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How to say No Pain, No Gain in irish

Let’s learn how to say the expression no pain, no gain in Irish.

The term for proverb in Irish is seanfhocal /shan-uk-ull/, and we have two of these that roughly correspond to the meaning of the saying no pain, no gain in English. Each of them contains just four words, and each of them rhymes!

The first of these is níl pá gan chrá /neel paw gonn khraw/.

Taken literally, this translates as ‘there isn’t pay without torment.

Let’s take a little look at the grammar of this seanfhocal.

Níl /neel/ is simply the negative form of the irregular verb ‘bí‘ (to be), present tense – meaning ‘there isn’t’.

 /paw/  is a noun meaning ‘pay, wages’.

Gan /gonn/ is a simple preposition meaning ‘without’.

Individual nouns that begin with the letter b, c, g, m, or p take séimhiú (aspiration/lenition) following the preposition ‘gan’. Hence, crá become chrá.

Okay! Our second seanfhocal that is similar in meaning to ‘no pain, no gain‘ is níl bua gan dua /neel boo-ah gonn doo-ah/.

This tranlates to English as ‘there isn’t victory without toil’.

In terms of grammar this seanfhocal is very similar to the first one that I have explained above.

Bua is a noun meaning ‘victory’.

Dua is a noun that means ‘toil’ or ‘hardship’.

Notice that dua does not take séimhiú (aspiration/lenition) following the preposition gan. Individual nouns that begin with the letter d, s or t, and most that begin with f, do not change following the preposition gan.

The expression bua gan dua /boo-ah gonn doo-ah/ itself can be used to mean ‘a walkover victory’.

So we might say: bhí bua gan dua ag foireann Chiarraí inné/vee boo-ah gonn doo-ah egg fwir-enn Khee-ar-ee inn-aye/, meaning ‘the Kerry team had a walk-over victory yesterday’.

You might also like our Top Irish Language Proverbs.

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