"His" vs. "Her" --- how do you know?
What are the rules on ”his” and “her”? Sometimes one takes lenition and sometimes the other on the object that follows. How do you tell them apart? How do you know when to use which one?
a máthair nó a mháthair (her mother or his mother)
a iníon nó a hiníon (his daughter or her daughter)
It's explained in detail in Tips and Notes: https://www.duolingo.com/skill/ga/Possessives/tips-and-notes
The important thing to remember is that the h- prefix before a word that starts with a vowel is not lenition - the séimhiú that is used to indicate the masculine possessive adjective "his" only applies to words that start with a consonant. While modern Irish writing uses the same character ("h") for both the séimhiú and the h-prefix, they are actually performing two different functions, and it's worth keeping them separate in your mind - that's one reason why it's helpful to refer to the character that indicates lenition as a séimhiú rather than just calling it "h".
SatharnPHL, that is very helpful. The mobile app offers no explanation. It's like immersion with subtitles but no instruction.
In fact, they are almost opposite things, in the sense that you never get both in the same context. If you have a word starting with a vowel that takes the "h" prefix, you can be sure that a word starting with a consonant wouldn't lenite in this context; and if you have a lenited word, you can be sure that a word starting with a vowel wouldn't take the "h" prefix.
It doesn't work the other way round, though (i.e. "no lenition -> must have h prefix" is wrong). There are enough cases where neither happens.
The possessives are explained in general terms, but his/her not specifically in great detail. But I think I got it: when the object possessed begins with a vowel, 'her' adds an h-, and when the object begins with a consonant, 'his' adds an -h.
Thanks for the link, 40shades. I've been using the android app for 5 months and nowhere in the app is there any clue that there are additional resources on this website. I stumbled across this forum on google.
Yes, when I first installed Duolingo, I didn't have any idea about them either. There really should be some indication in the application that there is additional information on the web. Or, better yet, they could finally add the tips to the app. I'm not holding my breath though anymore...
Note also that in English, "her" is used for both the feminine 3rd person singular possessive adjective ("his" and "her") and for the feminine 3rd person singular pronoun ("him" and "her"). You're so used to it in English that you don't even notice, but it can sometimes cause confusion when translating.
"I saw her" - chonaic mé í
"I saw her coat" - chonaic mé a cóta
"I met her" - bhuail mé léi
"I met her sister" - bhuail mé lena deirfiúr
"there is a butterfly on her" - tá féileacán uirthi
"there is a butterfly on her coat" - tá féileacán ar a cóta
How true. Thankfully, I learned English as my native tongue before I knew better. I can't imagine trying to learn it as a second language. English is bonkers!