Irish Phrases for Conversation

When you learn a foreign language, there are certain conversational basics you tend to learn very early on. For example:

  • How to greet people
  • How to introduce yourself and other people
  • How to ask for important information (e.g., directions, the price of something, where something is, when something is to happen, etc.)
  • How to order in a restaurant or bar
  • How to talk about things that are important to you: Your family, your job, your home, your hobbies, your likes and dislikes, etc.
  • How to talk about the weather
  • Basic social niceties (“please,” “thank you,” “pardon me,” etc.)
  • How to say goodbye

These, along with some basic vocabulary, puts you in a position to make quite a bit of small talk in Irish!

There’s more to conversation, however, than basic questions and vocabulary. Even if you’re just making small talk, familiarity with conversational connectors and commonly used expressions will go a long way toward helping your speech sound more fluid and natural.

Conversational Connectors

Conversational connectors are the words and phrases you use to keep a conversation flowing. We use them so commonly in our native tongue that we rarely give them much thought:

By the way, do you have any plans for tomorrow?”

To tell you the truth, I don’t have any plans at all.”

“I’ll be busy anyway.

“It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?”

“It’s too hot, in my opinion.”

“Wear a coat,  just in case.

Without conversational connectors, speech can sound abrupt and stilted, which doesn’t do much to encourage conversation!

Some Conversational Connectors in Irish

Here are some conversational connectors you might use in Irish:

Dála an scéil (DAH-luh un shkay-il)

Dála an scéil, an bhfuil aon pleananna agat don lá amárach?”

By the way, do you have any plans for tomorrow?

I ndáiríre (ih nah-REER-eh) 

I ndáiríre, níl aon pleananna agam ar chór ar bith.

To tell you the truth, I haven’t any plans at all.

Ar aon nós (air ayn nohss)

“Beidh mé gnóthach ar aon nós

I’ll be busy anyway.

Nach bhfuil? (nakh will?)

“Lá deas atá ann, nach bhfuil?

It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?

I mo thuairim (ih muh HOOR-im)

“Tá sé ró-the, i mo thuairim.”

It’s too hot, in my opinion.

Ar eagla na heagla (air AG-luh nuh HAG-luh)

“Cuir cóta ort, ar eagla na heagla.”

Wear a coat, just in case.

Short Expressions and Interjections

Short expressions and interjections are also features of speech that make conversation flow more smoothly and naturally.

Think of the various short phrases you use often in English:

Sure!/Certainly!

Exactly!

Seriously?

You’re right.

OK

I agree.

Equivalent expressions exist in Irish, and will go a long way toward making your conversation sound more fluent.

Cinnte (KIN-cheh)

An maith leat seacláid? Cinnte! Is breá liom é!

Do you like chocolate? Certainly! I love it!

Go díreach (guh JEER-ukh)

Tá sé sin ceart, nach bhfuil? Go díreach!

That’s right, isn’t it? Exactly!

I ndáiríre? (ih nah-REER-eh)

This one works as well as an interjection as it does as a conversational connector!

Is fearr liom brocailí na seacláid. I ndáiríre?!?

I prefer broccoli to chocolate. Seriously?!?

Tá an ceart agat (tawn kyart uh-GUT)

Tá an ceart agat. Tá seacláid i bhfad níos blasta.

You’re right. Chocolate is much more tasty.

Ceart go leor (Kyart guh lyohr)

Ba mhaith liom dul abhaile anois, ceart go leor?

I’d like to go home now, OK?

Aontaim leat (AYN-teem lyat)

Aontaim leat. Tá an scannán seo an-leadránach.

I agree. This movie is really boring.

Sound more fluent!

Using conversational connectors and expressions such as these will help your Irish to seem more relaxed and fluent, even while you are still a beginner!

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4 thoughts on “Irish Phrases for Conversation”

  1. Very useful post, Audrey. Thanks.

    I mo thuairim, these expressions should be taught very early on in every Irish course because they’re used so frequently in conversations.

  2. Aontaím le Donovan – I agree.

    This type of knowledge is what can set learners apart from simply learning formal Irish. I’ve heard that that concept we have of “fluency” (in any language) relies heavily on being able to **reply** quickly in conversation with a relevant sentence.

    Audrey: from all of our Bitesize Irish Gaelic conversation lessons, is there a particular one for members with these expressions with audio?

    1. From talking with Audrey, we’ll get a lesson **with audio** based on this blog posts. Bitesize Irish Gaelic members can already learn these phrases in the example (fast and slow) conversation recordings. To summarize that even more, we’ll make a new lesson available bringing all these expressions together.

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