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  5. "Is altra í a máthair."

"Is altra í a máthair."

Translation:Her mother is a nurse.

May 7, 2016



Why is the 'í' necessary here? Couldn't one just say 'Is altra a máthair'?


You can leave the í out in Ulster. But, I think, it's there in other dialects when the subject is definite in a classification sentence, and a possession thing like a or mo or do makes it definite.


Thanks, Proinsias. I'm not sure what definite means in this context, but that gives me somewhere to start looking it up.


Your Welcome. I may not be 100% correct though. It's definite if the definite article an or a possessive thing comes before the noun, so this sentence is literally 'is a nurse her mother' and it would be definite, too, if it was is altra (í) an mháthair 'is a nurse the mother' or 'the mother is a nurse'.


My grammar book gives the following additional possibilities for determining if a particular noun is definite:

  • a proper noun referring to a particular person or place;
  • a noun qualified by gach ;
  • a noun in the vocative case;
  • a noun qualified by a numeral that functions as an ordinal (e.g. in bús a dó, bús is definite);
  • a noun that governs a definite noun in the genitive (e.g. in teach Phóil, teach is definite because Pól is also).


What grammar book do you use?


Thanks, very helpful.


I have the Christian Brothers’ New Irish Grammar. My copy is from March 1991, so perhaps new copies will incorporate 25 years of improvements.

[deactivated user]

    An Caighdeán Oifigiúil (2012) agrees with your list.
    It lists gach aon and gach uile as well as gach.
    The only other case I can see is the abbreviated title of an organisation, e.g. AE = An tAontas Eorpach, NA = Na Náisiúin Aontaithe.

    I doubt if a new edition of the grammar book will appear as the Christian Brothers are almost extinct in Ireland.


    Definite means you are talking about a specific mother. In this case 'her mother'. Irish needs a subpredicate (except Donegal, as mentioned) before the definite clause in a copulation sentence.


    OK, I think I see. So you wouldn't need the pronoun if you were making a general statement about mothers, e.g. 'a mother is a nurse'?

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