## Another Note on Is vs Tá

As you certainly know, the key difference in the language is that between is and , also called “the copula” and “the substantive verb”. However, so as to speak and write good Irish, you need to grasp and master it.

As we should know by now, you can’t use tá to link two nouns, if you don’t put something between them. However, there is one important exception. You are allowed and indeed encouraged to use tá if you are telling how long, how big, how old etc. something or someone is. Thus, look at this:

Tá Seán trí bliana déag d’aois. “Seán is thirteen years old.”

There is no prepositional construction, no nothing, between Seán and trí bliana déag. Seán is thirteen years and you use tá to tell it.

Note that the trí bliana déag is followed by d’aois, i.e. “of age”. You either use ar or de before the abstract noun in this construction. It is a question of idiom whether it is ar or de. For instance, with fad and leithead it is ar (which does not lenite here: ar fad).

The formula is:

TÁ + SUBJECT + NUMBER + UNIT OF MEASUREMENT + DE/AR + ABSTRACT NOUN (QUALITY MEASURED).

## A quick and very dirty guide to Irish prepositions (now as one page)

“THE USUAL RULES”:

The “usual rules” of initial mutation after the combination of a simple preposition and a following definite article:

• To start with, note that a plural noun preceded by a simple preposition and a definite article follows the same rules as when it is preceded just by a definite article: i.e. a consonant does not change, but a vowel takes a h-: ar na fir, ag na mná, leis na héanacha (similarly: na fir, na mná, na héanacha)
• All the difficulties are, thus, in the singular.
• The basic rule is, that the noun is eclipsed: ar an bhfear, ag an mbean. A vowel is not affected (but the t- before a masculine noun beginning with a vowel is dropped: an t-éan, but leis an éan).
• However, initial t- and d- are not eclipsed: ag an doras, ag an tine (such forms as ag an ndoras, ag an dtine are Kerry Irish).
• As an alternative, the Ulster way of leniting the noun instead is allowed in the caighdeán: ag an fhear, ag an bhean.
• In standard Irish, the initial lenitable s- (s + vowel, sn-, sl-, sr-) behaves in the same way as if there was no preposition, i.e. if the noun is masculine, it is not affected (ar an saol), but if it is feminine, the s- turns into a t-, written ts- (ar an tsráid). However, in Ulster, no difference between genders is observed here (ar an tsaol, ar an tsráid).

AG

Followed by the “dative case” (which is today for the most part equal to the nominative case, i.e. the dictionary form). Before an article + a noun, the usual rules apply.

Aigesna rather than ag na in plural is typically Munster Irish.

Personal forms: agam, agat, aige, aici, againn, agaibh, acu.

Before nouns with no article: ag does not affect the first sound in any way.

Main meanings of ag:

• at (in the concrete locational sense): tá sé ina sheasamh ag an doras “he is standing at the door”
• chez, in somebody’s home
• at an occasion
• in somebody’s possession: tá gluaisteán agam “I have a car/an automobile”

Note: The widespread habit of using le in the sense of “in somebody’s home” is an Anglicism. Due to the fact that English does not have a preposition corresponding to Irish ag, German bei, or Swedish hoswith is used in English. But in Irish, if you are “staying with” somebody, you should use ag for translating “with”.

AR

Followed by the “dative case” (which is today for the most part equal to the nominative case, i.e. the dictionary form). Before an article + a noun, the usual rules apply.

Personal forms: orm, ort, air, uirthi, orainn, oraibh, orthu.

Before nouns with no article: The main rule is, that it lenites. However, when it refers rather to the abstract state than to the concrete position, the lenition is omitted: ar muin chapaill (on horseback) vs. ar mhuin an chapaill áirithe seo (on the back of this particular horse). Note:

ar dhóigh “in a way” vs. ar dóigh “excellent” (But note ar fheabhas “excellent”, which is an exception of the exception). There is, of course (!), even ar ndóigh “of course”. (And speaking of ar + eclipsis, remember also ar gcúl.)

ar shiúl “away, gone” vs. ar siúl “happening, going on”

ar tarraingt “in traction” (when you lie with a broken bone in a hospital)

ar fionraí “suspended”

ar cois “happening, going on”

ar obair “happening, going on, proceeding”

Main meanings of ar:

• on, upon (in the most concrete sense): ar an urlár “on the floor”
• for a price: cheannaigh mé ar ocht bpunt é “I bought it for eight pounds”
• in a relative position: tá sé ar an bhfear is fearr “he is the best man”
• under the authority of someone: tá Nearó ina Impire ar an Róimh “Nero is the Emperor of Rome”
• affected by emotion or disease: tá tuirse orm, tá fearg orm, tá slaghdán orm, tá tinneas cinn orm
• “about” in the sense of “talking about something”. This usage, however, is more connected with particular verbs and phrases than that of faoi. (Compare Irish trácht ar rud and English “to remark upon something”.)
• “Down upon” referring to aggression and attack is in Irish anuas ar.

AS

Followed by the “dative case” (which is today for the most part equal to the nominative case, i.e. the dictionary form). Before an article + a noun, the usual rules apply.

Personal forms: asam, asat, as, aisti, asainn, asaibh, astu.

Before nouns with no article: they are not affected at all. In Kerry, as does lenite, but this is heavily dialectal, and speakers of other dialects might find it out and out wrong. In Cork Irish, at least in Cape Clear, the historically correct form is used instead (as being only the third person masculine singular form) – it does not affect a consonant, but adds a h- to a vowel.

Main meanings of as:

• out of; from among; from; away from
• emanating from (smells, for instance)
• material, medium: rud a ní as uisce; labhairt as Gaeilge
• in payment for: d’íoc mé deich bpunt as na hearraí “I paid ten pounds for the goods”

CHUIG

Followed by the “dative case” (see above). Before an article + a noun, the usual rules apply.

Personal forms: chugam, chugat, chuige, chuici, chugainn, chugaibh, chucu.

Before nouns without article: they are not affected at all.

Main meanings of chuig: to, towards.

Note: ag is in dialects often used instead of chuig.

CHUN

Followed by the genitive case. The usual genitive rules apply. Note though, that when chun precedes an articleless noun which is followed by a definite genitive, that articleless noun can be declined in genitive too: leas ár dtíre “the interest/greater good of our country”, chun leasa ár dtíre “to the greater good of our country”.

Personal forms; the same as for chuig.

Main meanings:

• to, towards
• to a conclusion, to an effect
• for a purpose

Note the older forms chum, do-chum, which you might encounter in texts printed in Gaelic type and spelled according to the old orthography.

DE

Followed by the dative case (see above). Before an article + a noun, it lenites where applicable, and turns a lenitable s- into a t- (but written ts-). Lenites nouns without an article.

Personal forms: díom, díot, de, di, dínn, díbh, díobh. The initial d- is often lenited (dh-).

Main meanings:

• from, off: rud a bhaint de dhuine “to take a thing away from somebody”, stad sé den obair “he stopped working”
• attached to, sticking to: cheangail mé an rópa den bhád “I bound, attached, the rope to the boat”; cheangail mé an dá bhád dá chéile le rópa “I tied the two boats to each other with a rope”

Note: non-natives often use le to refer to what something is attached or bound to. This is wrong. In Irish you always use de for this. Le refers to whatever you use for tying them together. Thus, you tie the boats de each other le a rope.

Another note: it is quite common as dialects go to conflate de and do into one preposition, or to use do where you’d expect de. Remember this when you read native texts with Ó Donaill’s dictionary.

Desna rather than de na in plural is Munster Irish.

DO

Initial mutations as after de.

Personal forms: dom, duit, dó, di, dúinn, daoibh, dóibh. The initial d- is often lenited (dh-).

Main meanings:

• To, i.e. when giving something to someone: tabhair dom an bréagán sin “give me that toy”.
• To a place (although for this I’d mostly prefer go dtí)
• For (intended for someones use; to the benefit of; etc.)
• In certain verbal noun constructions, it refers to the agent of the verbal noun: i ndiaidh dom teacht abhaile/ar theacht abhaile dom “when I had come home”

Dosna rather than do na is Munster Irish.

FAOI

Lenites a noun that follows it directly. The usual rules apply to the combination of preposition + article.

Personal forms: fúm, fút, faoi, fúithi, fúinn, fúibh, fúthu.

Main meanings:

• Under, beneath.

An Ulster acquaintance of mine suggested that there was a division of meaning between fá “about” and faoi “under, beneath” in Ulster dialect. This is possible, but my impression is that the choice of faoi, fá, fé, fó in older texts mostly depends of the phonetic environment, i.e. the vowels of the surrounding nouns (this would account for the form fó in the expression an Tír fó Thoinn “the land beneath the wave”, a mythological underwater otherworld; the expression has also, probably facetiously, been used for the Netherlands).

Fé is a common spelling variant in Munster. Fésna instead of faoi na is Munster dialect.

I

Eclipses a noun that follows it directly (i dteach). Becomes in before a vowel. In the standard language, the combination i + an (ins an, now commonly written sa, san) lenites; in Connemara, though, it is assimilated to the “usual rules” (sa mbád rather than sa bhád). In plural, i + na becomes ins na (now commonly written sna).

Sa in plural is Munster dialect.

Personal forms: ionam, ionat, ann, inti, ionainn, ionaibh, iontu.

Main meanings:

• In, inside: sa teach
• In a position: i gceannas ar na saighdiúirí
• Innate capacities: tá comhábhair an cheoltóra mhaith ann
• Role: tá mé i mo mhúinteoir
• Accusation, guilt: tá sé á chúiseamh i ndúnmharú; fuarthas ciontach i ndúnmharú é

LE

According to the standard language, it should affix a h- to a following vowel. Combines with the article to yield leis an in singular, leis na in plural. Leis an follows the usual rules.

Personal forms: liom, leat, leis, léi, linn, libh, leo.

Main meanings:

• with
• towards, facing
• often used with verbs of interaction, transaction: labhair sé liom “he spoke with/to me”; dhíol sé a sheancharr liom “he sold his old car to me”
• with is it refers to ownership: is liom an carr úd “that car over there is mine”. Note the difference: tá carr agam “I have a car”, but is liom an carr “the car belongs to me”.

Ó

The usual rules apply when followed by an article. When it precedes an articleless noun, it lenites. Ósna in plural is Munster dialect: ó na is standard.

Personal forms: uaim, uait, uaidh, uaithi, uainn, uaibh, uathu.

Main meanings:

• from (from a place, from a person, from a limit, from a root cause, away from someone)
• since (a point of time)

TRÍ

Becomes tríd before an. (Oops! All these years I have happily written it as tríd even before plural na!) It tends to be permanently lenited (thrí) and you do see the form tríd even before a noun without an article (this is dialectal though).

It’s the usual rules before an article. Before a noun without an article, trí lenites.

Personal forms: tríom, tríot, tríd, tríthi, trínn, tríobh, triothu.

Main meanings of trí:

• through: tríd an bhfuinneog, tríd an doras
• by doing something, by using something, by doing something in a way: rinne sé an t-aireagán trí mhiontaighde “he made the invention by minutious research”
• through the medium of: ag múineadh trí Ghaeilge

UM

This preposition is only ever used in Cork Irish (well, probably sometimes in Kerry before names of holidays) and in legalese. I confess I have no exact idea what it means, but it follows the usual rules when  it comes before an article. Before a naked noun, it lenites, with the exception of labial consonants (b, m, p). For main meanings, consult the online Ó Donaill dictionary. – OK, fine, I am pulling your leg. It usually means “about, around”, and it is often used with temporal nouns: um an dtaca so (yes, it is definitely a Munster preposition, so um an eclipses the t’s and the d’s!), um an gCáisc, um an Nollaig. In legalese, it refers to what a law or an act is about: an tAcht um Theascadh na mBod Rófhada “the Too Long Penises Amputating Act”.

It has the personal forms umam, umat, uime, uimpi, umainn, umaibh, umpu. However, one of my readers pointed out on Twitter that she had never seen these forms before. They are hardly ever used anywhere else than in the native literature of Co. Cork; a book where you could expect to see them is Dónall Bán Ó Céileachair’s Scéal mo Bheatha.

ROIMH

Lenites naked nouns, but follows the usual rules with articles. The form roimis an… rather than roimh an… is Munster Irish.

Personal forms: romham, romhat, roimhe, roimpi, romhainn, romhaibh, rompu.

Main meanings:

• before (in a temporal sense): roimh an Nollaig, roimh an gCáisc
• before (in an order of preference, arrival, prestige etc.), ahead of: tháinig siad abhaile romhainn
• waiting for someone: nuair a thuirling an t-eitleán i mBaile Átha Cliath, bhí cuid mhór de lucht ár leanúna ansin romhainn

THAR

Lenites naked nouns, except in sayings of a general meaning (thar barr, thar muir, thar bord, thar claí, thar smacht, thar sáile); the usual rules apply before a definite article.

Personal forms: tharam, tharat, thairis, thairsti, tharainn, tharaibh, tharstu.

Main meanings:

• over, across, to the other side of something: chuaigh Seán thar sáile agus bhunaigh sé gnó ríomhaireachta i San Francisco
• over, above: chuaigh an t-uisce thar an gcloigeann air agus bádh é
• going or getting by or past something: chuaigh siad tharainn agus an choiscéim ghasta sin fúthu
• beyond: chuaigh na páistí thar smacht ar an múinteoir bocht
• in preference to: roghnaigh mé an ceann maith thar an drochcheann

IDIR

I have always had this idea that when it means “between”, it does not lenite the following noun, while when it means “among”, it does. However, Ó Donaill tells us that it basically lenites, with the exception of certain phrases. Whatever. It does not affect a noun preceded by article, so no “usual rules” there.

Eadar is a common variant spelling, typical of Ulster writers.

It has personal forms only in plural: eadrainn, eadraibh, eatarthu. These are only used alone. If idir is followed by two pronouns, those are kept: idir sinn agus iad, idir sibh agus sinn, and so on. There is one book – An Fhiannuidheacht by Cormac Ó Cadhlaigh – where you see stuff like eadrainn agus iad rather than idir sinn agus iad. The book is otherwise written in a rather commonplace Munster Irish for the most part, so I don’t know whether this is an archaism or a hypercorrection.

Main meanings:

• between
• both (…and)

## A quick and very dirty guide to Irish prepositions (part one)

“THE USUAL RULES”:

The “usual rules” of initial mutation after the combination of a simple preposition and a following definite article:

• To start with, note that a plural noun preceded by a simple preposition and a definite article follows the same rules as when it is preceded just by a definite article: i.e. a consonant changes not, but a vowel takes a h-: ar na fir, ag na mná, leis na héanacha (similarly: na fir, na mná, na héanacha)
• All the difficulties are, thus, in the singular.
• The basic rule is, that the noun is eclipsed: ar an bhfear, ag an mbean. A vowel is not affected (but the t- before a masculine noun beginning with a vowel is dropped: an t-éan, but leis an éan).
• However, initial t- and d- are not eclipsed: ag an doras, ag an tine (such forms as ag an ndoras, ag an dtine are Kerry Irish).
• As an alternative, the Ulster way of leniting the noun instead is allowed in the caighdeán: ag an fhear, ag an bhean.
• In standard Irish, the initial lenitable s- (s + vowel, sn-, sl-, sr-) behaves in the same way as if there was no preposition, i.e. if the noun is masculine, it is not affected (ar an saol), but if it is feminine, the s- turns into a t-, written ts- (ar an tsráid). However, in Ulster, no difference between genders is observed here (ar an tsaol, ar an tsráid).

AG

Followed by the “dative case” (which is today for the most part equal to the nominative case, i.e. the dictionary form). Before an article + a noun, the usual rules apply.

Aigesna rather than ag na in plural is typically Munster Irish.

Personal forms: agam, agat, aige, aici, againn, agaibh, acu.

Before nouns with no article: ag does not affect the first sound in any way.

Main meanings of ag:

• at (in the concrete locational sense): tá sé ina sheasamh ag an doras “he is standing at the door”
• chez, in somebody’s home
• at an occasion
• in somebody’s possession: tá gluaisteán agam “I have a car/an automobile”

Note: The widespread habit of using le in the sense of “in somebody’s home” is an Anglicism. Due to the fact that English does not have a preposition corresponding to Irish ag, German bei, or Swedish hoswith is used in English. But in Irish, if you are “staying with” somebody, you should use ag for translating “with”.

AR

Followed by the “dative case” (which is today for the most part equal to the nominative case, i.e. the dictionary form). Before an article + a noun, the usual rules apply.

Personal forms: orm, ort, air, uirthi, orainn, oraibh, orthu.

Before nouns with no article: The main rule is, that it lenites. However, when it refers rather to the abstract state than to the concrete position, the lenition is omitted: ar muin chapaill (on horseback) vs. ar mhuin an chapaill áirithe seo (on the back of this particular horse). Note:

ar dhóigh “in a way” vs. ar dóigh “excellent” (But note ar fheabhas “excellent”, which is an exception of the exception). There is, of course (!), even ar ndóigh “of course”. (And speaking of ar + eclipsis, remember also ar gcúl.)

ar shiúl “away, gone” vs. ar siúl “happening, going on”

ar tarraingt “in traction” (when you lie with a broken bone in a hospital)

ar fionraí “suspended”

ar cois “happening, going on”

ar obair “happening, going on, proceeding”

Main meanings of ar:

• on, upon (in the most concrete sense): ar an urlár “on the floor”
• for a price: cheannaigh mé ar ocht bpunt é “I bought it for eight pounds”
• in a relative position: tá sé ar an bhfear is fearr “he is the best man”
• under the authority of someone: tá Nearó ina Impire ar an Róimh “Nero is the Emperor of Rome”
• affected by emotion or disease: tá tuirse orm, tá fearg orm, tá slaghdán orm, tá tinneas cinn orm
• “about” in the sense of “talking about something”. This usage, however, is more connected with particular verbs and phrases than that of faoi. (Compare Irish trácht ar rud and English “to remark upon something”.)
• “Down upon” referring to aggression and attack is in Irish anuas ar.

AS

Followed by the “dative case” (which is today for the most part equal to the nominative case, i.e. the dictionary form). Before an article + a noun, the usual rules apply.

Personal forms: asam, asat, as, aisti, asainn, asaibh, astu.

Before nouns with no article: they are not affected at all. In Kerry, as does lenite, but this is heavily dialectal, and speakers of other dialects might find it out and out wrong. In Cork Irish, at least in Cape Clear, the historically correct form is used instead (as being only the third person masculine singular form) – it does not affect a consonant, but adds a h- to a vowel.

Main meanings of as:

• out of; from among; from; away from
• emanating from (smells, for instance)
• material, medium: rud a ní as uisce; labhairt as Gaeilge
• in payment for: d’íoc mé deich bpunt as na hearraí “I paid ten pounds for the goods”

CHUIG

Followed by the “dative case” (see above). Before an article + a noun, the usual rules apply.

Personal forms: chugam, chugat, chuige, chuici, chugainn, chugaibh, chucu.

Before nouns without article: they are not affected at all.

Main meanings of chuig: to, towards.

Note: ag is in dialects often used instead of chuig.

CHUN

Followed by the genitive case. The usual genitive rules apply. Note though, that when chun precedes an articleless noun which is followed by a definite genitive, that articleless noun can be declined in genitive too: leas ár dtíre “the interest/greater good of our country”, chun leasa na tíre “to the greater good of our country”.

Personal forms; the same as for chuig.

Main meanings:

• to, towards
• to a conclusion, to an effect
• for a purpose

Note the older forms chum, do-chum, which you might encounter in texts printed in Gaelic type and spelled according to the old orthography.

DE

Followed by the dative case (see above). Before an article + a noun, it lenites where applicable, and turns a lenitable s- into a t- (but written ts-). Lenites nouns without an article.

Personal forms: díom, díot, de, di, dínn, díbh, díobh. The initial d- is often lenited (dh-).

Main meanings:

• from, off: rud a bhaint de dhuine “to take a thing away from somebody”, stad sé den obair “he stopped working”
• attached to, sticking to: cheangail mé an rópa den bhád “I bound, attached, the rope to the boat”; cheangail mé an dá bhád dá chéile le rópa “I tied the two boats to each other with a rope”

Note: non-natives often use le to refer to what something is attached or bound to. This is wrong. In Irish you always use de for this. Le refers to whatever you use for tying them together. Thus, you tie the boats de each other le a rope.

Another note: it is quite common as dialects go to conflate de and do into one preposition, or to use do where you’d expect de. Remember this when you read native texts with Ó Donaill’s dictionary.

Desna rather than de na in plural is Munster Irish.

DO

Initial mutations as after de.

Personal forms: dom, duit, dó, di, dúinn, daoibh, dóibh. The initial d- is often lenited (dh-).

Main meanings:

• To, i.e. when giving something to someone: tabhair dom an bréagán sin “give me that toy”.
• To a place (although for this I’d mostly prefer go dtí)
• For (intended for someones use; to the benefit of; etc.)
• In certain verbal noun constructions, it refers to the agent of the verbal noun: i ndiaidh dom teacht abhaile/ar theacht abhaile dom “when I had come home”

Dosna rather than do na is Munster Irish.

FAOI

Lenites a noun that follows it directly. The usual rules apply to the combination of preposition + article.

Personal forms: fúm, fút, faoi, fúithi, fúinn, fúibh, fúthu.

Main meanings:

• Under, beneath.

An Ulster acquaintance of mine suggested that there was a division of meaning between fá “about” and faoi “under, beneath” in Ulster dialect. This is possible, but my impression is that the choice of faoi, fá, fé, fó in older texts mostly depends of the phonetic environment, i.e. the vowels of the surrounding nouns (this would account for the form fó in the expression an Tír fó Thoinn “the land beneath the wave”, a mythological underwater otherworld; the expression has also, probably facetiously, been used for the Netherlands).

Fé is a common spelling variant in Munster. Fésna instead of faoi na is Munster dialect.

I

Eclipses a noun that follows it directly (i dteach). Becomes in before a vowel. In the standard language, the combination i + an (ins an, now commonly written sa, san) lenites; in Connemara, though, it is assimilated to the “usual rules” (sa mbád rather than sa bhád). In plural, i + na becomes ins na (now commonly written sna).

Sa in plural is Munster dialect.

Personal forms: ionam, ionat, ann, inti, ionainn, ionaibh, iontu.

Main meanings:

• In, inside: sa teach
• In a position: i gceannas ar na saighdiúirí
• Innate capacities: tá comhábhair an cheoltóra mhaith ann
• Role: tá mé i mo mhúinteoir
• Accusation, guilt: tá sé á chúiseamh i ndúnmharú; fuarthas ciontach i ndúnmharú é

LE

According to the standard language, it should affix a h- to a following vowel. Combines with the article to yield leis an in singular, leis na in plural. Leis an follows the usual rules.

Personal forms: liom, leat, leis, léi, linn, libh, leo.

Main meanings:

• with
• towards, facing
• often used with verbs of interaction, transaction: labhair sé liom “he spoke with/to me”; dhíol sé a sheancharr liom “he sold his old car to me”
• with is it refers to ownership: is liom an carr úd “that car over there is mine”. Note the difference: tá carr agam “I have a car”, but is liom an carr “the car belongs to me”.

Ó

The usual rules apply when followed by an article. When it precedes an articleless noun, it lenites. Ósna in plural is Munster dialect: ó na is standard.

Personal forms: uaim, uait, uaidh, uaithi, uainn, uaibh, uathu.

Main meanings:

• from (from a place, from a person, from a limit, from a root cause, away from someone)
• since (a point of time)

## What to put between tá and the noun

One of the first things you learn is that you can’t put two nouns together by using the verb . Using tá you can tell what something is like, or where it is, but you can’t tell what it is, or who somebody is – that is, instead, told using the copula, which is a part of speech of its own, not a verb. (Grammarians and textbook authors often suggest that the copula, is, is another verb for “to be”. This is misleading, because is has a syntax of its own, very different from how normal verbs are used in a sentence. It is better to see is as a distinct part of speech. , on the other hand, is a verb.)

However, people do sometimes feel pressed to combine two nouns using , and they are not always quite familiar with how this is done correctly. They tend to put mar “as, like” before the second noun. While this is not wrong (well, not always), I myself feel very seldom even tempted to do so, because I use other instruments.

To start with, + possessive pronoun. This should be part of every Irish speaker’s toolbox.

Tá mé i mo mhúinteoir. I am a teacher.

Tá mé i m‘fheirmeoir. I am a farmer.

Tá mé i m‘fhisiceoir. I am a physicist.

Tá mé i m‘eachtránaí spáis. I am a space adventurer.

Tá mé i mo ridire. I am a knight.

Tá mé i mo chaptaen spásloinge. I am a spaceship captain.

Tá mé i mo theangeolaí. I am a linguist.

Tá tú i d‘fheirmeoir. You are a farmer.

Tá tú i d‘fhisiceoir. You are a physicist.

Tá tú i d‘eachtránaí spáis. You are a space adventurer.

Tá tú i do ridire. You are a knight.

Tá tú i do chaptaen spásloinge. You are a spaceship captain.

Tá tú i do theangeolaí. You are a linguist.

Tá sé ina fheirmeoir. He is a farmer.

Tá sé ina fhisiceoir. He is a physicist.

Tá sé ina eachtránaí spáis. He is a space adventurer.

Tá sé ina ridire. He is a knight.

Tá sé ina chaptaen spásloinge. He is a spaceship captain.

Tá sé ina theangeolaí. He is a linguist.

Tá sí ina feirmeoir. She is a farmer.

Tá sí ina fisiceoir. She is a physicist.

Tá sí ina heachtránaí spáis. She is a space adventurer.

Tá sí ina ridire. She is a knight.

Tá sí ina captaen spásloinge. She is a spaceship captain.

Tá sí ina teangeolaí. She is a linguist.

Tá muid inár bhfeirmeoirí. We are farmers.

Tá muid inár bhfisiceoirí. We are physicists.

Tá muid inár n-eachtránaithe spáis. We are space adventurers.

Tá muid inár ridirí. We are knights.

Tá muid inár gcaptaein spásloinge. We are spaceship captains.

Tá muid inár dteangeolaithe. We are linguists.

Tá sibh in bhur bhfeirmeoirí. You (guys) are farmers.

Tá sibh in bhur bhfisiceoirí. You are physicists.

Tá sibh in bhur n-eachtránaithe spáis. You are space adventurers.

Tá sibh in bhur ridirí. You are knights.

Tá sibh in bhur gcaptaein spásloinge. You are spaceship captains.

Tá sibh in bhur dteangeolaithe. You are linguists.

Tá siad ina bhfeirmeoirí. They are farmers.

Tá siad ina bhfisiceoirí. They are physicists.

Tá siad ina ridirí. They are knights.

Tá siad ina gcaptaein spásloinge. They are spaceship captains.

Tá siad ina dteangeolaithe. They are linguists.

Tá mé ag obair i mo mhúinteoir. I am working as a teacher.

Bhí sí ag obair ina múinteoir. She was working as a teacher.

Chaith Seán trí bliana sa tSaimbia ina mhúinteoir. Seán spent three years in Zambia as a teacher.

Bhíodh Cathal ina mhúinteoir ó am go ham. Cathal used to work as a teacher occasionally.

Chuir Séimí aithne ar a lán neachanna eachtardhomhanda nuair a bhí sé ina chaptaen spásloinge. Séimí got acquainted with a lot of extraterrestrial beings when he was a spaceship captain.

Nuair a bhí sé ina mhúinteoir bhí dearcadh eile aige ar an gceist seo. When he was a teacher, he had a different view of this question. (= Ina mhúinteoir dó bhí dearcadh eile aige ar an gceist seo.)

The idea behind this construction is being in the role, say, of a teacher. A child could also say: Tá mé i mo Gharda “I am (being) a policeman” (i.e. the child refers to the role of a policeman in a game).

There is one thing to be noted about this construction. The possessive pronoun (or possessive adjective, both terms are used) mo, do, a, a,  ár, bhur, a has the power of the definite article. Thus, when you want to tell us that Nero was an Empire of Rome, you cannot say ?bhí Nearó ina Impire na Róimhe. In the construction Impire na Róimhe we have a noun (Impire) qualified by a definite genitive (na Róimhe), You cannot put a definite article before this, and you cannot put a possessive pronoun/adjective before it either. In this example, it is better to use the preposition ar to refer to the entity Nero was an emperor of: bhí Nearó ina Impire ar an Róimh. It is also possible to say bhí Nearó ina Impire Rómhánach, but it sounds kind of literary.

The preposition i, in usually takes the form (without -n) before mo, m’ and do, d’. If you see the -n there, i.e. in mo, in m’, in do, in d’, this is an indicator of Ulster dialect.

A related construction is Múinteoir atá ann. As you should know, ann is the word for “there” in the existential sense, but it is also the combination of the preposition and the third person singular masculine pronoun, “in it, in him”. These three constructions are more or less interchangeable:

Is múinteoir é Múinteoir is ea éMúinteoir atá ann.

There is a dialect difference: the third one is markedly Ulster dialect.

Similarly: Is múinteoir mé – Múinteoir is ea mé – Múinteoir atá ionam

Is múinteoir thú – Múinteoir is ea thú – Múinteoir atá ionat

Is múinteoir í – Múinteoir is ea í – Múinteoir atá inti

Is múinteoirí sinn – Múinteoirí is ea sinn – Múinteoirí atá ionainn

Is múinteoirí sibh – Múinteoirí is ea sibh – Múinteoirí atá ionaibh

Is múinteoirí iad – Múinteoirí is ea iad – Múinteoirí atá iontu.

In Ulster, where this is a common construction, there is a tendency to use ann for all third persons, so you should not be amazed to see Múinteoir atá ann used to refer to a woman, or Múinteoirí atá ann.

Note that a similar construction is used for referring to the innate qualities of a person. Thus, you could also say: Tá comhábhair an mhúinteora ann “He has all the makings of a teacher” (i.e. he is innately qualified to become one). And, while ar refers to (notionally transient) diseases (tá slaghdán orm), refers to permanent invalidity: tá cam reilige ann “he is club-footed”.

Another preposition used in this way is ar. It is most typically used when we suggest relative position, and it can be used when the noun is definite and qualified by a superlative adjective construction:

Tá sé ar fhir chróga na hÉireann “he is one of Ireland’s [most] courageous men” (the superlative is here notional, but not needed in the construction; word for word it means “he is among the courageous men of Ireland”)

Tá sé ar na fir is cróga in Éirinn “he is among – i.e. one of – the most courageous men in Ireland”. Note that we can’t have the genitive form here, because the definite article is a necessary part of the superlative construction, and a definite genitive cannot follow a definite noun. We work around this problem by using in Éirinn “in Ireland” rather than the genitive form.

Tá sé ar an bhfear is cróga in Éirinn “he is the most courageous man in Ireland”. This is the “relative position” use of ar, which we see even in the following:

Tá sé ar fhear chomh cróga is a rugadh in Éirinn riamh “He is as courageous a man as ever was born in Ireland”.