Everything You Wanted To Know About Irish Nouns Explained!


This month Niall and Ben answered questions about nouns. Topics covered included gender, cases, declensions and the vocative form of names.

Here’s a flavour of the discussion..

Does the gender of nouns matter

Ben explained that in Irish all nouns are either feminine or masculine. Niall explains that the gender of a noun is important because of the way in which it affects grammar. He says that if you don’t the gender of nouns you will be making small mistakes as you go along, and that while communication is the main goal of using a language we don’t want these mistakes to be a constant feature of our speech.

How do I know if a noun is masculine or feminine?

Niall explains that most of the time you can guess the gender of a noun by observing some simple rules. These steps are outlined in our free shareable How To Tell A Noun’s Gender Cheat Sheet. Download and enjoy!

What are cases, in terms of nouns?

As Niall outlines, cases refers to where we have different forms of the nouns in different situations. The main cases that we encounter in Irish are the nominative case, the dative case, the vocative case and the genitive case. If you are interested in exploring the delights of the genitive clause it is covered in some considerable detail by Ben and Siobhán in this Live Q&A from another date.

What are declensions?

As Niall tells us, the declensions in Irish are five categories of nouns organised according to how they behave in the genitive case.

Do I know about declensions?

Ben and Niall agree that beginners do not need to worry about declensions. At that level it is best to learn through phrases and expressions without thinking too much about the technicalities of the genitive case. There are examples of the genitive case all around us – if you want to say something interesting the chances are that you will be using it! For this reason, declensions become important as learners progress to intermediate level. They are not that hard – they just require a little study!

The value of online dictionaries when working with nouns

Ben and Niall emphasised how useful the various online dictionaries are when working with nouns in Irish. Online resources recommended were:

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

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