"Maen nhw'n sgipio."
Translation:They are skipping.
What is the meaning of "mae" in the sentence: "Mae'r plant yn hoffi cawl." (The children like soup." Couldn't we just say "Plant yn hoffi cawl."?
No, as you've dropped the primary verb. Welsh uses the present continuous for pretty much all present tense sentence even where English would use a present habitual such as "I like" i.e. the most literal translation of "Mae'r plant yn hoffi cawl" is "The children are liking soup" (or even to use the same structure as Welsh "Is the children -ing like soup")
So does "Mae" mean "is" and "Maen" means "are"? This lesson is really confusing me!
It is probably easier to learn the verb along with the relevant pronoun:
- mae e/hi - he/she is
- maen nhw - they are
- Mae e'n sgipio. - He is skipping.
- Maen nhw'n sgipio. - They are skipping.
There is a summary of the present tense forms of bod (to be) in the notes for the section 'Present 3' - https://www.duolingo.com/skill/cy/Present-3/tips-and-notes
For how to get to the notes generally, see the sticky discussion on 'course hints and tips' here - https://www.duolingo.com/topic/924/hot We suggest reading the notes for each new section as you start it. If you go to the duome.eu link, you can take a copy of the set of notes and keep it somewhere handy - remember to get a new copy from time to time to make sure that you have the latest version.
So does "Mae" mean "is" and "Maen" means "are"?
maen is used when the subject is nhw "they".
mae is used when the subject is e "he/it" or hi "she/it", or a noun -- whether singular or plural.
In English, "is" is used when the subject is "he, she, it" or a singular noun.
"are" is used when the subject is "we, you, they" or a plural noun.
So they don't match up -- plural nouns take "are" in English but mae in Welsh, for example, and "we" and "you" take "are" in English but other forms in Welsh (dyn ni, rwyt ti, dych chi).
Especially the behaviour with plural nouns may be unexpected for English speakers -- "the dogs are running" and "they are running" use the same verb form in English, but in Welsh it's mae'r cŵn yn rhedeg and maen nhw'n rhedeg with mae before the plural noun but maen when the subject is nhw "they".