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  5. "She is the doctor."

"She is the doctor."

Translation:Is í an dochtúir í.

May 15, 2015



why is "i" used twice in this sentence? I think it is the second use of "i" that is confusing me.... to me it appears to say "she is the doctor she"


The first í in this sentence is a subpredicate, and the second í is the subject. The subpredicate is needed because definite nouns aren’t allowed to be adjacent to the copula.

EDIT: Note that in Ulster Irish, Is í an dochtúir can be used (similar to identificational copular sentences with a first- or second-person pronoun rather than a third-person pronoun), but in this case í is the subject and no subpredicate is used.


Man alive, I was lost at "subpredicate"! How come children effortlessly learn languages without the need for a doctorate in linguistics yet I can barely grasp scilling's explanations? [no response required]


Oh thank goodness, I thought it was just me! I gave up trying to look up all the grammatical terms; it just felt like I was on a roundabout of confusion. I've readjusted how I approach the language: I am now a three year old learning her second language from her grandmother's visits.


Children don't ask "why is í used twice in this sentence?", so they don't need to learn the labels that are used to answer that question. Children accept that these words that they don't know are called pronouns crop up in particular patterns, and learn to use these patterns without consciously analysing the pattern. Adults can learn the copula that way too, but if you want to contrast it to the language that you already speak, you're going to need some way of labelling the various parts that you are comparing.


I would dearly love to "learn the copula" if only I could figure out what on earth it is. But for all the intensive talk about this mysterious entity, I am no closer to knowing what a "copula" is than I was at "dia duit". My frustration only grows as each explanation refers to the copula the copula...something that I cannot grasp and have never consciously seen. It's in the category of the loch ness monster or bigfoot. I'm not even sure it exists. Please please someone explain!!


A copula is a special form of sentence in which two things are set equal to each other. In the vast majority of cases, two nouns or noun phrases are set equal to one another.

Take the copula: "Is dochtúir í." The noun which translates to English as "she" is set equal to the noun which translates in English as "doctor." Said in a longer fashion, there are a lot of doctors in this world and she is one of those doctors.

In Irish, the special verb form, "Is" or one of its variants starts the copula sentence. There is no such special verb form in English to convey this equivalence. In English, the verb, "to be" conveys the equivalence in the sentence, "She is a doctor." In Irish, the verb form, "Tá" and its variants, are not allowed to do that. In Irish, if you want to set two nouns/noun phrases equal, you must use a copula sentence.



I learned Irish as a child and I never heard of the second "í". It sounds wrong to me


As already explained in the earlier comments, the grammar of Ulster Irish follows different rules, and doesn't use that second í.

But if you change the sentence from "the doctor" to "a doctor", where would you place the í? Do you understand why you put the í in a particular place, or is it just that "it feels right"?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with "it feels right" - that's how the vast majority of people know what to say in their native tongue all the time. But "it feels right" isn't necessarily helpful for a learner who is asking "why", especially if that learner actually has enough understanding of formal grammar terms to be able to understand a technical explanation.

Learning a language by immersion usually involves familiarizing yourself with "what feels right", whereas classroom instruction usually involves a bit more formal and structured explanation of why one construction is preferred over another. The basic design of Duolingo, especially in the app form, as compared to the website, tries to use a largely immersion based approach, presenting users with lots of examples until some of them just begin to "feel right". Some learners, especially those with experience of more structured language learner, prefer certain aspects of the grammar to be explained in technical terms, and the sentence discussions provide a way for them to get this - more of a classroom approach than an immersion approach. While Duolingo facilitates this for people who can take advantage of it, this structured grammatical approach is not provided by Duolingo, but by other users.

Because of differences between the dialects of Irish, some of the Irish that Duolingo is teaching, which "feels right" to most Irish speakers, doesn't "feel right" to people who are only familiar with a particular dialect construction. That is the nature of dialects - speakers of "British English" use constructions and spellings that don't "feel right" to speakers of American English, people who have learned Castilian Spanish find things that "don't feel right" in the Spanish course on Duolingo. Sometimes these differences can be explained in technical terms in the Sentence Discussions, and sometimes they are just dialect differences - different dialects of the same language use different constructions.


There is an inbetween though. I think people grow frustrated bc as a learner bc we can try to accept and learn for the most part like a child does, but still have some grammar questions. Without a linguist background, the explanations using unknown grammar terms are really frustrating. I never learned those terms in my English class. I learned when to capitalize and where commas go; not about genitives and subpredicates. We crave a laymans explanation which is difficult for someone understands language structure with formal grammar rules and "labels".


If you want to ask a grammar question, you need to expect grammatical terms in the answer. I don't have "a linguist background", and I didn't know most of these grammar terms before I started to re-learn Irish either, but imagine trying to learn how to paint while refusing to use colour words like umber or ochre or azure, and insisting that anything beyond red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, the rainbow colours that you remember from school, is too complicated, and that you want everything dumbed down into layman's terms, or learning to fish, and complaining when people introduce terms like "sinkers" or "chum" or "gaff".

The problem with "layman's terms" is that every layman is different. A descriptive explanation might work for you and not for someone else. Or it might use examples that make perfect sense in one context and not in another. (Read the dozens of different and not entirely compatible layman's descriptions of the copula in the Sentence Discussions for the exercises in Basics 1, for example). But more importantly, once you've read the layman's terms 3 or 4 times, and have a grasp of the concept that they describe, it's a waste of time to have to read them again and again and again every time that concept comes up (never mind actually including them in an answer to a question that demands a "technical" response). We all use grammar labels like "noun" rather putting it in layman's terms "a word that is used to name a thing", we refer to "adjectives" rather than "a word that is used to tell us more about the features and attributes of a thing" (and what are "features" and "attributes"?), people refer to the genitive and the copula, because they are the common labels that we all apply to concepts that, once you've figured them out, just need a label, they don't need a paragraph and a half.

If it's important to you to understand what a subpredicate is (rather than just knowing that that's the label that we use for that é in the middle of a copular phrase), then go to wikipedia and look it up, or find a website or text book that explains it in terms that work for you - for me, I'm perfectly happy with "that's the label that we use for that é in the middle of a copular phrase". But don't complain that other people won't do your homework for you (especially because they probably have done the homework for you, in some other Sentence Discussion that you haven't read yet, or didn't understand when you did read it).

We're talking about a vocabulary of maybe a dozen grammatical terms that will help you when you are trying to learn a language with a vocabulary of thousands of words. But it is entirely possible to learn the language without any of those technical terms, as long as you are prepared to accept "that's the way you say that in Irish" is the answer to every question, and you stop trying to explain Irish in terms that make sense to an English speaker. Kids obviously learn languages that way all the time, and language immersion tends to work this way.


I agree! I have a degree in languages and have taught French and German grammar all my career. I'm totally lost with Irish grammar. Somehow I managed to survive fourteen years of school without ever learning Irish grammar - I have to say, if I had had that thrown at me, I'd have hated it even more at the time...


Did you learn French and German grammar because it made it easier to understand French and German?

Do you think that learning Irish grammar would make it easier to learn Irish, especially if for a person who was not exposed to Irish in school? Maybe the reason that you hated Irish during your 14 years was precisely because you weren't given the tools that you needed to understand the grammar, and you also weren't exposed to enough of it to allow you to figure it out intuitively, as you would have to in a full immersion environment.


Hopefully I can catch myself in time to insert that subpredicate. For those who have trouble determining when a noun or noun phrase is definite or indefinite, there is a great article here as Bearla: https://www.msu.edu/~abbottb/def&inde.pdf


I keep getting a 404 message from the msu website.


Duolingo forums have problems with ampersands in urls. http://bit.ly/AbbottDefAndIndef


This says the platform ended service thís year


I almost got it right ("is si an dochtúir si") What's the difference between si and i, between se and e?


Got it, é is the object form of sé.


This is one of those times when I think ' this is all just too complicated for me to grasp' Will it ever just 'click' ?


It won't all click at once, but yes, at a certain point, you stop thinking about word order, you automatically translate "have" with bí .. ag, you start to get the copula right, etc.


According to the internet there are 16 major dialects and numerous sub-dialects in German, but learners only learn the standard version even in areas where the local dialect is widely used.

The "local" one where I live is called Plattdeutsch and has over a million native speakers according to Wikipedia. It is well documented in irish at "An Ghearmáinis Íochtarach".


I still can't understand what that second í is doing


I’ll splain my best - A complete copula is a copula verb (Is, Ba, etc ), followed by the predicate noun or noun phrase, and followed by the subject noun or noun phrase. However, as Scilling states above, the copula verb cannot be followed by a definite noun or noun phrase. Therefore, the first subpredicate pronoun is inserted followed by the definite predicate. But still there is no subject. The í comes at the end to be the subject. Got it? Working backwards to translate the Irish to English - the subject is She taken from the final í in the Irish sentence. Then the verb is “is” in English taken from the copula verb “Is” in Irish sentence. In standard English we’ve translated, “She is...” The simplified predicate is “the doctor” from “í an doctúir” remembering to ignore that “í” as just a separator. We get “She is the doctor.” An dtuigeann tú?


Thank you so much for this - very helpful. Sure I'm not alone amongst others having got this far without some form of explanation of what is a 'copula'. Now if some kind person would explain what are sub/predicates please? Am not a stranger to grammar forms but have not previously heard of these. Many thanks!


Re sub/predicates... Is the Subpredicate the Subject & the Predicate the Object?


Or vice versa?


So in Ulster Irish the copula disappears? Or is it the subject?
Is í an dochtúir.


Gnag at http://nualeargais.ie/gnag/kopul5.htm#bestimmtes%20Pr%C3%A4dikat gives the rule for this answer as: 'Is + é/í/iad + P + é/í/iad' and its example as 'Is é an dochtúir é' i.e. 'he is the doctor'. Does the subpredicate here (é) agree with the 'dochtúir' or with the 'é' as the subject?

My first reading of this is that the subpredicate agreed with the main predicate i.e. this part 'é/í/iad + P' and not 'é/í/iad ...... + é/í/iad' which the answer above seems to suggest. In other words the 'subpredicate agrees with the the subject (as in the answer) rather than being 'Is é an dochtúir í' where the 'é ' agrees with the gender of 'dochtúir' (masculine).

BACK to our answer 'Is í an dochtúir í.' Should the first 'í ' agree with the last 'í ' or with the 'dochtúir ' which would then make it 'é'????

Or am I over analysing it!?


I'm very much a beginner but I don't think that é or í agree with the gender of dochtúir (masculine?) otherwise Is í an dochtúir í would be nonsensical. I hope that this helps a little though my explanation may be off. :-)


When referring to something that has "natural" gender (you would use a gendered pronoun in a language like English that doesn't otherwise reflect gender), then the pronoun reflects the natural gender, and both pronouns will agree.

Where the gender is purely grammatical, then your pronoun will generally reflect the grammatical gender (though é is the default where there is confusion).


Is í an dochtúir í


Ulster Irish not accepted


The course is designed to teach An Caighdeán Oifigiúil. To avoid the complaints of people who want to use Duolingo, even though they don't want to learn An Caighdeán Oifigiúil, a huge amount of additional work has been done to add dialect versions of answers, where they have been requested.

If you would like an Ulster Irish variation to be added to the list of acceptable answers for this exercise, use the Report button and check the "My answer should be accepted".


Is doctúir í is how I learned it in school from native speakers! Stop trying to change the language!


No, it's not how you learned it in school from native speakers.

Is dochtúir í means "She is A doctor", which is not the same as "She is THE doctor".

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