Can someone explain the question-word "nach" in its uses? Is it the Irish equivalent of inversion to form questions, like an additional particle, which then entails "bhfuil" as a form of "bi"?
Nach is the interrogative verbal particle for negative questions that aren’t in the past tense. It eclipses the following verb, and if that conjugation has a dependent form, then the dependent form is used with nach. For example,
- Tá siad ann. (“They are there.”)
- Níl siad ann. (“They aren’t there.”)
- An bhfuil siad ann? (“Are they there?”)
- Nach bhfuil siad ann? (“Aren’t they there?”)
- Gheobhaidh siad na hearraí gloine. (“They will get the glassware.”)
- Ní bhfaighidh siad na hearraí gloine. (“They won’t get the glassware.”)
- An bhfaighidh siad na hearraí gloine? (“Will they get the glassware?”)
- Nach bhfaighidh siad na hearraí gloine? (“Won’t they get the glassware?”)
- Is siadsan na seachadóirí. (“They’re the delivery people.”)
- Ní siadsan na seachadóirí. (“They’re not the delivery people.”)
- An siadsan na seachadóirí? (“Are they the delivery people?”)
- Nach siadsan na seachadóirí? (“Aren’t they the delivery people?”)
Thanks for the extensive answer! Just to be clear, what exactly are "dependent forms" of the verbs? :$
A verb’s dependent form (if it has one) is one that is used in the presence of one of a certain set of verbal particles — that is, the dependent form is called that because its use is dependent upon the presence of that verbal particle. For example, tá is the independent form of the present tense conjugation of bí, and fuil is the dependent form of the same conjugation, as found e.g. following the verbal particle an. (Since the verbal particle an causes eclipsis, fuil is mutated into bhfuil.)
I went through this twice to see when it was appropriate to use "nil" and when it was appropriate to use "nach." I feel so stupid now that you've pointed it out. I actually scoffed at myself and said "duh." Thank you, scilling, you are extremely helpful! Have another lingot.
There’s no need to feel stupid; sometimes things become clearer just by writing out a few examples. Thanks for the lingot!
These things always throw me off. To me "Aren't they there?" and "They aren't there?" are the same thing.
"they are not there" is a statement, not a question, and the Irish is Níl said ann/Níl said ansin. Sticking a question mark on the end can indicate that it should be interpreted as a question in the written form, but it requires a change of cadence in spoken English, which can't always be relied on, and just sticking a question mark on a statement in Irish doesn't turn it into a question - you have to restructure the statement to use an interrogative form for it to become a question.