Caibidil a Dó: The Adjective (an Aidiacht)
preceding adjectives and other prefixes (na réimíreanna)
Adjectives normally always come after the nouns they modify. Only a few may precede the noun.
Before the noun regularly stand:
For m ore about those, see their corresponding sections.
- many pronominal adjectives, like uile = all, gach = every , etc. e.g.: gach teach = every house
- possessive pronouns (in Irish termed as "possessive adjectives ") e.g.: mo theach = my house
- adjectively used numbers (cardinal- and ordinal numbers) e.g.: an tríú teach = the third house, trí theach = three houses
All other (monosyllabic) adjectives may then only precede the noun in the form of a prefix (réimír). A differentiation between prefixes, as is made in German, and preceding adjectives is generally not possible.
- Some adjectives occur only in this form as the prefix auf (e.g. deá- = good , droch- = bad )
e.g.: deá-bhád = a good boat, drochbhád = a bad boat
- By some adjectives this form is preferred (e.g.: sean- = alt).
e.g.: seanfhear = an old man (rather wrong: fear sean)
- By most of the adjectives this is less common; if so, it is for forming set terms. They would in other cases come after the noun.
e.g.: ardrí = High King , but: sliabh ard = high mountain
- Some prefixes may also further modify normal adjectives. In English, one would use adverbs like "very", "really", "too" etc.
e.g.: an-mhaith = very good, fíormhaith = really good, rómhaith = too good .
Amazingly, many of these prefixes can be used with other parts of speech.
e.g.: an-charr = a great car (lit.: "very-car").
- The prefixes so-, do-, in- can today only modify verbal adjectives (more exact and more complicated: only the genitive of the verbal noun), see also in that section.
Some rules for using these prefixes:
- There is lenition following every one of these prefixes, except after éa- = un-, there eclipsis, but in modern spelling with the omission of the eclipsing sound (e.g.: éa + cóir - éagóir = injustice)
- prefix and noun are always written together (sean + bean = seanbhean = old woman ), except:
- an- and dea- always with a hyphen (an-bhean, dea-bhean)
- Hyphens otherwise only by multiple prefixes (e.g.: droch-sheanbhád = bad old boat) or when the same phonemes collide (e.g.: ró-óg = too young, sean-nós = old style )
Some examples: (There are many more prefixes than those mentioned here.)
||a bad boat
||an old woman
|| too much
|| many, poly-
||half hundred = 50
|| primary, main
|| high, arch-
|| impossible, difficult
||impossible to do
Some of these prefixes end (in Munster) in -a, if they precede a consonant (e.g. ana-mhaith = very good)
Gramadach na Gaeilge
© Lars Braesicke 1999 / 2000
[ 1 ] amlaidh etymologically actually a prepositional pronoun made of amhail + eadh (old form of ea) = "like it "