Irish: When to use Cad or Cén?
I get confused between the two. Cad is used to ask someone's name - cad is ainm duit (what is your name) but Cén is used to ask the time - cén t-am é (what is the time). Also sometimes see 'céard'. Thanks.
Cad and céard are interrogative pronouns, so they won’t be followed by a noun, such as in your example Cad is ainm duit? . (Etymologically, céard is a shortened form of cad é an rud.)
Cén is a determiner with a built-in article, so it will always be followed by a noun, such as in your example Cén t-am é? . Cén can also be thought of as “which”.
grmma! i love these explanations so much. mind blown. cad é an rud. no shit. also, i had not pieced together the bit about whether certain ones are followed by a noun or not, and it really helps to know the breakdown with cén that explains why it can be used differently. míle, míle buíochas duit!
"What time is it? can be Cad é an t-am? or "Cén t-am é?*.
Cén includes a definite article - you don't need an article to say "What is your name?" - Cad is ainm duit?, but you do use an article to ask Cén t-ainm atá ort? ("which name is on you?" or "what is the name that is on you?").
Cad é an t-am? and Cad é an t-am é? are both used, though you could probably differentiate them as "What is the time?" and "What time is it?"