"I run towards them with the cat."
Translation:Rithim chucu leis an gcat.
I wrote "rithim leis an gcat chucu" and it was incorrect. The only difference from the correct one is that I put "chucu" at the end. Why is that? Does Irish have a very fixed sentence structure so you can't move words around a bit, or is it just that I don't understand grammar in this specific sentence?
Why is "cat" eclipsed in "Rithim chucu leis an gcat", whereas "mairteoil" is lenited in "is maith leat an mhairteoil"? Is it because the second sentence uses the copula? Or is it because "leis an"(="le"+"an" = "with" + "the"?) behaves differently to "leat an" (="with you" + "the")?
I'm a beginner also, but I think I see your problem. If you look on the Tips/Notes section of the Eclipsis unit, you'll see that there are nine prepositions which, when followed by 'an', require that the next word after 'an' be eclipsed. 'Le' is one of these prepositions. I think the confusion for you is that, while 'Is maith leat an mhairteoil' could be changed to 'Is maith leis un mhairteoil' if it was 'he' who liked beef instead of 'me', and either way the meat would be lenited, this is not the same 'leis' that is used in 'Rithim chucu leis an gcat', where you have eclipsis. That should actually be 'le an gcat', but is changed to 'leis an gcat' because Irish doesn't like having two vowels together in adjacent words. So it really is 'le + an + noun', which requires the noun be eclipsed. But in the other example about the beef, the word 'leat' does not mean 'le an' or 'with the'; it means 'with you'. The cat sentence fits the eclipsis rule because it is saying 'I run to them with the cat', but the other doesn't have the same structure because it is saying, 'Is good with you the beef'. There is no 'with + the + noun' in that sentence. Even though 'leat' is right before the 'an' followed by the noun, the sentence is not saying 'with the beef' or anything with that structure.
lena gcat is NOT le + an, it is le + a.
Is maith lena gcat bainne - "Their cat likes milk"
Is maith leis an gcat idir chailíní agus bhuachaillí - "The cat likes both girls and boys"