Irish Study Card
The Irish Study Card 2 displays nouns and adjectives as well as pronouns. Understanding what they are in the English language, will make it easier for you to understand the peculiar changes that happen in the Irish language. For more information about the definition of these grammar points, check this section: Glossary.
The Irish Card part 2 displays 25 independent tables with grammar content. The colours green and orange are used in the same way as in your Irish card Part 1. They help you identify when séimhiú or urú takes place.
The 3 main shades of colours used for pronouns and verbs in Part 1, are used in tá__ ag, tá__ ar tables and in the Prepositional Pronouns. Each colour indicates the word needed for each person. Remember that the light and dark shade represent the singular and plural pronouns respectively.
With your card in hand, go through this section to find the explanations on the content of your Irish Study Card part 2. Or skip to the name of the table you wish to expand your information on.
This section is intended to be a general explanation on grammar created for you to understand the layout of your card in order to take full advantage of it. By no means should this section be considered a course on its own. While it is possible to group certain rules, Irish has many exceptions, which are not contained in this section.
TÁ ___ AG
- To say to have in Irish, you need to use tá and the preposition ag. You need to use the different prepositional pronouns for the different persons: agam, agat, aige, etc.
Your card shows the different prepositional pronouns in the colour coded system for easy studying.
With this structure, you can say things such as I have a brother, Tá deartháir agam, or I have a cat, Tá cat agam.
- You can also say to have in Irish by using tá and the preposition ar. However, this structure is used when you want to talk about emotional and physical feelings.
Get used to thinking of feelings and emotions like they are something that’s on you. I have hunger on me: Tá ocras orm.
Your table gives you the different forms of bí, so you can use it in Past, Present and Future.
When you want to change a noun in the plural form, or in the genitive form, the noun in Irish changes. Check how the word pen changes in both English and Irish:
- the pen – an peann
- the pens – na pinn
- the tip of the pen – barr an phinn
- the cost of the pens– costas na bpeann
These examples show you what kind of changes can happen to the noun. The changes depend if the noun is:
- masculine or feminine
- singular or plural
- If it’s in the Nominative, Genitive or Vocative case
- if there is an article or preposition before the noun.
If you look at the noun peann, two types of changes occur, some at the beginning of the word: ph, bp, and others at the end of the word: peann – pinn.
Irish becomes less overwhelming when you learn to identify these changes.
- Séimhiú and urú changes happen at the beginning of the word for pronunciation purposes.
In the Irish card part 2, in the centre left page, there’s a table specifically designed to indicate the séimhiú and urú changes in nouns after the articles an and na.
- The changes at the end of the word happen when you change a noun from singular to plural, or from the nominative to the genitive case in singular or plural.
The declensions are the groups that follow a common pattern to help you make these changes. The tables given in the card provide some examples of the different changes grouped in the 5 declensions. Remember that there are exceptions to the rules. The layout of all the declension tables in the card is divided in Nominative and Genitive in Singular and Nominative and Genitive form in Plural. First Declension
- The first declension nouns are masculine.
- Most nouns end in a broad consonant: rós, cat
- To form the Genitive in singular, an i is placed before the last consonant or caolú is used.
cat – cait
- The weak plural in the Nominative form is the same form as in the Genitive.
cait – cait
- The weak plural in the Genitive form is the same form as in the Nominative.
cat – cat
- Strong plurals in the Nominative and the Genitive form are the same.
rósanna – rósanna
- Second declension nouns are feminine (except for 3 nouns: im, sliabh and teach).
- They end in a broad or slender consonants: clann, aisling.
- Other common endings are –óg, (-e)ach, –eog, –lann: fuinneog.
- To form the Genitive singular, if the noun ends in a broad consonant, use caoulú and add e to the noun.
clann – clainne.
- If it ends in a slender consonant, add e to the noun.
aisling – aislinge
- To form the plural (weak), add +a or +e to nouns ending in –óg, –each, –eog, –lann
clann – clanna
- The weak plural in Genitive is the same as the Nominative in singular
clann – clann
- Strong plurals have strong endings like –anna, –acha, –eacha, –ta, –the, –tha
áit – áiteanna
- Strong plural nouns in Genitive are the same as the strong plural in the Nominative.
áiteanna – áiteanna
- Third declension nouns are masculine and feminine.
- They end in a broad or slender consonant: rud, dochtúir.
- To form the Genitive singular, if they end in a broad consonant, add a to the noun.
rud – ruda
- If they end in a slender consonant, use leathnú and add a.
buachaill – buachalla
- To form the plural for masculine nouns ending in -aeir, -éir, -eoir, -úir, add +í
péintéir – péintéirí
- For feminine nouns ending in –áint, úint, –irt, add + í.
canúint – canúintí
- The Genitive plural is the same as the Plural in the Nominative.
canúint – canúintí
- Fourth declension nouns are masculine and feminine.
- Most end in a vowel and in the diminutive –ín: dalta, cailín.
- The Genitive singular is the same as the Nominative.
- To from the plural in both the Nominative and in Genitive, change -le to –lte and -a/-e to –aí/-í.
baile – bailte
dalta – daltaí
- Add –í to the nouns ending in –ín.
coinín – coiníní
- Most of the fifth declension nouns are feminine.
- Most end in a slender consonant (-il, –in, –ir) or in a vowel: traein, pearsa.
- To form the Genitive singular, make the noun broad and sometimes you also need to add ach or each.
cathaoir – cathaoireach
cabhail – cabhlach
- If the noun ends in a vowel, add –d, or –n.
pearsa – pearsan
- To form the plural in the Nominative, add a to the Genitive singular.
pearsan – pearsana
- Most of the Genitive plural are the same as the Nominative in the plural form.
traenacha – traenacha
AN / NA - SÉIMHIÚ / URÚ
- Words have specific functions within a sentence.
Sean broke the window.
If we analyse this sentence, we have somebody who did an action, Sean, the performed action, broke, and something that was affected by the action, the window.
- The person or thing that does the action in a sentence is called subject. The person or thing affected by the action is called object.
- If your noun plays these parts in a sentence, it should be in the Nominative.
Bhris Seán an fhuinneog. Sean broke the window.
- The Nominative is also used in the Predicate of the Copula. Check the explanation of the Copula in Part 1.
- Just as with the Nominative, identifying what part the noun plays in the sentence makes it easier to know how the noun needs to change.
The Genitive is usually associated with possession (Mary’s house), however, in Irish, the Genitive form is used when the noun plays other parts in the sentence.
- With the (ing) form ag + verbal noun.
ag scríobh leabhair – writing a book.
- Also after prepositions that are made up of more than one word.
ar fud na cathrach – throughout the city.
- After specific prepositions such as chun, cois, mórán, among others.
- With quantities.
go leor ama – enough time
- When there are two nouns together.
barr an chnoic – the top of the hill. The second noun takes the genitive form.
The ending of the noun and whether it is feminine or masculine determines how the changes occur.
- You use the vocative case when people or things are being addressed directly.
- You place an a before the noun and use séimhiú. Some masculine nouns are made slender:
A Sheáin, tar anseo. Seán, come here.
EQUATIVE AS - AS
- Chom…le is like as…as in English.
Tá Liam chom cliste le Pól. Liam is as clever as Paul.
It shows that similarity between two people, things or places. Add a h if the adjective begins with a vowel.
BIGGER - THE BIGEST
Look at the following sentences:
- Paul is taller than Mark
- Paul is the tallest in the class
The first sentence represents the comparison between the two men. The second sentence represents the superlative. Strictly speaking, comparison in Irish is different to English, in the sense that Irish only compares. It doesn’t have the superlative form like in English. Depending on the context, the comparative expresses the superlative as well. But it’s not a superlative form on its own. However, having an English association makes it easier for students to understand this form and that’s why most textbooks separate it into two categories:
níos…ná – comparative form (er)
is + adjective – comparative form that expresses the superlative (..est)
Tá Ebhard nios deise ná Cían. Edward is nicer than Cian.
Is é Ebhard an duine is deise sa chlann sin. Edward is the nicest person in the family.
- The Genitive feminine form of the adjective is used for comparisons.
deas – deise
- Adjectives in Irish can be attributive and predicative. Look at the following examples:
- An fear mór – The big man
- Tá an fear mór – The man is big
In Irish the sentences might look almost identical, however, when you analyse the meaning in English, you can spot the differences.
- In the first sentence, the big man, the adjective big is linked to the noun man. This is a sentence with an attributive adjective.
- In the second sentence, man and big are not linked directly, they need is (tá). This is a sentence with a predicative adjective.
- Predicative adjectives don’t need to agree with the noun.
- Attributive adjectives need to agree with the noun.
To agree with a noun means that if your noun is in the singular form, your adjective needs to be in singular as well, if it’s in feminine, the adjective needs to be in feminine too. It needs to agree or have the same properties.
- The attributive adjectives in Irish have to agree with the noun in number, gender, and case.
If you are familiar with romance languages, like French or Spanish, you will find that adjectives, nouns and in this case, articles, also have to agree in number and gender.
Like in Spanish:
la casa blanca
el carro blanco
las casas blancas
los carros blancos.
Look at your card to see how the adjectives change depending on whether they are masculine, feminine, singular, plural in the Common form or in the Genitive case.
dubh– black (Common form singular)
dubha (Common form plural)
duibh (Genitive singular masculine)
duibhe (Genitive singular feminine)
COMMON ADJECTIVES IN THE COMPARATIVE FORM
maith (good) – níos fearr (better) – is fearr (best)
mór (big) – níos mó (bigger) – is mó (biggest)
- When a preposition like to and a pronoun like you, come together: to you, they are replaced by a prepositional pronoun.
chuig (to) + tú (you) = chugat (to you)
le (with, by, as) + mé = liom (with me)
This chart displays 16 different propositions with the prepositional pronoun for each person (112) The colour system makes them easy to identify. For example, if you want to focus only in the third person singular (he, she, it), just refer to the prepositional pronouns in light green.
PREPOSITIONS + NOUNS
do Mhícheál – for Michael ( séimhiú)
i gCorcaigh – in Cork (urú)
le hAnna – with Anna (+ h with noun begiining in a vowel)
in oifig an phoist – in a post office (i changes to in with noun beginning in a vowel)
d’oifig an phoist – from a post office (in spoken Irish, de changes to d’ with noun beginning in a vowel)
PREPOSITIONS + ARTICLE AN / NA + NOUN
ar an mbus – on the bus ( urú)
san fhuinneog – in the window (séimhiú)
leis an tslat – with the road (+t )
ag na haerfoirt – at the airport (+h)
SIMPLE PREPOSITIONS + AN / NA
de (of) + an (the sing.) = den ( of the)
den úll (of the apple)
i (in) + na (the pl.) = sna (in the)
Bráithre sna airm ( Brothers in (the) arms)
- A compound preposition is a proposition that is composed by two words.
os cionn – above
- The noun that goes after the compound preposition needs the be in Genitive.
teach – casa
os cionn an tí – above the house
This table displays 20 common compound prepositions that are worth studying.
EMPHATIC FORM - PREPOSITIONAL PRONOUN
- These emphatic forms are used when you wish the emphasize the person in the sentence.
- Add the emphatic forms at the end of your prepositional pronoun.
Chuir sí litir chugam. She sent a letter to me.
Chuir sí litir chugamsa. She sent a letter to me.
- The emphatic form tables indicates which form to use, depending on the person and if the prepositional pronoun ends in a broad or slender consonant.
Remember that the colours used make it easier to find the form needed.
PREPOSITIONS SPECIAL CASES
idir – between
- You use séimhiú in the noun when the preposition means between or among.
idir mhrá – among women.
- You don’t aspirate when idir indicates space in distance and time
Idir Béal Feirste agus Baile Átha cliath. Between Belfast and Dublin.