So, if someone asked me this, how would I know what to interpret the question as? Say, I have brothers and sisters, but I don't have children, so the answer could be either 'yes' or 'no', depending on the questioner's intent. Is there some way of determining what they meant?
Every site I've looked on gives different definitions for Clann, Teaghlach, Gaolta and Muintir. It varies by dialect, it varies by county and it varies by region. This makes it very hard to pick the right one when it's asking multi-choice questions or English-Irish translations. Far too often it uses the word "family" but when you put in your answer, it's just guess work which one it is and more often than not, it's the wrong answer for no good reason offered. If it's not specified in the question and you get something like "How is your family" why are you not able to use any of the versions of family? That's making it so much harder than it should be. I'm using this to brush up on the Irish that I studied in school. I've been able to get through a lot of the sections and in certain sections such as pronouns, the explanations have been much better than we got in school. However, the family section has been pure Hell because of inconsistencies like Clann/Teaghlach/Gaolta/Muintir.
Strictly, it means your descendants, so it would include your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc., but its most common use is just your children — clann clainne could also be used to mean your descendants (or your grandchildren). It shouldn’t include one’s partner, and would never include one’s ancestors.
It was explained on another thread that clann refers to one's offspring and all future descendants; teaghlach means "household" and refers to a family living under one roof; gaolta are "relatives, kin"; and muintir is an entire family--all relatives past, present and future, including children and spouses. If I'm wrong about any of this, someone please correct me.
Where is the verb in an clan agat?
If you reform the sentence as a statement instead of a question, it would be tá clann agat, not clan agat, and an bhfuil? is the interrogative form of tá - an is just the interrogative participle that is applied to all verbs in the present tense, but you still need a verb to apply it to.
Yeah, Knocksedan, my question was dumb. Thanks for responding, nevertheless.
I was probably reading An bhuil as Ca bhuil and wondering about the role of bhuil. I see now that "An bhuil" is a unit (Buntús translates is as "is?" or "are?") and that "An" is not the article "the."
...so... how about sean.mullen's explanation/division of labor several posts farther up the line?
Also: 'clann' as 'children' in this context makes sense if there is an implied contrast with 'muintir', such that 'an bhfuil muintir agat?' refers to 'spouse and little critters' and 'an bhfuil clann agat' just to the small ones.
Even as an adult, when someone asks Conas atá do mhuintir? it can mean "how are your parents?" just as "How are your folks?" would in English. In fact that would be my default interpretation, unless context clearly indicated that they were referring to "the family I live with" rather that "the family that I came from".
Like many words in translation, clann and "family" are not 100% matches - the word clann carries meaning that "family" doesn't, and vice versa, but 95% of the time they're close enough that it doesn't matter. Just as the meaning of "family" can depend on context in English, clann can be interpreted differently in different contexts.