Irish/Verbs

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General Information[edit]

Irish

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  4. Pronunciation
  5. Grammatical Changes
  6. Basic Sentence Structure
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  8. Nouns
  9. Verbs
  10. Commonly Confused Words
  11. Compound Prepositions
  12. Prefixes
  13. Dictionaries
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  15. Common phrases
  16. Cognates
  17. Vocabulary

Verbs[edit]

  • TO DO: add lots of step-by-step examples, showing how to apply the rules

Regular Verbs[edit]

There are two categories of verbs in Irish, and you need to know which category a verb belongs to before you can conjugate it. Fortunately, it is very easy to remember the categories.

  • Type 1 verbs (usually) have one syllable.
  • Type 2 verbs (usually) have two syllables.

You also need to be able to tell if the verb ends in a broad or slender consonant. This means that you need to know four sets of endings, one for each of the following cases:

  • Type 1 verbs ending in a broad consonant
  • Type 1 verbs ending in a slender consonant
  • Type 2 verbs ending in a broad consonant
  • Type 2 verbs ending in a slender consonant

Or does it? Some people memorise it that way. Others memorise only two sets of endings, one set forType 1 verbs, one for Type 2 verbs, and then apply the "caol le caol agus leathan le leathan" rule. I myself find it easiest to memorise one set of endings, plus a small set of "middles", and then apply the "caol le caol agus leathan le leathan" rule. Whichever way you do it, you will get the same result. But if you find my system confusing, by all means ignore this and follow the method described by your book or teacher.


Here are the tables I used to learn how to conjugate verbs in Irish. The stem of a regular verb is the imperative singular, the form you use to give a command. The format used in these summary tables is shown below.


ending for
1st person singular
ending for
1st person plural
ending for
2nd person singular
ending for
2nd person plural
ending for
3rd person singular
ending for
3rd person plural
ending for autonomous

Colour Key[edit]

Indicates synthetic forms, which express action + person + number in one word; they are not followed by a personal pronoun.
Indicates analytic forms, which must be followed by a personal pronoun.

Present (Habitual)[edit]

Type 1: stem + ...
Type 2: stem + í + ...

im imid

ann

tar

Past[edit]

Lenite, add d' before vowel or f, except autonomous form.

Type 1: stem + ...

Type 2: stem + í + ...

amar



adh

Future[edit]

Type 1: stem + f + ...
Type 2: stem + {ó|eo} + ...

idh imid

idh

far

Imperfect (Past Habitual)[edit]

Lenite, add d' before vowel or f.

Type 1: stem + ...
Type 2: stem + í + ...

inn imis
adh
adh idís

Conditional[edit]

Lenite, add d' before vowel or f.

Type 1: stem + f + ...
Type 2: stem + {ó|eo} + ...

HINT: Most of the endings are the same as in the Imperfect (Past Habitual).

inn imis
adh
adh idís

Imperative[edit]

Type 1: stem + ...
Type 2: stem + í + ...

im imis
igí
adh idís
tar

Present Subjunctive[edit]

Type 1: stem + ...
Type 2: stem + í + ...

HINT: Most of the endings are the same as in the future tense, but without -f-, -eo-, or -ó-.

a or e (Type 1 only) imid

a or e (Type 1 only)

tar

Past Subjunctive[edit]

Same endings as past habitual, but don't lenite, if the verb is not preceded by anything that could cause lenition (the conjunctions preceding past subjunctive usually eclipse, though). Past subjunctive is usually used after the conjunctions (= dhá) "if", mura (=mara, mana, muna) "unless" and sula (= sara) "before". Conditional mood can be and is indeed usually used today instead of past subjunctive.

Direct relative[edit]

Except for combined forms:
Add broad s to present habitual and future
idh → (e)as

Verbal noun (general guidelines)[edit]

Type 1: stem + adh
Type 2: stem + ú
Verbs ending in -(e)áil: stem (no ending)
Verbs ending in slender l, n, r: stem + t

Verbal adjective[edit]

Type 1: stem + ta or te
Except: tha or the after b, c, f, g, m, p, r
Except: Drop bh or mh and add fa

Type 2: stem + ithe
Except: te after l, n, r (don't syncopate)

General Rules (for all tenses)[edit]

  • ía → ío
  • Drop a after á,ó,ú
  • after slender consonant, ó → eo
  • t(h) + t → t
  • When an ending begins with a consonant, pad it with a vowel after the consonant, if needed to satisfy the

"caol le caol agus leathan le leathan</a>" rule.

Rules For Type I Verbs[edit]

  • -áigh, -óigh, -úigh, -eoigh, -uaigh, drop (i)gh and use broad f and slender t in verb endings.
  • -éigh, drop (i)gh and use slender f and slender t in verb endings.
  • -igh alone or after short vowel, drop gh, i → í (except before t), and use slender f and slender t in verb endings... except for the verb "faigh".
  • áil → ál unless ending begins with t

Rules For Type II Verbs[edit]

  • If ending has an initial vowel, drop last syllable:
  • drop (a)igh
  • drop (a)i before final l, n, r, s

Examples for Regular Verbs[edit]

glan (clean) -Type 1 (Broad ending)

  Present           An nglanann tú?        Glanaim/Ní ghlanaim
  Past              Ar ghlan tú?           Ghlan (mé)/Níor ghlan
  Future            An nglanfaidh tú?      Glanfaidh/Ní ghlanfaidh
  Conditional       An nglanfá?           Ghlanfainn/Ní ghlanfainn
  Imperfect         An nglantá?            Ghlannainn/Ní ghlanainn
  Pres. Subjunctive An nglana tú?          Go nglana/Nár ghlana

cuir (put) -Type 1 (Slender ending)


  Present           An gcuireann tú?       Cuirim/Ní chuirim
  Past              Ar chuir tú?           Chuir (mé)/Níor chuir
  Future            An gcuirfidh tú?       Cuirfidh/Ní chuirfidh
  Conditional       An gcuirfeá?           Chuirfinn/Ní chuirfinn
  Imperfect         An gcuirteá?           Chuirinn/Ní chuirinn
  Pres. Subjunctive An gcuire tú?          Go gcuire/Nár chuire

ceannaigh (buy) -Type 2 (Broad ending)

  Present           An gceannaíonn tú?     Ceannaím/Ní cheannaím
  Past              Ar cheannaigh tú?      Cheannaigh (mé)/Níor cheannaigh
  Future            An gceannóidh tú?      Ceannóidh/Ní cheannóidh
  Conditional       An gceannófá?          Cheannóinn/Ní cheannóinn
  Imperfect         An gceannaíteá?        Cheannaínn/Ní cheanaínn
  Pres. Subjunctive An gceanaí tú?         Go gceann/Nár cheanna

Irregular Verbs[edit]

Irish only has a handful of irregular verbs, so breathe a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, as with most languages, the most commonly used verbs are irregular. So the sooner you face them, the better.


If you look up the irregular verbs in your foclóir, you may see a big conjugation table and assume you'll have to memorise the whole thing. Wrong! It's really much easier than that. It will help if you remember this guiding principle, which may not be obvious to the beginner:

  • The irregular verbs use the same endings as the regular verbs; it is the stem that changes.


There are a few exceptions, of course.

One very good way to learn these verbs is simply to read this list of questions and answers, out loud, once a day for a week or two. After that, you will find that you know most of them without having made an effort to memorise. Then you can focus on the particular ones that give you trouble.


abair (say)

  present      An ndeir tú?        Deirim/Ní deirim
  past         An ndúirt tú?       Dúirt/Ní dúirt
  future       An ndéarfaidh tú?   Déarfaidh/Ní déarfaidh


beir (catch, give birth to)

  present      An mbeireann tú?    Beirim/Ní bheirim
  past         Ar rug tú?          Rug/Níor rug
  future       An mbéarfaidh tú?   Béarfaidh/Ní bhéarfaidh


clois (hear)

  present      An gcloiseann tú?   Cloisim/Ní chloisim
  past         Ar chuala tú?       Chuala/Níor chuala
  future       An gcloisfidh tú?   Cloisfidh/Ní chloisfidh


cluin (hear)

  present      An gcluineann tú?   Cluinim/Ní chluinim
  past         Ar chuala tú?       Chuala/Níor chuala
  future       An gcluinfidh tú?   Cluinfidh/Ní chluinfidh


déan (make, do)

  present       An ndéanann tú?     Déanaim/Ní dhéanaim
  past          An ndearna tú?      Rinne/Ní dhearna
  future        An ndéanfaidh tú?   Déanfaidh/Ní dhéanfaidh


faigh (get)

  present       An bhfaigheann tú?  Faighim/Ní fhaighim
  past          An bhfuair tú?      Fuair/Ní bhfuair
  future        An bhfaighidh tú?   Gheobhaidh/Ní bhfaighidh


feic (see)

  present       An bhfeiceann tú?   Feicim (Chím in Ulster)/Ní fheicim
  past          An bhfaca tú?       Chonaic/Ní fhaca
  future        An bhfeicfidh tú?   Feicfidh (Chífidh in Ulster)/Ní fheicfidh


ith (eat)

  present       An itheann tú?      Ithim /Ní ithim
  past          Ar ith tú?          D'ith/Níor ith
  future        An íosfaidh tú?     Íosfaidh/Ní íosfaidh


tabhair (give)

  present       An dtugann tú?      Tugaim /Ní thugaim
  past          Ar thug tú?         Thug/Níor thug
  future        An dtabharfaidh tú? Tabharfaidh/Ní thabharfaidh


tar (come)

  present       An dtagann tú?      Tagaim /Ní thagaim
  past          Ar tháinig tú?      Tháinig/Níor tháinig
  future        An dtiocfaidh tú?   Tiocfaidh/Ní thiocfaidh


téigh (go)

  present       An dtéann tú?      Téim /Ní théim
  past          An ndeachaigh tú?  Chuaigh/Ní dheachaigh
  future        An rachaidh tú?    Rachaidh/Ní rachaidh


(be)

  present       An bhfuil tú?   Tá (or Táim)/Níl (or Nílim)
  Pres(Habitual)An mbíonn tú?   Bím/Ní bhím
  past          An raibh tú?    Bhí/Ní raibh
  future        An mbeidh tú?   Beidh/Ní bheidh