Irish Lesson 92

We will return now to work on pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.


Here are several sentences that are written in the form of the pronunciation guide. Read them aloud, or have someone read them to you. As you hear them, form a mental picture of the meaning. Do not translate them word for word. After you have finished, look at the Key at lesson end to verify your understanding.

neel uh EYEM-sheer hoh mah AH-guhs uh vee shee in-YAY*, ahk* TAW*-im uh duhl uh-MAHK* hig un SHOHP-uh, pay* shkay*l ay*. k*uh-NIK may* un YREE-uhn eg EYE-ree er MAH-din, AH-guhs vee NAY*L-tuh DOOV-uh oun FRESH-in. BAY*dir goh GIR-hee shay* SHNAHK*-tuh rev EE-hye.


With nouns like “mac” and “bord”, the form of the noun changes when you put the noun into an expression like “the son’s hat” or “the head of the table”. “Hata an mhic” (HAHT-uh VIK) and “ceann an bhoird” (KYOUN uh VWIRD) are the Irish expressions. The words “an mhic” and “an bhoird” are in the genitive, or possessive, case and show ownership or the larger combination to which some element belongs.

“Mac” and “bord” are first-declension nouns, which are all masculine and ending in a broad consonant – one preceded by “a”, “o”, or “u”.

In the second declension, nearly all nouns are feminine, and all end in a consonant. Some of the ending consonants are slender (preceded by “e” or “i”), and some are broad (preceded by “a”, “o”, or “u”). Their plurals form in several ways, and you must learn them as you learn the noun.

Before we begin intensive work on this declension, learn the following groups of words that will be examples of how second-declension nouns change.

grian, an ghrian, solas na gréine (GREE-uhn, un YREE-uhn, SUHL-uhs nuh GRAY*N-e); sun, the sun, light of the sun or sunlight.

bróg, an bhróg, sáil na bróige (brohg, un VROHG, SAW*-il nuh BROH-i-ge); shoe, the shoe, heel of the shoe or the shoe heel.

súil, an tsúil, dath na súile (SOO-il, un TOO-il, dah nuh SOO-i-le); eye, the eye, color of the eye.

áit, an áit, ainm na háite (aw*t, an AW*T, AN-im nuh HAW*-tye); place, the place, name of the place or the place’s name.

You can see from this that feminine nouns are preceded by “na” in the genitive. This “na” does not change the noun except that it causes an “h” to be put before the initial vowel, as in:

na háite, the place.

na heaglaise (nuh HAHG-lish-e), of the church.

na hiníne (nuh hi-NEEN-e), of the daughter.

Most second-declension nouns end in “-e” in the genitive singular, as you can see from the examples.

Second-declension nouns whose basic forms ends in “-ach” change their ending to “-í” in the genitive singular. An example is:

báisteach, an bháisteach, na baistí (BAW*SH-tuhk*, un VWAW*SH-tuhk*, nuh BAW*SH-tee); rain, the rain, of the rain.

Usage of “my”, “your”, “his”, etc. with these second-declension nouns is similar to that with first-declension nouns. For example:

mo chos, barr mo choise (muh K*UHS, bahr muh K*ISH-e); my foot, top of my foot.

Usage of the compound prepositions with these nouns is also similar to that with first-declension nouns. For example:

os comhair na háite (ohs KOH-ir nuh HAW*-tye), in front of the place.


(All these nouns are second-declension.)

grian, an ghrian, na gréine, na grianta (GREE-uhn, un YREE-uhn, nuh GRAY*N-e, nuh GREE-uhn-tuh); sun, the sun, of the sun, the suns.

ceist, an cheist, na ceiste, na ceisteanna (kesht, un yesht, nuh KESH-te, nuh KESH-tuh-nuh); question, the question, of the question, the questions.

lámh, an lámh, na láimhe, na lámha (law*v, un LAW*V, nuh LAW*-i-ve, nuh LAW*V-uh); hand, the hand, of the hand, the hands.

bróg, an bhróg, na bróige, na bróga (brohg, un VROHG, nuh BROH-i-ge, nuh BROHG-uh); shoe, the shoe, of the shoe, the shoes.

leadóg, an leadóg, na leadóige (la-DOHG, un la-DOHG, nuh la-DOH-i-ge); tennis, the tennis, of the tennis.

aicíd, an aicíd, na hacíde, na haicídí (A-keed, un A-keed, nuh HA-keed-e, nuh HA-keed-ee); disease, the disease, of the disease, the diseases.

seachtain, an tseachtain, na seachtaine, na seachtainí (SHAHK*T-in, un TYAHK*T-in, nuh SHAHK*T-in-e, nuh SHAHK*T-in-ee); week, the week, of the week, the weeks.

fadhb, an fhadhb, na faidhbe, na fadhbanna (feyeb, un EYEB, nuh FEYE-be, nuh FEYEB-uh-nuh); problem, the problem, of the problem, the problems.

cos, an chos, na coise, na cosa (kuhs, an K*UHS, nuh KISH-e, nuh KUHS-uh).

gealach, an ghealach, na gealaí, na gealacha (GAL-uhk*, un YAL-uhk*, nuh GAL-ee, nuh GAL-uh-huh); moon, the moon, of the moon, the moons.

Key to the pronunciation exercise:

Níl an aimsir chomh maith agus a bhí sí inné, ach táim ag dul amach chuig an siopa, pé scéal é. Chonaic mé an ghrian ag éirí ar maidin, agus bhí néalta dubha ann freisin. B’fhéidir go gcuirfidh sé sneachta roimh oíche.

The weather is not as good as it was yesterday, but I am going out to the store, anyway. I saw the sun rising this morning and there were dark clouds there, too. Perhaps it will snow before night.

If your first effort at listening to speech was not very successful, don’t be discouraged. All beginners in languages experience this. We will have these pronunciation exercises at intervals in future lessons, and you will become more proficient.

©1999 The Irish People

Irish Lesson 91 | Irish Lesson 93

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