Irish Language Q&A – April 2022


Will Bitesize Irish run Irish language immersion courses?

We’ve run Irish language workshops in the past. We have been considering this as a team, and it does depends on resources.

There is certainly something special about the focus of a weekend or one-week course, to help you learn to speak the Irish language.

Other than Bitesize Irish, keep an eye out for online immersion learning events. For example, Celtic Junction ran one online in 2022.

Prepositional pronouns (liom, leat, leis, léi, linn, libh, leo)

Adrian asked:

When using prepositions how do I know which format to use and where should it appear in the sentence for example using Le, lei leis etc ?

Prepositions like ‘le’, when combined with a pronoun such as ‘mé,tú,sé’ etc., become prepositional pronouns.

le + mé – liom

le + tú – leat

le + sé – leis

ag – at

ag + mé – agam

ag + tú – agat etc.

In regards to when you use them in a sentence, it all depends on what phrase you use. Certain prepositions are used with certain verbs / phrases.

le – with

Tá Seán liom – Seán is with me.

Stiúgtha leis an ocras – starving with the hunger.

Bhuail Séan le Máire – Seán met Máire.

Tá cat agam – I have a cat.

Tá cat ag Máire – Máire has a cat.

Tá mé ag an doras – I am at the door.

Learners tip: Even if you’re not “into” grammar, it’s useful to know the label for a concept. This gives you the ability to look up the concept and learn more at your own pace.

Is there a central reference place for relevant verbs with prepositional pronouns?

Emma recommended the secondary (high) school book Graiméar An Draoi which has a good reference.

How can I listen to the Irish language without getting frustrated?

Martina asked:

When I listen to Irish on the radio or on tv I get extremely frustrated when I can’t understand everything. It puts me off listening as I feel I am just not making progress. What advice could you give me to try and overcome this frustration and just enjoy listening to the language regardless of whether I understand everything?

First of all: this is normal! We understand and we feel your pain.

Even advanced learners find it difficult to understand every words, especially in different dialects they’re not so familiar with.

Don’t hold yourself to such high expectations! Everyone learns.

When you do understand a word, write it out and keep it on a list. If you stick with it regularly, you’ll be impressed at how many words you do add up.

Listen to Nuacht Mhall (“slow news”) where there are transcripts also.

Learners Tip: Even if you don’t understand a word, repeat it aloud! Try mimic the word you’ve picked out.

There’s active and passive learning. Leave on the radio, listening passively. Or decide to actively listen for a certain short period of time.

Again, it’s really difficult to start to understand the spoken language.

How to keep the conversation going after “Conas atá tú”?

You reply, for example, “Tá mé ar fheabhas”. And then?

  • Agus tú féin?
  • Agus tusa?
  • Cad fútsa?
  • Conas a bhfuil rudaí leatsa?

How much Irish is spoken in Ireland? And other languages?

As of the latest figures, probably from the 2016 census, there are about 70,000 daily Irish language speakers, not including the education system. 20,000 of those people are in the Gaeltacht.

There’s a 2022 census being completed, so we’re looking forward to seeing the new figures. We’re guessing the figures will have increased!

Copula: “Ba” in “Ba mhaith liom cupán tae.”

The copula ‘Is’ actually only has two tenses.

Present/future Is múinteoir mé. I am a teacher. Past/conditional Ba mhúinteoir é. He was/would be a teacher

For things like ‘I liked the film’ you would use a different construction altogther.

Taitin le is the most common – Thatin an scannán sin liom / Thatin an cupán táe liom – I liked that film/the cup of tea.

Thaitin an ceol liom. I liked the music. Thaitin tú le Séamas. Séamas liked you

What to do when I don’t have anyone to practise Irish with?

Grow membership! It includes Bitesize Pobal, our private learners forum. There we have daily challenges, and weekly Bitesize Beo conversation practice calls, plus monthly member calls.

Also check out our Ten Secrets to Practising Irish Every Day, suitable for you if you’re already learning Irish.

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

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We want to help you achieve Gaeilge Gach Lá – Irish Every Day. Since 2010, we’ve been helping thousands of people learn, practice and speak the Irish language. Take your Irish language journey at your own pace, and practice with others and our fluent staff. Aistear (“journey”) is our self-paced language learning platform.

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