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  5. "Ní maith liom é a ghlaoch."

" maith liom é a ghlaoch."

Translation:I don't like to call him.

April 23, 2015



Surely the correct construction should be ní maith liom glaoch air.

For a similar construction see cúngaigh ar in Ó Dónaill's Fóclóir Gaeilge-Béarla and the following example: Ní maith liom cúngú oraibh, I don’t like to encroach on you.


Anyone know how to say "I don't like him to call" ?


Wouldnt air need to be in here somewhere?


The é part of air is already present before the infinitive-type verbal noun, so I’d expect Ní maith liom é a ghlaoch ar.


Interestingly, your comment was the only result that came up when I did a Google search for "é a ghlaoch ar" (2015/11/22).

Using the "glaoigh ar" construction, wouldn't you say "Ní maith liom glaoch air"? eg:

"Úsáid ainm an dalta chun glaoch air/uirthi."


My expectation was set by Gramadach na Gaeilge, in the “with a direct object” section. When the direct object of an infinitive-type verbal noun is a pronoun, it notes that

nothing changes in the clause form, the pronoun simply comes before the preposition a.

Do you know of a grammatical source that states that a direct object of a phrasal verb’s infinitive-type verbal noun would be embedded in the phrasal verb’s preposition?


Firstly, I would argue that the object linked via a preposition in such a phrasal verb construction as "glaoigh ar", "labhair le" etc is not exactly the same as the direct object type discussed in the source you cite. eg "Tá mé sásta iad a dhíol".

I couldn't see an exact parallel example to "é a ghlaoch ar" on that page.

Compare the following examples taken from Complete Irish: Teach Yourself on Google Books

Ní miste é a dhéanamh
Ní miste é a rá.

Ar mhiste labhairt leo?
Níor mhiste smaoineamh air.

The topic here is "Ní miste" but I think the examples are relevant to this discussion. The first pair shows the direct object construction; the second pair, the prepositional.

And see also eg "Tá orm labhairt leis" on teanglann.ie


I agree that the GnaG example is not an exact parallel to this case. Since the CI:TY examples with miste correspond to the inexact GnaG example, and labhair le is an example of a verb + preposition rather than of a phrasal verb, I’d say that these CI:TY examples are also not exact parallels to this case.

Smaoinigh ar might be a phrasal verb and might not be a phrasal verb, depending upon what was given as its English translation. Unfortunately the forum software here mangles URLs with ampersands, so I’m unable to follow the link above. Would you run the Google Books link through a URL shortener like tinyurl.com (which has no ampersands in its shortened URLs), and then edit your comment above to replace the direct link with the shortened URL, so that I can view the content there?


See my long post which I have added as a top-level comment to make it easier to read.

Also, I started a thread on this question on the Daltaí Boards: one person (a member for 4 years, with 149 replies posted) has replied:

The verb here is glaoigh ar dhuine = call someone, glaoigh air = call him So, there is no direct object but only a prepositional object: ar dhuine


é a ghlaoch ar is wrong,

And, concerning phrasal vs non-phrasal:

There aren’t many differences between so called phrasal verbs and normal prepositional phrases as far as I know. And this is certainly not one of them.

I have also asked there if anyone has an authoritative reference.


Thanks for following up on this — my reply follows your long post below.


Sorry about the URL: it didn't occur to me to use TinyURL. Anyway, I've amended it.


Thanks — I can view it now.


Re: "Smaoinigh ar might be a phrasal verb and might not be a phrasal verb, depending upon what was given as its English translation."

In the sentence I quoted, "smaoineamh air" is translated as "to think of it".

Under "smaoinigh", Teanglann has: (With ar) Think of, reflect on, consider. Here, two of the English translations are prepositional, one is not.

Foclóir.ie, under, "consider" [think carefully about] lists "smaoinigh ar", which it marks as a phrasal verb (PhrV) and it gives the example: "it's worth considering : is fiú smaoineamh air".
Under "call" [summon] it also lists "glaoigh ar" as phrasal.

I would call this particular type of construction "prepositional".

What should matter, I think, is whether, from the point of view of Irish syntax, "smaoinigh ar", "glaoigh ar", "labhair le" etc behave the same way, syntactically (in as far as what we're discussing here, at least).
They certainly have the same surface structure, ie verb + preposition (+ object).


Unfortunately “think of” itself has more than one meaning, which in Irish can either be a phrasal verb (e.g. “imagine”) or a non-phrasal verb (e.g. “recall”) — and the CI:TY example “It would be no harm to think of it” could be interpreted as either “… to imagine it” or “… to recall it”.

They do indeed have the same surface structure, but I’d like to find confirmation that both phrasal verbs and non-phrasal verbs with the same surface structure are treated in the same way regarding a direct object pronoun of an infinitive-type verbal noun.


I have tried to find a grammatical discussion of this type of structure but, so far, have only managed to find further examples that seem to fit the pattern (expression + verbal noun + prepositional pronoun) such as:

"glaoigh ar": "...go mbeadh an t-údarás áitiúil in ann glaoch air/uirthi..." - here, page 9
"cabhraigh le": "...conas is féidir leatsa cabhrú léi nó leis sa bhaile..." - here, page 1
"éist le": "Caithfidh mé éisteacht leis uair nó dhó eile - Daltaí Boards
"glac le": "...ach ní bheidh mé in ann glacadh leis" - foclóir.ie, "accept"
"íoc as": "An gá dom íoc as anois?" here, page 5


Unacceptable: "I don't like calling it" (e.g. the dog) ?


Something just occurred to me... why is maith never lenited after Ní? Does this rule only apply to verbs?


"" here is not being used as a negative particle, modifying a verb. It is a verb: the negative form (present/future) of the copula "is" eg:

"Is maith leat..." - positive
"An maith leat..." - positive interrogative
"Ní maith leat..." - negative
"Nach maith leat..." - negative interrogative

The past/conditional form of the copula does cause lenition, so: "Ba mhaith leat...", "Ar mhaith leait...", "Níor mhaith leat...", "Nár mhaith leat...".

[QUERY: I don't know if the verbal particles "an, ní, nach, ar, níor, nár" derive from the copula - someone better informed may be able to tell us - but the fact that they have the same forms suggests it.]


Makes sense, thanks.

[deactivated user]

    Why is it wrong "I do not like to call it"?


    Just another note of interest: Google search for the exact phrase "é a ghlaoch", without "ar", and in quotes, showed results (two) ONLY from this Duolingo exercise /discussion!



    Do you know of a grammatical source that states that a direct object of a phrasal verb’s infinitive-type verbal noun would be embedded in the phrasal verb’s preposition?

    regarding a direct object pronoun of an infinitive-type verbal noun.

    I think there is a fundamental error in your classification of the object in sentences of this type:

    "Ní maith liom glaoch ar an bhfear"
    "Ní maith liom glaoch air".

    if you are considering them to be direct objects.

    As I suggested in my reply to your citation from GnaG: in these prepositional constructions, I would not class the prepositional object (nominal or pronominal) as a direct object, grammatically speaking, (although, pragmatically/semantically, it might be the target of the action and a corresponding English translation may use a direct object eg "...glaoch uirthi" = "...call her").

    And, having looked again at that GnaG page, I think the author agrees.

    Your original quotation ("...nothing changes...") was from the section discussing this usage of the verbal noun with a direct object and, as I read it, is simply saying that, for the direct object construction, the object pronoun (which is, of course, not prepositional), occupies the same position as a nominal object.

    Discussion then moves to the corresponding indirect object syntax:

    the indirect object in Irish is always following the verbal noun. The preposition a = to is not used. [my bold]

    It goes on to define indirect objects:

    Indirect objects are dative objects, in Irish always introduced with a preposition [my bold]

    and outlines the syntactic pattern, with examples:

    affirmative VN + prep. + indir. object Tá áthas orm siúil [sic] le Máire = I am happy to walk with Máire
    negative gan + VN + prep. + indir. object Tá áthas orm gan siúil [sic] le Pól = I am happy not to walk with Pól

    For what it's worth, the same affirmative example appears on Memrise where it is analysed as follows:

    INDIRECT OBJECT of verbal noun: verbal noun + preposition [le] + indirect object [Máire]

    The GnaG author also gives an example with both direct and indirect objects present:

    Tá áthas orm an leabhar seo a thabhairt do Mháire. = I am happy to give this book to Máire.

    However, as far as I can see, GnaG does not explicitly illustrate the indirect object usage with pronominal forms: we might assume that, in this case also, the prepositional pronoun stands in the same place as the preposition + nominal object (complement) that it represents, ie after the verb noun.

    The examples I have seen, some of which I have cited in previous comments, seem to support that assumption.

    As for phrasal vs non-phrasal: that does not appear to be a pertinent factor; it seems to be the indirect (prepositional) object construction that is syntactically relevant.

    Take, for example, this sentence:

    Tá orthu cuntas gearr a scríobh faoi, ag úsáid na bhfocal céanna atá i gCuid A le cuidiú leo. - TEG (page 4)

    I would say that "scríobh faoi" is a non-phrasal instance - simply "scríobh" + (preposition + complement) - whereas "ciudiú leo" ("cuidigh le") is phrasal (see NEID, "write" and "help") but both exhibit the same syntax (VN + prepositional pronoun).

    Another phrasal example is the "tried and tested" sentence:

    Tá áthas orm bualadh leat

    NEID classifies "buail le" as phrasal under "meet" and gives "is deas bualadh leat" as its own example.


    I have also tried to find examples on the same pattern as your suggested "é a ghlaoch ar", eg "é a fhéachaint ar", "í a glach le", quoting the phrases for exact matches.
    So far, where results have been found for the exact phrase, as quoted, they are not actually what we are looking for eg

    ba mhaith liom é a fhéachaint ar sraith nua

    where the preposition does not relate back to the preceding (direct) object pronoun but to a following element.


    Yes, I’d say that you’re right in classifying them as indirect objects in Irish, despite being direct objects in English, so my expectation based on the direct object example in GnaG was wrong.

    Scríobh faoi is certainly non-phrasal. It’s curious that the NEID classifies the transitive cuidigh le as being phrasal, since for each of its three possible meanings the intransitive non-phrasal form cuidigh has an identical meaning. My understanding of the definition of “phrasal verb” is that the verb + preposition has an idiomatic meaning that differs from the meaning of the verb without a preposition (e.g. in English, the “leave in a hurry” meaning of “take off” is a phrasal verb since it has a different meaning than “take” + “off”, but “take with” is non-phrasal because it has the same meaning as “take” + “with”); if that is correct, then cuidigh le is not a phrasal verb, but a non-phrasal verb + preposition.


    "I don't like him to call"?


    Why nae "Ní maith liom á ghlaoch"?

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