Welsh/Verbs

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Conjugation of verbs is relatively simple for the learner, as Welsh makes great use of compound tenses, meaning very few tenses involve using non-infinitive forms of the verb. Note that this article uses the North Walian pronoun for he, o; the South Walian pronoun e is also correct.

Compound tenses[edit]

These tenses are those most commonly used in spoken Welsh.

Present[edit]

The present tense is formed from the present tense of bod (to be) as shown in the table below, yn and the infinitive. Welsh has no distinct continuous tenses, this tense translates both as I do and I am doing. To negate sentences, use the negative form of bod, and use the inquisitive form of bod to ask questions.

Person Affirmative Negative Interrogative
fi (I) (Ry)dw i (Dy)dw i ddim (Y)dw i?
ti (you, informal) Rwyt ti Dwyt ti ddim Wyt ti?
o (he) / hi (she) Mae o/hi Dydy o/hi ddim Ydy o/hi?
ni (we) Rydyn ni Dydyn ni ddim Ydyn ni?
chi (you, plural/formal) Rydych chi Dydych chi ddim Ydych chi?
nhw (they) Maen nhw Dydyn nhw ddim Ydyn nhw?

Brawddegau enghreifftiol – Exemplar sentences

  • Rydw i'n darllen – I read / I am reading
  • Dwyt ti ddim yn bwyta – You don't eat / You are not eating
  • Ydy o'n cerdded? – Does he walk? / Is he walking?

Imperfect[edit]

The imperfect is formed exactly like the present, but this time using the imperfect forms of bod as listed below.

Person Affirmative Negative Interrogative
fi Roeddwn i Doeddwn i ddim Oeddwn i?
ti Roeddet ti Doeddet ti ddim Oeddet ti?
o/hi Roedd o/hi Doedd o/hi ddim Oedd o/hi?
ni Roedden ni Doedden ni ddim Oedden ni?
chi Roeddech chi Doeddech chi ddim Oeddech chi?
nhw Roedden nhw Doedden nhw ddim Oedden nhw?

Brawddegau enghreifftiol – Exemplar sentences

  • Roedden ni'n yfed – We were drinking / We used to drink
  • Doeddech chi ddim yn dod – You weren't coming / You didn't used to come
  • Oedden nhw'n mynd? – Were they going? / Did they used to go?

Future[edit]

The future is once again formed using the future forms of bod, in the same way as the present and imperfect tenses.

Person Affirmative Negative Interrogative
fi Bydda(f) i Fydda(f) i ddim Fydda(f) i?
ti Byddi di Fyddi di ddim Fyddi di?
o/hi Bydd o/hi Fydd o/hi ddim Fydd o/hi?
ni Byddwn ni Fyddwn ni ddim Fyddwn ni?
chi Byddwch chi Fyddwch chi ddim Fyddwch chi?
nhw Byddan nhw Fyddan nhw ddim Fyddan nhw?

Brawddegau enghreifftiol – Exemplar sentences

  • Bydda i'n siopa – I will shop / I will be shopping
  • Fyddi di ddim yn gwneud – You won't do / You aren't going to do
  • Fydd hi'n aros? – Will she stop/stay? / Will she be stopping/staying?

N.B. – Just as in English it is also possible to form a more colloquial future tense by using the present tense of mynd (to go) i and the infinitive. The infinitive must take a soft mutation.
Brawddegau enghreifftiol – Exemplar sentences

  • Rydyn ni'n mynd i hoffi – We're going to like
  • Dydych chi ddim yn mynd i ddod – You're not going to come

Conditional[edit]

Whilst the conditional is strictly not a tense – it is a mood – it is formed in the same way as the three tenses mentioned so far. The conditional forms of bod are below. (You should know the drill by now!)

Person Affirmative Negative Interrogative
fi B(u)aswn i F(u)aswn i ddim F(u)aswn i?
ti B(u)aset ti F(u)aset ti ddim F(u)aset ti?
o/hi B(u)asai o/hi F(u)asai o/hi ddim F(u)asai o/hi?
ni B(u)asen ni F(u)asen ni ddim F(u)asen ni?
chi B(u)asech chi F(u)asech chi ddim F(u)asech chi?
nhw B(u)asen nhw F(u)asen nhw ddim F(u)asen nhw?

Brawddegau enghreifftiol – Exemplar sentences

  • Baswn i'n dod – I would come
  • Fasen ni'n mynd? – Would we go?

Perfect tenses[edit]

(Present) perfect[edit]

Translating to I have done, this is formed just like the present tense except yn is replaced by wedi.

Pluperfect[edit]

Translating to I had done, this is formed just like the imperfect tense except yn is replaced by wedi.

Future perfect[edit]

Translating to I will have done, this is formed just like the future tense except yn is replaced by wedi. Note that the going to future cannot form a perfect tense.

Conditional perfect[edit]

Translating to I would have done, this is formed just like the present tense except, you guessed it, yn is replaced by wedi.

Simple tenses[edit]

This is where things get ugly; simple tenses require the verb to change. These make use of the verb stem, something that is relatively unpredictable in Welsh. The stem is sometimes formed by removing the last vowel and every consonant afterwards from the infinitive, but more often than not this is not the case; the stem may be the same as the infinitive or include other letters that were not there before. Also note that in continuous tenses the subject pronoun may be included or omitted.

Present[edit]

This is very rare in spoken Welsh, usually only appearing in writing. The following endings are added to the stem:

Person Ending arbed to save
fi -af Arbedaf I save
ti -i Arbedi You save
o/hi (generally none) Arbed He/she saves
ni -wn Arbedwn We save
chi -wch Arbedwch You save
nhw -ant Arbedant They save

The you forms (arbedi and arbedwch) also serve as the imperative.

Preterite[edit]

This is the most common simple tense in Welsh; it serves a separate purpose to the imperfect, referring to completed actions in the past. This one you will need to know.

Person Ending arbed to save
fi -ais Arbedais I saved
ti -aist Arbedaist You saved
o/hi -odd Arbedodd He/she saved
ni -on Arbedon We saved
chi -och Arbedoch You saved
nhw -on Arbedon They saved

Notice that arbedon can mean both we saved and you saved, for this reason arbedom is often encountered in the we form.

Future[edit]

This tense is incredibly rare and it is unlikely that you will need to know it.

Person Ending arbed to save
fi -a Arbeda I will save
ti -i Arbedi You will save
o/hi -ith Arbedith He/she will save
ni -wn Arbedwn We will save
chi -wch Arbedwch You will save
nhw -an Arbedan They will save

Yes & no[edit]

Welsh has no specific word for yes or no, instead the main verb in the question must be repeated. To say yes the repeated verb is the interrogative form (minus any pronoun). To say no add na before this verb (nac before a vowel).

Cwestiynau ac atebion enghreifftiol – Exemplar questions and answers

  • Wyt ti'n hoffi cerddoriaeth pop? Ydw. – Do you like pop music? (Yes) I do.
  • Fasai o'n mynd i Ffrainc? Na fasai. – Would he go to France? (No) he wouldn't.

Irregularities[edit]

Cael – to have/receive[edit]

If you were to look up cael in an English–Welsh dictionary, the primary translation would be to have. It is natural therefore to think that dw i'n cael translates as I have. It does not. Cael conjugated as any other verb means only to receive. To indicate possession a totally different conjugation is used. Note that when a noun follows gan a soft mutation takes place.

Present[edit]

Person Phrase
fi Mae gen i
ti Mae gen(nyt) ti
o/hi Mae ganddo fo
Mae ganddi hi
Siôn Mae gan Siôn
ni Mae gennyn ni
chi Mae gennych chi
nhw Mae ganddyn nhw

Imperfect[edit]

Person Phrase
fi Roedd gen i
ti Roedd gen(nyt) ti
o/hi Roedd ganddo fo
Roedd ganddi hi
Siôn Roedd gan Siôn
ni Roedd gennyn ni
chi Roedd gennych chi
nhw Roedd ganddyn nhw

Future[edit]

Person Phrase
fi Bydd gen i
ti Bydd gen(nyt) ti
o/hi Bydd ganddo fo
Bydd ganddi hi
Siôn Bydd gan Siôn
ni Bydd gennyn ni
chi Bydd gennych chi
nhw Bydd ganddyn nhw