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Struggling with Irish

I decided to try and learn Irish for fun, and I never realized how hard it would be! Does anyone have any tips for me? I have already heard that Irish is a verb-subject-object language, but I need more help than that. I find that the way the words are pronounced makes it hard to know how to spell them, and there seem to be some words that mean completely different things that sound similar (such as the irish words for "boy" and "menu"). All tips are welcome! Thank you!

December 31, 2014



Hi! I had the same experience when I started Irish. My previous language experience did not help much with Irish because it is so different. The most important thing is to keep practicing and not give up. :) I must have gone over the first several skills on the tree dozens of times before I started feeling ready to move on. More specifically for pronunciation, I found the following resource to be helpful:


To be honest, for the first month or two I was still really lost with pronunciation, but I kept going over the basics and now they are starting to stick.

I also use forvo to check pronunciation on lots of words. It is an excellent resource because it has native speakers saying different words, and a lot of the words from the course are included.


Someone is putting together a memrise course for duolingo Irish and it has been really helpful for drilling spelling.


The sentence discussions here are duolingo are also really helpful and it seems that whenever someone has a question, it never takes too long to get a response. Good luck with your studies!


Thank you! I will check those out.


A tip for any future endeavors - doing things "for fun" isn't the same as doing things "without any preparation"... in fact, you probably won't have much fun doing anything if you blindly stumble into it.

Your first stop for Irish - Wikipedia. 90% of all commonly asked questions are answered in this and interlinked articles:


Along with grammar I also suggest reading up about Irish orthography. Don't worry if you don't understand it all yet, just read through it. It makes things a lot clearer when you do start coming across examples.


I've been learning Irish literally all my life, and I still couldn't explain the genitive case or any of the pesky grammar rules. Even after learning Irish formally in school for fourteen years I still don't know. Learning any language from scratch is going to be difficult, you're going to meet "false friends" in the language, or words that to an english speaker sound the same. On top of that, Irish hasn't got any similar languages that people would know, like the way French has the other romance languages, or German has English and Dutch, Irish has Manx and Scottish which are even less widely spoken, and more distinct from other language groups due to history add to that, that its one of the oldest European languages and was banned during the British occupation, its an amazing language. After the foundation of the state they had to make the Irish language more unified in spelling and dialect differences, and removed a large portion of silent letters. (Imagine Gaeidhilge instead of Gaeilge!). For a beginner in Irish, you're much better off not getting bogged down on the grammar side of it (there's even a saying in Irish that, "Is fhearr Gaeilge bhriste ná Béarla cliste" - Broken Irish is better than clever English). Most (if not all) Irish speakers also speak English, your attempts to speak Irish would impress a native speaker either way and they'd get the gist of what you're saying, and when you're learning it for fun its really not that important. The simplest grammar rule you'll ever need to know in Irish is "leathan le leathan agus caol le caol" that means "broad" vowels should go together (A, O and U), and "narrow" vowels (I and E) should match up when you're picking a verb ending (and it sometimes helps with general spelling!) There's dozens of brilliant Irish websites too; like beo.ie or focloir.ie and best of luck with your Irish learning; or as we'd say "as Gaeilge", Adh mór ort! (:


Here’s an easy-to-remember explanation of the genitive case (in any language with a genitive case): it marks a noun as modifying another noun.


Thank you! Sounds like you know it by how you were raised, not just through Duo!


If you need encouragement, you might find it helpful to read this blog post (Don't let the silly photo put you off. He knows his stuff about language learning).



So one thing is that if you add a "h" to a letter, roughly speaking, the mouth and tongue do the same thing but the lips no longer touch, so "b" become "v", "m" becomes "w", "p" becomes "f" and "f" and "g" more or less disappear. The other thing we are all told in school, so you might miss, is that a narrow vowel, i or e before a consonant means a narrow one after, same for wide o, a or u.


Thanks for that clarification. I will share this with my fellow students in Irish class.


I will be heading back to my Irish class on Thursday. We will agree to pretend that Irish makes sense. Then, we will laugh.

I have been at this for 2 1/2 years, and I am struggling all the time. The class I take is great, but I cannot always find the study time, and once I get behind, catching up is impossible. We use the Buntus Cainte as out textbook. It comes with CDs for learning, but I have found that I need constant immersion to retain any learned words. I use several other Irish language apps, and they are good for me to review.

Pretend you are getting ready to travel to Ireland, and use some of the other resources mentioned here. Check out "Speak Irish Now" both the book and the videos. Also, there are several short films we watched in class that are helpful to develop an ear for the language. You are correct in the spelling challenges! Just pretend that Irish makes some sort of sense, and laugh!


I'm a native English speaker. I've studied Latin, French, Spanish and Greek. Irish has struck me as extremely hard as it appears to have almost no cognates with English. I have no advice other than to expect that it will take much more practice and diligence than a more closely related language.


Trust me, it gets easier throughout the course... Given you try to remember stuff. The Irish have a lot of idioms and such that you just need to remember. Pronunciation wise, I advice that you look up on different dictionary websites featuring pronunciation, rather than the voice over on DuoLingo. It is not accurate. I think that they will update it this year actually...


I'm currently learning Irish and could use someone to help challenge me in keeping up with it. Would you be interested in joining a club for Irish learners on Duolingo?

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