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  5. "Is é an fear is cáiliúla é."

"Is é an fear is cáiliúla é."

Translation:He is the most famous man.

August 27, 2014



Is the second "é" necessary? Or does it actually change the meaning of the sentence?


Yes, as the second "é" is what corresponds to the "He" in the English translation.

The first "é" is a generic pronoun that refers to the first noun and matches it in gender, so it will be "í" for feminine nouns.

Literally the duolingo sentence means:

He is it, the most famous man.

The "He" corresponds to the second "é" and the "it" corresponds to the first "é", "an fear is cáiliúla" then explains what that "it" is. Think of the sentence:

Is é é = He is it.

Then this sentence can be thought of as being like:

Is é (i.e. an fear is cáiliúla) é = He is it (i.e. the most famous man).

In Kerry Irish this is made even stronger where native speakers will say:

an fear is cáiliúla is é é = The most famous man, he is it.

Again the two pronouns do not need to match in gender as they refer to two different things. The first is the gender of the information you are giving, in this case masculine as "an fear" is masculine. The second pronoun is the gender of the subject you are talking about. I'll take a slightly more complicated sentence to show the distinction:

Sin é an saghas duine í Bríd = That is the type of person that Bríd is.

The information here is "an saghas duine = the type of person", this is masculine so we have é. Bríd however is feminine so we have "í" for the second pronoun.

This is probably one of the most complicated aspect of Irish grammar!

Note: The first é is optional in Ulster Irish. The one agreeing with the noun giving the information.


Have some lingots for a great explanation. Also, isn't the one you say is from Kerry really just emphasizing that he's the most famous man?


It originated that way, but would now just be the normal way of saying these sentences in Kerry.


Thank you very much!


AnLonDubhBeag, thanks for the explanation. The Irish-to-English translation was offered to me before an English-to-Irish translation, so the pattern was new to me. The key for me is that Irish doesn’t have a superlative form of adjective; if this was mentioned in the Tips and Notes, I’d missed it. The comparative form for a definite noun, e.g. an fear is cáiliúla (“the more famous man”), becomes superlative when used with the copula, e.g. Is é [comparative] é., with the pronouns matching as you’d described.


Actually "An fear is cáiliúla" by itself means "The most famous man"

níos cáiliúla = more famous.

is cáiliúla = most famous.

For example:

Táim ag caint leis an bhfear is cáiliúla = I'm talking to the most famous man.

The only time "Is cáiliúla" can mean "more famous" is when it occurs at the beginning of a sentence which also includes "ná":

Is cáiliúla Seán ná Mícheál = Seán is more famous than Mícheál.


Thanks for the correction — I must have misinterpreted the examples in my grammar book. They were given, Irish and English, as Is í an tsúil chlé an tsúil is fearr agam (“My left eye is the better [of the two]”) and Is é Seán an gasúr is fearr sa rang (“John is the best boy in the class”). They must have meant that “better” is preferred over “best” for the English translation of the first sentence, since only two eyes were being compared. Both examples used is fearr, hence my confusion.


When comparing two entities better = best.


I must say i could definately learn irish much quicker when it is broken down like this. Go raibh maith agat.


What notes? There weren't any relating to this lesson. Not that I saw anyway...


If that is the most complicated aspect of Irish grammar, I'm really not that worried.


The full copular system is quite complicated to be honest, this is just a rare example where Duolingo starts to reach into it.


Have you got a link to an overview of it? I love grammar. Especially in overviews.


You should add that in Ulster Irish, the second é is not necessary. I took your explanation as the full story and lost a heart when asked to mark all correct translations of "He is the most famous man".


Really? I thought in Ulster Irish it was the first é that was optional. I'll put a note in regardless.

I believe the second é is necessary as you'd have no subject otherwise. The first é could be dispensed with as it just matches the information/predicate in gender and doesn't carry any crucial information. That's why Ulster dispensed with it.


My school Donegal Irish instincts also allowed me to drop the first é and not the 2nd é.

The grammar rule cited at https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/4383900 "a definite noun is not allowed directly following the copula" Comes from here I believe: http://nualeargais.ie/gnag/kopul5.htm Is there any more authoritative source for it?? Any native Donegal Irish speakers on here?


See, that makes SO much sense and matches my linguistic instincts. I can't quite feel why that first é is needed.


this is one of those answers I wish I could bookmark. Alas, not possible, at least with tbe mobile app.

Perhaps a database of most useful answers would ne a thing to do? Users ask many of the same questions over and over, after all.


Thanks for that explanation. It really helps me to understand the breakdown of such a sentence.


so an lon Dubh,, How would you say "she is the most famous girl?


THe best discussion on Irish grammar I have read so far as to a difficult sentence, very helpful.


Is é an fear is spéisiúla sa saol é...


agus olann sé dos equis.


Why two is? I can't wrap my head around this sentence


The first "is" is the copula, used when making a definitive statement about what someone/something essentially is, long term, present tense. "Is innealtóir é" - he is an engineer. The second "is" is the first half of the present tense superlative form, to be followed by the adjective, in this case cailiúil - famous: "Is cailiúla" - the most famous. "Is fearr" - the best. "Is mó" - the biggest/most


wait, so it's one word doing double duty??? that makes so much more sense! grma!


Nope, they are two different words that are both spelled the same way.


Why does "is" have to appear twice? Is it because of the construction needed to convey "most famous"? I would have translated it "Is é an fear cáiliúla é."


Two different words.

mór - "big"
níos mó - "bigger"
is mó - "biggest"

cailiúil - "famous"
níos cailiúla - "more famous"
is cailiúla - "most famous"

trom - "heavy"
níos troime - "heavier"
is troime - "heaviest"



Ah, so it IS connected with the superlative and the second "is" is completely different from the first one in the sentence. Go raibh maith agat.


When did we do superlatives? Did I miss that?


It seems to be part of this lesson (so it's more "adjectives and superlatives" really), but I'm quite astonished as to the lack of tips regarding a new grammar rule...


Reading through the comments, nobody talks about TWO 'is" in the sentence!! Does the second "is" not refer to a verb like the first one? Must be something else--like making cailiula "most" famous.


The second is begins a relative clause: ~who is most famous. The form of the adjective used for comparing, when following is, has the superlative sense.


I'm gradually grokking the two 'e's. But why is 'cailiuila' used here instead of 'cailiuil'?

  • cáiliúil, níos cáiliúla, is cailiúla = famous, more famous, most famous
  • dathúil, níos dathúla, is dathúla = colourful, more colourful, most colourful


Both your examples were ending in "-iúil". Would this be the same way for other types of adjectives: "tuirseach, nios tuirseach, is tuirseach" ?


I suspected as much ;-) I am moving slowly forward, only now arrived at comparisons https://www.duolingo.com/skill/ga/Comparison


Thank you!! I'm trying to just let the grammar aspect of this wash over me, eventually sinking in. But sometimes, I need a chart!


I tried looking up 'cáiliúla' in www.teanglann.ie and couldn't find it. I appreciate this explanation. GRMA


teanglann.ie is quite forgiving about different grammatical forms of a word, and usually provides a link to the FGB entry for the base word, from where you can check the Grammar database to get more detail.


How do we derive "most" famous?


Tá an fear sin cáiliúil - "that man is famous"
Tá an fear sin níos cáiliúla ná mise - "that man is more famous than me"
Is é an fear sin an fear is cáiliúla in Éirinn - "that man is the most famous man in Ireland"

mór - "big"
níos mó - "bigger"
is mó - "biggest"


Can someone tell me where ' most' is in this sentence please ?


is cáiliúla is the superlative form of the adjective cáiliúil.

English is inconsistent on this point - sometimes you have to use the "-est" suffix" ("biggest"), sometimes you can choose either the -est suffix, or the qualifier "most" ("tastiest", "most tasty"), and sometimes you have to you the qualifier "most" - "most famous". Irish doesn't have this inconsistency.


In the reverse question ("Translate into Irish: He is the most famous man") the second é is not accepted. Or am I wrong?


Are some of you seeing tips and notes on these lessons? I'm not seeing anything like that and it's causing me to have to take random guesses at things I've never seen before.


I'm seeing them on some, but not this particular one. The tips and notes are not available on the mobile app, just the web-based version.


...may be something that I've missed, but can someone help me with the spelling for this please. In the dictionary 'famous' comes up as an adjective in the second declension spelt cáiliúil. I also noticed éifeachtach spelt with an a on the end (éifeachtacha) as well, a couple of questions ago. Is there a reason for the a at the end of the word? Is it plural?


For the comparative and superlative forms of an adjective, you use the feminine genitive form.

cáiliúil, níos cáiliúla, is cáiliúla - "famous", "more famous", "most famous"
trom, níos troime, is troime - "heavy", "heavier", "heaviest"
fliuch, níos fliche, is fliche - "wet", "wetter", "wettest"
déanach, níos déanaí, is déanaí - "late", "later", "latest"
láidir, níos láidre, is láidre - "strong", "stronger", "strongest"
páistiúil, níos páistiúla, is páistiúla - "childish", "more childish", "most childish"
costasach, níos costasaí, is costasaí - "expensive", "more expensive", "most expensive"


OK thanks very much for helping!

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