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Lesson by "The Irish People"
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,
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
As English does,
Irish forms adjectives from verbs. Usually the basic form of the verb
is modified with "tá" or "te".
close, gives us dúnta, closed
gives us déanta, done
teach, gives us múinte, taught
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.
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
ceannaithe (KAN-i-he), díolta (DEE-uhl-tuh), creidte (KRED-te),
tuigthe (TIG-he), deisithe (DESH-i-he), ólta (OHL-tuh), imithe
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.
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
Tá an bhróg
deisithe aige (eg-GE), He has mended the shoe.
scéal creidte ag Bríd, Bridget has not believed the
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
of the verbal adjectives above: removed or reaped, bought, sold, believed,
understood, repaired, drunk, departed or gone.
aghaidh, an aghaidh
(EYE-ee, un EYE-ee), face
gruaig, an ghruaig
(GROO-ig, un GROO-ig), hair
feic, ag feiceáil
(fek, uh FEK-aw*-il), see
(k*uh-NIK may*), I saw
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
(K*OO-uh-luh may*), I heard
mé, I didn't hear.
ar chuala tú?
Did you hear?
tú? Didn't you hear?
cíoradh (KEE-uhr, uh KEE-uh) comb
nigh, ag ní
(ni, uh NEE), wash
and "clois" are irregular in the past tense.
These are two
more to add to "tar", come, and "téigh",
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.
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.
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.):
a gruaig; sí
an tsráid; Seán
a cóta; Úna
scríofa; scéal; sé
an fear; an leanbh
Tá an carr stadta agam. I have stopped the car.
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(c) 1997 The
Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.