Hi, Duolinguists! In Focloir.ie, I am seeing the "tá ... ó" construction used for both "want" and "need." Is there any way in practice to distinguish when it's being used for one or the other? Is it just a matter of context? Or in practice are there ways that native speakers make the distinction? Thanks!
Irish doesn’t have a standalone verb “want”; it uses phrasal verbs instead to mean “want”, and one of those phrasal verbs is bí ó. The interrogative verbal particle an starts a question, and fuil is the form of bí that follows a verbal particle. Because this an causes eclipsis, fuil becomes bhfuil. Thus, An bhfuil X ó Y? means “Does Y want X?” Neither seacláid nor cailín has a definite article, so An bhfuil seacláid ó chailín? means “Does a girl want (a) chocolate?”.
"bhfuil" is a form of the verb "bí". You can think of it as replacing "tá" in certain circumstances, in this case after the interrogative (question) particle "an". "tá" can mean "is" or "are" (or "am") depending on the subject eg "Tá sé anseo" = "He is here", "Tá siad anseo" = "They are here". And similarly with "bhfuil" ("An bhfuil sé anseo?", "An bhfuil siad anseo?")