Irish/Nouns

From Wikibooks, open books for an open world
< Irish
Jump to: navigation, search

General Information[edit]

Irish

  1. History
  2. Alphabet
  3. Spelling
  4. Pronunciation
  5. Grammatical Changes
  6. Basic Sentence Structure
  7. The Article
  8. Nouns
  9. Verbs
  10. Commonly Confused Words
  11. Compound Prepositions
  12. Prefixes
  13. Dictionaries
  14. Other Resources
  15. Common phrases
  16. Cognates
  17. Vocabulary

Nouns[edit]

Nouns in Irish are either masculine or feminine. (There used to be a neuter gender but that was jettisoned fairly early on. There are one or two surviving appendices, but for practical purposes, masculine and feminine do the trick.) The majority of nouns in Irish are masculine. It is not always easy to tell a masculine noun from a feminine noun, but the following types of nouns are usually feminine:

  • nouns ending in a slender consonant
  • nouns ending in -eog, -óg, -lann
  • multi-syllable nouns ending in -acht or -íocht
  • names of countries and languages
  • abstract nouns ending in -e or -í

article + noun[edit]

The easiest way to remember a noun's gender is to practice using the noun with the definite article. That's because the article can cause a change to the noun depending on its gender. The table below summarises the changes that occur. We'll go through it line by line. If you read the table out loud to yourself every day for a week, you'll probably be able to remember the rules.


m f
an fear

an sagart

an t-arán

an bhean

an tsráid

an eochair

an tine

na gardaí

na heochracha


Note: These rules deal only with the "nominative case". Later we'll talk about the genitive and vocative cases.

  • If a noun begins with a consonant (other than d, t, s)...
    • ...and it's masculine, then there's no change to the noun after an.
    • ...and it's feminine, then you lenite it after an.

In the table, the line an fear ... an bhean, demonstrates this rule. fear is masculine, and bean is feminine (which is pretty easy to remember)

Exercises

Put the definite article, an in front of these nouns: cat (masculine), bád (masculine), bróg (feminine), cistin (feminine), béal (masculine), farraige (feminine).

Hover your mouse here to see the answers.
  • If a noun begins with s...

It takes a 't' after an (no t before sc, sm, sp, st) eg.an tseilf, an

An easy way to remember that there's no t before sc, sm, sp, and st is the phrase scallions smell spicy in stew. (Another easy way to remember it is to notice that pronouncing "tsc", "tsm", "tsp" or "tst" at the beginning of a word would be quite a challenge!)

In the table, the line an sagart ... an tsráid, demonstrates this rule. sagart (priest) is masculine, and sráid (street) is feminine.

Exercises

Put the definite article, an in front of these nouns: seilf (masculine), súil (feminine), scamall (masculine), srón (feminine), stoirm (feminine).

Hover your mouse here to see the answers.
  • If a noun begins with a vowel...
    • ...and it's masculine, then you prefix "t-" to it after an.
    • ...and it's feminine, there's no change to the noun after an.

In the table, the line an t-arán ... an eochair, demonstrates this rule. arán (bread) is masculine, and eochair (key) is feminine.

Exercises

Put the definite article, an in front of these nouns: asal (masculine), éan (masculine), uirlis (feminine), áit (feminine).

Hover your mouse here to see the answers.
  • If a noun begins with d or t...
    • ...there's no change to the noun after an.

This is a example of a general rule called DeNTaLS DoTS: after d,n,t,l,s we usually don't lenite d,t,s. Since an ends in "n", if the noun begins with d or t, we don't lenite it.

In the table, the line an tine, demonstrates this rule. Although tine (fire) is feminine, we don't lenite it after an.

Exercises

Put the definite article, an in front of these nouns: turas (masculine), dúil (feminine).

Hover your mouse here to see the answers.

Plural nouns[edit]

With plural nouns, na is used. The gender doesn't matter, so the rule is simple. - If the noun begins with a consonant, it doesn't change after na. - If the noun begins with a vowel, it takes a "h" after na.

Exercises

Put the definite article in front of these plural nouns: cait, asail, éin, tithe.

Hover your mouse here to see the answers.

Declensions[edit]

In Irish, a declension is basically a group of nouns that tend to form the plural and genitive according to a common pattern. (Declensions are more complex in some languages.) In this section you will learn some guidelines for guessing what declension a noun belongs to, and what its gender is. These guidelines will take care of most of the nouns you meet. Knowing the declension will help you figure out the genitive and plural form of the noun.

There are five declensions in Irish. The first declension is almost all male nouns. The second is mostly female. The third and fourth declensions have both male and female nouns. Technically, there are 5 declensions. But the fifth declension is sort of miscellaneous, so I think it's easier to ignore it for now.

The easiest way is to consider the declensions in reverse order. Ask yourself the following questions, but be sure to stop at the first question with a “yes” answer. Looking at the common (nominative) form of the noun, is it...

  1. Abstract noun ending in -e, -í? Then it's probably f4.
  2. Ends in a vowel or -ín? Then it's probably m4.
  3. Ends in -áil, -úil, -ail, -úint, -cht, -irt? Then it's probably f3.
  4. Ends in -éir, -eoir, -óir, -úir? Then it's probably m3.
  5. Ends in a slender consonant or -eog, -óg, -lann? Then it's probably f2.
  6. Ends in a broad consonant? Then it's probably m1.


Note: An abstract noun represents something that you can't see, touch, feel, taste or smell.

Let's try this with the noun leabhar. (1) It's not an abstract noun. (2) It doesn't end in a vowel or -ín. (3) It doesn't end in -áil, etc. (4) It doesn't end in -éir, etc. (5) It doesn't end in a slender consonant or -eog, etc. (6) It does end in a broad consonant, so it's probably m1. A check of the dictionary tells us we're right.

Now try with fuinneog. The first question we answer yes to is (5), it ends in -eog, so it's probably f2. The dictionary confirms that's correct.

Some Important Exceptions[edit]

These are masculine, but they're in the second declension: im, sliabh

f2: adharc, baintreach, báisteach, buíon, caor, cearc, ciall, cloch, cos, craobh, críoch, cros, dámh, dealbh, eangach, fadhb, fearg, ficheall, fréamh, gaoth, géag, gealt, girseach, grian, iall, iníon, lámh, leac, long, luch, méar, mian, mias, muc, nead, pian, sceach, scian, scornach, slat, sluasaid, srón, téad, tonn, ubh

m3: am, anam, áth, béas, bláth, cath, cíos, cith, crios, dath, dream, droim, eas, fíon, flaith, greim, loch, lus, luach, modh, rámh, rang, rás, roth, rud, sioc, taom, teas, tréad

f3: banríon, Cáisc, cuid, díolaim, Eoraip, feag, feoil, muir, scread

These nouns are abstract, but they don't end in -e or -í. Nevertheless, they're f4: rogha, teanga, bearna These nouns don't end in a vowel or -ín, but they're m4: ainm, máistir, seans, club Not abstract, but f4: veain These nouns are abstract, but they're m4: dlí, rince

Plural forms[edit]

Irish nouns form their plurals in a lot of different ways, depending on the specific noun, but every plural form is either strong or weak. There are quite a few aspects of grammar that depend on which kind of plural a word has, so it's important to be able to tell the two kinds apart.

  • A strong plural form is any plural word that is formed (from the singular) by adding a consonant-containing ending. Some of the common endings include -anna, -acha, and -tha. The ending -í is also considered to form a strong plural, because it was originally -idhe; this is the only apparent exception I know of. Some examples include rud (thing) becomes rudaí (things), bás (death) becomes básanna (deaths) and ainm (name) becomes ainmneacha (names).
  • A weak plural form is any plural word that is formed from the singular either by adding the ending -a, or by adding and/or removing letters (vowels) within the word itself. Weak plurals do not have additional consonants added in the ending. For example, fear (man) => fir (men), or leabhar (book) => leabhair (books).

As far as remembering which noun has which kind of plural, there are certain patterns that roughly parallel the declensions. Weak plurals are particularly common in the first and second declensions, while strong plurals are common in words of the other declensions.

There are several words with irregular plurals that bear basically no relation to the singular forms. These include:

  • deoir => deora
  • súil => súile
  • glúin => glúine
  • seoid => seoda
  • bean => mná
  • grasta => grásta (both singular and plural are the same)

'Plural forms' written by David (wdsci) 9/06/04

Weak Plurals[edit]

Most m1 nouns

caolaítear

-(e)ach → (a)igh

m1: beart, bruas, cág, ceap, ceart, cleas, cuibhreach, creatlach, fiach, fithrach, giall, nod, úll


f2 nouns ending in -eog, -óg, -lann

Multi-syllable f2 nouns ending in -each


f2: binn, deoir


3ú: béas, dreach, coinsias, deasghnáth, dol, tréad


4ú: neach

leathnaítear, add-a

f2: súil, dúíl, glúin

add-e

Strong Plurals[edit]

Only one-syllable nouns!

m1: bás, carr, cas, frog, gléas, luas, marc, nós, rós, spás, spórt, saghas, stad (mostly loan words)


One-syllable, slender f2 nouns


One-syllable m3 nouns


4ú:ae, bá, bia, bogha, bus, club, fleá, tae, ceo, cnó, dó, cú, fia, fogha, liú, nia, pas, seans, stop, sú, togha, tram, tua

add-(e)anna

Only one-syllable nouns!

One-syllable m1, f2, 3údeclension nouns ending inl, npreceded by a diphthong or long vowel

add-ta or-te

One-syllable m1, f2 nouns ending in r preceded by a diphthong or long vowel


nouns ending in -í, -aí, -aoi, -é

add-tha or-the

Only multi-syllable nouns!

m1nouns ending in -(e)adh, -(e)ach


slender f2 nouns

f2 nouns ending in -ach


nouns ending in-éir, -eoir, -óir, -(i)úir, -cht, -áint -úint, irt


nouns ending in -ínor-a, -e

add-(a)í

-(e)adh, -(e)ach → (a)í

-e → í

Two-syllable m1 nouns ending in broad -l, -n, -r


f2: craobh, fréamh, iall, iníon, nead, splanc

carraig, ceirt, cistin, clúid, coirm, colainn, féith, feirm, foirm, maidin, muintir, stoirm


nouns ending in -il, -in, -ir


4ú: ainm, cine, easna, teanga

add-(e)acha

m1: bóthar, cloigeann, doras, solas, uasal

syncopate, add-e

3ú: gamhain

syncopate, add-a

nouns ending in-le,-ne

-le → lte, -ne → lne

Genitive Forms[edit]

Use the genitive when a noun follows:

  • another noun
  • a compound preposition, or trasna, timpeall, chun, fearacht, dála, cois
  • a verbal noun
  • a quantity word

Here are some examples of indefinite nouns in the genitive.

  • leabhar scoile
  • eagarthóir leabhair scoile
  • post eagarthóra leabhair scoile

Here are some examples of definite nouns in the genitive.

  • leabhar na scoile
  • rothaí ghluaisteán do mháthar
  • ar son mhuintir na tire
  • ag ithe bhrioscaí mo mháthar
  • leabhar Sheáin

Genitive Singular[edit]

To form the genitive singular of a noun, figure out what declension it is (as explained above), and apply the rules below. caolaítear means "one makes the final consonant slender", and leathnaítear means "one makes the final consonant broad.

noun gpl
m1 caolaítear
  • -(e)adh, -(e)ach → (a)igh
f2 caolaítear, add -e
  • -(e)ach → (a)í
m3, f3 leathnaítear, add -a
  • -áint → -ána
  • -úint → -úna
  • -irt → -rtha
m4, f4 no change
Example
Example:

aerfort is m1 (ends in a broad consonant). To form the genitive, make the ending slender: aerfoirt

aimsir is f2 (ends in a slender consonant). To form the genitive, make the ending slender (which it already is) and add -e: aimsire

canúint is f3 (ends in -úint). To form the genitive, we would normally make the ending broad and add -a, but there's a special change that applies here, -úint -> -úna: canúna

cailín is m4 (ends in -ín). No change in the genitive: cailín

Exercises

Try to form the genitive of these nouns. Hover your mouse over the noun to see the declension and the genitive form.

aidiacht

aiste (hint: abstract noun)

anáil

bacach

bád

bádóir

báicéir

baincéir

bainis

béal

buidéal

caint

cat

céad

ceadúnas

ceann

ceart

cinniúint

cléireach

cliabh

cogadh

coileach

coláiste

comhairle (hint: abstract noun)

deis

dochtúir

Genitive Plural[edit]

noun gpl
Most weak plurals Same as ns
Certain f2 nouns: binn, deoir, dúil, glúine, súíl leathnaítear
Strong plurals Same as np

Declensions[edit]

Nouns are divided into declensions according to how they form the genitive. There are five declensions. There is no foolproof way of determining the declension of a noun, but the following questions will help you make an intelligent guess. Stop at the first question with a “yes” answer.

If it's... Then it's probably...
Abstract noun ending in -e, -í? f4
Ends in a vowel or -ín? m4
Ends in -áil, -úil, -ail, -úint, -cht, -irt? f3
Ends in -éir, -eoir, -óir, -úir? m3
Ends in a slender consonant or -eog, -óg, -lann? f2
Ends in a broad consonant? m1

Vocative Forms[edit]

explain when to use the vocative

Forming the Vocative Singular[edit]

If the noun is... Then the vocative is...
m1 Same as gs
f2 and Strong plurals Same as ns


Forming the Vocative Plural[edit]

If the noun is... Then the vocative is...
m1 weak plurals Add -a to ns
f2 and Strong plurals Same as np