Irishon the BBC

Home : Articles : Learners : Giota Chun Cinn: Irish Additional Lessons

Giota Chun Cinn: Irish Additional Lessons

Take your Irish to the next level building on what you have already learned in Giota Beag, and Giota Beag Eile.

Giota Chun Cinn Lesson 1: Foclóirí/Dictionaries
Antain Mac Lochlainn shares tips on how to make the best use of your dictionaries, gives a brief overview of dictionary abbreviations, and introduces you to An Caighdeán Oifigiúl, or ‘Standard Irish.’

Giota Chun Cinn Lesson 2: h before a vowel
Charlie Dillon explains where and why a ‘h’ has to be inserted when two vowel sounds come together in Irish, and takes us through examples such as ó áit go háit, na hoileáin, ceithre huaire, and ná hól sin.

Giota Chun Cinn Lesson 3:  Emphasis
Antain Mac Lochlainn explains how we use emphasis in Irish. He introduces the suffixes -sa, -se, -ne etc., and the emphatic forms of the personal pronouns, mise, tusa, eisean, ise etc.

Giota Chun Cinn Lesson 4: Pronunciation tips for learners
In this lesson, Antain Mac Lochlainn shares some of his pronunciation tips for learners. He points out that people from different parts of the country will have their own peculiar difficulties with pronunciation, and offers some useful hints and comparisons.

Giota Chun Cinn Lesson 5: The direct and indirect relative
Antain Mac Lochlainn gives a concise explanation of the relative in Irish, with helpful comparisons to its use in English. He gives simple examples of phrases, such as is bean í and déanann sí obair mhaith, and explains what happens when we join them together. Similar examples illustrate the difference between the direct and indirect relative, and there are even some opportunities for you to try creating simple relative clauses yourself.

Giota Chun Cinn Lesson 6: Counting Objects and People
Antain Mac Lochlainn steers us through counting in Irish. He introduces the personal numerals - duine, beirt, triúr etc, along with some regional variations in their use. He goes on to explain the various ways in which we count objects.

Giota Chun Cinn Lesson 7: Infinitive
Learners of Irish often have great difficulty with the infinitive. Here, Antain Mac Lochlainn defines it for us, and stresses that in Irish, there are two distinct types. Which form we use, he explains, depends on whether or not our phrase contains an object. He shows us the correct usage of the ‘h,’ or séimhiú, in this context, but admits it’s a custom regularly honoured in the breach by native Gaeltacht speakers.

Giota Chun Cinn Lesson 8: Past Habitual Tense
Irish differs from English in having tenses which describe repeated actions. In this lesson Antain Mac Lochlainn explains the past habitual tense and how to use it. He also gives some further pronunciation tips, and points out in particular some peculiarities of Ulster pronunciation. Finally, he reveals how we can use ba ghnách liom plus the infinitive to avoid some of the pronunciation difficulties the past habitual tense can throw up.

Giota Chun Cinn Lesson 9: Strong and Weak Plurals
Antain Mac Lochlainn tells us that the concept of strong and weak plurals was one with which he struggled as a learner: Why was the shoe shop called Siopa Bróg when there was presumably more than one shoe for sale there? Why was the men’s toilet Leithreas na bhFear when the plural of fear is fir? In this lesson, Antain shares with us the understanding he gained, and gives several examples of weak and strong plurals in action.

Giota Chun Cinn Lesson 10: Dialect and Standard
In this lesson, Antain Mac Lochlainn talks us through some of the differences between Irish dialects. He also gives us a concise explanation and history of the Caighdeán Oifigiúil we first met in lesson 1 of this series, along with some useful hints on when and to what extent we ought to employ it.

Giota Chun Cinn Lesson 11: Vocabulary for Special Occasions
Here, Antain Mac Lochlainn introduces some common phrases for toasts, blessings, congratulations, thanks, condolences. He gives us the literal meaning of many of the phrases as well as some hints on how they should be used.

Giota Chun Cinn Lesson 12: Suspended Genitive
Antaine Ó Donnaile introduces us to the genitive case which is invoked when we wish to show ownership of a noun, as in dath an fhéir (“the colour of the grass”), or following a verbal noun, as in ag baint an fhéir (“cutting the grass”). But what happens when we have to put several genitives in a row, as in “the colour of the dog’s house (the colour of the house of the dog)?” That’s when the suspended genitive comes to our rescue, and Antaine talks us through its application.

Giota Chun Cinn Lesson 13: The Copula
In this lesson, Antaine Ó Donnaile explains where we should use the copula, is, instead of , for the verb ‘to be.’ You will already be familiar with , the present tense of the substantive verb, from your Giota Beag, and Giota Beag Eile lessons. We use , for example, to describe how or where we are: tá mé tinn (“I am ill”), or tá mé sa chistin (“I am in the kitchen”).

However, where we wish to identify or classify a noun, we must use the copula, is, and not : is mise Ciarán (“I am Ciarán”), or is buachaill é Seán (“Seán is a boy”). As there is no such distinction in English, the copula can be difficult for learners to grasp, and this can lead to the infamous error, tá mé fear! Here, Antaine teaches us all we need to know to avoid that classic trap.

Giota Chun Cinn Lesson 14: Prepositions with Place Names
Ciarán Dawson tells us that how we say ‘in’ or ‘to’ someplace in Irish depends very much on context. It will depend firstly, he says, on whether the place name is preceded by the definite article, an, or na. Secondly, it will depend on whether the place is a country, or a town or townland. In this lesson Ciarán gives us several examples of each instance, pointing out in which cases we should use go, i, chun, sa, sna, and even ar. Along the way, he explains where our place name will take the genitive case, where it will be eclipsed, and how we should deal with place names beginning with a vowel.

Giota Chun Cinn Lesson 15: Masculine and Feminine Nouns
Charlie Dillon gives us some rules of thumb to help us work out the gender of a noun. People or animals, he tells us, will have the same gender in Irish as they do biologically: fear (“man”) and tarbh (“bull”) are masculine; bean (“woman”) and (“cow”) are feminine. Note an important exception here: in Irish, as in German, girls are not considered feminine until they grow into women! Therefore, while bean is feminine, cailín (“girl”) is masculine.

Word endings are also a useful indicator of gender and Charlie lays out some common examples such as the masculine –eoir –óir which denote occupations or pastimes, and the feminine -lann which indicates a venue for particular activities, as in bialann (“restaurant”).

Giota Chun Cinn Lesson 16: To Have To
There are many ways in Irish to say that one must do something, and in this lesson Malachy Duffin takes us through several of them. Firstly, he explains, we can use the verb with either of the prepostitions ar, ag, or le: tá orm dul abhaile (“I must go home”), tá agam le dul abhaile (“I have to go home”), tá cruinniú lé socrú (“there is a meeting to be organised”). He goes on to cover ní mór dom, tháinig orm, caithfidh mé, and b’éigean dom.  You’ll never again be short of a phrase to say, “I have to….”

Giota Chun Cinn Lesson 17: Prepositional Nouns
In this final lesson of the series, Antaine Ó Donnaile shares with us his enthusiasm for the preposition. He explains that in Irish, prepositions and pronouns come together to from prepositional pronouns, e.g. le (‘with’) + (‘me’) = liom. He states his belief that Irish derives much of its sophistication, complexity and richness from prepositions, and supports his case by listing the surprising range of phrases that can be generated by the simple construction, + noun + preposition.

NIS - logo With support from the Irish Language Broadcasting Fund

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.