Comparative forms (an Chomparáid)
- regular form
- irregular form
- comparative with mó and lú
- the suffix -de
use of the comparative
predicative and adverbial use
- dependent comparative
- autonomous comparative
- autonomous comparative and indef. noun
- every other case
- definite noun
(The differentiation found in many books, and even grammar books, of the comparatives with níos of a "superlative" using is too simplified and just wrong)
The regular form is the feminine genitive singular form
of the adjective (see declension)
Here again as a rundown:
There are only a few irregular comparative forms:
|closer (to)||-||neasa (do)|
mó and lú are also used for more and less.
Some adjectives have the same comparative form as the base form (as in the
standard of all of the 3rd declension).
In order to signify the comparative, one can additionally use the word mó (= bigger, more) or lú (= smaller, less).
Theoretically, this form is possible with all adjectives.
Especially lú one can make a softened statement in the sense of "less": (e.g.: is lú is sean = not so old, less old). Here one often uses the abstract noun instead of the adjective (níos lú fearúileacht = less masculine)
|present||is mó / lú is + adjective-base form||Is mó is crua é ná riamh = it is worse than ever|
|preterite/conditional||ba mhó / lú ba + adjective-base form||Ba mhó ba chrua é ná riamh. = it was worse than ever|
|alternative||is mó / lú + noun||an fear is mó cáil = the most famous man|
The latter form is very similar to the German genitive attributive "ein man größten Ruhmes"=a man of greatest fame
Sometimes -de is added to the comparative
Mainly, this has the meaning "the...-er"
e.g. fearrde = the better, móide = the bigger/more, lúide = the less
Actually, this -de is the prepositional pronoun
de (preposition de + é) and literally
means "of him, of it"
Principally, this acts as a pronoun that refers to a preceding or following part of the sentence.
Is fusaide é a dhéanamh. = the simpler it is done. (literally: "Is simpler-of it it to do")
Is fearrde é thú. = the better it is for you (literally: "Is better-of it it you")
Ní miste (measa + de) liom é. = it doesn't bother me. (literally: "not-is worse-of it with-me it", also: "it is not any worse, I think")
Ní móide go rachfaidh mé. = It is not likely, that I will go. (literally: "not-is bigger-of it that I will go", also: "it is not any more, that ...")
Is móide an trua. = the more tragic it is. (literally: "it bigger-of it the pity")
móide and lúide serve also as "plus" and "minus"
lúide 10 bpunt = minus 10 Pfund (lit. "less-of it10 Pfund", "the less 10 Pfund")
de can less often also stand alone with the base form of the
e.g.: Bí cinnte de go ... = be sure of it , that ...
Instead of the suffix -de in the comparative, is amhlaidh is
+ comparative is used in the sense of "the...the".
This is especially done in constructions with the abstract noun.
The comparative form can not be used like a normal adjective
predicative and attributive. It is a purely predicative adjective form
(e.g.: "he is bigger"). An attributive use ("the bigger man") can only
with the help of a relative clause, in which the comparative is the predicate.
(e.g.: "the man who is bigger").
Furthermore, the comparative form can only be used with the copula (also "níos" is a copular form)
When using the comparative form one must make sure that if the adjective is to be used
This use is marked by the use of the der conjunction ná = als.
In clauses with a real verb:
|present||níos + comparative form||Tá an ghrian níos gile ná an ghealach. = The sun ist brighter than the moon.|
|pret. and condit.||ní ba / níba + comparative form||Bhí an ghrian ní ba ghile ná an ghealach. = The sun was brighter than the moon.|
|pret. and cond. preceding vowel/ fh||ní b' / níb + comparative form||Bhí an ghrian ní b'áille ná an ghealach. = The sun was prettier than the moon.|
In copular clauses:
|present||is + comparative form||Is gile an ghrian ná an ghealach. = The sun is brighter than the moon.|
|pret. and condit.||ba + comparative form||Ba ghile an ghrian ná an ghealach. = The sun was brighter than the moon.|
|pret. and cond. preceding vowel /fh||b' + comparative form||B'áille an ghrian ná an ghealach. = The sun was prettier than the moon.|
Is fearr Gaeilge bhriste ná Béarla cliste! = Broken Irish is better than clever English!
If a verb follows ná
In this case, ná (mar), seachas mar, thar mar
appears with a direct relative clause:
Labhraíonn sé níos fearr ná (mar) a scríobhann sé. = He speaks better than he writes.
e.g.: Tá an aimsír níos teo inniu. = The weather is
Bhí an ghrian níba ghile inné. = The sun was brighter yesterday.
To express the increase of an attribute (e.g."to get better"), one uses
the verb éirigh
e.g.: D'éirigh an aimsir níos teo ón lá inné = The weather became warmer since yesterday.
Or one uses the gradual abstract noun instead of the comparative form with the verb téigh + i:
e.g.: Tá sé ag dul i bhfeabhas. = It will get better.
To make statements with much + comparative (e.g.: "much better"), one
uses mórán = "an amount", cuid
mhaith = "a good bit" or i bhfad
= "in length"
e.g. cuid mhaith níos fearr = much better, mórán níos mó = much bigger, i bhfad níos measa = much worse.
Similarly, one can also use numbers, especially seacht = "seven (times)".
e.g.: Tá sise seacht níos áille ná tusa. = She is seven times prettier than you.
The term "attributive" is really only in the German translation correct.
In Irish, the comparative is not used attributively. Because of this, auxilliary constructions with relative clauses are necessary (e.g. instead of "the bigger man" follows "the man that is bigger" = an fear is mó)
e.g.: Ba mhaith liom carr níos fearr. = I would like to have
a better car.
lit.: "would be good with-me car thing-that-is better"
In every other case, also:
|present||is + comparative form||Tá leabhar is mó agamsa ná do cheannsa. = I have a bigger book than you.|
|pret. and condit.||ba + comparative form||Bhí leabhar ba mhó agamsa ná do cheannsa. = I had a bigger book than you.|
|pret. and cond. preceding vowel/fh||ab + comparative form||Bhí leabhar ab áille agamsa ná do cheannsa. = I had a prettier book than you.|
This is especially the case in which the superlative would occur.
How to translate such an Irish expression (comparative or superlative), is only to be seen from the context.
e.g.: an fear is mó = the bigger man or: the biggest man (lit.: "the man that is bigger")
Note the following:
|present||Is + subject + an ceann + is + comparative form||Is í an bhean an ceann is mó. = The woman ist the bigger / biggest.|
|preterite / conditional||Ba + subject + an ceann + ba/ab + comparative form||Ba í an bhean an ceann ba mhó. = The woman was the bigger / biggest|
or also degree of equity (cóthroim = comh + trom = as strong)
The equative expresses that 2 things are the same w.r.t. an attribute (e.g
You are as big as me.)
Like in German one needs 2 words ("so...wie"="as ... as"): chomh (= "as") and le (= "as", lit."with").
The adjective in the base form comes between the two. Instead of le also agus / is (= "and") with a dir. relative clause can be used.
Statements like"He is as big as you"
|tá + subject + chomh + adj. + le + comparative object:||Tá mé chomh mór le Pól. = I am as big as Paul.|
|tá + subject + chomh + adj. + agus (is) + direct relative clause:||Tá mé chomh mór is atá Pól. = I am as big as Paul.|
For statements like "He is just as big" one uses the words seo/sin/siúd
|tá + subject + chomh + adj. + seo/sin/siúd||Tá sé chomh mór seo. = He is just as big (as this).|
|tá + subject + chomh + adj. + céanna||Tá mé chomh sásta céanna. = I am just as happy.|
It is also possible to use comh- as a prefix
to the adjective or noun:
Tá siad comhairde = They are equally big.
Statements like "He is so big that ..." are made similarly to the German/English
with go (= that), but connected via agus
(or there is a demonstrative pronoun):
|tá + subject + chomh + adj. + agus go/nach||Bhí mé chomh sásta agus go raibh tú ann.
= I was so happy, that you were there.
|tá + subject + chomh + adj. + sin + go/nach||Bhí mé chomh sásta sin go raibh tú ann.
= I was so happy, that you were there.
Statements like "so big, as if..." are formed with dá
and an irreal conditional clause:
|tá + subject + chomh + adj. + agus dá||Bhí mé chomh dona agus dá mbeidh mé tinn.
= I was feeling so bad, as if I were sick.
The interrogative form "how big is he?" is cé
chomh (= how?, lit. "who so?") again with le
Without cé it can be used as an exlamation ("how big he is!")
As opposed to the German, the logical subject of such clauses appears after le : chomh mór leat! = how big you are! (lit.: "so big with-you")
|question:||Cé + chomh + adj. + le + subject?||Cé chomh sásta leat? = How happy are you?
Cé chomh sásta le Pól? = How happy is Paul?
|exclamation:||Chomh + adj. + le + subject!||Chomh sásta leat! = How happy you are!
Chomh sásta le Pól! = How happy Paul is!
Cé chomh hard leis an tsliabh? = How high is the mountain?
Cé chomh beag leis an bpáirc? = How small is the park?
Féach, chomh domhain leis an loch! = Look, how deep the lake is!
Another form to express something similar is (without the equativr, but with
the abstract noun) see "amazing, how big he
is" (also as a question: "how ... is he?")
The interrogative form cá + adj. = how ... is ..., e.g. Cá hard é? = How high is it? is also possible.
Statements like e.g.: "as good a man as you"
chomh + adjective + le is simply placed after the noun.
The classification is done via bí + ar or bí + i:
|noun + chomh + adj. + le + comparative object||Tá sé ar fhear chomh maith leat = He is as good
a man as you.
Tá sé ina fhear chomh maith leat = He is as good a man as you.
(lit.: "is he on / in-his man so good as-you")
Possible is also: chomh + adj. + de + noun + le:
|chomh + adj. + de + noun + le + comparative object||Tá sé chomh maith d'fhear leat = He is as good a man
(lit.: "is he so good of man with-you")
A substantivisation of the adjectives with the prefix comh- = "same" (có- preceding mh-) is possible. Otherwise the substantivised adjective remains unchanged to the adjective form. The comparative object acts as the possessive pronoun.
|possessive pron. + comh- + substantiv. adj. + de + noun||Níl do chómhaith d'fhear anseo. = There is no
good man such as you here.
(lit.: "not-is your same-goodness of man here")
[ 1 ] The use of a clause with níos deserves an explanation:
Because a clause like "Tá an bhean níos fearr" ( = "The woman is better") is comprised of two parts: a main clause "Tá an bhean ní" ( = "the woman is a thing") and one for the comparative customary copular relative clause "is fearr" ( = "... that is better").
The main clause is problematic, because it is both logical ("the woman is a thing") and grammatically (classificatory clause with bí instead of the copula ) difficult to explain.
It appears rather, that "ní" ( = "a thing") is not seen as a noun here, but as an adverb, which explains the use of bí (tá) and also relates the logically false statement "woman = thing".
Earlier this "ní" was also no noun at all, but a topical pronoun, a n-í = the one who, comparable to the still used an té = the person who
This "adverbial" or even "pronominal" ní connects to the copular relative form "is" to "níos".
[ 2 ] thankfully contributed by: Panu Höglund © 2002