Irish Language Irish Grammar: «Prepositions»

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Prepositional pronouns[edit | edit source]

In Irish, there are often contractions between pronouns and the prepositions. In English, this would be like: on+me -> onme. Of course this is nonsense and we don't use that in English. But in Irish, it is completely logical. And furthermore, there are some special uses to convey certain information. We will discuss that below. First, let's look at the formation.

Formation[edit | edit source]

The basic formation can be like: ar+mé=orm, le+mé=liom, etc. Sometimes the composite will remind you of the elements, but often it looks very different. For example, all the "muid"(we) parts end in -(a)inn, which doesn't look like "muid", but at least is consistant. For siad, there is no such consistency, but often it ends in a u. Unfortunately it is not more simple. This must be learnt, either by rote, or by use. I recommend the lessons of Duolingo for learning this. To that end, the examples I give below reflect those presented in the first preposition lesson of Duolingo.

Example[edit | edit source]

Here are some basic prepositions and the form when mixed with the basic and frequent pronouns:

Pronoun Pronoun (Irish) on with at from to, toward/s
(none) (none) ar le ag ó chun (chuig)
me orm liom agam uaim chugam
you (singular) ort leat agat uait chugat
he, it é air leis aige uaidh chuige
she, it í uirthi léi aici uaithi chuici
us muid orainn linn againn uainn chugainn
you (plural) sibh oraibh libh agaibh uaibh chugaibh
them siad orthu leo acu uathu chucu

For a much more complete list, have a look here: [1] (there is also a quiz)

Uses[edit | edit source]

AR[edit | edit source]

ar is the preposition roughly equivalent to "on" in English. It is used to describe physical locations but also in Irish we have feelings/emotions on us.

  • Tá mó chóta orm - I have my coat on (on me)
  • Tá brón ort - You are sorry/you are sad (there is sadness on you)
  • Tá áthas urthi - she is happy (áthas = happiness; sásta = happy/content)
  • Tá cuileog ar an gcíste. - There is a fly on the cake.
  • Tá gruaig rua ar Seán - John has red hair (Lit. Is hair red on Seán)
  • Ar is also used for an obligation (must):
    • Tá orm éisteacht - I must listen (lit. it is on me to listen)
    • Tá orainn cáca a ithe - we must eat cake
  • Ar can also be used for prices and names.
    • Mathuin atá orm - my name is Matthew
    • Tá seacht bpunt orthu - They cost seven pounds.

LE[edit | edit source]

le is the preposition roughly equivalent to "with" in English. It also has some special uses, such as ownership. Here are some examples of use:

  • Tar linn - come with us
  • Siúlann sí leat - she walks with you
  • Is liom an cat - the cat is mine/I own the cat (lit. the cat is with me) <note the use of "is" instead of "tá", thereby indicating permenance.
  • Is libh an bia - the food is yours (pl). However, the normal way to express possession is with "ag" (see below).
  • Tá an madra tinn le himní - the dog is sick with worry (for the expression).

AG[edit | edit source]

ag is the preposition roughly equivalent to "at" in English. It also has many other uses, notably as the main way to express possession.

  • Tá sé ag an doras - he is at the door
  • Tá madra mór acu - they have a big dog
  • Tá portán agaibh - you guys have a crab!
  • Less common - as a result of:
    • Tá mo chroí briste agat. - You have broken my heart (lit. my heart is broken at you).

TODO: ??What about "I am angry at you" ??

Ó[edit | edit source]

ó is the preposition roughly equivalent to "from, off of" in English. Besides this meaning, it is also used to express since and even to express need.

  • Labhair Pól ón ardán - Paul spoke from the stage.
  • Bhí siad sásta ó shin - They were content since then.
  • Tá deoch uaim - I need/want a drink
  • Tá airgead uathu - they need money
  • Tá fón póca uaidh - He wants a mobile phone (cellphone)

>Don't confuse this with the preposition "out of"

CHUIG[edit | edit source]

Chuig (chun) means towards, to, or in the direction of. Sometimes it can replace "for" in English.

  • Snámhann tú chugam - you swim to me
  • Téann na cait chugainn - the cats go to us
  • Tarraing chugat iad. Pull them towards you.
  • Rinne siad chuig glóire Dé é - They did it for the glory of God (lit. to the glory of god)

Some more examples, and of the other prepositions too, here [2] You can find some notes on how to express modals (must, have to, want, need) in Irish here []

Notes[edit | edit source]

Ó - Tá vs Teastaíonn[edit | edit source]

When used with the verb bí, it conveys the idea of wanting something. For example, Tá bia uaim means I want food.
Teastaíonn bia uaim is the alternative way to say I want food; it can also mean I need food.

Word order[edit | edit source]

Teastaíonn/Tá + object + ó + subject or tá + object + ar + subject [3]

  • Tá bia uaim
  • Tá áthas urthi, Tá gruaig rua ar Seán

And then you have the exception with the verbal noun:

  • Teastaíonn uaim snámh I want/need to swim
  • Tá orm éisteacht and also when it is composite: Tá orainn cáca a ithe


Vincent and Prinadlezhu

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