Irish Lesson 128

(Practice with the Relative Pronoun for “Is”)

After a review of Ceacht 127, you should be able to put the relative clause to work in expressing thoughts involving the verb “is” in Irish.

Cuir Gaeilge ar na habairtí seo leanas, ar dtús an tuiseal ainmneach:

The chair that I like. The chair you don’t like.

A room you would like. The seat you would prefer. The one you wouldn’t wish.

Next, an tuiseal tabharthach, or dative case; “to whom” or “with whom” would be a part of the literal translation:

The girls whose house it is (literally: “with whom it is”). The visitors who like the trip (use “is áil liom”; I like, form). The cat doesn’t like the cold (use “is maith liom” form).

The girls whose house it was. The doctor who would like to be here (use “is áil liom” form). The girls whose house it wouldn’t be. The doctor who wouldn’t like to be here.

Finally, the tuiseal ginideach or genitive case; “whose” would be a part of the English form:

The inspector whose daughter is a student. A man whose food is bread. The teacher whose son isn’t a painter.

The man whose mill was a home. The teacher whose room was an office. The lad whose brother was not a manager. The woman whose husband was not a fisherman.

The key to these phrases:

For the nominative:

An chathaoir is maith liom. An chathaoir nach maith leat.

Seomra ba mhaith leat. An suíochán ab fhearr leat. An ceann nár mhian leat.

For the dative:

Na cailíní ar leo an teach. Na cuairteoirí arb áil leo an turas. An cat nach maith leis an fuacht.

Na cailíní ar leo an teach. An dochtúir arbh áil leis bheith anseo. Na cailíní nár leo an teach. An dochtúir nárbh áil leis bheith anseo.

For the genitive:

An cigire ar scólaire a iníon. Fear arb arán a bhia. An múinteoir nar péintéir a mhac.

An fear ar theach a muileann. An múinteoir arbh oifig a sheomra. An buachaill nár bhainisteoir a dheartháir. An bhean nárbh iascaire a fhear céile.


The preposition “do” usually means “to” or “for”. Sometimes it means movement toward, but usually the meaning is the equivalent of the English “I gave that to him”, which is a usage in the dative case.

Expressions indicating a form of possession occur:

Cad is ainm duit? What is your name?

Cad is aois duit? What is your age?

Refusing someone can be: Díultóidh sé duit; he will refuse you.

Forgiving someone is: Mhaith sé dom; he forgave me.

This réamhfhocail can also carry the meaning of the possessive or genitive. For example, with an t-ainm briathartha or verbal noun, you may say: Ar teacht isteach dom; while I was coming in, or upon my entrance. Ag dul abhaile dom; as I was going home, is another example.

The expression “He is a friend of John” can be “Is cara do Sheán é”. Or “He is a son of my uncle” can be “Is mac do m’uncail é”. The first word for a person must be indefinite and the second must be definite, such as a person’s name or with “the” before it.

Another way of saying this is: Is cara le Séamas é; he is a friend of James.

Two other expressions with “do” are:

Feictear dom; it seems to me. Tuigtear dom; it is my understanding.

The réamhfhocail “le” generally means “with”, but can also indicate extent or purpose.

Le déanaí; recently. Le fada; for a long time. Le tamall; for a while.

Beidh sé anseo le ceann eile a fháil; he will be here to get another one.

If some activity is to be done in the near or distant future, then:

Tá obair le déanamh; there is work to be done. Tá ceacht le cleachtadh agam; I have a lesson to practice.

Idioms with several verbs need “le”:

Aontáim leat; I agree with you. Chuir sé geall liom; he promised me. Fanfaidh sé liom; he will wait for me. Thaitin an dráma liom; I liked the play. Díolann sé bróga linn; he sells shoes to us.

The réamhfhocail “ó” means “from” in the general sense. It is part of several important expressions, such as: Cad tá uait? What do you want? Cad a bhí ó Sheán? What did Seán want? Creid uaim é; believe me.


This is the last lesson in the series designed to give you a basic grasp of the Irish language. By now you should have an effective command of the language adequate to carry on some conversation and understand spoken and written Irish.

The essential verb forms, word order, formation of noun plurals, the combination of prepositions and pronouns, and the elementary vocabulary of words and idioms are part of this. Further studies of Irish will depend on your opportunities, which are of two principal types: talking with other speakers, of any degree of proficiency; and reading and listening to tapes and records.

The degree to which your work is structured will depend on your natural inclination. Some persons will benefit most from constant conversation with others, while other learners consider that they must progress in an orderly manner through grammar books, such as “Réchúrsa Gramadaí” [out of print], and through books of graded difficulty, with the assistance of dictionaries along the way.

A persistent effort to write Irish is a good way to improve your style and vocabulary. Irish-speaking friends in Ireland, or in the United States, can help with this. A regular correspondence will let you improve painlessly.

The lessons in this series will begin anew in a few weeks, and if you have friends who have evinced interest in Irish, perhaps they can begin with the repeating of the series.

©2000 The Irish People

Irish Lesson 127 | Lesson Index