how do i distinguish between "a" having the meaning of "his", "her" or "its" in this situation?
Both "a (his)" and "a (hers)" affect the following noun differently, and this changes based on whether the noun begins with a vowel or a consonant. "A" can also mean "their", so be note that this changes the noun as well.
Éadaí = clothes; a éadaí = his clothes; a héadaí = her clothes; a n-éadaí = their clothes.
Bean = woman; a bhean = his woman; a bean = her woman; a mbean = their woman.
This trips me up so much more than it really should. I know that "the" is "an". Maybe I'm getting interference from English and my brain is supplying "an = a, therefore a = the". That's the only explanation I can think of why I keep writing "the clothes" instead of "her clothes".
ar an úrlar.
The presence of a preposition like ar means that the gender rules that are used in the nominative no longer apply - an bhó, ar an mbó, an buachaill, ar an mbuachaill, an t-urlár, ar an urlár.
This is important information to have. Does Duolingo ever teach this, or are we lucky that someone like you finally mentioned it in the comments section?
I'm pretty sure the eclipsis skill has always covered "preposition + an" because it's probably the first example of eclipsis that most learners encounter, and it is certainly the most common when you are first learning Irish.
GRMA. It's been a while since I read that section, so either I forgot about it or it's been edited since the last time I read it.