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Adjectives typically modify nouns. In Irish, the adjective follows the noun, and agrees in number, gender and case.
- lacha bhuí “yellow ducks”
- obair theicniúil “technical work”
Adpositions is a term that covers both prepositions and postpositions. Irish only has prepositions.
There are simple and compound prepositions in Irish.
- Simple: ag “at”, le; “with”; from “ó”
- Compound: os cionn “above”; i gcoinne “against”
16 of the most common simple prepositions can be inflected to mark pronominal objects. These are referred to as pronominal prepositions or prepositional pronouns.
- agam “at me”
- leis “with him”
- uainn “from us”
Progressive aspectual phrases
The preposition “ag” is also used in conjunction with verbal nouns to form progressive aspectual phrases.
- ag rith “running”
- tá sí ag ithe “she is eating”
Adverbs typically modify verbs to indicate time, place, location or manner. Adverbs of manner, most of which tend to correspond to the English -ly adverbs (effectively, carefully) are constructed through using the particle go with an adjective.
- amach “out”
- freisin “also”
- go cúramach “carefully”
- go hiondúil “usually”
AUX: auxiliary verb
There are no auxiliary verbs in Irish.
CONJ: coordinating conjunction
A coordinating conjunction is a word that links words or larger constituents without syntactically subordinating one to the other and expresses a semantic relationship between them.
For subordinating conjunctions, see SCONJ.
- agus “and” : brioscaí agus milseáin “biscuits and sweets”
- nó “or” : le bliain nó dhó anuas “for one or two years”
- ach “but” : tháinig siad go luath ach níor fhan siad “they came early but they didn’t stay”
- ná “than”: is fearr liom úlla ná oráistí “I prefer apples to oranges”
Determiners are words that modify nouns or noun phrases and express the reference of the noun phrase in context. In Irish there are pre-determiners (preceding the noun) and post-determiners (following the noun).
Articles are pre-determiners. In Irish, there is no indefinite article, only a definite one. The definite article has two forms – singlular an and plural na.
Post-determiners occur with an article, and follow the noun. Some of these are demonstratives (seo “this; siúd “that”; sin “that”; úd “that”).
- an duine “the person”
- na daoine “the people”
- an duine seo “this person”
- an duine sin “that person”
- na daoine siúd “those people”
- an duine eile “the other person”
An interjection is a word that is used most often as an exclamation or part of an exclamation.
- Och “but”/ “aw”
- á “aw”
- Ó “Oh”
Nouns are a part of speech typically denoting a person, place, thing, animal or idea.
Irish nouns are either masculine or feminine, and inflect for case and number. In Old Irish, nouns inflected for nominative, accusative and dative cases. All of these are now represented in Modern Irish by what’s referred to as the `common’ case. An exception to this is pronoun forms, where the subject and object forms differ: sé “he”/ é “him”.
The genitive case and vocative case are marked by inflection.
Each noun falls into one of five declensions.
Verbal nouns are marked as
NOUN in the UD scheme. Verbal noun forms are used widely in Irish for the infinitive form (a dhéanamh “to do”) and progressive aspectual phrases (ag déanamh “doing/ making”).
- fear “man”
- hata an fhir “the man’s hat”
- a mhúinteoir “teacher!”
- ag déanamh iarracht “making an attempt”
- beidh orthu gnó a dhéanamh leis “they will have to do business with him”
- scannán a dhéanamh “to make a movie”
- tá obair le déanamh “there is work to be done”
A numeral is a word, functioning most typically as a determiner, adjective or pronoun, that expresses a number and a relation to the number, such as quantity, sequence, frequency or fraction.
Irish numbers are split into three categories: cardinal, ordinal and personal. The personal form is used for counting people. All three forms differ in spelling.
22 Meitheamh “22nd June”
- ocht mbliana “eight years”
a hocht a chlog “8 o’clock”
11ú céad “11th century”
- a haon “one” (counting)
duine amháin “one person”
- dhá theanga “two languages”
- beirt duine “two people”
an dara huair “the second time”
- cuig ghlúin “five generations”
- cúigear “five people”
- cúigear fear “five men”
There are many different particles in Irish:
- comparative/superlative adjectival
- d’fhág sé “he left” (verbal)
- níor fhág sé “he didn’t leave” (negative)
- Sean O’Connell (name)
- a Sheáin “John!” (vocative)
- go cúramach “carefully” (adverbial)
- an fear a chonaic sé “the man he saw” (relative)
- a hocht “eight” (numeral)
- níos mó “bigger” (comparative)
- is mó “biggest” (superlative)
Pronouns are words that substitute for nouns or noun phrases, whose meaning is recoverable from the linguistic or extralinguistic context.
In Irish, third person pronouns have two forms, roughly corresponding to nominative (e.g. sé) and accusative (e.g. é) cases. Irish pronouns also have emphatic forms. Pronouns are often incorporated through inflection in synthetic verb forms and prepositions.
Augment pronouns appear in copula constructions when the subject is 3rd person singular or plural. The pronoun precedes the subject.
Both the indirect and direct relative pronoun are represented by a.
Irish demonstratives are either post-determiners (see DET), when modifying a noun, or simply demonstrative pronouns (siúd, seo, sin)
- mé “I”
- tú “you”
- sé “he”
- sí “she”
- é “him”
- í “her”
emphatic personal pronouns
- mise “me”
- tusa “you”
- seisean “he”
- sise “she”
synthetic verbs with incorporated pronouns
- ceapaim “I think”
- cheapfainn “I would think”
- cheapfá “you would think”
inflected prepositions with incorporated pronouns
- agam “at me”
- agat “at you”
- An é Mairtín an múinteoir? “Is Martin the teacher?
direct relative pronoun
- An radharc a bhí le feiceáil “The sight that could be seen”
indirect relative pronoun
- na cumhachtaí a dtugtar dó “The powers which are given to him”
- seacht mbliana déag roimhe sin “seventeen years before that”
- ná déan seo agus ná déan súid “don’t do this and don’t do that”
PROPN: proper noun
A proper noun is a noun that is the name of a specific individual, place, object or organisation. In Irish, proper nouns always have initial capitalisation.
Personal names are treated as a sequence of proper nouns. Note that some Irish names have name particles, such as Mac, Ó, Ní, etc., that form part of this sequence (e.g. Anne-Marie Nic Dhonncha).
Similarly, placenames can occur as a string of proper nouns (e.g. Baile Átha Cliath “Dublin”), as can organisations (e.g. an iris Irish Computer “the Irish Computer magazine”). Sometimes these strings can have an internal structure containing other parts of speech such as determiners, for example (Parlaimint na hEorpa “the European Parliament”).
When initial mutation occurs with proper nouns in Irish, the inflection is lowercase, while the main form retains the initial capitalisaion (e.g. i mBaile Átha Cliath “in Dublin”). Similarly, some titles can have lower-case prefixes (e.g. an t-iar-Ghobharnóir “the former Governor”).
Note that days of the week and months of the year in Irish, while capitialised, are not marked as proper nouns but common nouns instead.
- Lá ‘le Pádraig “St. Patrick’s Day”
- Co. Chiarraí “Co. Kerry”
- Eoraip “Europe”
- Michael D. Higgins
- Lucht Oibre Labour Party
Punctuation marks are non-alphabetical characters and character groups used to delimit linguistic units in printed text.
- Comma: ,
- Period: .
- Question Mark: ?
- Exclamation Mark: !
- Quote Marks: ” “
- Parenthesis: ( )
SCONJ: subordinating conjunction
A subordinating conjunction is a conjunction that links constructions by making one of them a constituent of the other.
In Irish, subordinate conjunctions normally precede a subordinate clause marker such as go, a.
There is also a special case of using agus “and” (normally CONJ) as a subordinate conjunction, where the subordinate clause is missing a surface verb `to be’, yet will have a subject in use with a progressive aspectual phrase, an adjective, a past participle or locative adverb.
- nuair “when”
- tháinig sí ar ais nuair a chuala sí an nuacht “she came back when she heard the news”
- cé “even though”
- cé go raibh cuid mhaith ann san am gcéanna “even though there was a lot there at the same time”
- sula/sular “before”
- sular féidir linn imeacht, ní mór dúinn léarscáil a cheannach “before we leave, we need to buy a map”
- Seo pictúir a tógadh dhó agus é briste “here is a picture that was taken of it and it broken”
Source: Studies in Irish Syntax, Nancy Stenson (1981), Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag
A symbol is a word-like entity that differs from ordinary words by form, function, or both.
- $, %, §, ©
- +, −, ×, ÷, =, <, >
- :), ♥‿♥, 😝
Verbs typically inflect for tense and mood. Verbs signal events and actions. Verbs can constitute a minimal predicate in a clause, and govern the number and types of other constituents which may occur in the clause.
Irish is a VSO language, thus the verb comes first.
Irish verbs sometimes inflect for person in the form of synthetic verbs. (e.g. ithim “I eat”; ithimid “we eat”)
There are four moods: indicative, imperative, conditional and subjunctive. Tenses include present habitual, simple past, past habitual and future.
There is an autonomous verb form, which most closely correlates to the English passive. However it is not technically a passive form as the subject is “understood” and the nominal argument is an object (e.g. tugadh an liathróid dó “the ball was given to him” (lit. somebody gave the ball to him)).
Copula vs substantive verb ‘to be’
There are two translations of the English verb `to be’ in Irish:
- Copula `is’
- Substantive Verb `bí’
These forms behave very differently syntactically, yet both are labelled with the tag VERB.
copula The copula construction follows a COP PRED SUBJ order. An example of copula use is identity constructions (equating two noun phrases). Is múinteoir é “he is a teacher”. The copula is also part of the frequently used cleft/ fronting construction. These constructions are often used to show emphasis. (e.g. Is leabhar a thug sí dom “It’s a book she gave me”).
substantive bí The substantive verb behaves just like normal Irish verbs. It inflects for person, number and tense. It can never be used for an identity construction with two noun phrases. If it is used for identity, it follows the pattern of Verb NP PP (e.g. tá sé ina mhúinteoir “he is a teacher” (lit. He is in his teacher)) The pattern followed here is: VERB SUBJ PRED
The substantive verb is also used in conjunction with a verbal noun to form progressive aspectual phrases. (e.g. tá sé ag rith “he is running” (lit. he is at running)).
- D’imigh mé “I left”
- D’imíomar “We left”
- Imím “I leave”
- Imímid “We leave”
- Imeoidh mé “I will leave”
- Imeoimid “We will leave”
- Cuirtear an leabhar ar an mbord “the book was put on the table”
Source: Studies in Irish Syntax. Nancy Stenson (1981), Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.
The tag X is used for words that for some reason cannot be assigned a real part-of-speech category.
Foreign words (see Foreign) are also tagged X.
- Beidh an-weekend againn “We will have a great weekend”
- Tá AIE mar thaca “AIE is a support”