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  5. "You want your passport when …

"You want your passport when you go abroad."

Translation:Bíonn do phas uait nuair a théann tú thar lear.

November 14, 2014



the translation with bíonn translates to ' You do be wanting your passport when you go abroad' but the tá seems more fitting to the translation asked.


As some of the above comments discuss, the difference is in the 'habitual' verb format.

Let me try to explain. Normally, the standard present tense verbs that we use in Duolingo are the equivalent of the English present continuous (I go to sleep. I walk. We listen), as opposed to present progressive (I am going to sleep. I am walking. We are listening). You probably can tell right away that these two forms have a different meaning - I am going to sleep right now vs. a general 'I go to sleep'. The first implies that it's happening as we speak, and the second implies "habitual", something that you do sometimes/often. For example, if I said 'I walk my dog on Thursdays', you know that I mean most/every Thursday - habitually.

So how does this relate to Irish? Well, the forms and meanings are similar. "Siúlaim" means "I walk", while "Táim ag siúl" means "I am walking." They translate quite accurately into English, with 'Siúlam" meaning the habitual and "Táim ag siúl" meaning the progressive (i.e. progressing right now). In Irish, there's also the verb 'Bíonn,' which to my knowledge doesn't have an exact English translation. The construction "Tá X agam" is different. Although it uses the 'habitual' form of the verb bí (tá), it's expressing progressive, not habitual. (It's quite nice that this applies in English - "I want cake" is the habitual form, but means "I want cake right now" - the progressive would normally be "I am wanting cake". ) Thus, in this exercise, if you used Ta instead of bíonn, you would be saying "You want your passport right now when you go overseas," which as you can see, sounds funny. Because of the 'nuair a théann tú thar lear', this sentence Must be expressed habitually, and the "Ta X agat" construction is not habitual.

I hope that made sense! sorry it's extra long, and I would love to take feedback and corrections from anyone who know Irish better than I do. (Also, I hope I didn't miss any accents - I'm on desktop.)


The "present progressive" and the "present continuous" are the same thing - Táim ag siúl/"I am walking" is "present continuous"/"present progressive".

Siúlaim/"I walk" is in the "simple present" which, for most verbs, is used to express the "habitual aspect", and is sometimes referred to as the habitual present.

is not the 'habitual form of '. is only the simple present, and does not express the habitual aspect. Tá ocras orm only says that I am hungry right now.

Bíonn is the habitual form of , which is why it is so challenging for English speakers, as English does not make the same distinction - "am"/"Is"/"are" can be used to express the habitual.


Ach! You're right, of course. Should have checked my vocab before posting. But I think I got the concept right, at least. I'll edit later.


I was going for something using "Ta... uait" and it wasn't right.

The correct translation for this is written as: "Bíonn do phas uait nuair a théann tú thar lear." What is the meaning of "bionn" here? I've looked in an online dictionary (http://tinyurl.com/p5qzwb5) and it's not helping.


In the next exercise, the correct choice was: "Teastaíonn do phas uait nuair a théann tú thar lear." (Yes, I am talking to myself.)


Right. Hello, me. The next sentence is, "Bíonn do phas uait nuair a théann tú thar lear." Translate from Irish back to English. So, it seems that "bionn" is part of that is/be/do be verb that confuses so many of us. However, I'm still left wondering how it fits into that whole idea of wanting/needing. This one literally (to me) would be something like, "You do be wanting your pass when you go (or come?) abroad." Is there some sort of emphasis about that "do be" verb that gives it more clout than simply "You need..."? sort of of a verbal nudge that might be conveyed by tone or exaggerated facial expressions in English? Like, "You NEEEEEED your passport. You really NEED it" sort of thing?


So. There's two (three, really, but two taught here) ways to say "want". Teastaigh, which can also mean "need", and the structure with and ó. Personally, I would say stick to the later to translate "want", since it can only be used to mean want. Use the teastaigh + ó construction to mean "need" (that's really all I can recall hearing it as, with uses of the other form(s) for "want" instead).

Now, Irish has a habitual present tense; this is the present tense that you have been learning. Apart from verbs of sense (feic, for instance), it solely conveys the habitual aspect in speech (Ithim means "I habitually eat"). The non-habitual is generally used with the progressive form, taught later.

For most verbs, the habitual present is the same as the present you have been learning. For one, however, it's not. Wanna take a guess? . It has two forms. The habitual, bíonn, which stresses habitualness (you always/habitually want your passport). The other, non-habitual . That's why it's translated as "do be", which is an old Hiberno-English construction that marked habitualness, similar to AAVE uninflected-be.

I hope that made sense....


Galaxyrocker, would you mind explaining the “AAVE uninflected-be” phrase?

That part is lost on me...

Thank you!


Bíonn is the 2nd and 3rd person present habitual form of . The choice of bíonn … uait over tá … uait in this sentence is based upon the assumption that you’ll go abroad more than once in your life — perhaps “whenever” in the sentence would have expressed that more effectively than “when”.


Ah, "whenever" is the magic word that I'll remember. Thanks.


Brilliant! Thanks, galaxyrocker and scilling.


"Teastaíonn bhur an phas nuair a téann sibh thar lear" should be correct yes?


No. You could say Teastaíonn bhur bpasanna uaibh nuair a théann sibh thar lear, but you would need to use the plural "passports", and teastaigh still needs ó, which combines with sibh to give uaibh.


I wrote " teastaíonn do phas uait" and it was not accepted. Why is it wrong?


How come théann is lenited?


The a after nuair causes lenition.


what's wrong with the construction using Teastaíonn?


would that saile be accepted


I put “Bíonn tú do phas..." and it was marked wrong.

Is the "tú" not needed because it's implied with the following "do" or because of "nuair a téann tú"? Or am I missing some other concept? Thanks!


The subject of bíonn do phas uait is do phas, the is encoded in the prepositional pronoun uait.

The construction is parallel to the way "have" is expressed:
bíonn do phas uait - "you want/need your passport"
bíonn do phas agat - "you have your passport"

Alternatively, you can interpret it as parallel to the verb teastaigh:
"Your passport is wanted/needed by you" - "You want/need your passport"


Got it. Go raibh maith agat!


Can someone explain what the 'a' means in this sentence.


I wonder, why - given the English sentence - Tá should be wrong. Yes, it has a different meaning, but as I see it, the English sentence is ambiguous without further context. The habitual aspect would be clear only, if it said "whenever" instead of "when". Granted, the habitual interpretation may be the more likely variant. But isn't a simple present interpretation also possible?


I don't think it is. The simple present is "now", but the "when" isn't now. You could use if you replace nuair a with mar and théann tú with tá tú ag dul.

tá do phas uait mar tá tú ag dul thar lear (If you havent left yet, beidh tú ag dul might be better than tá tú ag dul)


Why is Tá do phas ag iarraidh leat nuair a téann tú thar lear wrong. Tá .....ag iarraidh is given as a meaning in the drop down words

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