Make a real connection to your Irish heritage
Feeling like you could never crack Irish Gaelic?
Break it down into easy Bitesize portions, with the free "Irish for Beginners" email course by Bitesize Irish Gaelic.
Enter your name and email address below to get started (and we'll never spam you):
Lesson by "The Irish People"
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
Here are some
examples for practice. Review the pronunciation of slender and broad
consonants if necessary, before starting:
páis (PAW*-ish); páista (PAW*-ish-te)
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
"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".
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).
agat (neel NOO-uhk*-taw*n uh GUHM)
An bhfuil nuachtán
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
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
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
Dia duit, a Róisín (DEE-uh git, uh roh-SHEEN). Hello,
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
mé go maith (taw* may* goh mah). Agus conas tá tú
féin? I am well. And how are you?
Tá mé go maith leis (lesh). I am well, too.
bhfuil aon scéal nua agat? (un vwil ay*n shkay*l NOO-uh uh-GUHT)
Have you any news? ("new story," literally).
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.
teilifíseán agamsa (uh-GUHM-suh). I don't have a television.
An bhfuil teilifíseán agatsa? Have you one?
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
you like to learn Irish Gaelic with audio pronunciation?
can really start to learn to speak Irish with Bitesize Irish Gaelic.
It's a full online learning program.
Then take the free
for Beginners email course by Bitesize Irish Gaelic. Every couple
of days, you'll get a mini-series of free Irish language lessons. Each
lesson is full of interactive audio recordings.
- Would you like
to make a connection with Ireland?
- And speak the
native language of the Irish?
- Do you find
it difficult to learn from reading only text?
Irish with Irish for Beginners, by Bitesize Irish Gaelic.
<<back to top of page>>
(c) 1997 The
Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.