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Lexical features
Inflectional features
Nominal Verbal
Gender VerbForm
Animacy Mood
Number Tense
Case Aspect
Definite Voice
Degree Person
+Form Polarity
+NounType +Voice

Case: case

Case is an inflectional feature of nouns and other parts of speech (adjectives, verbs, articles) that mark agreement with nouns.

In Irish four cases are used: common (which covers nominative and accusative case), vocative, genitive and dative. These cases are labelled respectively as NomAcc, Voc, Gen, and Dat.

NomAcc : common case

The common case is the base form of the noun, and is used for the lemma. This word form is used for subjects and objects of a clause, and predicates of a copula.



Voc : vocative case

The vocative case is used to mark a noun as being the addresse. It is preceded by the particle a (see PartType). The vocative case triggers lenition.


Gen : genitive case

The genitive case indicates possesion or ownership. Its use is similar to the use of ’s in English. Other use cases include describing the composition of an object, compound nouns, objects of a compound preposition, and objects of a verbal noun (see VerbForm).


Dat : dative case

The dative case is used with most simple prepositions in Irish. In standard Irish, the dative form is identical to the common case.


edit Case

Definite: definiteness or state

In Irish, definiteness is indicated through the use of a definite article singular an or plural na (also used with feminine singular in genitive case, see below), much like the definite article “the” in English. There is no indefinite particle, with nouns considered indefinite unless otherwise indicated.

Def : definite

Determiners an and na are both definite, as mentioned above.

In the case of a genitive construction (eg hata fhir an bhaile “the hat of the man of the town”), the noun can also indicate definiteness, though treatment depends on gender and number.

Nominative case

In the nominative case (see Case) nouns undergo some changes following the definite article an; most feminine nouns are lenited after the definite article, while feminine nouns beginning with ‘s’ are eclipsed, becoming ‘ts’. Meanwhile, masculine nouns beginning with a vowel get the prefix ‘t-‘.


Following the plural definite article na, both masculine and feminine nouns beginning with a vowel receive the prefix ‘h’.



In the genitive case (see Case) the singular definite article an is only used with masculine nouns. In this case, masculine nouns behave like feminine nouns in the nominative case, most masculine nouns beginning with a consonant are lenited, and those beginning with a ‘s’ change to ‘ts’. However, nouns beginning with a vowel remain the same.


The plural definite article na is used with feminine singular nouns. In this case, feminine singular nouns beginning with a vowel are prefixed by ‘h’, while those beginning with a consonant don’t change. For plural nouns, na triggers eclipsis where nouns begin with a consonant. Plural nouns beginning with a vowel are eclipsed by the prefix ‘n-‘.


Ind : indefinite

There are no indefinite articles in Irish, however some nouns may inflect to show indefinite features.


edit Definite

Degree: degree of comparison

Degree is a feature of adjectives that describe the quality of a noun.

Pos : positive, first degree

States the quality of an object without comparing that quality to those of any other object.


Cmp : comparative, second degree

Sup : superlative, third degree

In Irish, the comparative and the superlative form is the same. In both cases, the adjective is given a suffix, usually resembling the feminine genitive ending. Both the comparative and the superlative require a degree particle. For the comparative degree, this is níos which corresponds to the English “more”. The particle is (loosely translated as “the most”) is used to indicate the superlative degree.


edit Degree

Dialect: Dialect

In Irish, there are three main dialects, with certain grammatical and lexical variations between the dialects. Words or grammatical features in the treebank which were judged to belong to a particular dialect were marked with the Dialect feature.

Connaught : Connaught dialect

The Connaught dialect is the variety of Irish spoken mostly in the province of Connaught in the west of Ireland.


Munster : Munster dialect

The Munster dialect is the variety of Irish spoken mostly in the province of Munster in the south of Ireland. Most of the instances of dialect variation in the treebank are of Munster variety.


Ulster : Ulster dialect

The Ulster dialect is the variety of Irish spoken mostly in the province of Ulster in the north of Ireland.


edit Dialect

Form: Form

One of the characteristics of Irish is its tendency for initial mutation to occur in certain circumstances. This is triggered by the preceding word and affects the spelling of nouns, adjectives and verbs. Nouns in Irish are divided into classes according to the way they are inflected to form the genitive singular. There are five such noun-classes or declensions. (The Christian Brothers, 1994)

Ecl : eclipsis

This feature occurs when the initial consonant or vowel of a word is eclipsed by a prefixing consonant. This is either a voiced consonant for voiceless consonants, (e.g. /tʲ/ → /dʲ/, /k/ → /g/) or a nasalised consonant for voiced consonants (e.g. /dʲ/ → /nʲ/, /g/ → /ŋ/). Vowels are eclipsed by adding n- or t-.

Not every consonant can experience eclipsis. The consonants that can be eclipsed in Irish are: p, b, t, d, c, g and f.

Eclipsis will happen in a number of environments:


Emp : emphatic

The emphatic form is a special form a word takes to mark emphasis in Irish.


Len : lenition

Lenition is by far the most common means of initial mutation in the treebank. When lenited, h is added immediately after the initial consonant.

These are some of the environments that trigger lenition:


HPref : h-prefix

When two vowels come together in Irish, a h-prefix is inserted before the second vowel in order to simplify pronunciation.


VF : Vowel form

Vowel form is an indicator of spelling changes that occur in copular verbs when followed by a word that begins with a vowel or a lenited consonant.


edit Form

Gender: gender

Irish has two gender forms: masculine and feminine.

Masc : masculine gender

In general, words ending in a broad consonant are masculine. Exceptions include words ending in slender -óir, -eoir, and -ín, which are masculine.


Fem : feminine gender

In general, words ending in a slender consonant are feminine. Exceptions include words ending in a broad -óg, or -eog, which are feminine.


edit Gender

Mood: mood

Mood is a feature that expresses modality and subclassifies finite verb forms. It allows for a speaker to express their attitude towards what they are saying.

Ind : indicative mood

The indicative mood can be considered the default form of a verb. A verb in the indicative indicates something that has happened, is happening or will happen.


Cnd : conditional mood

The conditional mood is used to express actions that are hypothetical. In Irish, the conditional is expressed in two different verb endings; these endings begin with the suffix -f- or -ó-. In all but the 3rd person singular and the 2nd person plural, the verb endings are synthetic and do not require a subject pronoun. Conditional clauses are often introduced using go or .


Imp : imperative mood

The imperative mood is used to give a command, express advice, or make a request.


Sub : subjunctive mood

In Irish, the subjunctive mood is used to express a wish or an uncertainty. It is normally formed with the particle go (positive) or nár (negative) followed by the verb in the subjunctive form. Sula ‘before’ is sometimes also used. The subjunctive is not widely used in Irish.


edit Mood

NounType: NounType

In Irish, noun forms fall into certain groups or declentions (see Form). These nouns follow patterns of inflection depending on gender, number and case. The noun type feature affects the form of modifying adjectives, and so is a feature of both parts of speech.

Strong : strong plurals

The form of a strong plural remains unchanged regardless of grammatical case, i.e. it does not inflect.


Weak : weak plurals

Unlike the strong plural, a weak plural noun is different in the nominative, accusative and genitive cases.


Adjectives in Irish can have endings that are slender or not slender (broad). Depending on how the preceding noun ends, the form of the adjective can change.

NotSlender : broad consonants

A final consonant is termed broad if the preceding vowel is broad (a, á, o, ó, u, ú). The feature ‘NotSlender’ applies to adjectives qualifying a plural noun that ends in a broad consonant or a vowel.


Slender : slender consonants

A final consonant is termed slender if the preceding vowel is slender (e, é, i, í). The feature ‘Slender’ applies to adjectives qualifying a plural noun that ends in a slender consonant.


edit NounType

NumType: numeral type

Irish numeral forms inflect to demonstrate different grammatical roles.

Card : cardinal numbers

Cardinal numbers can be divided into those without nouns (used in counting, giving the time, etc.), and those with nouns. Those used without nouns use a particle a that is absent in those used with nouns. This particle triggers h-prefix in numbers beginning with a vowel (aon, ocht).


Counting, etc.:
Numbers qualifying nouns:

Pers : personal numerals

The personal numerals are used for counting people. From numbers 1-12 this system of counting differs from that used with other nouns, after that, the form is the same as the cardinal form, or a combination of the two forms.


Ord : ordinal numbers

Ordinal numbers can be used to show order of items. In Irish, the form uses the definite article an. (see Definite). The English abbreviation “th” appended to a numeral (as in eighth), is given in Irish as .


edit NumType

Number: number

Number is an inflectional feature of nouns and other parts of speech (determiners, adjectives, prepositions, verbs, etc.) that mark agreement with nouns. Nouns may have different singular and plural forms in each case (see Form for more on the noun declensions).

Verb endings frequently synthesise to show number and person. The first person singular and plural are always synthetic, while the other paradigms (except 3rd person singular) can be synthetic depending on Mood and Tense.

Words can be either singular or plural.

Sing : singular

Plur: plural


Noun forms in singular and plural for bád (“boat”), fuinneog (“window”), and am (“time”):


Verb Forms for deir (“say”), ól (“drink”), and imigh(“leave”):

1st (present ind.)DeirimDeirimid
2nd (imperative)AbairAbraigí
3rd (conditional)Deirfadh séDeirfaidís
Ólfadh séÓlfaidís
D'imfeadh séD'imfidís

Adjectival agreement:

Noun PhraseSingularPluralEnglish
An duineáitiúl"the local person"
Na daoineáitiúla"the local people"
focalbéasach"a polite word"
focailbéasacha"polite words"

edit Number

PartType: PartType

Irish makes use of a broad range of particles. Many of these particles have the same form but perform different functions.

Ad : adverbial

This particle is used with an adverb to create an adverbial phrase. It’s most frequent form is go.


Cmpl : complementizer

These complementizers are used to introduce a clausal complement. See ccomp.


Comp : comparative

The comparative particle is used for introducing a comparative adjective (see Degree).


Cop : copular

The copular particle introduces a copular construction. There is only one instance of this particle in the treebank currently.


Deg : degree

The degree particle is used to give a superlative description.

Inf : infinitive

The particle a is used with a verb stem to form the infinitive in Irish. The verb form is lenited.


Num : numeral

The particle used for counting in Irish is a. Most forms stay the same, but those numbers beginning with a vowel such as aon (“one”), or ocht (“eight”) are prefixed by h-.


Pat : patronym

This particle is used in last names to mean “son of” or “daughter of”. The masculine forms are Ó and Mac, while the feminine forms include Ní, Nic, Uí and Mhic. Often the anglicised version will use “O” or “Mac” regardless of gender.


Vb : verbal

Verbal particles include the positive particles a, gur and the negative particle . These particles can be used for introducing relative or adverbial clauses, clefts, or for negating the verb.


Voc : vocative

The vocative particle is a, and is used to directly address someone. In this circumstance, it triggers lenition in the following noun. See Case

edit PartType

Person: person

Person is a feature of personal and possessive pronouns and verbs. In verbs, this feature marks the subject, in some cases allowing the subject to be dropped entirely. In Irish, some verbs are constructed synthetically, and some are analytically constructed. Verb stems in Irish are either broad or slender (see NounType), and are inflected differently depending on this.

1 : first person

The first person refers to the speaker; singular first person includes just one speaker, while plural first person includes many speakers, or groups the speaker with others. In Irish verbs, the first person forms a synthetic verb, where the subject pronoun may be dropped from the verb. Prepositional and possessive pronouns also inflect to denote person and number.


2 : second person

The second person refers to the listener. The singular first person denotes just one listener, while the plural form denotes several listeners. Verbs in Irish do not indicate 2nd person, so subject pronouns are necessary (i.e. analytic form).


3 : third person

The third person refers to one or more persons who are not present, i.e. neither speakers nor listeners. Verbs in the third person are analytical, like with second person.


edit Person

Polarity: whether the word can be or is negated

There is no word for “yes” or “no” in Irish. Instead, a negative particle is used in combination with the verb to give a negative polarity.

Neg : negative

The negative particle * can be used in almost every tense, except the past. It causes lenition to relevant consonants (see Form), otherwise there is no change. In the past tense the particle is written as níor, and does not trigger any further lenition, though the word may already be lenited due to past tense morphology (see Tense).

*In the Ulster dialect, this particle also appears as cha (see Dialect)


The interrogative negative particle nach is used to pose a negative question, or to introduce a clausal complement (see PartType).


The verb “to be” (in Irish ) is given the negative form níl in the present tense, as a contraction of ní bhfuil. It can inflect to show (for instance) person.


edit Polarity

Poss: possessive

Possessive is a feature of prepositions and determiners in Irish. Possessive prepositions can inflect to show person and number. Possessive determiners cause morphological changes in the noun they are dependent on.

Yes : possessive

The following table describes the determiners and the morphological changes they cause.

DeterminerBefore consonantBefore vowelEx: cóta "coat"Ex: athair "father"
1st singmolenitionno changemo chótam' athair
2nd singdolenitionno changedo chótad' athair
3rd sing mascalenitionno changea chótaa athair
3rd sing femano changeh-prefixa cótaa hathair
1st pláreclipsiseclipsisár gcótaár n-athair
2nd plbhureclipsiseclipsisbhur gcótabhur n-athair
3rd plaeclipsiseclipsisa gcótaa n-athair

Certain prepositions (e.g. faoi “under”, i “in”, le “with”) in Irish can absorb the possessive determiners to become possessive prepositions. For instance, le + ár becomes lenár. The noun attached to the prepostion will inflect accordingly.


edit Poss

PrepForm: PrepForm

Cmpd : compound preposition

In Irish, a simple preposition can be combined with a noun to give a compound preposition. Nouns following compound prepositions are inflected in the genitive case (see Case).

A list of all compound prepositions is as follows:

ar aghaidh an dorais"opposite the door" ar chúl an tí"behind the house" ar feadh míosa"for a month" ar fud na háite"throughout the place
ar lorg oibre"searching for work" ar nós na gaoithe"like the wind" ar son"for God's sake" d'ainneoin na taoide"in spite of the tide"
de bharr troda"as a result of fighting" de chois an tí"near the house" de chóir an tí"near the house" de dheasca an óil"as a result of drink"
de dhíobháil airgid"for want of money" de réir cirt"by right" de réir an scéil"according to the story" de thairbhe an eolais"on account of the knowledge"
faoi bhráid an rí"before the king" faoi bhun tríocha"under thirty" faoi cheann bliana"within a year" faoi choinne uisce"to fetch water"
faoi choinne bhean an tí"for (the benefit/purpose of) the woman of the house" faoi dhéin"for the purpose of" go ceann míosa"for a month (duration)" i bhfeighil an tí"in charge of the house"
i bhfianaise"before God (as a witness)" i bhfochair Sheáin"in John's company" i dteannta a chéile"together" i dtrátha a sé"about six o'clock"
i dtuilleamaí Mháire"depending on Mary" i gcaitheamh an lae"during the day" i gceann míosa"in a month's time" i gcionn oibre"(set) to work"
i gcóir an tae"for tea" i gcosamar Thomáis"in Tom's company" i gcuideachta na bpáistí"in the company of the children" i lár na páirce"in the middle of the field"
i láthair an tsagairt"before the priest (in the presence of)" i mbun an tí"in charge of the house" i measc na bpáistí"among the children" i ndiaidh na cainte sin"after that talk"
i rith an gheimhridh"during the winter" in aghaidh na gaoithe"against the wind" in aice an tí"near the house" in airicis Mháire"to meet Mary"
in éadan an Rialtais"against the government" in ionad scuaibe"instead of a brush" le cois an airgid"along with the money (as well as)" le haghaidh an dinnéir"for dinner (purpose)"
le hais an dorais"beside the door" le linn an chogaidh"during the war" os cionn an dorais"above the door" os coinne an tí"opposite the house"
os comhair na cúirte"before the court" tar éis an dinnéir"after dinner" thar ceann an dochtúra"on behalf of the doctor"
Examples taken from Christian Brothers 1994.

edit PrepForm

PronType: pronominal type

Art : articles

Pronominal articles in Irish include the definite articles an or na. These articles can combine with prepositions to create new forms, e.g., an + de = den (“from the”), an + faoi = faoin (“under the”), na + i = sna (“in the”).


Dem : demonstrative

Irish demonstrative pronouns indicate nearness to the speaker, whether this is a difference of time or space. There are three main degrees of closeness: near to the speaker (seo, “this/these”), of some distance to the speaker (sin, “that/those”), and of greater distance to the speaker (siúd, úd, “that/those over there”).


Ind : indefinite

Indefinite pronouns are used to refer to unspecified quantities or persons.


Int : interrogative

The interrogative pronouns can be used to specify or question a specific noun. The pronouns used for inanimate things include cén, cad, céard, cathain, conas and , while can be used for persons, places or things. These interrogative pronouns can be combined with other nouns to form common question phrases, such as cén fáth (“what reason”), and cé mhéad (“how many”)


Prs : person

Rel : relative

The relative pronoun in Irish is a (or ), and is used to introduce a relative clause or adverbial clause. It can combine with other words, such as the possible combinations with the present form of the verb “to be”, as in atá or atáimse, with the copula is, as in ab, or with the preposition le “with”, as in lena.


edit PronType

Reflex: reflexive

Yes : it is reflexive

The reflexive form is a feature of pronouns or determiners. It tells whether the word is reflexive, i.e. it refers to the subject of its clause.

In Irish, the reflexive pronoun is féin


edit Reflex

Tense: tense

Tense is a feature that specifies the time when the action took / takes / will take place, in relation to the current moment or to another action in the utterance. Verbs in Irish can be regular and irregular (e.g. “to be”). Regular verbs fall into two conjugation patterns; one for short verbs (e.g. tit, fan) and one for long verbs (e.g. tosaigh). Verb endings vary depending on if the stem is broad or slender (see NounType).

Past : past tense

The past tense denotes actions that happened before the current moment. In Irish, past tense is indicated in the verb through the addition of lenition and/or a d’- prefix.


Pres : present tense

The present tense denotes actions that are happening right now or that habitually happen. The present tense paradigm is usually created from adding endings to the lemma of the short verb (e.g. fan + 1st sing ending -> fanaim). Long verbs are shortened first (e.g. tosaigh -> tos- + endings).


Fut : future tense

The future tense denotes actions that will happen after the current moment. In Irish, the future is indicated by the addition of a -f-, or -ó- suffix, with endings depending on person (see Person).

edit Tense

VerbForm: form of verb or deverbative

In Irish, verb form is a feature of words which have the appearance of a verb, although they function as other parts of speech. This feature appears most commonly as an infinitive construction, which functions as a noun. This feature also appears as a copula, a particle or a verbal noun.

Inf : infinitive

The infinitive verb form is the same as the verbal noun. The infinitive is always preceded by the infinitive particle a. This particle causes lenition in the verb, where possible (see Form).


Introduced by particle
Introduced by preposition

Cop : copula

The copula verb form usually functions as a copula verb, though it can also be used as a mark, to introduce a complement clause, or as the root of the sentence. The order of elements in a copula construction is in general: copula, predicate (new or focussed information), and subject.


In the Irish treebank, the copula verb usually appears in its present tense form is, but has many other forms. It can combine wih other subordinate conjuctions or negative particles to form contractions, such as gur, ba, , etc. Also, the form of the verb changes with respect to tense, mood and context (see Form).

Part : participle

The participle verb form indicates a verbal adjective. It can be used to modify the head noun, or to introduce an adjectival predicate complement. (see xcomp:pred) The participle is usually inflected by adding the suffix -te (-the) or -ta (-tha) to the lemma.


Adjectival modifier

Vnoun : verbal noun

Verbal nouns are similar to an infinitive verb in English, however they function as a noun rather than a verb. They may be used to introduce a clausal complement, (see xcomp), as a conjunct, or as a root of the sentence. The noun is preceded by the preposition ag which loosely translates to “in the process of” in this context. The object of the verbal noun is in the genitive case (see Case).


edit VerbForm

Voice: voice

There is no passive form in Irish. However, the Irish autonomous voice is similar to the passive construction, in that the agent of the verb is not (necessarily) specified. In this construction, the object remains in accusative case, as opposed to the nominative case used in the passive voice in English. The subject in this construction remains anonymous, as a dummy subject.

Auto : autonomous voice

The autonomous voice is formed with a different verb ending: -t(e)ar in the present tense, -(e)adh in the past tense, -f(e)ar, in the future tense, and -f(a)í in the conditional.


Cuir "To put" cuirtear cuireadh chuirfear chuirfí
Cas "To turn" castar casadh casfar chasfaí
Déan "To make/do" déantar rinneadh déanfar dhéanfaí

edit Voice