"D'óladh sé beoir nuair a bhí sé ina chónaí sa Ghearmáin."

Translation:He used to drink beer when he lived in Germany.

September 13, 2015

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In the Romance languages I am familiar with, both of these verbs would be in the imperfect (habitual) tense (bhí -> bhíodh?).


Yes, bhíodh should have been used rather than bhí. Unfortunately “He used to drink beer when he used to live in Germany” isn’t colloquial English for this sentence, although “He drank beer when he lived in Germany” would be — but then it wouldn’t emphasize the “used to” sense of the imperfect. Nonetheless, bhíodh should have been used.


This isn't entirely accurate, the sentence in the exercise is fine.

The imperfect is a somewhat unfortunate name for the Irish tense because its much more limited in scope than the imperfect in the Romance languages. In Irish the only function of this tense is to describe habitual or repeated actions in the past, compared to the Romance languages where the imperfect describes past habitual actions as well as any ongoing states occurring in the past.

While the action here "when he lived in Germany" is definitely ongoing, it isn't considered habitual or repeated. For proof of this consider the present tense, where one'd say tá sé ina chónaí sa Ghearmáin in preference to bíonn sé ina chónaí.... So even though in French the imperfect would be needed here, in Irish the simple past is the correct choice.


Seems a nuance to say "while he lived in Germany" is wrong and "when he lived in Germany" is correct.

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