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  5. "Táim á ghlaoch."

"Táim á ghlaoch."

Translation:I am calling him.

December 17, 2014



I'm really confused here. I thought you would say Táim ag glaoch ar mo bhuachail (mar shampla). I thought you would say Táim ag glaoch air if you wanted to use a pronomial construction.

What happened to ar in the sentence above?


A progressive aspect verbal noun with a pronomial object changes the sentence structure — do is used instead of ag, and the requirement for the object to be genitive changes the pronoun to its corresponding possessive pronoun. Thus, ag glaoch é becomes do a ghlaoch, and do a is changed to its verbal-noun-specific combined form á, resulting in á ghlaoch. The ar isn’t needed with the “possessed” verbal noun — Táim á ghlaoch literally translates as “I’m to his calling”.


I think their question was why is it ag glaoch é instead of ag glaoch air.


I tried to address that point in the last sentence of my previous reply.


Thank you both once again for your help.

Galaxyrocker is correct in saying that my question was really why the accepted answer is derived from ag glaoch é instead of from ag glaoch air (but incorrect in referring to me as he. My fault--I left off the fada on Cáit because some other sites don't allow "special characters" in screen names.)

I do understand the first part of your answer, scilling, and I can see what the writer of the sentence did, but I don't know why a prepositional phrase would lose its preposition and change cases (become a genitive object once removed). Is this done with other prepositions besides ar? I don't think I can generalize this usage for all prepositions--I found pléisiúr liom bheith ag éisteacht leis (not ag á éisteacht) in the online de Bhaldraithe. and am checking other references for verbal nouns used with prepositional objects.

If either of you has a reference that would clear things up for me, please list it and save yourself some typing.



It’s the progressive aspect verbal noun that requires its object to be genitive; in the case of a pronomial object, it becomes a possessive pronoun, and there aren’t genitive forms for prepositional pronouns.

The translation of that example from the English-Irish Dictionary is given as “It is quite a treat to me to listen to him”. Given “to listen” rather than “listening”, its aspect is not progressive, so its indirect object remains as part of the (dative) prepositional pronoun after the verbal noun. Since it’s not progressive, it doesn’t require its pronomial object to be genitive, so I don’t see it as a counter-example.

The best reference that I know of is here, but it doesn’t show a directly applicable example; if it did, I’d have directed you to it initially. Please do share what you find in the references that you’re checking.


Sorry about that! I've slipped up a lot there, considering I generally use singular they!


I found nothing in the grammar books I had lying around, so I resorted to some Googling:

á ghlaoch

Tá m’ainm á ghlaoch ag Críost
I'm not even sure what this means.

An phuiblíocht do choinneáil amach agus an paineul á ghlaoch
This one looks more like the passive usage.

Bhí na búird á mbualadh is an t-ól á ghlaoch ann
More passive, I think

ag féachaint air

Bhíomar ag féachaint air
http://irishnorthernaid.com/lang/lesson28.html (I couldn’t find it on the linked page)

níorbh fhéidir liom stopadh de bheith ag féachaint air
(I couldn't take my eyes off him) http://www.focloir.ie/en/dictionary/ei/eye

ag glaoch air

Bhí Ruairí sa seomra suite ag breathnú ar chartúin nuair a chuala sé Mamaí ag glaoch air.

There are a lot more examples out there, but I have to get to work! Thanks for your help--I'm going to be looking out for this one in my reading.


I found these two examples in the Foclóir:

"Tá an cíos ag glaoch orm" = I am being called upon to pay the rent. "Is iomaí rud ag glaoch air" = He has many things to attend to.

So it seem that ag + VN + prepositional pronoun is perfectly fine. I don't think there should be a problem with "Tá mé ag glaoch air" = I am calling him.


By the way, how do you do italics and bold font in these posts?


Thanks! Your examples support my point that ar must be used with this verb (and its nominal form). Changing the object of Tá mé ag glaoch/Glaoim ar an fhear should produce Glaoim/Tá mé ag glaoch air , not Glaoim é or Tá mé á ghlaoch, and I have not been able to find any examples of the latter construction. Yet I've gotten the constructions with ar marked wrong pretty consistently in DL, with the second construction given as the correct answer. I'll run up against it again someday and will report my issues then.

This post explains the most common DL formatting codes:


As with the examples quoted by Cait48 as "passive", it seems to me that if it is correct to translate as "I am calling him", "táim á ghlaoch" could also be translated as the passive "I am being called".


It’d be táim do mo ghlaoch (ag duine éigin) for passive I am called (by somebody) AFAIK.


I'd assume it means, my name is being called by Christ. Similarly, with 'my house being built' we could add an 'ag' construction to say by whom.


I hate to confuse new learners, so I’ll just explain this once more, then leave it. I will simply add that I have checked my own understanding of this point (the error in the Duolingo example) with two university-educated native speakers of Irish and one current university lecturer in Irish, and all agree with me: Duolingo is incorrect. You are free, of course, to say whatever you want.

Point 1: Normally, the direct object noun of a verb is in the accusative case, which is pretty much the same as the nominative case in Irish:

Cheannaigh mé toitíní. I bought cigarettes.

If you want to change that object to a pronoun, you use an accusative pronoun (foirm chuspóireach):

Cheannaigh mé iad. I bought them.

→ The pronouns you would use for this are

mé (mise), thú (thusa), é ( eisean), í ( ise), muid (muidne) or sinn (sinne), sibh (sibhse), iad (iadsan)

→ The pronouns in parentheses are the emphatic or stressed forms.

Point 2: In a progressive form (am/is/are/was/were/will be/would be, etc. +-ing), however, the noun object of a verbal noun is in the genitive case (an tuiseal ginideach) if the noun has an article in front of it or if the noun appears with no article and no further attributes.

Tá mé ag pógadh an fhir/fir. I am kissing the man/a man.

Ta mé ag pógadh cara/mo chara. I am kissing a friend/my friend. (Cara is the same in nominative and genitive)

→ There are no genitive pronouns in Irish, so, if you want to use a pronoun instead of the noun, you need to change the noun to a different construction involving the possessive article:

Tá mé á phogadh (kissing him) or Tá mé á pogadh (kissing her).

→ This seems to be what most of the confusion is about, so here’s the whole list

  • Tá sé do mo phógadh He is kissing me.

  • Tá sé do do phógadh. He is kissing you. (singular)

  • Tá sé á phógadh. He is kissing him.

  • Tá sé á pógadh. He is kissing her.

  • Tá sé dár bpógadh. He is kissing us.

  • Tá sé do bhur bpógadh. He is kissing you. (plural)

  • Tá sé á bpógadh. He is kissing them.

→ Please note the initial mutations on “pógadh” and how they can affect the meaning.

I am choosing to ignore differences in dialect and more subtle points of usage in the interest of NOT confusing beginners. The above forms are standard, but there are other (correct) forms.

So far, so good, and this is probably what Duolingo was trying to teach with this example. If they had chosen a verb like “póg,” everything would be peachy. However, they didn’t. :-(

Point 3: Some verbs do not have direct objects; they have objects of associated prepositions, and those objects are in the dative case (an tuiseal tabharthach) in Irish.

Phóg mé mo chara. (direct) D'fhéach muid ar an gcluiche (game). (prepositional/dative) You must use the preposition. Leaving it out would be like saying “I talked him” in English, leaving out the “to.”

→ We do the same thing in English:

I see my brother. (direct) I look at my brother. (object of preposition)

→ If you wanted to change “brother” to a pronoun, you would have to keep the preposition in the second sentence:

I see him. I look at him.

Irish works the same way here:

Phóg mé mo chara.-- Phóg mé é. (I kissed him)

D'fhéach muid ar an chluiche.-- D'fhéach muid air. (We looked at him/it. “Cluiche” is masculine.)

Duolingo picked a verb with an associated preposition. You MUST have the preposition “ar” with the verb “glaoigh” when you mean “call” (shout, ring up). “I am calling my friend.” would be Táim/tá mé ag glaoch ar mo chara. Because of that “ar,” you have the situation described in Point 3, where you must retain the preposition. Unfortunately, whoever wrote the example treated it like a Point 2 situation (direct object).

The correct sentence is Táim/tá mé ag glaoch air.`

I’m willing to help anyone understand the grammar in this post, but I’m not willing to debate the correctness of this point any longer. ;-) As I said, what you say is your choice.


Táim ag glaoch an rolla.

Táim á ghlaoch.

"Táim á ghlaoch" is correct for "I am calling it" in this case - this case doesn't stretch to "I am calling him".


Cait, this was...incredibly detailed (good for you, having that level of understanding of Irish grammar), but also very helpful, so GRMMA!


You can see that I have been trying to get this incorrect and confusing example removed for almost a year--DL does not seem to care about accuracy, though.:(


True, but I think I just learned more from your comment than I could have from Duolingo, so no complaints here. :-)

[deactivated user]

    → There are no genitive pronouns in Irish, so, if you want to use a pronoun instead of the noun, you need to change the noun to a different construction involving the possessive article:

    To make sense, the highlighted 'noun' should be 'pronoun' and 'article' should be 'adjective'.

    Tá sí ag pógadh an fhir. Here an fhir is the genitive form of an fear.
    Tá sí ag pógadh mé is wrong because is not in its genitive form.

    To indicate the genitive form of a pronoun use is made of the corresponding possessive adjective (mo, do, a etc.)

    Tá sí ag pógadh mé ===> Tá sí ag mo phógadh ===> Tá sí do mo phógadh.

    The preposition do replaces ag before mo, do, ár, bhur but ag is retained before a. (An Caighdeán Oifigiúil)

    In some dialects do replaces ag for all persons, in which case do + a becomes .


    Go raibh maith agat Cáit!


    Actually wait, should that be "Go raibh maith agat a Cháit"?


    Good catch! Yes. that's the vocative case.


    Could I say "Tá sé dá phógadh" as well or can I only say "á phógadh"?


    I've seen and heard that, but I'm not familiar enough with that dialect to be able to say whether it's accepted by the Caighdeán.


    I thought this was a joke from a medical program" I am calling it"


    Is ok for calling the roll, though.


    How would you say "I am calling her." thank you


    You would say Táim (or Tá mé) ag glaoch uirthi
    The example given for I am calling him is incorrect. It should be Táim (or Tá mé) ag glaoch air. When you call someone, you (literally) call on them, so you can't leave out the preposition ar.

    [deactivated user]

      The example given for I am calling him is incorrect.

      Actually it is correct, see the link I gave below for examples.
      Also thank you for the link to the formatting codes - I had been looking for it.


      Sorry, "Táim á ghlaoch" is not a correct Irish sentence. It is analogous to "I am talking him." You need to use a preposition in both instances.

      [deactivated user]

        You can also use the same construction as in the given sentence.
        Táim á glaoch (no lenition because feminine). á is really do a as explained above by scilling. Here the a is feminine because it refers to her so it doesn't cause glaoch to be lenited.
        Also see á.


        But why is the phrasal verb dropped here? Normally it's Glaoigh ar. So wouldn't it need to be Tá mé ag gloach air?


        I have been trying to convince people of that for months. I have reported it, but Duolingo has not corrected it.


        Still a bit confused, but as I understand it--glaoch would change to ghlaoch if you were talking about him instead of her. Am I getting there?


        [deactivated user]

          You certainly are!
          a can mean his, her, its, their.
          For a better explanation of its use see number five on the list here.


          Please don't try to learn this grammar point from Duolingo's example. Use a verb that does not require (or has a grammatically correct meaning without) a preposition. Try póg (as in my example), buail, clois/cluin, feic, . . .


          I understand Cait's logic, and it is well explained, but I think I agree with Scilling. It is the way we (Duolingo) choose to translate to English which creates the confusion.

          As it seems to literally mean: 'I am for/to his calling (being called)'. - He is being called by me. I am for/to its doing (being done). My house is to its building (being built).

          We are stating what is being done/happening, but indirectly.

          form of bí + subject + do + possessive pronoun + VN

          Tá tú do mo bhualadh = You are hitting me ("are you to my hitting")

          If we were speaking directly, 'ar' would, of course, be necessary, but I as it is, the only way this sentence can be understood (and correct) is PASSIVELY - and I assume that is the point. (ACTIVELY, it can only mean, I am calling it)

          If the possessive pronoun refers to the subject, one speaks of the passive-progressive tense. e.g. Tá an teach á thóigeáil = The house is being built. (lit.: "is the house at-his building")


          These clauses are often double entendres and only discernable in context:

          Tá sé á dhíol = He sells it (active, sé not the same as á) or

          Tá sé á dhíol = It is being sold (passive, sé = á)

          • In reality, we need a Gaeilgeoir to state whether the answer makes sense (to mean the above translation, in its passive form), or if it is ever used.

          Or would it be, - tá sé á ghlaoch agam.

          Cait's argument is more than plausible

          • but by that understanding, should we assume then, only when the subject and possessive adjective agree, can the sentence be passive?

          I'll give Duolingo the benefit of the doubt FOR NOW. But if anyone has further thoughts, feel free to reply.

          • I've changed my mind. I think Cait is likely right. And therefore, in my opinion, this progressive form, is ONLY passive when *subject and possessive adjective agree - and in this scenario, the sentence may have two possible meanings.


          As mentioned before, why not "I am being called ?" ...

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