Caibidil a Trí Déag:
grammatical and logical subject
simple affirmative sentence
| simple query
subordinating clauses with go/nach
|predicate - subject - object (PSO)|
The predicate is the "statement"of the sentence, mostly an "action". An action is expressed by a verb ("predicate verb")
The statement of a sentence can also be a classification ("Paul is a teacher ") or an identification ("Paul is the teacher "). In these cases, a noun is the predicate (predicate noun ). Subject and predicate noun are then connected via the copula. It is, in this sense, a "non-predicate verb", itself being not the predicate but the introductory particle.
Through this, there is a slightly altered word order in the copular clause, which basically follows "PSO": (copula-predicate-subject)
The statement of the sentence can also consist of attributing a quality ("Paul is young "). In this case, an adjective is the predicate (predicate adjective). The coupling of subject and predicative adjectives follows mostly with the verb bí. Bí is in itself actually a predicate verb and forms, with the adjective, a predicate framework with the subject in the middle. (e.g. Tá Pól óg = Paul is young.).
Occasionally, the copula may link a subject and predicate adjective (e.g. Is deas é Pól = Paul is nice.)
The subject is the "agent" of the sentence. The subject of a sentence is for the most part a noun or a pronoun in the nominative.
In the case of synthetic verb forms, the subject is already contained in it.(e.g. bhíomar = we were, táim = I am ).
It can (e.g. in copular clauses) also be an infinitive construct or a subordinating clause.
In passive sentences, then it is the one "suffering" the action and not the agent as the subject. [“passive” from Latin patior, pati, passus sum = to suffer, to undergo]
In Irish there are a number of idiomatic expressions, in which subject of the corresponding English sentence is not the grammatical subject, but a logical subject in the form of a prepositional phrase (here bold). e.g.:
Caution: This bit becomes more complicated, advanced learners only! :-)
By some, very few verbs, there is always grammatical complete subjectlessness. In Irish, this doesn't appear as disturbing as it seems.
In most cases, a logical subject appears with a preposition.
Because the prepositions used mostly are in the dative, the term dative of the agent (an tabharthach gníomhach) seems appropriate.
(Latin. "dativus auctoris"). The "dative of the agent " is in bold. e.g.:
These constructions are also possible in the perfect (with the verbal adjective of the verb) e.g.
Aside from such rather idiomatic phrases, the dative of agent appears above all regularly in Expressions of precedence/consequence/concurrence with the verbal noun, which is always used with the preposition do. e.g.:
In perfect or passive sentences with the verbal adjective a grammatical subject can likewise be missing, if a transitive verb introduces its object with a preposition even in the active voice (e.g. “beir ar rud” = catch something”). Preposition + object then forms the logical subject in the passive voice (see the first example.)
Additionally, the agent can here be expressed with ag, in the perfect the logical subject is thus ag + agent (see the second example):
A subject also basically does not appear in sentences with the autonomous verb form (Saorbhriathar). Whereas the English translation may use “one” or “they” in a general, impersonal sense, there is no subject word in Irish separate from the saorbhriathar, e.g..: Déantar é = (Some)one does it.
Short answers (expressed in English with “yes/no”) are also mostly subjectless, e.g.: An ólann sé? - Ólann. = Does he drink? - Yes.
In English and Irish the subject and the object do not always correspond.
e.g.: Tá teach agam = I have a house etc.
(teach is the grammatical subject in Irish but house is the object in English)
In Irish, in non-copula sentences, the (predicative) Verb come first, then the subject, then the object (VSO)
verb + subject + object
|Irish:||Feiceann tú an fear|
|English:||You see the man|
Further sentence additions follow:
verb + subject + dir. object + indir. object + local modifier + modal modifier + temporal modifier
|Irish:||Scríobh sé litir don chailín anseo go cúramach aréir.|
|English:||He wrote a letter to the girl carefully here last night.|
Direct pronominal objects (in the form of simple personal pronouns) principally fall at the end of the sentence:
verb + subject + indir. object + etc. + dir. pronominal object
|Irish:||Scríobh sé don chailin é|
|English:||He wrote it to the girl .|
The pronoun cannot be placed before essential sentence elements. These elements are the verb, the subject, and the direct/indirect object. It must be placed after all of these sentence elements. One cannot, for example, have. *Scríobh sé é don chailín.
If, however, more sentence elements appear (e.g. more adverbial modifiers, etc.) which are not essential for sentence coherence, the pronoun can appear before such a modifier (e.g. Thug sé don fhear é anseo).
Should more sentence additions appear, the pronoun can optionally appear before or after any one of those elements:
| Thug sé don fhear é anseo aréir.
Thug sé don fhear anseo é aréir.
Thug sé don fhear anseo aréir é.
|He gave it to the man here last night|
Indirect objects are sometimes placed between subject and direct object, particularly in:
verb + subject + indir. object + dir. object
|Irish:||Thug sé duit an litir seo|
|Deutsch:||He gave you this letter|
The verbal-particle ní / níor is simply placed at the beginning of the sentence. In the imperative, the negating particle ná appears.
|present tense:||Ní + verb + subject + object||Ní fheiceann tú an fear = You do not see the man.|
|simple past :||Níor + verb + subject + object||Níor ól mé fuisce = I didn’t drink whiskey.|
|imperative:||Ná + verb + subject + object||Ná hól fuisce! = Don’t drink whiskey!|
ní / níor require lenition, after ná there is no lenition, but h is prefixed to a vowel.
In Donegal cha / char is sometimes used instead of ní / níor (see verbal particles)
In Irish there is no word for "only".
Instead of this, the sentence is negated, and ach = but stands at the end of the sentence followed by the sentence element that “only” is meant to go with (subject, object, etc.). In English it is thus “It is not but…” instead of “It is only…” Hence the confusing designation “semi-negative.”
Níl ann ach mé = Only I am here (lit.: "not-is in-it, but me ")
Ní raibh mé in Éirinn ach uair amháin = I was only in Ireland once (lit.: "not was I in Ireland but time alone ")
Ní raibh mé ach ag gáire = I was only laughing (lit.: "not was I but at laughing ")
An ndéanann tú bróga nó an ndéanann tú ach a ndeisiú? = Are you making shoes are you only mending them?
(lit.: "IP make you shoes or IP make you but their mending?")
Yes-no questions require a verbal-particle, which again is simply placed at the front of the sentence. No change in word order (as in English) takes place.
|present tense||affirmative:||An + verb + subject + object||An ólann tú fuisce? = Do you drink whiskey?|
|negative||Nach + verb + subject + object||Nach n-ólann tú fuisce? = Don't you drink whiskey?|
|simple past||affirmative:||Ar + verb + subject + object||Ar ól tú fuisce? = Did you drink whiskey?|
|negative||Nár + verb + subject + object||Nár ól tú fuisce? = Didn't you drink whiskey?|
An / nach require eclipsis, ar / nár require lenition
In Munster, ná is used instead of nach. There is no lenition ná or eclipsis, but h prefixes a vowel.
e.g.: Ná hólir fuisce? = Don't you drink whiskey? (see verbal particles)
In casual colloquial speech the interrogative particle is occasionally omitted, but the eclipsis however remains: (e.g.: Bhfuil tú cinnte? = Are you sure?)
Full questions contain an interrogative (who, what, how, where, why, with what, wherefore , etc.).
A question word, however, cannot simply be placed in front of a verb, because the P-S-O world order must be preserved. In accordance with the PSO rule, it would have to stand after the verb when the interrogative pronoun is the subject or the object of the sentence. This does not occur, however (incorrect: *Rinne cé é? = Who did it?).
The question word in Irish stands always at the beginning of the sentence.
In order to get around the PSO rule, then, the interrogative sentence is divided into two subsets:
|interrogative + relative clause||(Cé a rinne é? = Who did it? ) lit.: "Who is it that did it?")|
The interrogatives cé = who, cad = what, céard = what, conas = how require a direct relative clause.
The interrogatives cá = where, cén fath = why, cén chaoi = how , as well as the combinations with prepositional pronouns cé/cad leis = with what, cé/cad air = on what , etc. require an indirect relative clause
|Rinne sé é sin. = He did that.||Cé a rinne é sin? = Who did that?||"Who(-is-it), that did it that?"|
|Rinne sé é sin. = He did that.||Cad a rinne sé? = What did he do?||"What(-is-it), that did he?"|
|Scríobh sé le peann é = He wrote it with a pen.||Cad leis ar scríobh sé é? = What did he write it with?||"What with-it(-is-it), that wrote he it?"|
This construction follows exactly those changes in the word order in a statement (and acts as a cleft construct, see there). comp.:
Cad a rinne sé? = What did he do? (lit.: "(is it) what, that did he?")
(Is é) sin a rinne sé. = He did that. (lit.: "(is it) that, that did he.")
Questions with 2 interrogatives like "Who did what?" are not possible in Irish.
Also called a "disjunctive" question.These questions already contain a choice of answers:
One answers a complete question with a complete sentence or with just one word, as in English:
Cé a rinne sin? - Pól (a rinne sin). = Who did it? – Paul (did it)).
A simple question would be answered in English with either yes or no.
In Irish there is simply no yes or no !
Instead, the repetition of the predicate takes the place of the answer.
Thus the verb form without a subject or an object. In negation, the negative particle is also used.
An ólann sé bainne? - Ólann. = Does he drink milk? - Yes. (lit.: "drinks")A subject appears as part of a synthetic verb form: e.g.: ní ólaim = no (lit.: "not drink-I").
An ólann sé fuisce? - Ní ólann. = Does he drink whiskey? - No. (lit.: "does not drink ")
An bhfaca sí mé? - Chonaic. = Did she see me? - Yes. (lit.: "Saw")
An bhfaca tú an cailín? - Ní fhaca. = Did you see the girl? - No. (lit.: "Did not see")
Nach n-ólann tú fuisce? - Ní ólaim. = Don't you drink whiskey? - No. (lit.: "not drink-I")In Ulster and Connacht, otherwise uncommon synthetic forms appear in short answers (so-called Echo forms)
Nach n-ólann sibh bainne? - Ólaimid. = Don't you drink milk? - Yes. (lit.: "drink-we")
Nár ól tú fuisce? - Níor ólas. = Didn't you drink whiskey? - No. (lit.: "not drank-I")
An déanfaidh tú sin? - Déanfad. = Will you do that? - Yes. (lit.: "do-will-I")
In the case of analytic verb forms, the subject is always missing. A subject is used only for emphatic affirmation/denial in the answer, see:
An ólann sé fuisce? - Ní ólann = Does he drink whiskey? - No.
An ólann sé fuisce? - Ní ólann sé ar chor ar bith! = Does he drink whiskey? - No, he doesn't drink whiskey at all!
The absence of yes and no has a substantial advantage:
A question such as “Don’t you drink whiskey” answered with “Yes” is ambiguous. (Yes, I don’t drink whiskey or Yes, I do not drink whiskey)
In Irish it is clear: Ólaim – I drink, Ní ólaim – I do not drink.
The words sea (< is ea = "is-it") and ní hea (= "not-is it ") can understandably help as a yes/no replacement, but their correct usage is very limited. They are grammatically correct and permitted only as the answer to a copula-question with an indefinite predicate!
Sea and ní hea also serve as replacements for the words “yes” and “no” in general expressions where they do not have the function of the answer to a question:
An dochtúir é Pól? - Sea. = Is Paul a doctor? - Yes.
Ólann tú fuisce, an ea? - Ní hea. = You drink whiskey, isn’t that so? - No.
As a general short answer, a form of the verb déan = do can be used, independent of the verb of the interrogative clause. With déan, however, the pronoun is repeated in the answer:
An ólann tú fuisce? - Déanaim = Do you drink whiskey - Yes. (lit.: "do-I")
An ólann sé bainne? - Ní dhéanann sé = Does he drink milk? - No. (lit.: "not does he")
Often one does not want to say only yes and no, but to supplement the answer by corrections, additions, etc. A complete sentence can be used here. In short answers an addition is enough, introduced by:
This is equivalent to the subordinating clauses with "that....", "that not...."
Joined clause means, that such a subordinating clause is a part of the of the main clause (subject clause, object clause).
|affirmative clause||go + verb + subject + object||Sílim go bhfuil tú sásta = I think that you are happy|
|negative clause||nach + verb + subject + object||Sílim nach bhfuil tú sásta = I think that you are not happy|
|affirmative clause||gur + verb + subject + object||Bhí mé sásta gur shíl tú é = I was happy that you thought it.|
|negative clause||nár + verb + subject + object||Bhí mé sásta nár shíl tú é = I was happy that you didn’t think it.|
go / nach requires eclipsis of the verbs, gur / nár requires lenition
In Munster ná is used instead of nach (without lenition or eclipsis).
The “go” joined clause is used similarly to the English “that” subordinate clause. However, it appears with a multitude of other conjunctions, since this display “go/nach” as a component.
On the other hand, an infinitive construct (infinitive with “to”) can frequently appear in Irish, similar to English (in expressions of emotion, will, preference, etc. this is the default use in English, and the Irish form sounds awkward in literal translation).
go-subordinate clause: Ba mhaith liom go bhfuil tú sásta = I would like it that you are happy = I would like you to be happy
infinitive with zu: Ba mhaith liom tú a bheith sásta = I would like you to be happy.
© Lars Braesicke 1999 / 2003
English translation by Daniel Nieciecki