1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Irish
  4. >
  5. "Nár thosaigh sé?"

"Nár thosaigh sé?"

Translation:Did he not start?

August 20, 2015



Is "Nár" used for all negative past tense questions? I presume that with using the copula vs. not there is a difference? And the irregular verbs?


Yes to your first question!

Nár is the past tense equivalent of Nach.

Níor is the past tense equivalent of .

Ar is the past tense equivalent of An (the question particle).

It's easy to remember because you just add broad -r whilst removing the prior sound in the case of "an" and "nach".

Nár, níor and ar all trigger lenition in regular verbs, which makes sense because regular verbs in the past tense are lenited by defaulted.

The irregular verbs that don't take "nár"/"níor"/"ar" in the past tense (and instead take "nach"/"ní"/"an") are all verbs that are unlenited or eclipsed in the past tense. For example, the past tense of abair is dúirt. Dúirt is not lenited in the past tense, so you ask "An ndúirt tú?" and NEVER *"Ar dhúirt tú?). On the other hand, the past tense of clois is chuala. Chuala is lenited and so retains "nár/ar" (Nár chuala tú mé?Ar chuala).

You can tell if an irregular verb takes "nach/an" or "nár/ar" based on whether the bare tense form is lenited. The only thing you must memorise is rug (past tense of beir), which takes "nár/ar" and raibh (past tense of bí), which takes "nach/an". The initial r- provides no hint as to which particle it gets.

As for your second question, the difference between "is" vs. "bí" in the past tense is just like it is for the present tense. "Is", itself being a particle, is substituted for "nár"/"ar"/"níor".

"Ní maith liom é" is "Níor mhaith liom é" in the past tense.

"An dochtúir thú?" is "Ar dhochtúir thú?" in the past tense.

"Nach dlíodóir é?" is "Nár dhlíodóir é?" in the past tense.

If with "bí", use "nach/an/ní" + "raibh".

"Cé nach raibh anseo?"

"An raibh an bia blasta?"

"Ní raibh mé ann."

[deactivated user]

    An ndúirt tú?

    Better yet, it's ní dúirt mé, not ní dhúirt mé.


    Tysm. I forgot to mention that dúirt is immune to lenition but not to eclipsis.


    So, I can verify that you will indeed see forms like "ar dhúirt" and "nár raibh", among other things.

    This is the case if you're learning dialectal Irish, as the information I wrote above is based on the Caighdeán. So keep that in mind.


    Has he not started is what I answered. Can the perfect tense not be used?


    I put "Hasn't it started?": rejected.

    This question of translating the Irish simple past (preterite) by an English present perfect (have/has form) has come up several times, especially in sentences with some adverbs with a temporal aspect such as "fós","cheana" eg in this thread

    Ar shroich sí an coláiste fós Did she reach the college yet?

    where "Has she reached..." sounds more natural, in British English at least. but is certainly a valid alternative.

    I have reported it in several of these cases and the have/has form is now accepted in some instances.

    Of course, for the sake of getting through the lessons, once you know what Duolingo expects as the "correct" answer, you can just keep putting that, while understanding that there may be equally valid or better alternatives.


    Yes, it should be accepted.


    begin should be added to the possible translations


    Hasn't he started? Of course, but he didn't start. He doesn't like the perfect tense.


    He did not start?


    Níor thosaigh sé - "He did not start"
    Nár thosaigh sé? - "Did he not start?*


    I'm pretty sure it's still "Nár thosaigh sé?"

    Learn Irish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.