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  5. "Conas atá sé?"

"Conas atá sé?"

Translation:How is he?

August 26, 2014



Why is it atá and not tá?


atá = which is

Conas atá sé? = How which he is?


"that", surely, rather than "which", as it has no pronominal meaning.

"Conas atá sé" = "How that he is?", meaning "How is it that he is?"

This is a bit similar to the French construction "Est-ce que...?"/"Qu'est-ce que...?"

Consider "Qu'est-ce que c'est?" means "What is it?" but is literally "What is it that it is?"


I didn't know English had a well defined difference between "that" and "which"! Thanks!

EDIT: Would you mind explaining the pronominal meaning distinction between "which" and "that", just to confirm that "that" would be a better translation.


Well it's not really "well defined", and my objection wasn't well expressed.

"Which" often (but not always) has a pronominal sense: eg "...and then I was granted the freedom of the city. Which was nice."

It is most common in this sort of "non-defining" clause, and "that"/zero-conjunction is more common in "defining" clauses. "the house that Jack built".

"Which", then, is potentially misleading when used in an artificial construction in English


My two cents: typically, when "which" leads a dependent clause in English, it means that the information in the clause is not essential to the intended meaning of the sentence. You can almost imagine it as a parenthetical aside. Leading the same phrase with "that" implies that you are distinguishing something in particular.

To extend an example used above:

"The house that Jack built is still standing." (Unlike all the other houses, which fell down, Jack's house is still intact.)

"The house, which Jack built, is still standing." (The house is still standing. By the way, Jack built it! Doesn't he do great work?)


While unfamiliar with the linguistic terms, I can share a tip from a copy editing class: The Comma Witch (or which, rather. It goes much better verbally).

The general rule being you use 'which' only when you are also using a comma, and you use 'that' when you are not. It was a fun learning device, as my professor drew a comma on the board and gave it a hat and broom.


Haha, well I guess we're going to begin early with the brain hurting for this language ;)

You've answered what it literally means, but it doesn't really, at least from the perspective of a native English speaker, make it any clearer why we use ‘atá’ and not simply ‘tá’. Is there any kind of explanation you can give to clarify in which situations either form applies?

Thanks in advance! :)


Conas is contraction of three words which originally meant "What state", so very literally it is:

What state which you are?

The only real explanation for it I can think of that might work is that Irish will not break VSO word order. So if some kind of question word like "Conas" comes first, the language will use "atá" so that the verb still comes first in a given clause.


I am fairly new to Irish, so correct me if I am wrong, but from my studies whenever you have a question you need to add the particle "a" before the verb - this is the same particle for introducing relative clauses. Normally that particle is separate and causes lenition, but for "tá" it has been shortened to "atá". And if the copula "is" is implied, "a" can be left out too. For example, "Cad é sin?" = "What is that?"


Actually, the copula "is" is implied by every question word. "Cad [is] atá sin?" What is it that it is.

Note that the copula is dropped after negative and question particles too, so this is entirely regular and predictable.

Is fear mé Ní fear mé



I'm not entirelly certain but I think it may be due to the question form, It sounds weird the other way though !!


Why is this "how is it" in stead of "how is he" why is sé here if it isn't reffering to a him?


Irish doesn't differentiate between "he" and "it" - can mean "it" or "him" depending on the context.


Can it also be translated as "how is it?"


One might also encounter Cén chaoi a bhfuil tú? in Connemara and Cad é mar atá tú? in Ulster.


I don't understand how it is pronounced.


How can I put the right answer if I don't have the words?


I learned "Conas tá tú?" for "How are you?". Can this also be "Conas atá tú?" also? I was wondering why the audio for "Conas tá tú?" had the extra "a" sound in it.


It’s properly Conas atá tú?, but in this instance atá is often shortened to — think of it as Conas ’tá tú?.


Thank you! Go raibh maith agat.

It's good to know that I'm not just hearing things that shouldn't be in the audio. (I guess I might not have been clear previously, I'm referring to audio from other Irish learning material I have.)


i wrote the write answer in to conas atá se but it said i was wrong


I put sé and it told me i was wrong. Should it be "conas atá é" instead?


is definitely correct, that was likely an error on Duolingo's side.


Kept telling me I was typing in English. I did make an error, but there wasn't any English in what I typed. (I had a space between a and ta.)


Why does this mean how is it' and nothow is he'? Or can it be both?


It can mean either "How is he?" or "How is it?".


I gave the right answer but was marked wrong. I have a screen shot but don't know how to attach


Why is "how is it going?" not acceptable?


"How's it going?" is a greeting, like "How are things?" or even "What's up?". The equivalents in Irish range from cén chaoi a bhfuil cúrsaí?, conas atá agat? to aon scéal?

Conas atá sé? is asking about someone or something specific, rather than things in general - "How is he?".


i was surprised by the pronunciation of the question in this sentence. the upspeak pronunciation of this sentence seems to possibly be indicative of a general trend (maybe) in ireland according to this article by hugh linehand )19 feb 2016) in the irish times (about english speakers): https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/tv-radio-web/how-the-irish-like-speak-now-1.2541111

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