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  5. "D'fheiceadh sé í go minic."

"D'fheiceadh í go minic."

Translation:He used to see her often.

August 27, 2015



Shouldn't 'he would see her often' be an acceptable English translation?


Yes, “would see” would be an acceptable English translation of d’fheiceadh.

“Would” has multiple meanings; it could also be used to translate the Irish conditional and past subjunctive. My guess is that the course creators used “would” only for the conditional to try to avoid confusion with the imperfect (past habitual), since when translating to Irish, “He would see her often” could be interpreted as either the conditional or the imperfect. (Neither of the subjunctive conjugations are currently covered in the course here.)


What are the subjunctive conjugations?


The present subjunctive conjugations of feic are:

  • feice mé
  • feice tú
  • feice sé/sí
  • feicimid
  • feice sibh
  • feice siad
  • feictear

The past subjunctive conjugations are the same as unlenited versions of the imperfect:

  • feicinn
  • feicteá
  • feiceadh sé/sí
  • feicimis
  • feiceadh sibh
  • feicidís
  • feictí


"Would see" is indeed incorrect. 'Would' is the conditional/past form of the auxiliary/modal verb "will" which split essentially into the auxiliary (without a full conjugation as is the case with most of the modals, with exception to dare which has become a normal verb) and the full weak verb 'to will' which has the simple past form of "willed", which is why the form 'would' (along with its obsolete form "wou'd" is mainly used in a conditional sense {probably heavily influenced by the Norman/French verb "vouloir" [from Latin "volo" to will/want... note the spelling V/W...L], which also suffers the loss of the 'l' in most forms, "je veux" [present = I willed], "je voulais" [imperfect = I willed (spoken French)/was willing/used to will], je voulus [simple past = I willed (written French)], "je voudrai" [future = I shall will (correct but becoming obsolete)/I will will (a bit redundant and maybe why we don't really ever say it], je voudais (conditional = "I would", or "I would will" (will can be dropped usually because would is already in the conditional).] (Que) je veuille [subjunctive = (That) I will (In English all forms the same, most verbs lose the -st on the 2nd person singular (thou) form and the -s/-th on the 3rd person singular]. The condition Must be either STATED or UNDERSTOOD BY CONTEXT "He WOULD see her often, whenever she was in town". (on the condition that she was in town), or "He would see her often, because he loved the smell of her perfume (he is love for the smell of her perfume was the condition on which he based his desire to see her). In the stand-alone sentence, "He would often see her" [the most gramatically correct form with the adverb between the (conjugated) auxiliary and the naked infinitive/past participle/present participle) there is an automatic condition SHE must be available or at least visible depending on the sense of "see" and HE must be available/able to go see, receive or spy on her.


The English "imperfect" is indeed the past progressive. Imperfect (was/were plus the gerund/present participle) indicates that something is not 'PERFECTED', Rather, it was in the process of being done Note that 'gerund' is from Latin 'gerundium' < 'gerundus' "that which is to be carried" out. In other words, it hasn't been carried, at least during the indicated time frame and, while it is BEING carried out, it is usually interrupted by something that IS Perfected (simple past/preterit), or it was happening simultaneously to something else that was being carried out.
The correct translation depends on the person and context 1. "He saw her often" (simple past, which often indicates an imperfect sense, but usually accompanied by an adverb of frequency. it is in the past and due to the adverb of frequency it is understood that it was not perfected in the past, or happened just a couple of times, but carried out regularly). 2. He was seeing her often (here, the action was being carried out and with the adverb we know that it was being done often. the word 'often' not necessarily relevant because the verb form 'was seeing indicates frequency. It's just not as specific as when the adverb is placed. 3. He used to see her (This is not 'proper' English but a colloquialism, and idiomatic expression to say 1 and 2. 'Often' is not needed in this construction at all because, "used" already indicates that something was continuous, which means that is just another way of saying "He was seeing her (often)" (2) or "He saw her often" (1). "He saw her often", and "he was often seeing her" are correct answers


Tá sé seo an-bhrónach... An bfhuil féidir linn tabhair a dhé maith? (Plenty's wrong, I just know it.)


He often saw her rejected.


In grammatically correct English "we used to" is not used. Words such as "formerly" or "previously" are used.

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