Bitesize Irish Live Q&A – The Genitive Clause


On this November’s live Q&A, Ben and Siobhán from Bitesize Irish answered your questions on the Genitive Clause (‘An Tuiseal Ginideach’). Watch back to hear them demystify this intricate feature of Irish language grammar.

Here are links to resources that were mentioned during the livestream:

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Conceptualising the Genitive

So, as you may be aware, the genitive case isn’t unique to the Irish language. You’ll find it in Latin, German and also in a number of Slavic languages, as well as a number of other languages. The genitive has a few different functions in Irish, one of them being to show possession. You use the genitive to show who something belongs to. In English you would use an apostrophe to indicate what belongs to someone eg. the boy’s apple. Another way of saying ‘the boy’s apple’ in English, a more cumbersome way, is ‘the apple of the boy’. The ‘of’ (the word that shows possession) is expressed in Irish using the genitive form of the noun, in this case boy. So, the boy’s apple in Irish is úll an bhuachalla. As you can see, an bhuachalla is the genitive singular form of an buachaill.

Here are the other instances in which the genitive is used in Irish:

  • The verbal noun (ainmneacha briathartha) ‘-ing’: ag imirt peile (playing football), ag glanadh an tí/na dtithe (cleaning the house/the houses), ag déanamh curaí (making a currach – a type of boat), ag déanamh ruda (doing something).
  • After certain prepositions: chun eg. chun na scoile (to school), also, trasna, tar éis, cois, timpeall, fearacht.
  • Two nouns together: lá gréinne (a sunny day, “a day of sun”), cluiche peile (football game), foireann iománánaíochta (hurling team), mála scoile (school bag).
  • Following words that describe quantity: a lán eolais (a lot of information), tuilleadh oibre (more work).
  • Periods of time (tréimhsí ama): ar feadh, i gceann, go ceann seachtaine/bliana. But not when a number is specified eg. ar feadh trí mhí (for three months).

Grammar books

Synthetic forms of verbs

Do ghlanas is an example of a synthetic form not found in An Caighdeán Oifigiúil (The Official Standard). Other synthetic forms, such as glanaim, are in An Caighdeán. These are all forms of the verb glan (to clean).

You can find non-standard synthetic forms of a number of verbs on the Cork Irish website.

To get a better understanding between what are standard and non-standard synthetic forms, compare the conjugation of the verb ‘glan’ on Teanglann to the conjugation of the same verb on the Cork Irish website.

P.S. What did you learn from this Q&A? Leave a comment below!

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