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  5. "Cé a íocann?"

" a íocann?"

Translation:Who pays?

December 21, 2014



Let me guess why there's an "a" there. Because the word "cé" contains a hidden copula, so it actually means "who is (it)". Thus, to combine it with a verb you need the "a" so the final sentence literally means "Who is it, that pays?"

Am I right?


Yes! You are absolutely correct. Though I think this sentence would make more sense as Cé atá ag íoc ar/as ... (Who is playing for...)


I was just popping in to ask for clarification on this point, but you have already answered my question. Thank you!


You're welcome. This aspect of Irish still confuses me greatly. But, yeah, it seems to work like in French (I think) and Majorcan Catalan (who is it that did this, what is it that you want, how is it that you are, etc).


I don't know Catalan, but I do speak French, so this is really helpful to me. If I get stuck with construction, I don't have to try to fit it into English, but into a language with a more natural crossover.

You have no idea how much I love this website, and the opportunity to talk to other linguophiles. Such great little nuggets get shared. Go raibh maith agat!


does "a" means "that" here?


Am I missing a lesson or what is a copula?


The verb to be is used as a copula. He is a man. He = man http://www.nualeargais.ie/gnag/gram.htm


Could I think of it also as "who is it, he/she/them?, that pays? Or is the "a "totally different meaning here?


Who is paying? Why is that incorrect?


Yeah I put who is paying


It is simply not correct. You have to watch out for the "aspect" of the verb (simple or continuous) in both English and Gaeilge. In this example, the verb "pay" is used to express a habitual action and it is not necessarily linked with the present moment of "paying", so the verb must be in the simple aspect (i.e. "pays"). At this stage, we are not yet introduced to the Irish 'version' of the present continuous ("is paying"), so we are not even 'supposed' to know it and use it in examples.


When you say 'habitual' vs. present moment of paying, I'm struggling to understand the difference.

Is the distinction: 'she plays tennis' (as in she sometimes/often plays tennis) rather than 'she is playing tennis' (as in something she's doing right now)?

I hope that made at least a little bit of sense. It's all very complicated :/


Who is paying is the same as who pays, right?


No, not in Irish.

"Who is paying?" is a form of the verb called the continuous. It would be "Cé atá ag íoc?" in Irish, using a form of bí, the word ag, and the verbal noun of the verb in question. If there is what would be a direct object in English, it is in the genitive case in Irish.

The two forms are not interchangeable, and Duolingo (correctly) does not accept translations as one form when the other is given.

Examples I eat the apple. = Ithim an t-úll. I am eating the apple. = Tá mé ag ithe an úill.

Hope that helps!


I think colloquially yes - if I was eating out and I couldn't remember whose turn it was to pay for a meal I would say 'who is paying?' or 'who pays this time?'.

But Irish has two present tenses - the continuous present would be the 'who is paying?' construction. (Who is in the process, right at this moment, of paying.) Whereas in Irish the 'who pays?' is more of a 'permanent' feature - as in 'who pays for the meal on a regular basis?'.

I know that the 'present continuous' is more common in Hiberno English than it is in Anglo English - as is the immediate past tense. (There is an extra past tense in Irish as well.) I paid, meaning 'I paid yesterday, or a week, or a year ago. And 'I am after paying' as in 'I just paid a minute ago.'

So, yes, in certain circumstances you could translate it as 'who pays' or 'who is paying.' But it would depend on context. And you'd have to remember that Irish has some subtle differences in the present tense. (I keep getting muddled - for years I cheated and just used the present continuous, because it was easier than bothering with verb changes. This website is challenging me to stretch my linguistic muscles. Damn you, duolingo, for making me THINK!)

Okay, I don't know if this was a helpful answer, or just an irritating one. I hope it helps though.


So basically a Copula is just is Right?


Pretty much. It links a (pro)noun with another (pro)noun, not for example, a (pro)noun with an adjective (She is nice) or a prepositional phrase (He is in the kitchen). That's the job of bí (tá, bhí, beidh, etc.)


what purpose does the "a" serve in ce a iocann


I'm afraid my answer won't be very enlightening. It's called a particle and is necessary there because you've changed from the straight VSO order. It's usually hardly pronounced, but since it lenites the following word (you can't lenite íocann), you can usually tell that it's there.

You might know sentences like Cad é mar Atá tú? (How are you?) Níl A fhios agam. (I don't know) Cén fáth A raibh tú ansin? (Why were you there?)

(I capitalized 'a' to make it more noticeable -- you wouldn't really capitalize it.)

So you'll see it in a lot of questions and expressions that don't start with the verb. Just get used to seeing it. I don't know if Duolingo teaches anything about it.


Thanks for the info Cait48.

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