1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Irish
  4. >
  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.

  • 1321

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.



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


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' ?

  • 1321

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.


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. :-)

  • 1321

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).


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.


Is í an dochtúir í


Ulster Irish not accepted

  • 1321

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 t leave 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".

Learn Irish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.