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Dependant and independent form of the verb

I’m getting it difficult to get my head around/understand what is meant by the Dependant and independent form of the verb

I have been given a few examples of the dependant and independent form of the verb ‘to be’

Cad é mar ata (the t and a are highlighted) tú - ‘how are you.’

Cá bhfuil tú - where are you.

I see that if you remove the bhfuil then you only get two words - where you. I can see where the bhfuil is important. Is it something like the old joining word my English teacher spoke of many years ago. Would that be a way of looking at it?

Thanks in advance for any help


August 24, 2019


Sorted by top post


The dependent forms of verbs are used for three reasons:
1) it follows a preverbal particle (e.g. indicating a question or negation)
2) it follows a subordinating conjunction (e.g. the "joining word" you mentioned: "that" in English, go in Irish)
3) it follows an indirect relative particle (see scilling's comments here: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/31673709)

An bhfuil sé? (Is he?)
Deir sé go bhfuil sé. (He says that he is.)
Tá sé. (He is.)

In the first sentence, An indicates a question, so the dependent form of "to be", bhfuil, is used.

In the second sentence, the subordinating conjunction go is used, which makes "that he is" a dependent clause, so it needs the dependent form bhfuil

In the third sentence, none of the conditions apply, so the independent form of "to be", , is used.

August 25, 2019


There’s a fourth reason to use a dependent verb conjugation:

4) it follows the relative pronoun a (“all that”), e.g. seo a bhfuil againn (“this is all that we have”).

August 25, 2019


I follow most of this, but i'm not quite clear which of these categories the "bhfuil" in "cén chaoi a bhfuil tú" falls into. Could you help explain that one?

August 29, 2019


It's the indirect relative particle "a" which causes the dependent verb form "bhfuil".

"Cén chaoi" is followed by the indirect relative particle because it is an adverbial relative clause (you can translate "a" by the English relative adverb "how": "Which way is it how you are")

August 29, 2019


That makes sense. Thank you!

August 30, 2019

  • 1221

For most verbs, the independent and dependent forms are the same - you only see the difference in 5 of the irregular verbs, and only in some of the tenses.

The most obvious way to recognize when the dependent form is different from the independent form is to look at the interrogative and negative forms, which come after the verbal particles an and .

- an bhfuil - níl (this is a special case)
Bhí - an raibh - ní raibh (past tense)
rinne - an ndearna - ní dhearna (past tense)
chonaic - an bhfaca - ní fhaca (past tense)
chuaigh - an ndeachaigh - ní dheachaigh (past tense)
gheobhaidh - an bhfaighidh - ní bhfaighidh (future tense)
gheobhadh - an bhfaigheadh - ní bhfaigheadh (conditional mood)

Níl is a special case because the negative particle lenites, and ní fhuil has fused to "níl*.

That's what the dependent forms are, and that's where you can most easily see the difference between the independent and dependent forms. Your difficulty with the two examples you gave has more to do with the fact that it's not obvious why one question uses the dependent form and the other uses the independent form, but that's a different question, and it doesn't arise for other verbs:
conas a théann tú ansin? - "how do you go there?"
cá dtéann tú?* - "Where do you go?"

Your analysis of bhfuil as a "joining word" misses the point - bhfuil is no more a "joining word" than "are" is in English, and bhfuil is a form of the verb , just as "are" is a form of the verb "be". That's actually far more straightforward than cad é mar atá tú?, which is only translated as "how are you?" by convention - a more literal translation would go something along the lines of "what is it like that you are?" - is it any wonder you're confused about independent and dependent verb forms? :-)

So forget those two examples, focus on the more obvious examples of independent and verb forms - there is only a handful of them. You will get used to whether to use the dependent of independent forms of the verb in other situations largely by example - most people learn the phrase Cá bhfuil ...? long before they ever encounter the notion of dependent and independent verb forms, so cá tá just never arise.

August 25, 2019
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