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Basic Articles

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Dia daoibh!

Welcome to another Irish Grammar Explanation! This time, we will be looking at articles in Irish.

Articles in Irish are really quite simple. Let's start by looking at the definite article(s)!

The Definite Article(s)

In Irish, there are two definite articles ("the"). The two articles are very distinct in their usage and are easy to remember.


"An" is the definite article used for singular nouns (in the nominative case). That is...eh....really it. Let's look at some examples (and an important note!).

English | Irish

The boy | An buachaill

The gate | An geata

The woman | An bhean

Note: Did you notice anything unusual about the third example? Of course you did! 'Cause you're a genius (and not because I put the "unusual thing" in bold)! The Irish word for woman is "bean" and this is a feminine noun. When the definite article "an" is placed in front of a feminine noun, the noun is lenited (i.e. a "h" is added between the first and second letters), if possible. For more details on this, see the tips and notes under the Lenition skill (or the "Lenition" thread!)

BE CAREFUL: Do not confuse the Irish definite article "an" with the English indefinite article "an" (which is used before vowels, etc.)


"Na" is the definite article used for plural nouns (in the nominative case). Simple, right? Let's look at a few examples so you can get a better understanding!

English | Irish

The boys | Na buachaillí

The gates | Na geataí

The women | Na mná

The Indefinite Article

Irish has no indefinite article ("a" and "an" in English). You may think this is easier (less words to learn!), or you may think this is confusing (where the heck is that article?). Don't worry, it is really not that bad! In Irish, the indefinite article is implied by the singular noun. Let's look at some examples!

English | Irish

A boy | Buachaill

A gate | Geata

A woman | Bean

From these examples, you can now see how the lack of an indefinite article works.

Note: Take the word "cáca" for example, this can effectively mean two things: "cake" and "a cake"

These articles are simple right? No need to learn different versions of them, really (cough German cough) If you have any questions, leave them in the comments of this thread.


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September 10, 2014



First a big good job to the whole team working on this course. One thing I do mind, I must confess. In my honest opinion, you should put a gigantic article on how the language is pronounced in detail, because one cannot deduce all the rules like this.


if you go to this website http://www.omniglot.com/writing/irish.htm, they do a pretty good job explaining everything


This is a good intro (I'm so glad I learned this already before starting), but I think you should also mention how some masculine nouns change after the article too.....If only Irish wasn't so weird about the noun's (elusive) gender xp


Sure! Feedback is great :) I don't want to overload students who are on, say, Food and don't have a clue about these things...I'll add these under an "advanced" section at the end.


Yeah true. Teaching Irish must be about as hard as learning it - give just the basics & it won't be enough to understand, but give everything they need & it becomes overwhelming.


Exactly! I think there is a possible quote somewhere in your comment...hmm :)


Always learn a new noun with the article in front of it! Muc is Pig, but one needs to know if it is a masculine or feminine word.

The definite article 'an' will help with this problem. Learn 'an mhuc' not just ' muc', and you will always know that muc is a feminine noun, because it has 'h' added after the first letter of the word. In other languages we always learn in this manner ...das capital, la mer, él sombrero etc.


Thank you for all the info. Every little bit helps make it easier to learn.


Na is also used for the genitive singular of feminine words. An mhuc - the pig (nominative singular) Na muc- of the pig or the pigs (genitive singular or nominative plural)


Keep up the good work, thanks!


This is a great intro. Thanks.

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