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Just Some Questions and/or Doubts About Irish

Hello everyone!

I recently started the Irish course, and I just have a couple of questions and doubts about certain things in the Irish language. I've never learned a Celtic language before, so I'm naturally having some trouble! ;)

1.) Do nouns have gender in Irish? I've seen that "an buachaill" and "an cailín" have the same definite article. Will something different show up later on in the course, once adjectives come into play?

2.) Certain verbs seem to go out of the word order, especially those with two parts. Which verbs should I look out for? Sometimes I see "mé" or "sí" at the end of a sentence, but isn't Irish a Verb-Subject-Object language?

3.) Is there a special form for the present continuous in Irish? I've noticed when I translate from Irish to English, the continuous form isn't being accepted. Is this just due to the course being in Beta, or is there a grammatical explanation for this?

4.) What is the rule for the pronunciations of "dh" and "bh"? I've noticed that these two combinations of letters are sometimes silent, but they also sometimes symbolize a "v" sound in English.

Thanks in advance, everyone! And have a great day!


August 26, 2014


  1. Yes, nouns have gender. Yes, it matters, you'll see that even adding the article affects them differently. BTW Both buachaill an cailín are masculine nouns.

  2. You are probably thinking of the copula sentences like "Is bean mé". These are a special form.

  3. You can use tá and a verbal noun for that. Like he is working - tá sé ag obair

  4. dh is like h, bh is like w or v

Disclaimer: I'm only learning myself; information not guaranteed to be correct! :P


Oh, good, I see it has a nice, logical gender system like German! :-)


I guess some of us are not as surprised about "cailín" as we might have been, having survived "Mädchen". :-)


Thank you very much for your swift and detailed reply! Have a lingot. :)


TangerMoonmist has answered most of the questions, I'll just add some bits.

dh is silent at the end of words, but is pronounced like gh at the beginning of words. "Gh" itself is a guttural sound. Play the sound file here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiced_velar_fricative

(In the middle of words dh can be a diphthong, but don't worry about that for now.)


Thanks for the Wikipedia article and your own explanation! :)


If there's a "h" after the first letter of the word after "an" e.g. "an bhean" the woman, then it's feminine.

The two examples you chose, buachaill and cailín, are both masculine though.


Ah, okay...Interesting! Good to know.

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