Question about formation of plurals
Like the subject says, I have a question about the formation of plurals. I'm still two skills shy of the second checkpoint in the Irish course, but I don't see any further skill having to do with plurals, so please forgive me if this is covered later on! (And please tell me if it is!)
My one grammar book is being unhelpful about this (it's not very clear, and reads more like it's someone's shorthand notes from a language course than a resource in and of itself).
How do you know how to change a noun in the plural? For example, something like "grasshopper". Google translate gives me "dreoilín teaspaigh" for grasshopper, but only spits back "grasshoppers" when I ask it for the plural.
I know with "spider", the sg. form is "damhán alla" and the pl. is "damháin alla". Would grasshopper be the same way, with the second word staying the same and the first changing somehow? "dreoilíní teaspaigh"?
That's what I thought, then I saw that "whale" is "míol mór", while "whales" is "míolta móra", with both words changing.
How do I know what is what? Does anyone know any website or other resource with good explanations about this? It's really annoying me....
Yes, that is very helpful, thank you! :D
But it doesn't mention what to do with 2-part words. I know if the 2nd word is an adjective it has to agree with the noun, but what happens if the noun itself is 2 words? In the example above, "dreoilín teaspaigh" is classified as an m4 noun. The page you gave me told me that the plural of the first bit is definitely "dreoilíní"... but how do I know what happens to the 2nd word?
teaspaigh is genitive of the word teaspach ‘heat, warm weather’, so dreoilín teaspaigh means literally ‘(single) wren of a (single) heat’, or ‘warm weather wren’, or something like that.
You cannot decline genitive (which by itself is already a declined form of a noun), so it cannot change. Thus you can only create plural by saying sth like ‘(many) wrens of a (single) heat’ – dreoilíní teaspaigh.
The second word of a compound noun in Irish will almost always be an adjective (which has to match in number with the noun) or a noun in genitive (which will not change its number). The exceptions will be compound words which start with an adjective and the second part is lenited noun, eg. seanbhean (sean + bean) ‘old woman’.
In some cases, a genitive plural can function as an adjective for a singular noun, e.g. beatha cearc (“chicken feed”, literally “food of hens”), but the plural of that noun phrase would still not change the genitive noun component — beathaí cearc.
You're not alone struggling with the plural, I'm trying to untangle this ball of yarn myself. Thanks for asking :) I'm not done with the present tense either, so much less further in the tree than you. I don't want to move too far before having more ease on these two basis skills.