"I was in the house."

Translation:Bues i yn y tŷ.

October 12, 2016



Hello, I've finished the course now and am revising, but I still don't understand the difference between bues i and ro'n i. I mean in terms of meaning and usage, rather than just grammatical category. Thank you :-)

October 12, 2016


This puzzles a lot of people, never mind new learners!

By and large, you can use the imperfect of bod (ro'n i, etc) wherever you can use the simple past (bues i, etc) - people could be strict about it but in practice they are not. However, the reverse is not true - the simple past of bod cannot always be used where the imperfect is used.

Generally, the simple past can be used for something which happened in the past, typically in a given time-frame, and which finished in the past. It must not be used in describing a period in which something else happened:

  • 'I was in Cardiff when I fell over' could only use Ro'n i yng Nghaerdydd pan..., not * Bues i yng Nghaerdydd pan...

I could say:

  • Bues i yng Nghaerydd ddoe - a simple statement, or, just as well in colloquial usage
  • Ro'n i yng Nghaerdydd ddoe - much more commonly used, really.

A number of set phrases also use the simple past of bod. A common one is:

  • Bu farw fe ym 1978 - He died in 1978 - a simple statement of what is, by its very nature, a one-off event in the past.
  • Buodd/Bu cyfarfod ddydd Llun diwethaf - There was a meeting last Monday. (A rather formal usage, though.)

Also you could say things such as:

  • Buon ni'n gweithio yn Sbaen am flwyddyn ym 1998. - We worked in Spain for a year in 1998 - a definite span of time which started and finished in the past, and spoken of as an event rather than a continuous activity during which other things happened that we might want to describe.

It is not something which gets used very widely nowadays, but it is useful to be able to recognise it when it does come up.

October 12, 2016


Wow, thank you for the very detailed reply. It's totally cleared up a question that's been at the back of my mind for a while. So lazy learner version is "You can use ro'n for everything, but you should be able to recognise "bues" when you encounter it"?

October 12, 2016


Yeees..., not quite true but probably close enough to be going on with!

If you find a grammar book which gives a valid and fool-proof explanation, please let us know! There is rumoured to be one, but it is out of print and the surviving copies change hands only for pure Welsh gold guarded by dragons in caves in the depths of remote mountains in a country which appears on no modern map. The grammarian who wrote it is now a transcendental being who communicates only with people with more than one doctorate in more than three languages.

October 12, 2016
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