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  5. "He is the most famous man."

"He is the most famous man."

Translation:Is é an fear is cáiliúla.

September 1, 2014



Why is it 'cáiliúla' rather than just 'cáiliúl'?


Superlative (and comparative) adjectives typically take the feminine genitive singular form.


Okay can someone explain the grammer of this to me, I can't seem to wrap my head around it.

Why not: "Is an fear is cáiliúla é"?

The introduction to an chopail in 'Basics 1' explicitly states: "The word you are talking about goes in the middle."

I know I'm probably being too rigid, but I just can't seem to understand this.


The notes in Basic 1 are a very brief introduction, and don't explain that "a definite noun is not allowed directly following the copula", so you can't say Is an fear é, and you handle that by inserting a subpredicate (é, í or iad), so you have Is é an fear é.

As freymuth's link shows, the reverse translation of this sentence uses Is é an fear is cáiliúla é. I don't know why the é at the end (which is actually the subject "he") was dropped in this exercise, but it is optional in Ulster Irish.


In the Ulster Irish form, the remaining é in Is é an fear is cáiliúla is the subject rather than the subpredicate.


I'm pretty sure that's a post-facto grammatical kludge to get around the fact that the é at the end has been dropped, rather than a fundamental grammatical difference between the dialects.


I see it as Ulster Irish using the word order for identificational copular sentences with first- and second-person pronoun subjects for sentences with third-person pronoun subjects as well.

EDIT: john703681, Is é an fear níos cáiliúla (é) means “He is the more famous man”.


Is e an fear nios cailiula How is this translated


I don't entirely understand this but I like how it sounds.


The subject and predicate are not evident from the isolated statement. Is the predicate 'he' or 'the most famous man'?

Re 'Is é an fear is cáiliúla é' the noun phrase can be taken with either é.

Re ‘Is é an fear is cáiliúla’ it seems é can be taken either as subject or predicate like the ‘He’ in the English sentence.

So, in either construction, as in the English, we require the context (not given) to determine the topical subject.

My understanding. Corrections welcome.


So, in either construction, as in the English, we require the context (not given) to determine the topical subject.

Not quite, in Is é an fear is cáiliúla é the predicate is unambiguously an fear is cáiliúla and the 2nd é is unambiguously the subject. The first é is pretty much meaningless filler.

Is é an fear is cáiliúla is trickier. As I've noted in a previous comment, in Connacht and Munster it only permits the interpretation "It's the man who's most famous" (the full answer to the question "Who's most famous?"). I've parsed this interpretation fully over there, and the é after the copula is again meaningless filler.

Only in Ulster is it possible to interpret Is é an fear is cáiliúla as "He is most famous". I'm not well-versed in the Ulster dialect but it definitely seems like the first é is now content-bearing. I think it best to be agnostic about whether it's subject or predicate, and like you say let context determine the logical structure of the sentence.


Thanks for your considered reply.

So my new understanding is that Is é an fear is cáiliúla é would be an answer to Cé hé? where ‘he’ is the subject being discussed. And Is é an fear is cáiliúla would be an answer to Cé hé an fear is cáiliúla? where ‘the most famous man’ is the subject being discussed; with the caveat that in Ulster we had best rely on context.

Of course, realistically for the latter question we would expect a name to be given in the reply, as the most famous man is hardly likely to be in the vicinity to be pointed out. E.g. Is é Seán an fear is cáiliúla = ‘It is Sean who is the most famous man’.


Great explanation. Elsewhere there's "Is fear amaideach é" which is correct. So the following are all correct? "Is é an fear is cáiliúla" "Is é an fear is cáiliúla é" "Is fear cáiliúil é"

The main thing to remember is if you were to say [incorrect] "Is an fear is cáiliúla é" to someone, I don't think that there's any doubt that they'd understand you, just that it might sound stilted. (correct me if I'm wrong on that).

(Assuming your quote paraphrases http://nualeargais.ie/gnag/kopul5.htm ; I've seen that website cited a lot; is it the last word on grammar?)


You have made excellent contributions to this discussion. To be told that some construction is right here, and wrong elsewhere is so wearisome. I'd be happy to be assured that both constructions are correct.


Both "Is é an fear is cáiliúla" and "Is é an fear is cáiliúla é" are both correct and are both accepted. The trick is to remember to use the feminine genitive on the superlative adjective.


Adjectives ending with -iúil drop the "I" and add an "a" [iúil to -iúla] in both the comparative and superlative forms


In this case, shouldn't "is é an fear is cáiliúla é" also be made an acceptable option for the translation-from-English exercise? Currently, it is not accepted.


Thank you for explaning that last é. iv to depend on memory for alot of those exercises as my grammer is weak.


I think you can still apply your rule of thumb (i.e., "The word you are talking about goes in the middle."), but you would need to think of the sentence as "The most famous man is he."

Or even better, read this link


I'm confused. In a previous lesson I was required to use the first and the second é. Was marked wrong if I didn't. (I was only using the second é.) Now I used both and while I was given credit as having it right, it was only because I had a "typo"; the second é. The correct answer was given as just having the first é. What the heck!? What is the correct grammatical structure here? I don't understand it.


With couplas (phrases that use is), a definite particle (an or na) can never be right next to the is, therefore a shortened pronoun such as é or í is used to seperate them. Think of it as a kind of placeholder.


Have the same problem. Could swear the answer was "is e an fear is cailiula e"


Your answer is correct for 'He' as the subject.

The given answer without the second é expresses 'He' as the predicate. 'HE is the most famous man. eisean instead of é would make this clearer.

In the Ulster dialect, 'he' may be either subject or predicate in this construction, depending on context.


Would "Tá sé an fear is cáiliula" work?


No, because is not the copular form. The copula (is) serves to link two nouns (or a noun and a pronoun, like here).

Tá an fear cáiliul - The man is famous. (No second noun/pronoun)


Is é an fear cáiliul - He is a famous man. (He is linked to man, so you need the copula)


Thank you SO MUCH! There's been a lot of tall about the copula but I never understood what a copula was! Thank you so much! All the fancy grammatical terms are as confusing as the language itself.


I still don't know what the heck the copola is, and I read a lot of these side notes and posts.The grammatical linguistic terminology is sure mind-boggling!The only thing I can do is just keep hammering at it in repetition,to see it, hear it, learn how to spell it, learn and see where the fada accents lie in the word,and that's the given, no argument other than that about it!If that is the way it is said and pronounced in Ireland, then that is the way it is, no questions asked further! I just try and take it as is, that that is the way it is said and pronounced,period!! Because all the terminology just doesn't stick with me. Some is, but very slowly! As much as I read it, I never studied that kind of info., didn't even understand it in English class in grade school or high school, haha!


I cannot see how old this comment is, but this may help. Take your time with learning the language, read the links here several times and eventually the sentence structures begin to make sense.


That makes SO much sense now!!! Bless!


This is the only explanation of the copular form that had ever made a lick of sense to me. THANK YOU SO SO MUCH!!!!! I've seen many people say it's just like the difference between "ser" and "estar" in Spanish. NATIVE SPEAKERS have told me this! But it's not that at all! It's about comparing two nouns, often with one of them being a pronoun. You have no idea what a breakthrough this is, and without the shop talk and masters degree in grammar mumbo jumbo! Yay! You ROCK!


Umm... Is é an fear cáiliul. He is THE famous man. Not, He is A famous man. Right? Am I wrong here? And there should be an é at the end, right? Am I wrong? Would it be, Is fear cáiliul é, for, He is A famous man? I'm probably wrong here, eh?


Is fear cailiúil é - "He is a famous man"
Is é an fear cailiúil é - "He is the famous man"


Ha! I get it now! After all these months and rereading this post a dozen times. Ha, ha, ha, I get it. It's the definite article that's causing all the problems. Ha. Hmm .. Actually I had it back then. I just didn't know I had it. Well, now I know.


That's what I'm talking about okay...? I don't understand either, and I would have many many questions,but just look at it as it is, and I want it that way, that that's what it means,and just practice saying that and that's what it is, end of story! Some of the side notes are just crazy! I got to laugh at 'em,cuz some of them are pretty freaking ridiculous!! I'm a musician and I have to practice every day, it's the same thing with this. Forget about the side notes,(until you really need them),and just get after it!


Does anyone have a good way of explaining why sometimes we use "Is" and sometimes "Nios" in a way were i wont need a phd in rocket science or a map to understand. Thanks very much


níos is used for "more" or "-er" - níos fearr - "better", níos blasta - "more tasty" or "tastier".

is is used for "most" or "-est" - is fearr - "best", is blasta - "most tasty" or "tastiest".


Thank you very much, got it :)


A previous question put an additional è at the end of the sentance "Is è an fear is càiliùla è" Can anyone explain why this version doesnt have it?


Dialect. Grammatically speaking, the first é is a placeholder, and the second é is the real subject, but in Ulster Irish that second é is dropped and the first one becomes the de facto subject.


Folks, a basic guide to grammatical terms would not be amiss in the context of a language course. I understand that we all have the world at our fingertips now but please, a little bit of patience with our fellow learners.


Just wonderin. Does the use of is é suggest a permanent state? He may be the most famous now but for how long?


No — it’s a statement of identification, and is is what’s used to make statements of identification.


Thank you SatharnPHL. I should have waited until I got through the whole exercise.


In spoken Irish, am I right in saying that the sentence would be pronounced 'Shay an..' rather than 'Is ay an'? If so, can that be written with an apostrophe; "' 'Sé an fear is cáiliúla" ? I think having " 'Sé " as a contraction of " Is + é " would actually make it easier to know whether a n " é " is needed at the start or end or bot.


A rather simple and silly question: Is the second "is" equivalent to "most" in English?


Yes! níos = more is = most

The first 'is' (Is é an fear) can be thought of as the verb 'to be', but isn't actually a verb; in grammatically terms, it's known as the 'copula' (from copulate!) The copula links two words together and indicates that they are equal, in this case, linking 'é' and 'an fear' => he is the man.

The 2nd 'is' in the sentence means 'most'. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/is#Irish suggests that in this usage, 'is' is "strictly speaking the relative of the copula", but you wouldn't think of it that way.

(If you did want to think of the 2nd 'is' in 'is cáiliúla' in terms of the copula, you could think of it linking 'an fear' and 'cáiliúla', with the interpretation that the sentence means that there is no possibility of any other thing occupying the category famousness; 'he is the man, the man is famousness' -> end of story!)


And here I was thinking I was finally getting a grasp on the copula... XD

I also don't think I've run into superlatives in the regular lessons yet, yet here is one in a practice session. Oh well.


Thoughts on correctness/accuracy of 'an fear is cáiliúla is ea é' as an answer? (Duo doesn't like it)


It's not correct, ea can only replace an indefinite predicate. In Is fear cáiliúil é we have a classification clause and the predicate, fear cáiliúil is indefinite (lit. "a famous man"), so we can apply inversion to yield Fear cáiliúil is ea é.

In Is é an fear is cáiliúla é however we have an identification, and the predicate is definite: an fear is cáiliúla (lit. "the man who is most famous). Thus we can't replace the predicate with ea. It is still possible to apply inversion to get an fear is cáiliúla is é é, but this structure is quite rare outside of Kerry.


Just to be sure...if I understand correctly, it's the definite/indefinite that determines whether the is ea form is allowed? To pick a simpler example, is ceannaire é and ceannaire is ea é for he is a leader would both be correct. Whereas he is the leader would have to use the copular form - is é an ceannaire. ??


So would "Is iad na fir is cáiliúla iad" be the correct way to say "They are the most famous men"?


I presume adding the 'é' to it emphasises the 'he'? So 'he' is the most famous man, not another man...


In your comment, you say that the second é is required, but on the multiple choice version I had both with and without offered as options and both were needed for my multiple choice to be correct.

Correct solutions: Is é an fear is cáiliúla., Is é an fear is cáiliúla é.


The second é isn’t required in Ulster Irish, but it is required in the other dialects (and in the written Caighdeán form).


It's confusing that the course is meant to be caighdeán but you are required to know what is possible in all dialects to answer correctly.

Not necessarily bad to know these things, I like to hear chonnacht related tips since i live there. But is the story of the course consistent?


Í should have said 'style'or'method'. Ie course teaches caighdeán but accepts dialectical answers when given by regs user, isn't that the case? But to answer here one must know both caighdeán and Ulster to select all correct answers.


If (as I suspect) the “Select the missing word” format and the “Translate this text” format are mere presentation variants of the same exercise, then this is another drawback of this particular Duolingo feature. (Another one is particularly evident in the Conditional skill, where several one-word answers in the “Select the missing word” format can be grammatically correct, but only one of them is treated as being correct — presumably because only the “Translate this text” format mentions what the preferred translation is.)


What do you mean by “the story of the course”?


Anyone reading this needs to go to the link AnLonDubhBeag provided. The information in the link cleared up so much confusion I had had about my studies. Go raibh míle maith agat, a chara.


clúiteach is another adjective for famous and should be accepted as a correct answer in this case


Use the Report a Problem button to bring it to the attention of the course creators.


Ta se an fear is cailiula, would this not work?


Just leave out the adjective cailiula for a moment.

You can't say Ta sé an fear - you are linking a pronoun () and a noun (fear), so you have to use the copula - Is é an fear.

The adjective is just a decoration on the noun, it doesn't change the grammar that makes this a copular sentence.


"Tá sé an fear is cáiliúla" got flagged as wrong. What's the difference?


Tá sé fear is simply ungrammatical Irish - you must use the copula is to link a pronoun ("he") and a noun ("man").


When do you use cailula rather than cailiuil?


cáilúla is the singular feminine genitive form of cáiliúil, the plural nominative form of cáiliúil, and the plural genitive form of cáiliúil for strong plurals.

So you'll use cáilúla whenever you need the singular feminine genitive form of cáiliúil, the plural nominative form of cáiliúil, or the plural genitive form of cáiliúil for strong plurals.

In practical terms, that means that you'll use cáilúla for the comparative (níos cáilúla - "more famous"), the superlative (is cáiliúla - "most famous") and in most cases of plural attributive adjectives (na daoine cáiliúla - "the famous people").


Great, thanks. I have a feeling I am never going to get the hang of that but at least now I have a chance.


In an earlier lesson there was another é at the end? What is the story here??


I found this discussion very heloful - am curious if I will be able to come back to this thread when I move on to the next lesson


Why is the é not at the end , Is an fear is cáiliúla é. If it was He is the man wouldn't the sentence be Is an fear é?


...I know the discussions on duolingo can be messy, with folks discussing lots of different things, but your question has been answered above - see Satharn's comments, for example.

Basically, tho, you will hear two forms: 'is é an fear is cáiliúla é' and 'is é an fear is cáiliúla'. The second is used in Ulster, the other elsewhere (and in the Standard).


Why not Tá sé? Thanx


You are using the noun "man" to identify the pronoun "he", making this a copular statement.

Eureka Moments with the Irish Copula: A Crib Sheet


Is "Cailiul" also OK for "famous" ie "An fear is cailiul"


cáiliúil - "famous"
níos cáiliúla - "more famous"
is cáiliúla - "most famous"


2 comments: 1) Ive seen "is e an fear is cailiula e he is the most famous man Also 2) what is difference between "fear cailiuil" and "ear cailiula"

PS I know I don't have the "fada" accents. Forgive


Fear cáiliúil means a famous man. Notice cáiliúil in this case is singular matching féar (a man). Fir (men) is féar plural and requires a change to the adjective cáiliúil -> cáiliúla.


Comparative and superlative forms of cáiliúil (níos and is) or (-er & -est) are cáiliúla


Despite being correct (see below in this discussion), "is é an fear is cáiliúla é" is currently not accepted as a correct translation in the Duolingo exercise. Maybe someone could rectify this?

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