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  5. "The yellow cats."

"The yellow cats."

Translation:Na cait bhuí.

October 16, 2014



"Na cait bhuí" was the Irish sentence provided when I was asked to translate it into Irish. How come when it is the other way, and you have to translate from English to Irish, the answer is "Na cait buí"?


This is an error. It should be na cait bhuí. When a noun is in the plural with a weak plural (as cait is) and ends with a slender consonant, the adjective should be lenited. I suggest you report it as an error.

Edit: It's fixed, y'all.


I understand why bhuí is lenited after na cait. But should the adjective not take the plural form, bhuíonna, in this case? Should it not agree with the noun, in number as well as gender. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that cait is a weak plural.

Is a short noun (like cait) a weak plural, as opposed to a long word being a strong plural? If this is complex, don't worry, because this 'Discussion forum 'may not be the place for long explanations. Somebody may have an Irish grammar link I could consult about this matter.


Weak plurals are marked by a single consistent rule that can be applied to all noun in a declension category to derive the weak nominative plural, e.g. first declension nouns like ‘cat’ derive the weak nominative plural by slenderising the final consonant (e.g. ‘caıt’). Another distinguishing feature of weak plurals is that they may be marked for case, just like singular nouns (for example ‘cat’ has the nominative plural ‘caıt’, but the genitive plural ‘cat’).

Strong plurals are formed irregularily by adding a suffix to the noun root, which is not marked for case. There is a wide range of strong plural suffixes, but ‘-(e)anna’ and ‘-(e)acha’ are common ones.

If you know what declension class a noun belongs to, you will know how to decline its singular forms, and also how to decline its plural forms IF it has a weak plural, but there is no way of knowing whether or not a word has a weak or a strong plural, not which strong plural suffix it takes if it has a strong plural. The formation of the plural is inherent to each individual noun, which is why you should learn every new noun along with its (nominative) plural. (Often nouns are also learnt with their genitive singular, not because this form is unpredicatble but because it allows you to tell what declensional class a noun belong to).

As for ‘buí’, the problem there is that there are two words: the noun ‘buí’ meaning “the colour yellow”, and the adjective used with other nouns to indicate that they are yellow. The adjective is not declined (adjectives ending in a vowel never are if I recall correctly), so its plural form is simply ‘buí’ (or ‘bhuí’ or ‘mbuí’ as the case may be, depending on the noun). The noun ‘buí’ on the other hand has the strong plural ‘buíonna’, which translates as “yellow” (whether this more accurately translates as “shades of yellow” or perhaps “things that are yellow” is something a native speaker should clarify, because I don’t know).


I seriously think there should be units dedicated to learning nouns along with its (nominative) plural and genitive singular. It may feel a little overly grammatical, but it's giving a sound foundation for progressing! Thanks for all that explanation!


I don’t know if the current unit format allows for that to work very well. What I think would be better if there were some sort of vocabulary list where every time you learn a new unit, the vocabulary of that unit gets added, and you can see grammatical information (gender, plural, genitive) and hear the audio file. I’ve been trying to make something similar for myself (a file with the grammatical info and phonetic transcription of every Duo word) but it’s a lot of work. If I ever finish it I might try to figure out a way to share it with other people, but I doubt I’ll ever get round to it I’m afraid.


Hi JulianMacG :-)

In the Swedish language course they have the following format for the (less difficult, but still challenging) plurals: 'one horse, several horses' You have a full unit with quite a few of those pairs and it has helped a lot. I would think they may expand on that later in the course (I'm low level just like with Irish).

This could work for the genitive like: a dog, several (other multiple-word) dogs, genetive of dog, gender

Or something like that. I know it's a bit of a 'dry' unit, but the parts of language learning that are 'by heart' are always a tad like that. I remember the 'go went gone', 'draw drew drawn' 'shoot shot shot' learning in English class quite well. If it is central and well done, it is a little work, but helps heaps to find your bearing. I personally always preferred such things to random individual 'picking up as I go'

The list you were talking about is a pretty neat idea as well and ties in with my suggestion seamlessly! I was wondering if duolingo would offer such a self-increasing 'fallback' dictionary/collection. It would probably be really good. I thought it could include some information on which words you seem to remember well as opposed to those you seem to have a hard time with etc. One could also use this as a base to write short stories with etc. - sort of like 'immersion' tool in a way.

Either way - thanks again for taking the time to comment, explain and sharing your thoughts!!! Much appreciated :-)


Such a clear explanation! Thank you for taking the time. I get it now and I shall take your advice re learning new nouns. Please accept a lingot.


You’re welcome, and thanks! :)


Really interesting. Thank you


Thank-you for taking the time to write a succinct explanation. Also for suggestion of finding a plural to every new noun - if not given in the examples, where is the most trusted place to find? Google translate? Again, go raibh maith agat!


When you see a new Irish noun, you can put it into teanglann.ie and touch the square icons to see the plurals/hear the word/see examples of phrases with the noun.



It’s fixed as of 2015-06-07.


If I come across it again I will, thanks :)


Go raibh maith agat for the explanation!


Where can I read about weak or strong plurals and what is it?


How come it is na cait bhuí but i can say an cat liath?


why is bad na cat bui?


The plural of cat is cait, and plural nouns that end with a slender consonant require their adjectives to be lenited, so na cait bhuí is the correct form.

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