Irish Lesson 67


The letter “l”, like other Irish consonants, has two sounds. The broad sound occurs when the nearest vowel in the word is “a”, “o”, or “u”. The broad sound is clearest when the letter “l” begins the word.

In pronouncing “l”, widen the tongue and force it against the back of the upper front teeth. The sound will differ from the English pronunciation, in which you probably touch the tongue tip to the roof of the mouth while keeping the tongue narrowed.

Pronounce these words containing the broad “l” sound:

lá (law*), day; ló (loh), in “de ló is d’oíche”, day and night; lú (loo), smaller, smallest.

The next sound after a broad “l” can be a slender (ay*) or (ee) sound, as in:

lae (lay*), of a day (“meán lae” (myaw*n lay*) is “midday” or “noon”); luí (lee), lying down.

The slender “l” sound occurs when the nearest vowel in the word is “e” or “i”. For slender “l” at the beginning of a word, curl your tongue downward so that the tongue is raised to touch the upper teeth and the hard ridge behind them, while the tip touches the back of the lower front teeth.

Pronounce these words with initial slender “l” sound:

le (le), with; leat (lat), with you; líon (LEE-uhn), linen; léan (lay*n), sorrow; liom (luhm), with me; leo (loh), with them. Do not add a (y) sound to the “l”.

Inside a word, or at a word end, “l” is often pronounced like English “l”, with the tongue narrower and touching the roof of the mouth close behind the upper front teeth.


We continue with the free form or saorbhriathar (say*r-VREE-huhr). The sentence “Dúnaim an doras” (DOON-im un DUH-ruhs) means “I close the door”, but “Dúntar an doras” is translated as “Someone closes the door”, or “The door is closed by someone”, or even “The door gets closed by someone”.

This Irish sentence differs in meaning from “Tá an doras dúnta” (DOON-tuh), which means that at the present time the door is closed and not open. English is not as clear in meaning in this respect as is Irish.

Other forms for the saorbhriathar in the present tense:

“Ní dhúntar an doras ar a seacht a chlog” (nee GOON-tuhr un DUH*ruhs er uh shahk*t uh k*luhg), The door is not closed at seven, no one closes the door at seven.

“An ndúntar go moch é?” (un NOON-tuhr goh mohk* ay*), Is it closed early?, Does someone close it early?

“Nach ndúntar an fhuinneog gach lá?” (nahk* NOON-tuhr un in-YOHG gahk* law*), Isn’t the window closed every day?, Doesn’t someone close the window every day?

If the verb root ends in a slender consonant, which is one with an “e” or an “i” closest to it, the ending of the saorbhriathar is “-tear”. This ending is pronounced (tuhr), but with a slender “t”. “Múin” becomes “múintear” (MOO-in-tuhr), it is taught.

With verbs like “oscail” or “imigh” or “ceannaigh”, the forms are: osclaítear (OHSK-lee-tuhr), it is opened; imítear (IM-ee-tuhr), it is departed, people depart; ceannaítear (KAN-ee-tuhr), it is bought.

The saorbhriathar can combine with other phrases that you have learned. Examples:

Deir sé go gceannaítear bróga ann (der shay* goh GAN-ee-tuhr BROHG-uh oun), he says that shoes are bought there.

Is dóigh liom nach léitear (LAY*-tuhr) sa tír seo é; I think that it is not read in this country.

Cá ndíoltar iad? (kaw* NEEL-tuhr EE-uhd), Where are they sold?


Masculine Nouns: foirgneamh (FWIR-gi-nuhv), building; árasán, an t-árasán (un TAW*-ruh-saw*n), apartment building

Feminine Nouns: monarcha, an mhonarcha (un VWOHN-uhr-huh), factory; saortharlann, an tsaortharlann (un TAY*-uhr-luhn), laboratory

feictear dom (FEK-tuhr duhm), it seems to me

gurb ea (GUR-ruhb a), that it is; nach ea (nahk* a), that it is not


Feictear dom go bhfuil sé sa scoil (goh vwil shay* suh skuhl), It seems to me that he is in school.

Feictear dom gur nuachtán é (gur NOO-uhk*-taw*n ay*), It seems to me that it is a newspaper.

Feictear dom gurb ea, It seems to be that it is.

Feictear dom nach foirgneamh é sin, It seems to me that that is not a building.

Feictear dom nach ea, It seems to me that it isn’t.

Ní fheictear dom gurb ea (nee EK-tuhr duhm GUR-ruhb a), It doesn’t seem to me that it is.

Feictear dom go n-aontaítear leis (goh NAY*N-tee-tuhr lesh), It seems to me that people agree with him.

Feictear dom nach dtuigtear an t-ábhar sin (nahk* DIG-tuhr un TAW*-vwuhr shin), it seems to me that that subject is not understood.

Make use of “feictear dom” with these verbs, in the affirmative (with “go”) form and negative (“nach”) form: críochnaigh (KREE-uhk*-nee), finish; deisigh (DESH-ee), repair; clois (klish), hear; glan (gluhn), clean.

Add nouns to the sentences, too, such as “obair”, “carr” or “bord”.

©1998 The Irish People

Irish Lesson 66 | Irish Lesson 68

Return to Lesson Index