? What happened then? Pól: Tháinig cara leis an tiománaí agus tharraing sé an carr briste chuig garáiste (k*ig guh-RAW*SH-te). A friend of the driver came and towed the damaged car to the garage.

Dónall: Nach mór an trua é. What a shame.

Lesson 31

PRONUNCIATION Pronounce the letter combination “ng” in Irish with the same two sounds that you use in English. The word “longing” has these two sounds. The first “ng” sound is the broad, near “a, o, u”. The second is the slender, near “e, i”. Examples: long (lohng), ship; ceangail (KYANG-il), bind; teanga (TANG-uh) tongue, language; pingin (PEENG-in), penny.

Do not add a “g” after the “ng” sound in Irish, even though you often do that in English, as in the words “English” (ING-glish) and “finger” (FING-guhr).

The “ng” sound can start a word in Irish, if eclipsis of a “g” occurs. For this sound, add the “ng” sound to the previous word and then pronounce the rest of the second word without the “g” or the “ng”. Examples: i ngairdín (ing ahr-DEEN), in a garden; ár ngeata (aw*rng AT-uh), our gate;

a ngúnaí (uhng OON-ee), their dresses; an nglanann sé é? (uhng LUHN-uhn shay* ay*) Does he clean it? Finally, try a more difficult one: nach nglanann sé é? (nahk*ng LUHN-uhn shay* ay*) Doesn’t he clean it?

GRAMMAR We continue with ways to use “le”, meaning “with”. This preposition may serve exactly as it does in English. Examples: tháinig sé liom (HAW*nig shay* luhm), he came with me; chuaigh sí libh (K*OO-ig shee liv), she went with you. We will next look at four ways that differ from English.

Possession -- “I own it” - is one use. (Do not confuse “having” something with owning it. “Tá carr agam”, I have a car, may not mean that you own it or possess title to it.)

Is liom é (is luhm ay*) means “I own it”. Learn these examples: Cé leis (kay* lesh) an carr seo? Whose car is this? Is liomsa é (is LUHM-suh ay*) It is mine. An leatsa (LAT-suh) é? Is it yours? Ní liomsa é, ach le Seán; It’s not mine, but Seán’s. Is le Seán é; It’s Seán’s. Cé leis é seo? Whose is this? An leis an bhfear seo é; Is it this man’s? Ní leis é, ach leis an gcailín (gah-LEEN) atá sa teach (TAHK*) sin; It’s not, but it be- longs to the girl who is in that house. Nach leatsa é? Isn’t it yours? Ní liomsa; it isn’t mine.

Practice with objects near you. “Liomsa” and “leatsa” are merely emphatic forms of “liom” and “leat”, said without raising the voice.

Liking -- “I like it” -- is another use. Is maith (mah) liom é; I like it. Ní maith leis é; he doesn’t like it. An maith le Nóra an bhróg (vrohg) sin? Does Nora like that shoe? Ní maith leí (lay*); she doesn’t. Nach maith leat an bord seo? Don’t you like this table?

The verbal noun is handy here. An maith leat léamh (LAY*-uhv)? Do you like to read? Ní maith liom siúl (shool); I don’t like walking. Is maith liom feoil a ithe (FYOH-il uh I-he); I like to eat meat. Nach maith le Seán litreacha a scríobh? (LI-trahk*-uh uh shkreev) Doesn’t Seán like to write letters? Notice that the object, “feoil” or “litreacha”, come ahead of the verbal noun.

Preferring -- “I prefer this” -- is a third use. It is very similar to the “liking” use, but with “fearr” instead of “maith”. “Is fearr liom é” (is fahr luhm ay*); I prefer it. The word “fearr” has a slightly more rolled “r” than does “fear”, man, and sometimes there is a trace of (y) sound in it as if

it were (fyahr). Examples: An fearr leat an leabhar seo? Do you prefer this book? Ní fearr leis siúl; he doesn’t prefer walking. Is fearr leo léamh

ná caint (keyent); they prefer reading to talking. Nach fearr le Seán bainne le té? Doesn’t Seán prefer milk to tea? Cé acu is fearr leat, bheith

anseo no bheith abhaile? (kay* ah-KUH is fahr lat, ve un-SHUH noh ve uh-VWAHL-e) Which do you prefer, being here or being home? Cé acu is fearr le Séamas, bainne nó tea? Which does Séamus prefer, milk or tea?

Being able -- “I can” -- is a fourth use. The verbal noun can serve here, too. “Is féidir (FAY*-dir) liom an leabhar a léamh” means “I can read the book”. The object is ahead of the verbal noun.

Study these examples: An féidir leat rince? Can you dance? Ní féidir le Nóra mé a thuiscint (HISH-kint); Nora can’t understand me. Nach féidir leo snámh? (snaw*v) Can’t they swim? Is féidir leis an mbuachail (MOO-uhk*-il) é sin a dhéanamh (YAY*N-uhv); the boy can do that.

CONVERSATIONAL EXERCISE In this conversation, read what Seán says, then follow the general instructions for what you, “Tú”, are to say. If you can not think of suitable phrases, be sure to say something that would be considered appropriate, in Irish, before you look down at the key. Cover the key below the line that you need.

Seán: Dia duit, a chara (K*ahr-uh).

: (Answer him.)

Seán: Conas tá tú inniu?

: (Tell him you are well, and ask him how he is.)

Seán: Tá mé go maith leis. Nach breá an lá é?

: (Agree with him and ask him where he was yesterday.)

Seán: Bhí mé istigh sa teach, ag obair an lá go leir.

: (Sympathize with him. Then tell him that you went to the city and bought a coat.)

Seán: Conas a tháinig tú abhaile?

: (You came home on the bus, of course. There weren’t many people on the bus last night either.)

Seán: Nach fearr leat dul ar an traein?

: (You prefer the train to the bus, but there was no train in the station then.)


Dia’s Muire duit, a Sheáin.

Tá mé go maith, agus conas tá tú féin?

Is breá, go deimhin (DEYE-in). Cá raibh tú inné, a Sheáin?

Nach mór an trua é sin, anois? Chuaigh mé chuig an gcathair agus cheannaigh (HYAN-ee) mé cóta nua.

Tháinig mé abhaile ar an mbus, ar ndóigh (er NOH-ee). Ní raibh mórán duine ar an mbus aréir (uh-RAY*R) ach oiread (IR-uhd).

Is fearr liom an traein ná an bus, ach ní raibh traein ar bith ag an stáisiún ansin.

Lesson 32

PRONUNCIATION In Irish, as in English, some of the sounds or syllables in words are dropped out in rapid everyday speech. You must learn to do this yourself and to listen for it in the speech of others. Up to now, these lessons have given you largely the full pronunciation of individual words, even in sentences.

We will now begin to indicate how sentences are pronounced in everyday speech. Individual words in vocabularies and examples will still receive their full pronunciations, however. You should learn them thoroughly before using the words in a sentence.

Here are examples of word-group pronunciations:

Tá a fhios agat (TAW* uh is uh-GUHT) you know, becomes (taw*s uh-GUHT), with the sound for ³a² elided.

Fear an tí (far un TEE) man of the house, becomes (far uh TEE). Ban an tí (ban un TEE) woman of the house, becomes (ban uh TEE). Cá bhfuil tú ag dul? (KAW* vwil too uh DUHL) Where are you going? can become (KAW*-il too uh DUHL). Tá an fear anseo (taw* un FAR un-SHUH), The man is here, becomes (taw*n FAR-un-SHUH).

We will put this into lessons gradually enough so that you will not become confused. And remember that everyone learning a language with the help of a book tries to sound all the letters in all the words, but native speakers never do.

GRAMMAR Another use for ³le², with, is in expressions like:

Tá cara liom ansin (taw* KAH-ruh luhm un-SHIN), a friend of mine is there. Leabhar liom (LOU-wuhr luhm), means ³a book of mine². Hata le Seán: one of John¹s hats. Clog le Nóra: one of Nora¹s clocks, or a clock of Nora¹s.

This usage implies that the subject spoken of is only one of several in its class. ³Leabhar liom² implies that I have several books. ³Mo leabhar² is ³my book² and does not say whether I have others.


Is dócha é (is DOHK*-uh ay*) It¹s likely, I suppose so. Maith go leor (mah goh lohr) good enough. Cibé ar bith (KI-bay* er BI) anyway. Anois agus arís (uh-NISH AH-guhs uh-REESH) now and again, now and then.


Masculine Noun pá (paw*), pay Feminine Nouns obair, an obair (OH-bir, un OH-bir), work, the work freagair, ag freagairt (FRAG-ir, uh FRAG-irt) answer d¹fhreagair mé, d¹fhreagraíomar (DRAG-ir may*, drag-REE-uh-muhr), I answered, we answered caill, ag cailleadh (keyel, uh KEYEL-uh), lose tiomáin, ag tiomáint (ti-MAW*-in, uh ti-MAW*NT), drive séan, ag séanadh (shay*n, uh SHAY*N-uh), deny tuill, ag tuilleamh (till, uh TILL-uhv), earn ag déanamh na hoibre (uh DAY*N-uhv nuh HIB-re), doing the work póg, ag pógadh (pohg, uh POHG-uh), kiss croch, ag crochadh (krohk*, uh KROHK*-uh), hang gearán, ag gearán (gyar-AW*N, uh gyar-AW*N), complain tochail, ag tochailt (TOHK*-il, uh TOHK-ilt), dig thochlaíomar (hohk*-LEE-uh-muhr), we dug

NOTE: Tá an cóta ar crochadh (the coat is hanging); not ³ag crochadh², because the latter would mean that the coat is actively hanging some- thing or someone.

DRILL Go through a progressive drill beginning with the forms:

An leabhar liom é seo? Is this a book of mine? Ní leabhar liom é seo. Is leabhar leat é seo. Continue with ³An leabhar leat é seo? Ní leabhar leat é seo.² Etc. The last sentence will be: ³Is leabhar liom é seo.²

Repeat this with ³le Seán, le Máire, le dochtúir, leis an bhfear, leis an mbean, leis an gcailín².

CONVERSATION EXERCISE Read what Bríd says each time, and follow the instructions for what you are to say. Say something appropriate in Irish before you glance down at

the key, which you should cover until you need a line.

Bríd: Dia duit, a Dhónaill.

: (Answer her and ask her how she is.)

Bríd: Tá mé go han-mhaith (HAHN-un-VWAH), agus conas tá tú féin?

: (Tell her that you are well, too. Ask her where Pascal is.)

Bríd: O, bhí sé ag obair sa ghairdín an lá go léir, ag tochailt.

: He earned his pay, I suppose. Is he still doing the work?

Bríd: Tá sé ag obair fós, agus a chóta ar crochadh ar an mballa in aice leis (in AK-e lesh) (meaning ³near him²).

: He didn¹t complain yesterday, and the weather as hot as it was. He came home directly.

Bríd: Níor chaill sé rud ar bith, bheith ag obair amuigh.

: We dug in the garden yesterday. Long work it is.

Bríd: Is fíor duit. Níor shéan mé riamh é sin. (I never denied that.)

: Tell her you like to be working outside.


Dia¹s Muire duit, a Bhríd. Conas tá tú? Tá mé go maith, leis. Cá bhfuil Pascal, cibé ar bith? Thuill sé a phá (faw*), is dócha. An bfuill sé ag déanamh na hoibre fós? Níor ghearán sé inné, agus an aimsir chomh (hoh) te agus a bhí sé. Tháinig sé abhaile go díreach. Thochlaíomar sa ghairdín inné. Obair fhada is ea í. Is maith liom bheith ag obair amuigh.

Lesson 33

PRONUNCIATION The vowel “ó” in Irish is a pure vowel, without the trace of (ay) sound beginning it or (oo) sound following it that the English (o) might have.

The Irish sound for “o” usually appears in an accented syllable. The “ó” is held longer than is the (oh) in the English word “roll”, for example. In the south of Ireland, “ó” may be pronounced more like (oo) in words such as: nó, mór, mó, móna. If an accented “o” has no síneadh fada, it gets the same sound as “ó”, but the sound is not held as long. Examples: obair, oscail, ocht, cnoc. Do not substitute an (uh) sound for this vowel.

GRAMMAR As English does, Irish forms adjectives from verbs. Usually the basic form of the verb is modified with “‹tá” or “‹te”. Examples:

dún (doon), close, gives us dúnta, closed déan, do, gives us déanta, done múin (MOO-in), teach, gives us múinte, taught buail, strike, gives us buailte (BOO-il-te), struck

If the last vowel in the verb is “a, o, u” then use “‹ta” because the “t” must be broad. If the last vowel in the word is “e, i” then use “‹te”, because the “t” must be slender.

Sometimes the added “t” is aspirated to give a (huh) or (he) sound at word end. In a few cases, such as “scríofa”, the “t” becomes an “f”, because that is the natural sound of “bhth” together: a (v) plus an (h).

Here are some of these “verbal adjectives”. Read them and deduce their meanings before you look down at the Key at the end of the Grammar section:

bainte (BWIN-te), ceannaithe (KAN-i-he), díolta (DEE-uhl-tuh), creidte (KRED-te), tuigthe (TIG-he), deisithe (DESH-i-he), ólta (OHL-tuh), imithe (IM-i-he).

From now on, as you learn new verbs, try to picture the verbal adjective. Although you will be incorrect on the aspiration of the “t” for some of the endings, you will be able to get most of them.

These verbal adjectives combine with the word “ag” (eg), at, to allow you to say “I have read the letter” instead of “I read the letter”. The Irish form is “Tá an litir léite agam” (taw* un LI-tir LAY*-te uh-GUHM), meaning literally: “The letter is read at me.”

Read these sentences over slowly and note how the word order is changed from English:

Tá an bainne ólta agam (taw* un BAHN-ye OHL-tuh uh-GUHM), I have drunk the milk. Tá an bhróg deisithe aige (eg-GE), He has mended the shoe. Níl an scéal creidte ag Bríd, Bridget has not believed the story. An bhfuil do theach (do HAHK*) díolta agat? Have you sold your house?

The order is changed in the same way that it is in “Tá bord agam”, meaning literally: “A table is at me”, but actually, “I have a table.”

Key: Meanings of the verbal adjectives above: removed or reaped, bought, sold, believed, understood, repaired, drunk, departed or gone.


Masculine nouns buíochas (BWEE-uhk*-uhs), thanks crann (kroun), tree siopa (SHOP-uh), store, shop

Feminine nouns aghaidh, an aghaidh (EYE-ee, un EYE-ee), face gruaig, an ghruaig (GROO-ig, un GROO-ig), hair

Verbs feic, ag feiceáil (fek, uh FEK-aw*-il), see chonaic mé (k*uh-NIK may*), I saw ní fhaca mé (nee AH-kuh may*), I didn’t see an bhfaca tú? (un VAH-kuh too), did you see? nach bhfaca tú? (nahk* VAH-kah too), didn’t you see? clois, ag cloistéail (klish, uh KLISH-taw*-il) hear chuala mé (K*OO-uh-luh may*), I heard níor chuala mé, I didn’t hear. ar chuala tú? Did you hear? nár chuala tú? Didn’t you hear?

cíor, ag cíoradh (KEE-uhr, uh KEE-uh) comb nigh, ag ní (ni, uh NEE), wash

Note: “feic” and “clois” are irregular in the past tense.

These are two more to add to “tar”, come, and “téigh”, go.


The irregular verbs with highly different forms in the past tense require considerable drill if you are to become fluent in Irish.

1. Go through a progressive drill with “chonaic”, etc: An bhfaca mé an bhean (van)? Ní fhaca mé an bhean. Chonaic tú an bhean. An bhfaca tú

an bhean? Ní fhaca tú an bhean. Chonaic sé an bhean. An bhfaca sé an bhean? Ní fhaca sé an bhean. Etc. The last sentence will be: Chonaic mé

an bhean.

“Chonaiceamar” and “ní fhacamar” are the “we” forms.

2. Go through a progressive drill with “chuala”, etc.: Ar chuala mé an traein? Níor chuala mé an traein. Chuala tú an traein. Ar chuala tú an

traein? Etc. The last sentence will be: Chuala mé an traein.

“Chualamar” and “níor chualamar” are the “we” forms.

3. Make sentences of the type, “I have seen the garden”, from these groups of words (Follow this example: dún; dúnta; doras; an cailín. Tá an

doras dúnta ag an gcailín; the girl has closed the door.):

stad; stadta; carr; mé cíor; cíortha; a gruaig; sí glan; glanta; an tsráid; Seán caill; caillte; a cóta; Úna scríobh; scríofa; scéal; sé feic, feicthe; buachaill; Bríd tuill; tuillte; airgead; sinn tuig; tuigthe; an fear; an leanbh

Sample answer: Tá an carr stadta agam. I have stopped the car.

Lesson 34

PRONUNCIATION REVIEW The group “ch” in Irish may still be difficult for you to pronounce. If it is next to a broad vowel, “a, o, u”, it receives the aspirated sound of broad “c”. This sound is like that in the German word “ach”. Pronounce it by lowering the raised back of the tongue somewhat while you pronounce a broad “c”, which is like the (k) in “coat” or “lock”.

Try the English word “lock” and then aspirate the (k) sound. This is similar to the Irish word “lách” (law*k*). Then say: loch (lohk*), dúch (dook*), croch (krohk*), gach (gahk*), sách (saw*k*).

If the broad “ch” starts a word, it is still pronounced (k*) and not (h) in most cases. Try: cóta (KOH-tuh), chóta (K*OH-tuh), cháil (k*aw*l),

chaill (k*eyel), chuaigh (K*OO-ig).

We use the symbok (k*) for the pronunciation of this sound.

If the “ch” is nest to “e, i”, again lower the tongue somewhat while you pronounce the slender “c”, which is like the (k) sound in the English

“kill”. The result will be a sound like “y” in English “you”, but with a slight (h) sound before it. Try: chill (hyil), cheannaigh (HYAN-ee), chéim (hyay*m). Inside or at the end of a word, the sound can be much like an (h), as in: fiche (FI-he), crích (kree). The last word is pronounced differ-

ently from “crí” (kree) at its end, but our simplified pronunciation guide does not take this into account. Instead, you must watch for this “--ch” ending yourself.

You may have seen anglicized place names and family names with a “gh” group in them, such as “Lough Erne” or “O’Loughlin”. This “gh” was mistakenly adopted in the 19th century as the equivalent of the broad “ch” in Irish. The non-Irish speaker tends to pronounce “lough” as (loh) or (lawk), although it should be pronounced (lohk*), as if it were spelled properly: “loch”, lake. “Lochlainn” means Scandinavia (or Denmark), and

a “Lochlannach” is a Scandinavian.


Masculine Nouns hata (HAHT-uh), hat bríste (BREESH-te), trousers ceann (kyoun), head madra (MAH-druh) dog doras (DUH-ruhs) door halla (HAHL-uh), hall

Feminine Nouns cuid, an chuid (kwid, un k*wid), part fearthainn, an fhearthainn (FAR-in, un AR-in), rain seachtain, an tseachtain (SHAHK*T-in, un TYAHK*T-in), week

Verbs bris, ag briseadh (brish, uh BRISH-uh), break cas, ag casadh (kahs, uh KAHS-uh), turn fill, ag filleadh (fil, uh FIL-uh), return stop, ag stopadh (stohp, uh STOHP-uh), stop tosaigh, ag tosú (TUH-see, uh TUH-soo), begin thosaíomar (huh-SEE-uh-muhr), we began


1. Review the form “Céard é seo? (kay*rd ay* shuh) Is leabhar é.” “An leabhar mór é? Ní hea, ach leabhar beag.”

Go through this with the following groups:

bord, bord gorm (GUH-ruhm), bord dearg (DYAR-ruhg) hata, hata bán, hata dubh halla, halla geal, halla dorcha doras, doras dúnta, doras oscailte bríste, bríste nua, seanbhríste madra, madra mór, madra beag

2. We will now work with the Lesson-20 vocabulary for a drill. Verbal adjectives for bain, ith, cnag, and ól are:

bainte, ite, cnagtha, ólta

“Tá sé ag ithe an aráin” is “He is eating the bread”.

Change this to “He ate the bread” and to “He has eaten the bread”.

Before you look at the Key below, do the same with:

sí, ag ithe an bricfeasta mé, ag ithe mo lóin sinn, ag ithe feola siad, ag ól bainne tú, ag ól tae mé, ag ól uisce sé, ag ól chaife siad, ag ól beorach Seán, ag ithe aráin

Key: D’ith sé an t-arán, tá an t-arán ite aige. D’ith sí an bricfeasta; tá

siad bainne; tá bainne olta acu. D’ól tú tae; tá

an t-arán; tá

agat. D’ól mé uisce; tá


aici. D’ith mé mo lón; tá agam. D’ól sé a chaife; tá

agam. D’itheamar feoil; tá aige. D’ól siad beoir; tá

againn. D’ól acu. D’ith Seán

CONVERSATION Máirín (maw*-REEN): Cá ndeachaigh tú inné? Chonaic mé tú ag dul síos an bóthar go luath. Where did you go yesterday? I saw you going down the road early.

Pól (pohl): Chuala mé go raibh éadach saor ag na siopaí sa chathair. Isteach liom ar an traein, ach ní fhaca mé rud ar bith arbh fhiú dom a cheannach. Ní raibh mórán daoine ann, ach oiread. I heard that clothes were cheap at the stores in the city. In I went on the train, but I didn’t see anything worth buying. There weren’t many people there either.

Máirín: Nár chuala mé go bhfuil na praghsanna (PREYE-suh-nuh) ag dul síos anois? Didn’t I hear that the prices are going down now?

Pól: Níor chuala mé é, agus ní fhaca mé é, ach oiread. Cheannaigh mé léine agus bríste, agus ansin tháinig mé abhaile faoi dheireadh (YER-uh). I didn’t hear it, and I didn’t see it either. I bought a shirt and trousers, and then I came home finally.

Máirín: Nach mór an trua é, anois? Isn’t it a pity, now?

Lesson 35

PRONUNCIATION Read the passage in the next paragraph slowly without looking at the key below it. Then read it a second time, making use of the key if you are unsure. Do not try to make sense out of the words; merely concentrate on the pronunciation:

Tá sé socraithe agam airgead a iarraidh ón bhfear a thug córas ceoil dom. Nuair a bhí rogha le déanamh, dúirt daoine eile gur chaith siad lón le Gréagaigh cheartradharcacha. I ngach uile cheann, déarfar gur chuir cairde dílse go fóill go bhfuil an méid sin aicme agus dreamanna éagsúla ann nach aon mhaith a bheith a mealladh sa Taispeántas Ealaíne.

Key: taw* shay* SOHK-ruh-he uh-GUHM AR-i-guhd uh EER-ee ohn VAR uh hug KOH-ruhs KYOH-il duhm. NOO-ir uh vee ROU-uh le DAY*N-uhv, DOO-irt DEEN-uh EL-e gur k*ah SHEE-uhd lohn le GRAY*-gee hyart-REYE-uhr-KAHK*-uh. ing AHK* IL-e hyoun, DYAY*R- fuhr gur k*ir KAHR-de DEEL-she goh FOH-il goh vwil un may*d shin AK-me AH-gus DRAM-un-nuh ay*g-sool-uh oun nahk* ay*n vwah uh ve uh MYAL-uh suh tash-PAW*N-tuhs AH-leen-e.


The Irish word for “on” is “ar” (er). It usually aspirates the initial consonant of the next word, although there are many exceptions to this, as you will see. Here are examples of usage of “ar”:

ar Shéamas (er HAY*-muhs), on James ar charr (er K*AHR), on a car ar mo charr (er muh K*AHR), on my car ar an gcarr, on the car féach ar an mbean (FAY*-uhk* er un MAN), look at the woman

In many common expressions, there is no aspiration of the following consonant:

ar buile (er BWIL-e), angry ar crocadh (er KROHK*-uh), hanging ar díol (er DEE-uhl), for sale ar ball (er BOUL), presently

Like “ag” and “le”, the preposition “ar” joins with “mé, tú, sé”, etc, to form words meaning “on me, on you, on him”, etc. Learn these forms thoroughly now, to be ready for the Drill below.

orm (OH-rum), on me ort (OH-ruht), on you air (er), on him uirthí (IR-ee), on her orainn (OH-rin), on us oraibh (OH-riv), on you (pl) orthu (OHR-huh), on them

An important use for “ar” is in such expressions as “I am angry” or “he is afraid”. In Irish, these can become “Tá fearg orm” (taw* FAR-uhg OH-ruhm), there is anger on me; and “Tá eagla air” (taw* AH-gluh er), there is fear on him. Often sickness, too, is “on” a person, in sentences such as “Tá slaghdán uirthi” (taw* sleye-DAY*N IR-ee) there is a cold on her.


Masculine nouns mac (mahk), son áthas, an t-áthas (AW*-huhs, un TAW*-huhs), joy, happiness brón (brohn), sorrow ocras, an t-ocras (OHK-ruhs, un TOHK-ruhs), hunger tart (TAHR-ruht), thirst amhras, an t-amhras (OU-ruhs, un TOU-ruhs), doubt ionadh, an t-ionadh (OON-uh, an TOON-uh), surprise

Feminine nouns eagla, an eagla (AH-gluh), fear fearg, an fhearg (FAR-ruhg, un AR-ruhg), anger náire (NAW*-re), shame imní, an imní (IM-nee), anxiety iníon, an iníon (in-EEN, un in-EEN), daughter mínigh, ag míniú (uh MEEN-yoo), explain mhíníomar (veen-EE-uh-muhr), we explained cleacht, ag cleachtadh (klak*t, uh KLAK*-tuh), practice glaoigh, ag glaoch (GLAY*-ee, uh GLAY*-uhk) ar (er), call on, telephone anocht (uh-NOHK*T), tonight aréir (uh-RAY*R), last night

anuraidh (un-NOOR-ree), last year


Go through a progressive drill with “ar” and the pronouns, starting with:

An bhfuil áthas orm? Níl áthas orm. Tá áthas ort. An bhfuil áthas ort? Níl áthas ort. Tá áthas air. An bhfuil áthas air? etc. Your last sentence will be: Tá áthas orm.

Repeat the progressive drill with as many of these words as possible: brón, fearg, eagla, ocras, tart, náire, imní, amhras, ionadh. “Cad tá air?” (kahd taw* er) means “What’s wrong with him?” Aks this question and then answer it with some of the vocabulary words. For example: Cad tá air? Tá brón air. Make use of “Cad tá ort? Cad tá oraibh?” etc.


Sinéad (shin-AY*D): Dia duit, a Réamoinn.

Réamonn (RAY*-mohn): Dia’s Muire duit, a Shinéad. Conas tá tú?

Sineád: Ó, tá slaghdán orm. Bhí mé istigh an lá go léir inné.

Réamonn: Tá brón orm é sin a chloisteáil (K*LISH-taw*-il). Glaoigh (GLAY*-ee) mé ort timpeall (TIM-puhl) a deich a chlog, ach ní bhfuair (VOO-ir) mé freagra ar bith (FRAG-ruh er BI).

Sinéad: Chula mé (K*OO-uh-luh may*) an teileafón (TEL-e-fohn), agus ní raibh áthas orm ar chor ar bith é a chloisteáil.

Réamonn: Níl ionadh ar bith orm. Féach! Tá dochtúir ag teacht!

Janet: Hello, Raymond.

Raymond: Hello, Janet. How are you?

Janet: Oh, I have a cold. I was inside all day yesterday.

Raymond: I’m sorry to hear that. I called you around ten, but I got no answer at all.

Janet: I heard the phone, and I wasn’t happy at all to hear it.

Raymond: I’m not at all surprised. Look! A doctor’s coming!

Lesson 36

PRONUNCIATION EXERCISE Read this passage slowly without looking at the key below it. Then read it a second time, making use of the key if you are unsure. Do not try to make sense out of the words; concentrate on the pronunciation and on grouping the words into phrases.

Chualamar faoi chluiche neamhghnách má thugtar cead a gcinn de fhoireann na hÉireann ag déanamh drochphoiblíochta den chinéal sin. Mh- easamar go mbíonn an baile mór go minic ag labhairt le cuairteoirí, ach tá an teilifís san seol ina bhfuilimid ag maireachtáil san agéid cheadúnais mura musclaíonn tú lucht na Gaeilge. Is gnách go mbíonn moill bliana as gach cearn den domhan ag an té a fuair na himleabhair go léir.

Key: K*OOL-uh-muhr fwee K*LI-he nyav-GNAW*K* maw* HUG-tuhr kad uh gin DIR-uhn nuh HAY*R-uhn uh DAY*N-uhv druhk*-FWIB- lee-uhk* tuh den HYIN-aw*l shin. VAS-uh-muhr goh MEE-uhn un BAHL-e mohr goh MIN-ik uh LOU-irt luh koo-ir-TYOH-ree, ahk* taw* un TEL-i-fees suhn shohl IN-uh VWIL-i-mid uh MAHR-uhk*-taw*-il suhn AH-gay*d hya-DOON-ish MU-ruh mus-KLEE-uhn too luk*t nuh GAY*-lig-e. is gnaw*k* goh MEE-uhn mwil BLEE-uh-nuh as gahk* kyarn den DOH-wuhn eg un tay* uh FOO-ir nuh him-LOU-ir goh lay*r.


The Irish word “ar” (er) is part of expressions that correspond to “to wear” in English. For example:

Tá hata ar Nóra; A hat is on Nora, Nora is wearing a hat. Tá léine (LAY*-ne) glan orm; I have a clean shirt on. Ní raibh cóta ná hata air; He wasn’t wearing a coat or hat.

Illnesses and sleepiness can also be “ar” a person. Some examples: Tá tinneas cinn orm (TIN-yuhs kin OH-ruhm), I have a headache (lit.: sick- ness of head upon me). Nach raibh tinneas fiacaile ort? (nahk* rev TIN-yuhs FEE-kuh-le OH-ruht), Didn’t you have a toothache? Bhí fiabhras orthu (vee FEE-vruhs OHR-huh), They had a fever. Tá codladh orm (taw* KUHL-uh OHR-ruhm) I am sleepy.

“Ar” follows several verbs, in examples such as: Féach air! (FAY*-ahk* er), Look at him! Tosaigh air! (TUH-see air), Begin it! Glaoigh air! (GLAY*-ee er), Call him! Iarr leabhar air! (EER LOU-uhr er), Ask him for a book!


The cardinal numbers, used only for cases where objects or persons are not mentioned, or for telling time:

a haon (uh HAY*N), one

a dó (uh DOH), two

a trí (uh TREE), three

a ceathair ( uh KA-hir), four

a cúig(uh KOO-ig), five

a sé (uh SHAY*), six

a seacht (uh SHAHK*T), seven

a hocht (uh HOHK*T), eight

a naoi (uh NEE), nine

a deich (uh DE), ten

a haon-déag (uh HAY*N day*-uhg), eleven

a dó-dhéag (a DOH yay*-uhg), twelve

These numbers are for counting, as in “one, two, three, four”, or for saying “Bus No. 5” or “Room No. 7”. Also to answer the following ques- tion: Cé’n t-am é? (kay*n toum ay*), What time is it? Tá sé a dó a chlog (k*luhg), It is two o’clock.

Do not use these numbers to say “three boxes” or “seven boys”. Irish has other forms for these uses.


Count from “a haon” to “a dó-dhéag” until you can do it rapidly and in reverse order.

Make use of these numbers during the day to read license plates, house numbers and signs, one numeral at a time. “Zero” is “nialas” (NEEL- uhs).

Next, go through the progressive drills for the following:

An bhfuil an scian ghéar agam? (SHKEE-uhn yay*r uh-GUHM) Níl an scian ghéar agam. Tá an scian ghéar agat. An bhfuil an scian ghéar agat? Níl an scian ghéar agat. Tá an scian ghéar aige. Continue with aici, againn, agaibh, acu. The last sentence will be: Tá an scian ghéar agam.

An bhfuil an fear seo chomh (hoh) mór liom? Níl an fear seo chomh mór liom. Tá an fear seo chomh mór leat. Continue with leis, léi, linn, libh, leo.

An raibh tinneas cinn orm? (TIN-yuhs kin OH-ruhm) Ní raibh tinneas cinn orm. Bhí tinneas cinn ort. Continue with air, uirthi, orainn, orthu.


Siobhán (shi-VAW*N): Dia duit, a Chiaráin (DEE-uh git, uh hyir-AW*-in). Hello, Kieran.

Ciarán (kir-AW*N): Dia’s Muire duit, a Shiobhán (uh hi-VAW*N). Conas tá tú? Hello, Joan. How are you?

Siobhán: Tá mé go maith, agus conas tá tú féin? I am well, and how are you?

Ciarán: Tá mé go maith leis. Cé hé an fear sin atá ar thaobh eile an halla? I am well, too. Who is that man on the other side of the hall?

Siobhán: Is é sin Tadhg Ó Néill (shay* shin teyeg oh NAY*L) That’s Tadhg (anglicized, incorrectly, as either Timothy or Thaddeus) O’Neill.

Ciarán: Agus an bhean atá in aice leis? (in A-ke lesh) And the woman next to him?

Siobhán: Is í Eibhlín Nic Dhomhnaill í (shee eye-LEEN nik GOHN-il ee). It’s Eileen MacDonnell.

Ciarán: Agus cé hiad na páistí iad? And who are the children?

Siobhán: Is iad Seán Mac Lochlainn agus Nóra Ní Chonghaile iad (SHEE-uhd shaw*n mahk LOHK*-lin AH-guhs NOH-ruh nee K*OHN-uh-le EE-uhd). They are John MacLoughlin and Nora Connolly.

Lesson 37

PRONUNCIATION The Irish words for “on me, on you”, etc., are examples of several of the pronunciation principles that you have learned. “Orm”, on me, is (OH- ruhm), with a short (oh) sound that may resemble English (uh). The “r” is broad, with a brief trilled or rolled effect. “Ort”, on you, is (OH-ruht), with the “t” broad. For “air” (er), on him, the “r” is slender (see Lesson 29), but in “ar” (er), the “r” is broad.

For “orainn” (OH-rin) and “oraibh” (OH-riv), the first syllable is like that for “orm”. For “orthu”, on them, the word ends in a (huh) sound, (OHR-huh), because of the aspirated “t”.

PRONUNCIATION REVIEW Read this passage slowly without looking at the Key below it. Then read it a second time, making use of the Key if you are unsure. Do not try to make sense of the words; concentrate on the pronunciation and on grouping the words into phrases.

Dá mba léir, tháinig roinnt iascairí aici, ar an abhainn, níos mó ná riamh, agus a thaithíonn an-chuid téipeanna, le linn an fheachtais seo. Beidh sé chomhpháirteach, a chuireann as go mór, b’fhiú dó a chur go gcaithfeadh sé, go bhfuil leagan amach bunúsach, ar íosmhéid cainte, agus choth- aigh sé neamhchinnteacht, ina measc.

Key: daw* muh LAY*R, HAW*-nig rint EES-kuh-ree a-KI, er un OU-in, nees moh naw* reev, AH-guhs uh hah-HEE-uhn AHN-k*wid TAY*P- uh-nuh, le lin un AK*-tish shuh. be shay* hoh-FAW*R-tyuhk*, uh K*IR-uhn as goh MOHR, byoo doh uh K*UR goh GAH-huhk* shay*, goh vwil LAG-uhn uh-MAHK* bun-OOS-uhk*, er EES-vay*d KEYENT-e, AH-guhs K*OH-hee shay* nyav-HYIN-tyuhk*t, IN-uh mask.

Note that the “f” in “caithfeadh” gets only an (h) sound. This occurs in the future tense and in conditional forms of the verbs, which you will soon study.

By now, you should be losing your fear of long, new words, and you should be able to give unfamiliar words a nearly correct pronunciation. We will continue with this type of pronunciation exercise for several more lessons.

GRAMMAR You know how to say “he is writing”, “he wrote”, and “he was writing” in Irish. “He is writing” means that at this time someone is actually writ- ing. When we say “he writes”, however, we mean that a person writes now and then, more or less frequently, but that he may not be writing at this instant.

Irish makes the same distinction, and we say that “he writes” is in the present habitual tense. It forms the imperative, scríobh, and looks like this:

scríobhaim (SHKREEV-im), I write scríobhann tú (SHKREEV-uhn too), you write scríobhann sé, he writes scríobhann sí, she writes scríobhaimid (SHKREEV-uh-mid), we write scríobhann shibh (shiv), you (pl) write scríobhann siad (SHEE-uhd), they write

For the negative, put a “ní” (nee) before these forms. “Ní” aspirates where possible. The “s” in “scríobh” cannot be aspirated: Ní scríobhaim.

With “díol” (DEE-uhl), sell, however: Ní dhíolaim (nee YEE-lim), I don’t sell.

For the questions, put “an” (un) or “nach” (nahk*) before the basic forms. Both eclipse wherever possible:

An scríobhann tú go minic? Do you write often? Nach ndíolann sé feoil? (nahk* NEE-luhn shay* FYOH-il) Doesn’t he sell meat?

VOCABULARY carr (kahr), an auto aon charr amháin (ay*n k*ahr uh-WOYN), only one auto dhá charr (gaw* k*ahr), two autos trí (tree) charr, three autos ceithre (KER-e) charr, four autos cúig (KOO-ig) charr, five autos sé (shay) charr, six autos tóg, ag tógail (tohg, uh TOHG-aw*-il), take, lift scar, ag scaradh (skahr, uh SKAHR-uh), separate bearr, ag bearradh (byahr, uh BYAHR-uh), shave ceap, ag ceapadh (kyap, uh KYAP-uh), think

EXERCISES 1. Go through a progressive drill in the present habitual for each of these combinations:

bris; cupáin agus plátaí buail; an teach leis an gcarr ceap: é sin cuir; na rudaí sa seomra eile

For example: An mbrisim cupáin agaus plátai? Ní bhrisim (VRISH-im) cupáin agus plátaí. Briseann tú cupáin agus plátaí. An mbriseann tú cupáin agus plátaí? Etc.

2. In answer to the question: “Cén t-am é? (kay*n TOUM ay*) What time is it? go through this drill:

Cén t-am é? Tá sé nóiméad (NOH-may*d) roimh (rev) a haon a chlog.

What time is it? It is one minute before one o’clock.

Cén t-am é? Tá sé nóiméad tar éis (tuhr AY*SH) a dó a chlog.

What time is it? It is one minute after two o’clock.

Continue with: two minutes before three o’clock; two minutes after four o’clock; three minutes before five o’clock; three minutes after six o’clock, and so on, to six minutes after twelve o’clock.

3. Read these verb forms, deciding quickly whether they give a command, are in the present habitual tense, or are in the past tense:

Glan mé. Magaimid. Thuigeamar. Dhíol sé. Closisim. D’ól mé. Siúil! Chrochaigh mé. Deisigh é! Buaileann siad.

Key: Clean me. We mock. We understood. He sold. I hear. I drank. Walk! I hung. Repair it! They strike.

4. Review counting from one to twelve.

Lesson 38

PRONUNCIATION EXERCISE Read the phrases below out loud, referring to the pronunciation guide if necessary. When you can read the phrases readily, look at the translation and then go over the phrases again, visualizing the meaning as you say each.

dhá bhéile; dhá bhord dhá chiseán; trí chupán ceithre dhinnéar; cúig dhoras sé fheirm; dhá fhuinneog ocht mbricfeasta; ocht mbád seacht gcistin; naoi gclog ocht nduais; deich ndoirteal seacht bhfiacail; naoi bhfadhb

gaw* VAY*L-uh; gaw* vohrd gaw* hyish-AW*N; tree k*u-PAW*N KER-e YIN-yay*r; KOO-ig GUH-ruhs shay* ER-im; gaw* in-YOHG ohk*t mrik-FAS-tuh; ohk*t maw*d shahk*t GISH-tin; nee gluhg ohk*t NOO-ish; de NUHRT-uhl shahk*t VEE-kil; nee veyeb

two meals; two tables two baskets; three cups four dinners; five doors six farms; two windows eight breakfasts; eight boats seven kitchens; nine clocks eight prizes; ten sinks seven teeth; nine problems

Remember that “naoi”, nine, is pronounced with a broad “n”. This means that a faint (uh) sound occurs between the (n) and (ee). Lesson 28 described this. The word may sound a little like (nay*) but there is a clear difference.


In Lessons 29 and 33, you learned the past tense of “Come, go, see, hear”. These are irregular in the past but regular in the present.

Tar! (tahr) Come! Tagaim (TAHG-im), I come; tagann tú (TAHG-uhn too), you come, etc. Tagaimid (TAHG-uh-mid), we come. Ní thagaim (nee HAHG-im) I don’t come; ní thagann tú, etc. An dtagaim? (un DAHG-im), do I come? an dtagann tú? etc.

Téigh! (tay*) Go! Téim (TAY*-im) I go; téann tú (TAY*-uhn too), you go, etc. Téimid (TAY*-mid), we go. Ní théim (nee HAY*-im), I don’t go. Ní théann tú (nee HAY*- uhn too), you don’t go, etc. Ní théimid (nee HAY*-mid), we don’t go. An dtéim? (un DAY*-im), do I go? an dtéann tú? etc.

Feic! (fek) See! Feicim (FEK-im), I see; feiceann tú (FEK-uhn too), you see, etc. Feicimid (FEK-i-mid), we see. Ní fheicim (nee EK-im), I don’t see; ní fheiceann tú (nee EK- uhn too), you don’t see, etc. Ní fheicimid (nee EK-i-mid), we don’t see. An bhfeicim? (un VEK-im) do I see?; an bhfeiceann tú? (un VEK- uhn too) do you see? etc.

Clois! (klish) Hear! Cloisim (KLISH-im), I hear; cloiseann tú (KLISH-uhn too), you hear, etc. Cloisimid (KLISH-i-mid), we hear. Ní chloisim (nee K*LISH-im), I don’t hear; ní chloiseann tú, you don’t hear, etc. Ní chloisimid (nee K*LISH-i-mid), we don’t hear. An gcloisim? (un GLISH-im), do I hear? an gcloiseann tú? etc. An gcloisimid? (un GLISH-i-mid), do we hear?

Usage of “feic” and clois” resembles that of “see” and hear” in English. Say “Cloisim é” for “I hear him”, not “Tá mé á chloisteáil”, I am hearing him.


Translate the following drills out loud:

I came home; does Art come home? He didn’t come home; we come.

I went down the road; does Art go down the road? He didn’t go down the road; we go down the road.

I saw the school; does Art see the school? He didn’t see the school; we see the school.


Tháinig mé abhaile; an dtagann Art abhaile? Níor tháinig sé abhaile; tagaimid abhaile. Chuaigh mé síos an bóthar; an dtéann Art síos an bóthar? Ní dheachaigh sé síos an bóthar; téimid síos an bóthar. Chonaic mé an scoil; an bhfeiceann Art an scoil? Ní fhaca sé an scoil; feicimid an scoil. Chuala mé an traein; an gcloiseann Art an traein? Níor chuala sé an traein; cloisimid an traein.

READING EXERCISE D’éirigh mé (DEYE-ree may*) go moch maidin inné. Chuaigh mé amach suas an bóthar. De ghnách (de GNAW*K*) téim chuig (hig) siopa nuachtáin, agus ansin tagaim abhaile timpeall a hocht a chlog. An uair (OO-ir) sin, áfach, ní dheachaigh mé ach cúpla céim (kay*m). Chuala mé madra ag tafann (TAHF-uhn), agus ansin chonaic mé cat i gcrann in aice an chúinne (K*OON-ye). Thuas sa gcrann, bhi an cat ina shui, ag féachaint go ciúin ar an madra. Níor tháinig an cat anuas (uh-NOO-uhs) roimh (rev) am (oum) suipéir.

I got up early yesterday morning I went up the road. Usually I go to a paper store, and then I come home around eight o’clock. That time, how- ever, I didn’t go but a couple of steps. I heard a dog barking, and I saw a cat in a tree near the corner. Up in the tree, the cat was sitting, quietly looking at the dog. The cat didn’t come down before suppertime.

Note: With a few verbs, like suigh (si), sit, the form is “Tá sé ina shuí”, he is in his sitting, rather than “tá sé ag suí”. “I was sitting” is Bhí mé i mo shuí (i muh HEE). Similar verbs are “luigh” (li), lie; ina luí, in his lying; seas (shas), stand, ina sheasamh (HAS-uhv), in his standing.

Lesson 39

PRONUNCIATION EXERCISE Read the phrases below out loud, referring to the pronunciation guide if necessary. When you can read the phrases readily, look at the translation and then go over the phrases again, visualizing the meaning as you say each.

PRONUNCIATION Irish pronunciation of some words varies from region to region, just as in other countries, such as Germany, France, and the United States. Ireland is small in size, compared to those countries, however, and the variations in the pronunciation in Ireland are less evident than in most countries in Europe.

If you are working with a fluent or native speaker, you have undoubtedly encountered some differences between our simplified pronunciation guide and the pronunciation of the speaker. Our pronunciation guide tries to give you a system which will be easy to apply, fairly uniform and consistent, and readily understood over as wide an area of Ireland as possible. It is not tied exclusively to any single region. From time to time, we will describe some of the regional variations in pronunciation.

There are three basic regions in Ireland, as far as the language is concerned: Munster, in the south; Connaught, in the west; and Ulster, in the north. One general rule on pronunciation difference among the three regions is that accent in a word tends to be toward the end of the word in Munster, toward the front in Ulster, and evenly distributed in Connaught.

For example, with “agam”, on me, the Munster pronunciation is (uh-GUHM), and the Ulster pronunciation is (AH-guhm). In Connaught, the pronunciation is (ah-guhm), with a more even distribution of accent.

“Thank you” is pronounced (gu-ruh-MAH-huh-guht) in Munster and (gu-ruh-muh-HAH-guht) in Connaught.

Brief experience with pronunciation differences of this kind will make them readily understandable, just as they are in English. Whether you say (eye KANT) or (eye KAHNT) for “I can’t”, you will understand (ah KAYNT) from some speakers from the southern United States.

PRONUNCIATION EXERCISE Read this passage slowly without looking at the key below it. Then read it a second time, making use of the key if you are unsure. Do not try to make sense of the words; concentrate on the pronunciation and on grouping the words into phrases:

Is iad an cineál dreama, gur leag siad síos, an bhunsraith, go bhfaca sé ceadmhach sa dara cás, an smuta mailíseach seo, roimh iarratais ar an bpost, a thug sé formhór a shaoil. As sin amach, gur toradh meatachta is mímhacántachta, agus bíonn na tuismitheoirí as an iarsma, le linn na gcúirteanna dóibh siud a bheidh i láthair.

SHEE-uhd un KIN-aw*l DRAM-uh gur lag SHEE-uhd shees uh vun-SRAH, goh VAHK-uh shay* KAD-uh-vwahk* suh DUH-ruh kaw*s, un SMUT-uh mahl-ee-SHAHK* shuh, rev EER-uh-tish er un bohst, uh hug shay* fohr-uh-VWOHR uh HEEL. as shin uh-MAHK*, gur TOHR- uh MYA-tuhk*t-uh is mee-vuh-KAW*N-tuhk*t-uh, AH-guhs BEE-uhn nuh toosh-mi-HOH-i-ree as un EERS-muh, le lin nuh GOO-ir-tyan-uh, DOH-iv shood uh ve i LAW*-hir.

GRAMMAR In the present habitual tense, some verbs have slightly different forms from the forms that you began to learn last week. These verbs are the same two-syllable ones that you studied in Lesson 27. These verbs have forms like “cheannaíomar” (hyan-EE-uh-muhr), we bought, in the past.

To say “I buy”, etc., the forms are:

ceannaím (kan-EEM), I buy ceannaíonn (kan-EE-uhn) tú, you buy ceannaíonn sé, he buys ceannaíonn sí, she buys ceannaímid (kan-EE-mid), we buy ceannaíonn sibh, you (pl.) buy ceannaíonn siad, they buy

And then:

ní cheannaím (nee hyan-EEM), I don’t buy ní cheannaíonn (nee hyan-EE-uhm) tú, you don’t buy, etc.

an gceannaím? (un gyan-EEM) do I buy? an gceannaíonn tú? (un gyan-EE-uhn too), do you buy, etc.

VOCABULARY seacht gcarr (shahk*t gahr), seven autos ocht gcarr (ohk*t gahr), eight autos naoi gcarr (nee gahr), nine autos deich gcarr (de gahr), ten autos

snámh, ag snámh (snaw*v, uh SNAW*V), swim pós, ag pósadh (pohs, uh POHS-uh), marry

clis, ag cliseadh (klish, uh KLISH-uh), fail érigh, ag éirí (EYE-ree, eg EYE-ree), rise, get up

DRILL To improve your fluency with the present habitual tense and with aspiration and eclipses of initial “d” and “f”, go through these four progressive drills:

An ndíolaim nuachtáin? (un NEE-lim NOO-uhk*-taw*-in) Do I sell newspapers? Ní dhíolaim nuachtáin (nee YEE-lim NOO-uhk*-taw*-in). Díolann tú (DEE-luhn too) nuachtáin. An ndíolann tú nuachtáin? Ní dhíolann tú nuachtáin, etc. The last sentence is: Díolaim nuachtáin.

An ndúnaim na fuinneoga? (un NOON-im nuh fwin-YOHG-uh) Do I close the windows? Ní dhúnaim (nee GOON-im) na fuinneoga. Dúnann tú (DOON-uhn too) na fuinneoga, etc. Last sentence: Dúnaim na fuinneoga.

An bhfillim abhaile ar a sé a chlog? (un VILL-im uh-VWAHL-e er uh shay* uh k*luhg) Do I return home at six o’clock? Ní fhillim abhaile (nee ILL-im uh-VWAHL-e) ar a sé a chlog. Fillean tú (FILL-uhn too), etc. Last sentence: Fillim abhaile ar a sé a chlog.

An bhfanaim leis an bhfearr sin? (un VAHN-im lesh un var shin) Do I wait for that man? Ní fhanaim (nee AHN-im) leis an bhfearr sin. Fanann tú (FAHN-uhn too), etc. Last sentence: Fanaim leis an bhfearr sin.

Write or say the “we” form for these verbs: díolaimid (DEEL-uh-mid); dúnaimid (DOON-uh-mid); fillimid (FILL-i-mid); fanaimid (FAHN-uh- mid).

Count doors and windows from one to ten. Doras, dhá dhoras, trí dhoras, bhfuinneog, etc.

seacht ndoras, etc. Fuinneog, dhá fhuinneog, trí fhuinneog,


Lesson 40

This week we will do heavy memorizing and drilling. The purpose is the thorough learning of aspiration, eclipsis, and some verb forms.

PRONUNCIATION EXERCISE Read the Irish phrases below out loud, referring to the pronunciation guide if necessary. When you can read the phrases readily, look at the trans- lation and then go over the phrases again, visualizing the meaning as you say each:

trí gheata; ceithre ghúna; sé mhéadar; dhá mhadra; cúig phingin; trí phaidir; dhá sheomra; ceithre sholas; sé thicéad; cúig thoitín

naoi ngrian; acht nglas; deich míle; seacht mála; ocht bpíopa; deich bpunt; seacht seál; naoi sac; deich dteach; seacht dtobar

(tree YAT-uh; KER-e GOON-uh; shay* VAY*-duhr; gaw* VWAH-druh; KOO-ig FEENG-in; tree FAHD-ir; gaw* HOHM-ruh; KER-e HUH- luhs; shay* hi-KAY*D; KOO-ig hi-TYEEN

neeng REE-uhn; ohk*t nglahs; de MEEL-e; shahk*t MAW*-luh; ohk*t BEEP-uh; de boont; shahk*t shaw*l; nee sahk; de dyahk*; shak*t DOH- buhr)

three gates; four dresses; six meters; two dogs; five cents; three prayers; two rooms; four lights; six tickets; five cigarettes

nine suns; eight locks; ten thousand; seven bags; eight pipes; seven pounds; seven shawls; nine sacks; ten houses; seven wells

GRAMMAR You know several verbs of two syllables whose endings in some forms differ somewhat from the one-syllable verbs. “Ceannaigh” is an exam- ple: “ceannaíonn sé” (kan-EE-uhn shay*) means “he buys”, and “cheannaíomar” (hyan-EE-uh-mar) means “we bought”. Other verbs similar to “ceannaigh” are “imigh”, “éirigh”, and “deisigh”. Many verbs ending in: ----il, ----in, ----ir and ----is are similar. They naturally drop out a syllable in some forms because the omission makes them easier to pronounce. Otherwise, they are very much like “ceannaigh”. Learn the following examples, starting with oscail (OH-skil) open.


osclaím (OH-skleem), I open osclaíonn tú (oh-SKLEE-uhn too), you open osclaíonn sé, he opens osclaíonn sí, she opens osclaímid (oh-SKLEE-mid), we open osclaíonn sibh (shiv) you (pl) open osclaíonn siad (SHEE-uhd), they open

Ní osclaím, ní osclaíonn tú, ní osclaímid, etc. An osclaím? An osclaíonn tú? an osclaímid? etc. Nach n-osclaím (nahk* NOH-skleem), nach n-osclaíonn tú? etc.


d’oscail mé (DOH-skil may*), I opened d’oscail tú, you opened d’oscail sé, he opened d’oscail sí, she opened d’osclaíomar (doh-SKLEE-uh-kuhr), we opened d/oscail sibh, you (pl) opened d’oscail siad, they opened

Níor oscail mé, níor oscail tú, níor osclaíomar (NEE-uhr oh-SKLEE-uh--muhr) etc. Ar oscail mé? ar oscail tú? ar osclaíomar? etc Nár oscail mé? nár oscail tú? nár osclaíomar? etc.

cosain (KUH-sin) defend


Cosnaím (KUHS-neem), cosnaíonn tú (kuhs-NEE-uhn-too), cosnaímid (kuhs-NEE-mid), cosnaíonn sibh, etc Ní chosnaím (nee K*UHS-neem), ní chosnaíonn tú, ní chosnaímid (nee k*uhs-NEE-mid) etc. An gcosnaim? etc. Nach gcosnaim? etc.


Chosain mé (K*UH-sin may*) I defend, etc. Chosnaíomar (k*uhs- NEE-uh-muhr), we defend, etc. Níor chosain mé, níor chosain tú, níor chosnaíomar, etc. Ar chosain mé? ar chosnaíomar? (er k*uhs-NEE-uh-muhr) etc.

Nár chosain mé? nár chosnaíomar? etc.

Labhair (LOU-ir), speak, becomes “labhraíonn sé” (lou-REE-uhn shay*), he speaks, “labhraíomar” (lou-REE-uh-muhr) we spoke. The basic form of this verb is “labhair”, of course, and “labhair sé” means “he spoke”.

Inis (IN-ish), tell, becomes “insíonn sé” (in-SHEE-uhn shay*), he tells, and “d’insíomar” (din-SHEE-uh-muhr), we told. The basic form of the verb is “inis”, and “d’inis sé” means “he told”.

For “oscail, cosain, labhair” and “inis,” note the loss of the syllable in pronouncing forms with added suffixes, such as oscail, osclaíonn.

DRILL Go through the present and past tenses of these verbs: imigh (IM-ee), depart; tochail (TOHK*-il), dig; cogain (KUHG-in), chew; bagair (BAHG- ir), threaten.

For example: Imím, imíonn tú etc. Ní imím, ní imíonn tú etc. An imím? etc. Nach n-imím? etc. D’imigh mé, etc. Níor imigh mé, etc. Ar imigh mé?, etc. Nár imigh mé?, etc.

The key forms are: Imíonn, d’imíomar. Tochlaíonn, thochlaíomar. Cognaionn, chognaíomar. Bagraíonn, bhagraíomar.

Lesson 41

PRONUNCIATION EXERCISE Read the Irish passage below slowly without looking at the key below it. Then read it a second time, making use of the key if you are unsure. Do not try to make sense of the words; concentrate on the pronunciation and on grouping the words into phrases:

Má tá am agus dúthracht fagadh, an méid a fuair siad, tamall gearr ó shin. Rinne go leor daoine, as ceantair éagsúla, an ráta malartáin gan an bealach a oscailt. Maraíodh le déanaí, strainséirí agus céad acra faoi ghlasraí, ag tagairt don chuairt. Aeráid chineálta mhuirí agus ordóg air- tríteach ag mo chomharsa béal dorais. Más monarchana bróg go dtí fuinneog lán píosaí práis, beartaithe ag cuairteoirí.

Key: maw* taw* oum AH-guhs DOO-hrahk*t FAW*G-uh, un may*d uh FOO-ir SHEE-uhd, TAH-muhl gyahr oh hin. RIN-ye goh lohr DEEN- uh, as KYAN-tir ay*g-SOOL-uh, un RAW*-tuh mah-luhr-TAW*-in guhn un BAL-uhk* uh OH-skilt. MAHR-ee-oh le DAY*N-ee, strahn- SHAY*R-ee AH-guhs kay*d AHK-ruh fwee GLAHS-ree, uh TAHG-irt duhn K*OO-ahrt. ay*r-AW*-id hyin-AW*L-tuh VWIR-ee AH-guhs ohr-DOHG ar-TREE-tuhk* ag muh K*OH-uhr-suh bay*l DUH-rish. maw*s MUHN-uhr-k*ahn-uh brohg goh dee fwin-YOHG law*n PEES-ee praw*sh, BYAR-ti-he eg KOO-ahr-TYOH-ree.

If you are working with someone else, a possible exercise for you is to listen to the other person reading from the original or the key, and to write in Irish what you hear. This will improve your perception of the language as it is spoken to you.


Go through the present and past tenses of these verbs:

Bailigh (BAHL-ee), gather Cuimil (KIM-il), rub Seachain (SHAK*-hin), avoid Freagair (FRAG-ir), answer

For example: Bailím (BAHL-eem), I gather; bailíonn tú (bahl-EE-uhn too), you gather, etc. Bailímid (bahl-EE-mid), we gather; bailíonn sibh, etc. Ní bhailím (nee VWAHL-eem), I don¹t gather, etc. An mbailím? (un MAHL-eem), do I gather?, etc. Nach mbailím? (nahk* MAHL-eem), don¹t I gather?, etc.

Bhailigh mé (VWAHL-ee may*), I gathered; bhailigh tú (VWAHL-ee too), you gathered, etc. Bhailíomar (vwahl-EE-uh-muhr), we gathered, etc. Níor bhailigh mé, etc. Ar bhailigh mé?, etc. Nár bhailigh mé?, etc.

The next three ³syncopate², that is, a syllable drops out as you say the forms. It is easier to say the words when this syllable is absent, as you will readily determine.

Cuimlím (KIM-leem), I rub; cuimlíonn tú (kim-LEE-uhn too), you rub, etc. Cuimlímid (kim-LEE-mid), we rub, etc. Chuimil mé (K*IM-il may*), I rubbed, etc. Chuimlíomar (k*im-lee-uh-muhr), we rubbed, etc. Seachnaím (SHAK*-neem), I avoid; seachnaíonn (shak*-NEE-uhn) tú, you avoid, etc. Seachnaímid (shak*-NEE-mid), we avoid, etc. Sheachain mé (HAK*-in may*), I avoided, etc. Sheachaíomar (hak*-NEE-uh-muhr), we avoided, etc. Freagraím (FRAG-reem), I answer; freagraíonn (frag-REE-uhn) tú, you answer, etc. Freagraímid (frag-REE-mid), we answer, etc. D¹fhreagair mé (DRAG-ir may*), I answered, etc. D¹fhreagraíomar (drag-REE-uh-muhr), we answered, etc.

This finishes the extensive drill for the present and past tenses. We will do work on the irregular verbs in present and past tenses next.


Pól (pohl): Dia duit, a Úna.

Úna (OON-uh): Dia¹s Muire duit, a Phóil (FOH-il). Conas tá tú inniu?

Pól: Bhí slaghdán (sleye-DAW*N) trom (truhm) orm inné, ach anois tá biseach (BI-shahk*) orm. Conas tá tú féin?

Úna: Tá mé go maith, buíochas le Dia. Tá súil agam (SOO-il) uh-GUHM) go bhfaca tú an díospóireacht (dee-SPOH-i-rahk*t) mhór (vwohr) ar an teilifís aréir.

Pól: Ní fhaca mé rud ar bith, Bhí mé i mo chodladh (muh K*UH-luh) ó sheacht a chlog go maidin. Cad a tharla sa díospóireacht mhór?

Úna: Ó, labhair an feirmeoir (FER-i-moh-ir) leis an aisteoir (ash-TYOH-ir) le linn (le lin) uaire fada (OO-ir-e FAH-duh), ach níor thuig (hig) mé mórán de. Chuir (k*ir) siad tinneas cinn (TIN-yuhs kin) orm leis na focail mhóra (FOH-kil VWOHR-uh), na smaointe casta (SMWEEN-te KAHS-tuh), agus na figiúirí fada (fig-YOO-i-ree FAHD-uh).

Pól: Ná bac leis. Tuigim iad, ar ndóigh (er NOH-ee), agus míneoidh mé (meen-YOH-ee may*) duit gach rud.

Úna: Go raibh maith agat (GU-ruh mah huh-GUHT), a Phóil. Fear cliste tusa, gan amhras (OU-ruhs) ar bith.

Hello, Una. Hello, Paul. How are you today?

I had a heavy cold yesterday, but now there¹s improvement on me. How are you?

I didn¹t see a thing. I was asleep from seven o¹clock until morning. What happened in the big debate? Oh, the farmer talked with the actor during a long hour, but I didn¹t understand much of it. They gave me a headache with the big words, the involved thoughts, and the long figures. Don¹t worry about it. I understand them, of course, and I will explain everything to you. Thank you, Paul. A clever man you are, without any doubt.

Notes: A headache is ³put on² a person, rather than ³given² to him. ³Focal mór², a big word, but ³focail mhóra² (VWOHR-uh), big words.

Lesson 42

PRONUNCIATION REVIEW We will review some combinations of sounds this week to improve your knowledge of differences between broad and slender consonants.

Lesson 23 gave you the pronunciation of “c” and “g” in broad and slender form. The slender resembles the initial sound of “king” and “give”, while the broad resembles the initial sound of “coat” and “go”. Lessons 7 and 29 give you the pronunciation of “r”. Review that, and then notice the difference between: crí (kree, which may sound a little like “kdee” to you), and croí, which may sound to you a little like “kuh-REE”, with syllables run together.

“Crí” begins with the slender “c” sound, and “croí” with the broad. The slender and broad “r” follow naturally. The “ee” sound at the end is the same for both.

For “g”, try: gé (also like “gyay”*), as opposed to gaol (which has a slight resemblance to (gway*l)). The broad “g” in “gaol” introduces a faint (oo) sound after the “g”, which may put you in mind of the English “w” in a name like “Gwynn”. The lips are not closed in after the “g”, how- ever, so that the English “w” sound is not fully developed in Irish words like “gaol”. Try “gile” (GIL-e) in contrast to “goile” (with the faint (oo) sound after the “g”).

Say “grian” (GREE-uhn), with a slender “g”, and then “grá”, with a broad “g”. In “grá”, the tongue tip is rolled for the broad “r”.

GRAMMAR We have studied four of the nine (in addition to “tá”) principal irregular verbs in their past and present tenses:

See: feicim, ní fheicim; chonaic mé, ní fhaca mé Hear: cloisim, ní chloisim; chuala mé, níor chuala mé Come: tagaim, ní thagaim; tháinig mé, níor tháinig mé Go: téim, ní théim; chuaigh mé, ní dheachaigh mé

Here are the others:

Give: tugaim, ní thugaim; thug mé, níor thug mé, ar thug mé? Get: faighim, ní fhaighim (nee EYE-im); fuair mé (FOO-ir-may*), ní bhfuair mé (nee VOO-ir may*), an bhfuair mé? Say, tell: deirim (DER-im), ní deirim (nee DER-im); dúirt mé (DOO-irt may*), ní dúirt mé, an ndúirt mé? Do, make: déanaim (DAY*N-im), ní dhéanaim (nee YAY*N-im); rinne mé (RIN-ye may*). ní dhearna mé (nee YARN-uh may*), an ndearna mé? (un NYARN-uh may*) Catch, take hold of, grab: beirim ar (BER-im er), ní bheirm ar (nee VER-im er); rug (rug) mé ar, níor rug mé ar, ar rug mé ar?

You should be able to reason out the forms not given above. Try: we told him; we didn’t get; did we give?; we don’t do; we grabbed him; he does; she takes hold of the plate.

Key for these: dúramar leis; ní bhfuaireamar; ar thugamar?; ní dhéanaimid; rugamar air; déanann sé; beireann sí ar an bpláta.

We will do intensive drilling on these verbs to make you able to use them with ease.

DRILL Give the English for these groups:

Tháinig sé abhaile. Chonaic mé é. Beirimid orthu. Níor rug sé air. Nach bhfaca tú mé? Cá bhfuair tú é? Ní fheicimid iad. Chuamar abhaile. Tu- gann sé duit é. Níor chuala sibh í. Ní fhaigheann siad airgead. An ndeir tú é? Rinne mé é. Ar thug mé duit é? Tagann sé gach lá. An gcloiseann tú iad? Déanaimid é. Ní dúirt mé é. Téimid ar an mbóthar.

Note that “deir” (der), meaning “say” or “tell”, changes to “deir tú” and “deir sé”, etc, instead of becoming “deireann tú”, etc.

Also, make sure that you add “ar” after “beir”. In Irish, you seize or take hold “on” something.

Key to above phrases: He came home. I saw him. We seize them. He didn’t seize it. Didn’t you see me? Where did you get it? We don’t see them. We went home. He gives it to you. You (plural) didn’t hear her. They don’t get money. Do you say it? I did it. Did I give it to you? He comes every day. Do you hear them? We do it. I didn’t say it. We go on the road.

Now go from English into Irish:

I got the book. I come out. Did we see them? They hear her. She went inside. They get the car. We did the work. Did they seize him? Doesn’t he go out? I don’t see the man. I give money. Didn’t you come back? Did she hear you? He says that. We gave you it. Did he say that? We don’t do the work. He doesn’t take hold of it rightly.

Key:Fuair mé an leabhar. Tagaim amach. An bhfacamar iad? Cloiseann siad í. Chuaigh sí isteach. Faigheann siad an carr. Rinneamar an obair. Ar rug siad air? Nach dtéann sé amach? Ní fheicim an fear. Tugaim airgead. Nár tháinig tú ar ais (er ash). Ar chuala sí tú? Deir sé é sin. Thugamar duit é. An ndúirt sé é sin? Ní dhéanaimid an obair. Ní bheireann sé air i gceart (i gyart).

We will give further drills on these verbs individually and as a group, so that you will become proficient in them. They are important in everyday speech and in the literature.


Séamas: A Sheáin (uh HYAW*-in), ní fhaca mé (nee AHK-uh may*) tú le fada anois. John, I didn’t see you for a long time now.

Seán: Nach bhfaca tú, a Shéamais? (nahk* VAHK-uh too, uh HAY*-mish) Níor tháinig mé amach inné ar chor ar bith (NEE-uhr HAW*-nig may* uh-MAHK* in-YAY* huhr er BI). Didn’t you, James? I didn’t come out yesterday at all.

Séamas: Chuaigh mé féin chuig an ollmhargadh ar maidin (K*OO-ig may* fay*n hig un oul-VWAHR-uh-guh er MAH-din). Is iontach (OON- tuhk*) an áit é. I myself went to the supermarket this morning. It’s a wonderful place.

Lesson 43

The numbering system in Irish differentiates among simple cardinals (either stand-alone numbers, such as occur in mathematics, or numbers giv- ing the quantity of some object) and ordinals, which put objects in some order. This will become clear when you study this lesson.


These numbers are used in counting, telling time, and when the noun to which they refer goes before them.

a haon

a dó

a trí

a ceathair

a cúig

a sé

a seacht

a hocht

a naoi

a deich

a haon déag

a dó dhéag

a trí déag

a ceathair déag

a cúig déag

a sé déag

a seacht déag

a hocht déag

a naoi déag


Examples of use:

Counting to start a race: a haon, a dó, a trí. Serially numbered objects: seomra a seacht, bad a sé deag. Arithmetical work: a trí agus a naoi, sin é a dó dheag.

Giving quantities of some object, with the number preceding the noun:

aon bhó amháin, one cow dhá bhó, two cows trí bhó ceithre bhó cúig bhó sé bhó seacht mbó ocht mbó naoi mbó deich mbó aon bhó dhéag dhá bhó dhéag trí bhó dhéag ceithre bhó dhéag cúig bhó dhéag sé bhó dhéag seacht mbó dhéag ocht mbó dhéag naoi mbó dhéag fiche bó

In this use, as you can see, aon, one, aspirates, “two” becomes “dhá” and aspirates, “four” has changed slightly, and from 11 on, there is a

“dheag”, similar to English “teen”, added on. From 1 to 6, the number causes aspiration (where possible), and from 7 to 10, the number eclipses (where possible).

It all sounds complicated, but if you will practice on the lists above, and then try to use the numbers several times a day, say in counting or in

reading license plates, one numeral at a time, you will be pleasantly surprised at your facility.

Now for a simpler and often-used help: telling time.

one o’clock -- Tá sé a haon a chlog two o’clock -- Tá sé a dó a chlog three o’clock -- Tá sé a trí a chlog four o’clock -- Tá sé a ceathair a chlog five o’clock -- Tá sé a cúig a chlog

six o’clock -- Tá sé a sé a chlog seven o’clock -- Tá sé a seacht a chlog eight o’clock -- Tá sé a hocht a chlog nine o’clock -- Tá sé a naoi a chlog ten o’clock -- Tá sé a deich a chlog eleven o’clock -- Tá sé a haon déag a chlog twelve o’clock -- Tá sé a dó dhéag a chlog

What time is it? Cén t-am é? a good morning, maidin mhaith good night, oíche mhaith mid-day, meán lae mid-night, meán oíche in the morning, ar maidin in the afternoon, tráthnóna at night, san oíche

Days of the week Monday, An Luan On Monday, Dé Luain

Tuesday, An Mháirt On Tuesday, Dé Mháirt

Wednesday, An Chéadaoin On Wednesday, Dé Chéadaoin

Thursday, An Déardaoin On Thursday

Friday, An Aoine On Friday, Dé Aoine

Saturday, An Satharn On Saturday, Dé Sathairn

Sunday, An Domhnach (DOW-nahk*) On Sunday, Dé Domhnaigh (DOW-nee)

PRONUNCIATION REVIEW We will review the vowel “u” this week.

Lesson 44

When the “síneadh fada” (SHEEN-uh FAH-duh) mark is over it, making it ú, its sound is usually that of (oo), as in English “food” or “rude”, but the Irish sound is held longer. Examples:

lúb (loob); gúna (GOON-uh); dúnaim (DOON-im).

Without a síneadh fada, “u” between consonants often has the sound (u), as in English “put”, “foot”, or “should. Examples:

gunna (GUN-uh); thug (hug); guthán (gu-HAW*N).

The (uh) sound, as in English “run”, “love” “but”, is less common for “u” in Irish. Irish speakers often substitute other sounds for (uh) in Eng- lish, as you have learned in previous lessons. You may have heard the last three words above pronounced (run, lohv, boht) instead of (ruhn, luhv, buht). Nevertheless, some Irish words have the (uh) sound or a sound close to it. Examples:

dul (duhl); agat (uh-GUHT); doras (DUH-ruhs).

The (uh) sound is common in unaccented syllables, of course, such as in garda (GAHR-duh) or córas (KOH-ruhs).

In “ua”, the “u” can be pronounced (oo), as in:

crua (KROO-uh); nuachtan (NOO-uhk*-taw*n); buail (BOO-il).

In the west and north, “ua” may be pronounced (oh) in some words, such as “rua”, red-haired. An example: Eoghan Rua (OH-uhn roh) Ó Néill, anglicized as Owen Roe O’Neill.

At the beginning of a word, “ua” may sound like (oo) or (woo-uh).

Try: uachtar (OO-uhk*-tuhr) and uaim (oo-WIM). In the latter word, the sounds may run together so that they sometimes resemble (wim), but in any case, the word should be pronounced without a pause between the parts of the pronunciation.

GRAMMAR Forms such as:

He said that they were there They think that it is not here We heard that you bought a house

are called indirect speech. Here are examples which are translations of the sentences above:

Dúirt sé go raibh siad ansin (DOO-irt shay* goh rev SHEE-uhd un-SHIN). Síleann siad nach bhfuil sé anseo (SHEEL-uhn SHEE-uhd nahk* VWIL shay* un-SHUH). Chualamar gur cheannaigh tú teach (K*OOL-uh-muhr gur HYAN-ee too TAHK*).

For the present tense, use “go” or “nach” after the first verb. “Go” introduces an affirmative statement, and “nach” a negative. The first verb can be affirmative I say, you think, etc., or negative, such as: I don’t think. It can also ask a question: An ndeir (ner) tú go bhfuil sé anseo?, Do you say that he is here?

When “tá” is the second verb, it is in the “bhfuil” form either “go bhfuil” or “nach bhfuil”. Both “go” and “nach” eclipse. Study these examples:

Cloisim go mbaineann sé a chóta de (KLISH-im goh MWIN-uhn shay* uh K*OH-tuh de), I hear that he takes his coat off. Deir sé nach gceannaíonn sé mórán bia (der shay* nahk* gyan-EE-uhn shay* moh-RAW*N BEE-uh), he says that he doesn’t buy much food. Ní shíleann sí go ndíolann Seán leabhair (nee HEEL-uhn shee goh NEEL-uhn shaw*n LOU-wir), she doesn’t think that John sells books. Ní dóigh liom go n-ólann siad mórán bainne (nee DOH-ee luhm goh NOHL-uhn SHEE-uhd moh-RAW*N BAHN-ye), I don’t think that they drink much milk.

Note that when a vowel starts the second verb, you must put an “n” before the vowel, as in “go n-itheann sé” or “nach n-itheann sé”.

DRILL Make up a sentence for each of the following combinations:

Deir sé (der shay*) with: go bhfaigheann sí (goh VWEYE-uhn shee), and nach bhfaigheann sí; go nglanann siad (gohng LUHN-uhn SHEE-uhd), and nach nglanann (nahk*-ung LUHN-uhn) siad; go léann sé, and nach léann sé; go míníonn (meen-EE-uhn) sé and nach míníonn sé.

Cloisim with: go níonn sé (goh NEE-uhn shay*), and nach níonn sé; go n-itheann sí, and nach n-itheann sí; go bpósann siad (goh BOHS-uhn SHEE-uhd), and nach bpósann siad; go rithimid, and nach rithimid.

Is dóigh liom with: go scríobhann sé, and nach scríobhann sé; go dtéann sé, and nach dtéann sé; go dtagann sé, and nach dtagann sé.


Mairsile (MAHR-shil-e):Dia dhuit, a Stiofáin (DEE-uh git, uh shtee-FAW*-in). Hello, Stephen.

Stiofán (shtee-FAW*N): Dia’s Muire dhuit, a Mhairsile (DEE-uhs MWIR-uh git, uh VWAHR-shil-e). Conas tá tú inniú? Hello, Marcella. How are you today?

Mairsile: Tá mé go han-mhaith (goh HAHN-uh VWAH). Agus conas tá tú féin? I am very well. And how are you yourself?

Stiofán: Táim go maith leis. Cloisim go bhfuil tú ag foghlaim Gaeilge arís (uh FOU-lim GAY*-li-ge uh-REESH). I am well, too. I hear that you’re studying Irish again.

Mairsile: Ó, táim tar éis bheith á foghlaim le fada. Sílim go bhfuil mé ag dul chun cinn anois, (oh, TAW*-im tuhr ay*sh ve aw* FOU-lim luh FAH-duh. SHEEL-im go vwil may* uh duhl hun kin uh*NISH). Oh, I’m after studying it for a long time. I think that I am making progress now.

Notes: “Duit” can become “dhuit” (git) in much speech. “dh” before “u” sounds much like English “g” in “go”.

“Táim tar éis bheith (ve)” comes into English as “I am after abhaile”, meaning “I have come home”.

“, meaning “I have been

“. An example is: “Táim tar éis bheith teacht

Lesson 45

This week we will review the vowel “e”. Without a síneadh fada (SHEEN-uh FAH-duh) over it, “e” usually has the sound of “e” in English “let”. When “e” is at a word end, the sound may resemble (uh), but pronounce it as a short (e), without emphasis. Examples: baile (BAHL-e), mise (MISH-e). With a síneadh fada, the letter is é, pronounced like the first part of the English sound in “may”, without the final (ee) or (i) that you will detect if you say “may” very slowly. We use (ay*) as a symbol for the Irish sound.

Remember how Irish persons close to the Irish language pronounce English words like “railroad, rate, lane, made”. The sound is that of é (ay*). In Irish, the sound is held longer than in English.

When inside a word, “e” without a síneadh fada is almost always followed by “i”. The sound is still (e), as in deir (der), peil (pel), or deich (de).

PRONUNCIATION EXERCISE Read this passage slowly without looking at the key below it. Then read it a second time, making use of the key if you are unsure. Do not try to make sense of the words; concentrate on the pronunciation and on grouping the words into phrases;

D’fhulaing an oiread sin stop a chur le scaipeadh a bhí san am i seilbh na Fraince gach fear de na gasraí a bhuail mé le mo dhuine. Fuarthas i bpictiúr eile céadta punt i gcás a bhformhór ina bhfuil cur síos ar an oileán a bheidh ar an socrú a tharla ar an mbaile sin ocht mbliana d’aois faoin chomhlachtaí príobháideacha.

DUDU-ling un IR-uhd shin stohp uh k*ur le SKAHP-uh vee suhn oum i SHKL-iv nuh FRAN-ke gahk* far de nuh GAHS-ree uh VOO-il may* le muh GIN-e. FOO-uhr-huhs i bik-TYOOR EL-e KAY*D-tuh poont i GAW*S uh vohr-uh-VWOHR nuh vwil kur shees er un IL-aw*n uh ve er un SOHK-roo uh HAHR-luh er un MAHL-e shin ohk*t MLEE-uh-nuh deesh fween K*OH-luhk*t-ee pree-VAW*-duhk*-uh.

GRAMMAR For indirect speech, of which:

John says that they are at the door is an example, the forms “go” and “nach” follow the first verb and its subject when the second verb is in the present. An example:

Deir Seán go bhfuil siad ag an doras (der shaw*n goh vwil SHEE-uhd eg un DUH-ruhs), John says that they are at the door.

In the past tense, “tá” and a few of the other irregular verbs require “gur” (gur) and “nár” (naw*r) before them. Read these three examples over carefully until you understand the principle of sentence formation with past tense indirect speech:

Dúirt Seán go raibh siad istigh (DOO-irt shaw*n goh rev SHEE-uhd ish-TEE), John said that they were inside. Chuala Máire go bhfaca mé an carr (K*OO-luh MAW*-re goh VAH-kuh may* un kahr), Mary heard that I saw the car. Dúirt mé gur chaill sí a cóta (DOO-irt may* gur k*eyel shee uh KOH-tuh), I said that she lost her coat.

Here are the irregular verb forms in the past for indirect speech:

go bhfaca mé (goh VAH-kuh may*), that I saw. nach bhfaca mé (nahk* VAH-kuh may*), that I didn’t see.

gur chuala mé (gur K*OO-uh-luh may*), that I heard. nár chuala mé (naw*r K*OO-uh-luh may*), that I didn’t hear.

go bhfuair mé (goh VOO-ir may*), that I got. nach bhfuair mé (nahk* VOO-ir may*), that I didn’t get.

go ndúirt mé (goh NOO-irt may*), that I said. nach ndúirt mé (nahk* NOO-irt may*), that I didn’t say.

go ndearna mé (goh NYAR-nuh may*), that I did. nach ndearna mé (nahk* NYAR-nuh may*), that I didn’t do.

gur thug mé (gur hug may*), that I gave. nár thug mé; that I didn’t give.

gur rug mé air (gur rug may* er), that I seized him. nár rug mé air; that I didn’t seize him.

gur tháinig mé (gur HAW*-nig may*), that I came. nár tháinig mé; that I didn’t come.

go ndeachaigh mé (goh NYAK*-hee may*), that I went nach ndeachaigh mé; that I didn’t go

go raibh mé (goh rev may*), that I was nach raibh mé (nahk* rev may*), that I wasn’t

DRILL Make up a simple sentence, such as “He said that I saw him”, or “he believes that I saw him”, for each of the above twenty phrases. The first part of the sentence can be such as these:

Deir sé (der shay*), he says; dúirt siad (DOO-irt SHEE-uhd), they said, is dóigh liom (is DOH-ee luhm), I think; etc.

Next, combine the negative of the irregular verbs in the past and present with regular and irregular forms. To start, take “Feicim go raibh

(FEK-im goh rev), I see that (FEK-im nahk* rev), I didn’t see

; “Ní fhaca sé go raibh was not.

“ (nee AH-kuh shay* goh rev), he didn’t see that

; “Feicim nach raibh

Next, work on the regular verbs in the past tense with indirect speech. Make sentences to complete these sentence starts:

Is dóigh liom, with: that he bought a house; that he didn’t buy a house; that he explained the story (scéal (shkay*l)); that he didn’t explain the story.

Shíl mé (heel may*), I thought, with: that they understood it; that they didn’t understand it; that they lost the money; that they didn’t lose the money.

Lesson 46

PRONUNCIATION REVIEW The letter “i” has several sounds in Irish. If there is a síneadh fada (SHEEN-uh FAH-duh) over the “i”, it will have an (ee) sound, resembling the English sound in “bee”. The tongue tip, however, should be touching the lower front teeth, and the tongue center should arch up to the hard ridge behind the upper front teeth. Examples: cailín (kah-LEEN), mín (meen), bhí (vee), dílis (DEE-lish). The sound is held for a longer time than in English.

If the “i” has no síneadh fada, it may still get the (ee) sound, especially if it is in an accented syllable. Examples: bia (BEE-uh), mian (MEE- uhn), Dia (DEE-uh).

Usually, however, a pronounced “i” in an unaccented syllable will have a sound between (i) of English “hit” and (ee) of English “heat”. Depend- ing on the locality and the need to differentiate between similar words, such as “briste” and “bríste”, the sound may be closer to (ee) or (i). It should never be exactly an English (i) as in “hit”, although in words like “sin” (shin) and “cuir” (kir) it is close to that.

The letter (i) may get the sound of (eye) in English “high” in some words in certain parts of Ireland. “Binn” may be (beyen).

Finally, “i” may be in a word merely to show you that you must give the consonant next to it its slender sound. Examples: fuar (FOO-uhr), fuair (FOO-ir). As you go from (FOO) to the slender “r”, you make a gliding sound. We represent the combination by (ir). “Áit” is another example. In going from (aw*) to the slender “t”, you will make a sound that will cause the word to resemble “cynch” to some extent. Pól (pohl), Póil (POH-il) is another example.

GRAMMAR Sometimes we hear a person say “I be sick”, indicating that he is continually ailing, as contrasted with “I am sick”, indicating a present and temporary state. Irish has a form of “tá” to indicate a continuing state. It is:

bím (beem), I am, I be bíonn tú (BEE-uhn too), you are bíonn sé, sí; he is, she is bímid (BEE-mid), we are bíonn sibh, siad; you (plural) are, they are

The negative is: ní bhím (nee veem), I am not; ní bhíonn tú, you are not; etc. The question forms are: an mbím? (un meem), am I; nach mbím? (nahk* meem), am I not?; etc.

For indirect speech: deir sé go mbím; deir sé nach mbím.

Examples: Bím tinn (beem tin), I am sick, in poor health.

Tá mé tinn; I am sick now. Bíonn sé ar scoil; he is usually or often at school. Tá sé ar scoil; he is at school at this moment. Bímid ann go minic; we are often there. Táimid ann anois; we are there now.


Masculine nouns

geimheadh (GEV-ruh), winter lampa (LAHM-puh), lamp néal (nay*l), cloud cnaipe (kuh-NAHP-e), button brúigh, ag brú (BROO-ee), uh BROO), press brúim (BROO-im), I press brúnn sé (broon shay*), he presses coimeád, ag coimeád (kim-AW*D, uh kim-AW*D), keep Feminine nouns

tine (TIN-e), an tine, fire (in a fireplace) grian, an ghrian (GREE-uhn, un YREE-uhn), sun aontaigh le, ag aontú le (AY*N-tee le, eg AY*N-too le), agree with aontaím leat (AY*N-teem lat), I agree with you dún, ag dúnadh (doon, uh DOON-uh) close minic (MIN-ik), often

READING EXERCISE The next few lessons will have reading exercises to illustrate usage of the grammar and to review the vocabulary that you have learned. Read each exercise over first, then verify the pronunciation against the key before you look at the translation below the key.

D’eirigh Brian go moch inné, timpeall a sé a chlog. Bhrúigh sé cnaipe ar an mballa chun an lampa a lasadh, agus ansin d’fhéach sé ar a chlog. Amach as a leaba leis. Amuigh, bhí sédorcha. Ní raibh an ghrian sa spéir fós. Nigh sé é féin, agus ansin chuir sé a chuid éadaí air. Tháinig sé

anuas an staighre ansin, agus fuair sé a bhricfeasta. D’éist sé leis an raido, agus é ag ithe a bhricfeasta. Clár nuachta agus ceol a bhí ann. D’éirigh an ghrian ar leath-uair tar éis a sé, agus bhí an tsráid geal ansin.