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Lesson by "The Irish People"
of noun Groups
Here is a short
review of noun groups (declensions) before we explain how to express
conditions - sentences with "if" or "if not" in
(most numerous). Masculine, end in a broad consonant (one that follows
"a", "o" or "u". All form the genitive
singular by slenderizing the last consonant. Most form the basic plural
in that way, too, and for nearly all those the genitive plural is
the same as the basic singular form. Example: an bád (baw*d),
boat; an bháid, of the boat; na báid, the boats; na
mbád, of the boats.
(second most numerous). Feminine and ending in either a broad or slender
consonant. The genitive singular ends in "e" or "i".
There are various ways of forming the plural. Example: an bhróg,
the shoe; na bróige, of the shoe; na bróga, the shoes;
na mbróg, of the shoes.
Masculine and feminine. For all, the genitive singular ends in "a".
There are various ways of forming the plural. This declension includes
many occupations, all with plural ending in "í".
Example: an dochtúir, the doctor; an dochtúra, of the
doctor; na dochtúirí, the doctors; na ndochtúirí,
of the doctors.
Masculine and feminine. For all, the genitive singular is the same
as the basic form. There are various ways of forming the plural. Example:
an bhá, the bay; na bá, of the bay; na bánna,
the bays; na mbánna, of the bays.
A few other nouns,
some important, are grouped together in a 5th declension that has
several distinct ways of forming the genitive and plural. Finally,
there are a dozen or so of irregular nouns not fitting into any declension.
You already know some forms for most of them.
"If" sentences (The conditional)
In English, the
sentences " If it is here, she is glad", and "If it
is not here, she is sad" tell us that whenever a certain pre-condition
exists, a result follows. The word "when" could replace
"if" in the sentences, because the pre-condition is entirely
possible and can easily happen.
In Irish, these
two sentences become:
sé anseo, tá áthas uirthi (IR-ee). Mura bhfuil
sé anseo, tá brón uirthi.
two sentences and their meaning.
In the past, the
sentences become: Má bhí sé anseo, bhí
áthas uirthi; if it was here, she was glad. Mura raibh (rev)
sé anseo, bhí brón uirthi; if it was not here,
she was sad.
In the future,
the sentences become: Má bheidh (ve) sé anseo, beidh
áthas uirthi; if it is here, she will be glad. Mura mbeidh
(me) sé anseo, beidh brón uirthi; if it is not here,
she will be sad.
(maw*) causes aspiration in an initial aspirable consonant except
with "tá" and "deir". "Mura"
(MUR-ruh) causes eclipsis, and the dependent form of the verb follows
it, such as "raibh" and "???fuil???".
If the pre-condition
is impossible or unlikely, the English sentences become: If it were
here, she would be glad. If it were not here, she would be sad. "If"
remains unchanged, but the verb form "is" changes to "were",
so that we will know that the pre-condition is impossible or unlikely.
In Irish, too,
the verb form changes, and the word for "if" also changes
- to "dá" (daw*). Memorize these two sentences and
sé anseo, bheadh áthas uirthi (daw* me-YUHK* shay un-SHUH
ve-YUHK* AW*-huhs IR-ee); if it were here, she would be glad.
Mura mbeadh (MUR-ruh
me-YUHK*) sé anseo, bheadh brón uirthi; if it were not
here, she would be sad.
the same verb form serves all tenses in Irish. To indicate that the
unlikely condition was in the past or will be the future, words must
be added. For example: English "If it had been here, she would
have been glad" is "Dá mbeadh sé anseo inné,
bheadh áthas uirthi". Remember to add a word or phrase
indicating the past or future in these "if" sentences. Examples
of such words or phrases: inné, yesterday; ansin, then; anuraidh
(uh-NOOR-ee), last year; amárach, tomorrow; an bhlian seo chugainn
(un VLEE-in shuh HOO-in), next year.
There are forms
in addition to "bheadh", such as "bhéfeá"
(VE-faw*), meaning "you would be", but in this lesson we
will practice solely with "bheadh", in the third singular
person, "he" or ""she" or "it".
Read these sentences
out loud and get their meaning:
sí anseo, bheadh airgead (AR-i-guhd) agam. Mura mbeadh Seán
sa bhaile, bheadh an múinteoir anseo. Bheadh Máire san
oifig inné, dá mbeadh an aimsir (EYEM-sheer) go maith.
Bheadh an bus mall amárach, mura mbeadh an bóthar oscailte.
she were here, I would have money. If Seán weren't at home,
the teacher would be here. Máire would have been in the office
yesterday, if the weather had been good. The bus would be late tomorrow
if the road should not be open (or: isn't open, in more usual speech).
Note that the
"dá", (if) part, can be first or second in order.
Other forms of
sé; it wouldn't be
An mbeadh sé?;
would it be?
Nach mbeadh sé?;
wouldn't it be?
these sentences, going from Irish to English and then from English
to Irish again:
an bord sa chistin, ní bheadh aon rud eile ann. Bá mbeadh
carr agat, an mbeadh eagla ort? Mura mbeadh sí ag foghlaim
(FOU-lim) na Gaeilge, nach mbeadh sí sa bhaile anocht? Ní
bheadh Séamas ag an doras, mura mbeadh an aimsir chomh dona
seo. An mbeadh na doirse oscailte anocht, dá mbeadh na páistí
Key: If the table
were in the kitchen, nothing else would be there. If you had a car,
would you be afraid? If she weren't studying Irish, wouldn't she be
home tonight? Séamas wouldn't be at the door, if the weather
weren't this bad. Would the doors be open tonight, if the children
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