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  5. "Is cailín mé."

"Is cailín mé."

Translation:I am a girl.

August 25, 2014



And from Bantry Bay to Derry Quay / And from Galway to Dublin town / No maid I've seen like the brown cailín / That I met in the County Down

... I totally thought that was her name all this time!!! I GET it now!!!

(That's the chorus from 'Star of the County Down'. Irish music is the reason I've been longing to learn Irish Gaelic all this time, and right in the first lesson...)


Well, it's an easy enough mistake to make, because according to Behind the Name, the name "Colleen" came from the word for "girl."



like there is that true story about "Coleen Bawn"


i am a irish man myself and story is true


What is this Coleen Bawn?


I read it was from "young girl", cause girl is "cailin".


OH MY GOD! I know that this is a very old thread, and probably nobody will see this, but I have always wondered why so many Irish songs call women "colleens." Makes so much more sense now.


Oh my God... I thought her name was Colleen!


Hello... can someone please tell me why the "is" and "me" go around "cailin"? Does is mean I and me is am, or something like that??


Check out the "Tips and notes" available in each lesson! Is is a verb meaning am, and means I.


I see... what a strange word order! Thank you!


If you're used to English, English is SVO; or Subject Verb Object. Subject - I, Verb - Ran, Object - There.

Irish on the other hand is VSO, Verb Subject Object. Verb - Ran, Subject - I, Object - There. And if you think that's odd, well Classical Arabic and Hawaiian both have the same word order, along with British origining Celtic languages (Breton, Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, etc).

Wikipedia has a reasonable article on it at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_order

Basically something to keep in mind is that normal is what you're used to, and is not necessarily the only way of doing things; or even the most common way of doing things. English with it's SVO is second tier on the world stage to the more common SOV. Also interesting to note that George Lucas was really lazy when it came to aliens, with his amazing plan being "Let's make Yoda Fijian, that's alien enough".


VSO makes sense now. Thank you!!


Is "there" an object in "I ran there"?


Sure. But this is conceptual and so objects aren't particular things but are defined by where they are in the sentence and by what they're doing.

The subject is who or what you're talking about, the verb is what's happening or the action word, while the object is what's being happened to, if that makes sense.


I eat chocolate.

"I" is the object, I am talking about myself.

"eat" is the verb, that's what is happening.

"chocolate" is the object, that's what I'm eating, it's what is being eaten, it's what I am acting on, or acting upon. It is the word which is being affected by the subject, and the verb is what that effect is.

Does that make sense? Words like "here" and "there" are pronouns, or a word that takes the place of a noun, so they're rather vague when in written form but they are still objects. Just not very useful ones. :P


'ran' is an intransitive verb in that sentence, so there's no object. 'there' is an adverbial employment of a pronoun in a locative or lative sense.


Also, since 'is cailin me' is a copular sentence identifying 'cailin' with 'me', there is technically no object, so presumably the two could switch places just like in English - 'I am a girl' or 'a girl am I'


So, word for word, it is "Is girl I"




Actually it is "Is girl me". If referring to someone else, as in "she is a girl" you would say: is cailín í (not "sí")

it's just that "mé" is both "I" and "me"...


Actually, it is “Am girl I”. “She” is only translated as if it is the subject of a sentence and it is adjacent to its verb, so Is cailín í  in a word-for-word translation is “Is girl she”.


Different culture have different grammar :)


Where are these tips and notes?


Select a language, then click on an area; Basics, for instance.

Then scroll down and you'll see a bunch of grammatical notes and explanations. You can also see them when going through a lesson and clicking on the "Tips and notes" button in the top left of the lesson screen, below the blue Duolingo banner.


Oh dear god, I've been working only on the app and had seen references to Tips and Notes but figured I was just dumb and couldn't find them. Now I've figured out it's on the website.

Having access to these in the app would be great (unless they're already there and I am an idiot).


I've never seen them on the app, though on Android at least it's always a bit behind the main website in terms of languages and features. In some cases that's pretty useful but generally it's more annoying. I still use the app, but first time through a lesson I'll go through it on the website, and then I'll use my phone as a refresher for practice on a train or the like.

That way I get all the convenience of the smartphone while still having all the information on the website.


Like you, I used the app (iOS) exclusively for quite some time. There were some things that I found really difficult to understand, and for those I found the website invaluable. But I think in general it is quite useful not to have the explanations accessible all the time, so that you use your inductive reasoning, at least unconsciously.


me = I Is = am

so the order is: am girl I.

[deactivated user]

    is is cognate to is, and me is cognate to me.


    Lol.. In Hindi "Is caleen mai" means "In this carpet" xD Is → pointing towards something.. can be compared with "that" Caleen → carpet Mai→ can be compared with "in" I was not wearing headphones and everybody in the room started laughing xD lol


    Is there an actual word for the indefinite article in Irish?


    No, a word like 'cailín' needs to be translated as 'a girl'. There's a definite article in Irish, but no indefinite.


    Is sound is "iz"?


    No, it's "iss".

    It may be easier to heal in the examples Is fear mé and Is bean mé.

    You can also hear other speakers say the word on it's own at teanglann.ie


    I looked the word "cailín" up in the dictionary because I wanted to learn the "declination-groups". It says that "cailín" is a "masculine word of the fourth groupe". Is this true?

    • 1560

    The gender of words in Irish depends on the ending of the word, and the diminutive ending "ín" is a masculine ending, so "cailín" is indeed a masculine noun.

    Note that not all words that end in "ín" are masculine - it is when "ín" is used as a diminutive ("braillín" - "(bed)sheet" is feminine, for example, because the "ín" isn't a diminutive), but it is safe to say that most words that end in "ín" are masculine.

    If you're interested in noun declensions, you will probably find this page helpful: http://nualeargais.ie/foghlaim/nouns.php

    The rules of thumb that it provides aren't foolproof, but they will help you to assign a word to the correct declension most of the time.


    What is the literal English translation for "Is cailín mé"?


    I believe it is "am a girl I". See "Lancet's" response above.


    Can any one tell me that why these sentence start and end with same?


    This is the special verb of "to be" which is highly irregular and there are three forms in Irish "tá" which is a present form used when you have a subject and a "form of to be" but no following noun or pronoun and which has the regular Irish word order of verb subject object. (We will learn the habitual form of to be later.) "tá" can be used the same for all the pronouns, but there are also combined forms for "I am "which is "táim" and "we are" which is "táimid".

    The form in this sentence "is" is called the copula and is used for a subject which is equated to a following pronoun or noun. This "is" has a different word order of verb + predicate nominative = subject. "is" is the same for all the pronouns The copula form has several uses, but this is the most common use.




    https://www.duolingo.com/skill/ga/Basics-1 (Scroll down here for the Tips and notes


    The is and mé are "am" and "I" and according to Irish word order, the sentence is ordered as "Am a girl I"


    But without the "a" that doesn't exist in Irish.


    name colleen came from name girl


    I read that "Colleen" means young girl in Irish?


    Yes, it’s an anglicized form of cailín.


    What is I am a in Irish


    Why is it "is cailín mé" and not "is mé cailín"? Isn't Irish a V-S-O language?


    It's Is cailín mé because that's how the copula is used in Irish.

    There is no object in the sentence - the structure is copula-predicate-subject.


    why does it say i am twice?


    Look at it again. The "hint" for is shows that it is part of the phrase is ... mé, and it is the phrase is ... mé that means "I am". has the same hint, because it is also part of the same phrase is ... mé, but the phrase only occurs once in the sentence, so "I am" only occurs once in the translation.

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