Beginners’ Corner – Cúinne an Tosaitheora 1

To start with, corner. That can be cúinne, but there is also coirnéal, which is more obviously related to the English word.

Dia dhuit! Hello! (word for word: “God to-thee”)

Dia is Muire dhuit! Hello to you too! (word for word: “God and Virgin Mary to thee” – Muire is only Virgin Mary, all the other women called Mary are Máire in Irish)

Cén chaoi a bhfuil tú? How are you? (Also: Conas atá tú? Cad é mar atá tú?)

Tá mé go maith, go raibh maith agat. I am well, thank you.

Cé thú féin? Who are you?

Is mise Máirtín. I am Martin.

Cad is ainm dhuitse? What is your name? (Dhuitse is a particularly emphatic form of dhuit, to you.)

Cáit is ainm dhom. My name is Kate.

An múinteoir thú? Are you a teacher?

Ní hea. Is foghlaimeoir mé. No. I am a learner.

Here are some more examples:

An brícléir thú? Are you a bricklayer?

Nach brícléir thú? Aren’t you a bricklayer?

Is ea, is brícléir mé. I am a bricklayer.

Ní hea, ní brícléir mé. I am not a bricklayer.

The thing that has the forms is ‘is’, ní ‘is not’, an…? ‘is…?’, nach…? ‘isn’t…?’ in sentences like this, is called the copula (in Irish, copail, or an chopail – note that in certain nouns, the initial consonant adds a -h- after an ‘the’ – we are going to talk about this later). The pronoun ea, which can be translated as ‘it’, is only used in this kind of sentences, where somebody or something is classified as, say, representing the ‘class’ of bricklayers, plumbers and so on. Note that ní prefixes a h- to the vowel in ea.

Pronouns used in these sentences are:

mé ‘I, me’

thú ‘thee, you’

é ‘him, it’

í ‘her, it’

sinn ‘us’

sibh ‘you’

iad ‘them’

Note that these are basically object pronouns. The fact that you use object pronouns (‘them’ rather than ‘they’) to tell that somebody is something (that ‘they’ are something), is one of the curiosities of copula sentences. This is why I always tell people not to think of the copula as a verb, although it is in many instances used for translating the English verb ‘to be’. The copula is a part of speech in its own right.

Of course, when you are saying that we, you, they are something, you use the plural form of the noun. In Irish, nouns ending in -éir. -óir, -eoir take the -í ending:

is múinteoirí sinn ‘we are teachers’

is pluiméirí sibh ‘you guys are plumbers’

is fiaclóirí iad ‘they are dentists’

More names of professions and similar roles which can be used in sentences such as those above:

pluiméir plumber

An pluiméir thú? Are you a plumber.

Is ea, is pluiméir mé. Yes, I am a plumber.

Ní hea, ní pluiméir mé. No, I am not a plumber.

An pluiméirí sibh? Are you guys plumbers?

Is ea, is pluiméirí sinn. Yes, we are plumbers.

Ní hea, ní pluiméirí sinn. No, we are no plumbers.

múinteoir teacher

An múinteoir thú? Are you a teacher?

Is ea, is múinteoir mé. Yes, I am a teacher.

Ní hea, ní muinteoir mé. No, I am not a teacher.

An múinteoirí iad? Are they teachers?

Is ea, is múinteoirí iad. Yes, they are teachers.

Ní hea, ní múinteoirí iad. No, they are not teachers.

An múinteoir í Máire Ní Shúilleabháin? Is Mary Sullivan a teacher?

Is ea, is múinteoir í. Yes, she is a teacher.

An múinteoir é Cathal Ó hAnluain? Is Charles Hanlon a teacher?

Ní hea, ní múinteoir é. No, he is not a teacher.

sagart priest (plural sagairt)

An sagart é Seán? Is ea, is sagart é. Is Seán a priest? Yes, he is a priest.

An sagairt iad Seán agus Máirtín? Is ea, is sagairt iad. Are Seán and Máirtín priests? Yes, they are priests.

dochtúir doctor, physician

An dochtúir í Sadhbh? Is Sadhbh a doctor? Is ea, is dochtúir í Sadhbh. Yes, Sadhbh is a doctor.

An dochtúirí iad Seoirse agus Dáithí? Are Seoirse and Dáithí doctors? Ní hea, ní dochtúirí iad. No, they are not doctors.

fiaclóir dentist (plural fiaclóirí)

síceolaí psychologist (plural síceolaithe)

scoláire scholar (plural scoláirí)

ollamh professor (plural can be ollaimh, but more traditionally, ollúna)

léachtóir lecturer (plural léachtóirí)

oifigeach officer (plural oifigigh)

saighdiúir soldier (plural saighdiúirí)

síochánaí pacifist (plural síochánaithe)

mairnéalach sailor, mariner (plural mairnéalaigh)

táilliúir tailor (plural táilliúirí)

tincéir tinker (plural tincéirí)

innealtóir engineer (plural innealtóirí)

geolaí geologist (plural geolaithe)

ceimiceoir chemist (scientist) (plural ceimiceoirí)

poitigéir chemist (drugstore keeper) (plural poitigéirí)

bitheolaí biologist (plural bitheolaithe)

matamaiticeoir mathematician (plural matamaiticeoirí)

eolaí scientist (plural eolaithe)

rúnaí secretary (plural rúnaithe)

bainisteoir manager (plural bainisteoirí)

máistir scoile schoolmaster (plural máistrí scoile)

máistreás scoile schoolmistress (plural máistreásaí scoile)

bean rialta nun (plural mná rialta)

manach monk (plural manaigh)

bráthair friar, brother (in the religious sense; plural bráithre)

paróisteánach parishioner (plural paróisteánaigh, as you should have guessed by now)

saoránach citizen (plural saoránaigh)

géillsineach subject (of a monarchical state; plural géillsinigh. The Republic of Ireland has saoránaigh, the United Kingdom has géillsinigh)

garda guard, (Irish) policeman (plural: gardaí)

péas policeman, cop (this word actually has no special plural inflection: péas means both ‘cop’ and ‘cops’. The word is an old loan from the English peace officer, which also has a more official and literary Irish equivalent, síothmhaor, plural síothmhaoir.)

póilín policeman (plural: póilíní)

buirgléir burglar (plural buirgléirí)

gadaí thief (plural gadaithe)

polaiteoir politician (plural polaiteoirí)

coirpeach criminal (plural coirpigh)

murdaróir = dúnmharfóir murderer (both end in -í in the plural form: murdaróirí, dúnmharfóirí)



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