What is a preposition?

A preposition is a word that tells you where or when something is in relation to something else. Examples of prepositions in English include words like after, before, on, under, inside and outside.

Here are some common prepositions in Irish.

asout of
chuig / goto
tríthrough / via
idirbetween / both

How do prepositions affect other words?

In Irish, some prepositions affect the spelling and sounds of the words that follow them.

The prepositions ag, as, le, i, chuig, go and idir (between) generally don't affect the next word.

  • go síopa (to a shop)
  • le múinteoir (with a teacher)
  • as póca (out of a pocket)

The preposition i is a bit of an exception to this rule.

  • i puts an urú or eclipsis on the next word, for example i mBéal Feirste (in Belfast), or i dteach (in a house)
  • i becomes in before a vowel, for example in Aontroim (in Antrim), or in oifig (in an office)

The prepositions do, de, roimh, faoi, thar, trí, , ó, idir (both) and less commonly used prepositions do add a séimhiú (h) or aspiration to the word. Remember, words beginning with a vowel never aspirate.

  • ar + bus = ar bhus (on a bus)
  • do + déagóirí = do dhéagóirí (for teenagers)
  • faoi + tábla = faoi thábla (under a table)

You might have noticed that idir follows both rules - so how do you know when to add a séimhiú to the next word or not?

Just remember that when you are using idir as between, you don't need a séimhiú.

  • Tá mo theach suite idir Béal Feirste agus Doire. - My house is situated between Belfast and Derry.

In most other cases, idir will add a séimhiú to the next word.

Prepositions with an and na

  • In Irish, an is the word for the in the singular - for example an cailín (the girl).

  • In Irish, na is the word for the in the plural - for example na cailíní (the girls).

When putting an after a preposition, add a séimhiú (add a h) or aspirate the next word, unless the word begins with d, n, t, l, s or a vowel.

When putting na after a preposition, don't do anything to the spelling of the next word.

Look at the table below which shows all the prepositions covered so far, and their versions with an and na.

Prepositions+ an+ na
agag anag na
asas anas na
leleis anleis na
chuigchuig anchuig na
arar anar na
dodondo na
dedende na
roimhroimh anroimh na
faoifaoinfaoi na
tharthar anthar na
fánfá na
óónó na
idiridir anidir na
trítríd antríd na