Irish Lesson 20

Céad Míle Fáilte!


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Lesson by "The Irish People"


The letter group "omh" in a word often gets the sound of (oh). This sound is held for the same length of time as "ó". Examples are: romham (ROH-uhm), before me; romhat (ROH-uht), before you; comhar (KOH-uhr), aid; comhairle (KOHR-le), council, advice; comhrá (KOH-raw*), conversation; fómhar (FOH-uhr), autumn; comhacht (KOH-uhk*t), power; comhlacht (KOH-luhk*t), a corporation.


To say "I had a book", rather than "I have a book", you merely replace "tá" by "bhí", as in:

Bhí leabhar agam (vee LOU-wuhr uh-GUHM), I had a book. The literal meaning is, of course, "There was a book at me".

Forms for "had" parallel those needed to express "have". Here is practice reading to help you recognize and use the forms. Only the new or less familiar words have a pronunciation guide directly after them.

Bhí airgead (AR-i-guhd) agam inné. Nach raibh bainne agat? Níl mórán bainne againn anois. Tá scian ag Tomás. An raibh cóta ag an mac? Nach bhfuil nuachtán agat? Ní raibh cnaipe (kuh-NAHP-e) ag an gcóta.

An bhfuil carr aige? Níl caife nó tae aici. Nach raibh bróg ag Peadar? Bhí bord mór acu. An bhfuil léine mhaith aige? Tá leabhar agaibh. An raibh mála bán aici? Nach bhfuil hataí acu? Ní raibh ceann (kyoun) eile agam.

The pronunciation guide and translation for these sentences follow:

vee AR-i-guhd uh-GUHM in-YAY*. nahk* rev BAHN-ye uh-GUHT? neel moh-RAW*N BAHN-ye uh-GIN uh-NISH. taw* SHKEE-uhn eg toh-MAW*S. un rev KOH-tuh eg un MAHK? nahk* vwil NOO-uhk*-taw*n uh-GUHT? nee rev kuh-NAHP-e eg un GOH-tuh.

un vwil KAHR eg-GE? neel KAH-fe noh tay* a-KI. nahk* rev brohg eg PAD-uhr? vee bohrd mohr ah-KUH. un vwil LAY*-ne vwah eg-GE? taw* LOU-wir uh-GIV. un rev MAW*-luh baw*n a-KI? nahk* vwil HAHT-ee ah-KUH? nee rev kyoun EL-e uh-GUHM.

I had money yesterday. Didn't you have milk? We don't have much milk now. Thomas has a knife. DId the son have a coat? Don't you have a newspaper? The coat didn't have a button.

Has he a car? She doesn't have coffee or tea.. Didn't Peter have a shoe? They had a large table. Has he a good shirt? You have books. Did she have a white bag? Don't they have hats? I didn't have another one.


  1. It is necessary for you to practice with masculine and feminine nouns accompanied by adjectives, so that you will be familiar with the changes needed. Here are some drill expressions. Go over them until you are completely in mastery of them:

    Máthair mhaith (MAW*-hir vwah); an mháthair mhaith (un VWAW*-hir vwah); mo mháthair mhaith (muh VWAW*-hir vwah).

    cailín maith (kah-LEEN mah); an cailín maith; do chailín maith (duh k*ah-LEEN mah).

    bróg shalach (brohg huh-LAHK*); an bhróg shalach (un vrohg huh-LAHK*); a bhróg shalach (uh vrohg huh-LAHK*).

    bord salach; an bord salach; ár mbord salach ( aw*r mohrd suh-LAHK*).

    traein fhada (tray*n AH-duh); an traein fhada; do thraein fhada.

    carr fada; an carr fada; mo charr fada ( muh K*AHR FAH-duh).

    cathaoir chrua (KAH-heer K*ROO-uh), a hard chair; an chathaoir chrua (un K*AH-heer K*ROO-uh); a cathaoir chrua, her hard chair.

    cóta beag (KOH-tuh byuhg); an cóta beag; mo chóta beag (muh K*OH-tuh byuhg).

    sráid dheas (sraw*d yas), a nice street; an tsráid dheas (un traw*d yas); a shráid dheas (uh hraw*d yas), his nice street.

    fuinneog ghlan (fwin-YOHG gluhn); an fhuinneog ghlan (un in-YOHG gluhn); do fhuinneog ghlan (duh in-YOHG gluhn). fear mór (far mohr); an fear mór; do fhear mór (duh ar mohr).

    scian ghéar (SHKEE-uhn yay*r), a sharp knife; an scian ghéar; mo scian ghéar (muh SHKEE-uhn yay*r).

    pingin bheag (PEENG-in vyuhg), a small penny; an phingin bheag (un FEENG-in vyuhg); mo phingin bheag.

    These changes are annoying to you at first, but a little practice will make them seem very natural. Writing them out after you have gone over the pronunciation several times is another good way to become used to the changes required.

  2. The verbal nouns with "tá" and "bhí" also require some drilling. Repeat this drill until you can do it with full understanding and without hesitation:

    Nach bhfuil Seán ag léamh sa chistin? (nahk* vwil shaw*n uh LAY*-uhv suh HYISH-tin). Níl sé ag léamh sa chistin. An bhfuil sé ag léamh thuas an staighre? (HOO-uhs un STEYE-ruh). Tá sé ag léamh ansin.

    Nach raibh do mháthair ag caint leat? (uh KEYENT lat) Ní raibh sí uh caint liom (luhm) An raibh sí ag caint le Máire? (MAW*-re) Bhí sí ag caint le Máire agus le Bríd, freisin (le BREED FRESH-in).

    Nach bhfuil ár n-athair ag scríobh na litreach? (nahk* vwil aw*r NA-hir uh SHKREEV nuh LI-trahk*), writing the letter? Níl sé ag scríobh na litreach. An bhfuil sé ag obair sa bhaile? (eg OH-bir suh VWAH-le) Tá sé ag obair sa ghairdín (suh gahr-DEEN).

    Nach raibh cat agaibh? (uh-GIV) Ní raibh cat againn anuraidh (uh-GINN uh-NOOR-ee), last year. An raibh madra agaibh? Bhí madra álainn againn anuraidh.

    Nach bhfuil nuachtán agat? (NOO-uhk*taw*n uh-GUHT) Níl nuachtán ar bith agam. An bhfuil airgead agat (AR-i-guhd uh-GUHT), have you money? Tá mórán airgid agam (moh-RAW*N AR-i-gid uh-GUHM), I have a lot of money.

    Nach raibh cathaoir eile agat sa teach? (KAH-heer EL-e) Ní raibh ach cathaoir amháin againn (uh-WAW*-in uh-GIN), we had only one chair. An raibh bord agaibh? O, bhí dhá bhord againn (GAW* vwohrd uh-GIN), We had two tables.

Note: The word for "two" of anything (except persons) is "dhá" (gaw*), and it is followed by the aspirated singular. Examples: dhá bhád (gaw* VWAW*D), two boats; dhá léine, two shirts; dhá fháinne (gaw* AW*-nye), two rings; dhá chat (gaw* K*AHT), two cats.

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