Caibidil a Trí: The Verb (an Briathar)

Defect Verbs (na Briathra Uireasacha)

feadair = know
ar / arsa = say
dar = appear
dóbair = almost happen
the copula is = is

Defect verbs are those verbs that cannot be fully conjugated, and therefore are only present in a few forms. Partially, some of them will only appear in one form.

feadair = know

feadair is conjugated as before in the passive (in the plural, similar to the modern preterite), but it has an active meaning. It is the only remaining verba deponentia in Irish. It is temporally independent (feadramar = we know, we knew )
Feadair is today only used in interrogative constructs (an bhfeadair tú? = do you know?) or in negative statements (ní fheadar = I don't know, I wonder ).
It fuses often with to become n'fheadar.
N'fheadar an bhfuil sé ann fós = I wonder if it's still there
Paired with do it takes on the meaning "to be able to tell someone " ("to let someone know "):
An bhfeadraís seo dom? = Could you let me know it?

1st pers. sg. feadar (feadair mé)
2nd pers. sg. feadraís (feadair tú)
3rd pers. sg. feadair sé
1st pers. pl. fead(r)amar (feadair muid)
2nd pers. pl. fead(r)abhar (feadair sibh)
3rd pers. pl. fead(r)adar (feadair siad)

The forms without -r- (feadamar, etc.) deomnstrate the forms of classical Irish, the later -r- shows the taking on of the -r- of the singular forms, which is no longer considered a part of the suffix, but is counted as part of the stem.

Today, feadair is rather seldomly used mostly still in Munster. The noun and old verbal noun fios = knowledge is much more common (Níl a fhios agam = I don't know , lit. "not-is its knowledge at-me").
In Connemara, there is a verb in the meaning of "to ask oneself" (Ní mé = I wonder ).

ar, arsa = say

Ar, arsa is only used after direct speech. It is also temporally independent (arsa mise = I said, I say ).
Ar only precedes pronouns of the third person (seisean, sise, siadsan).
Arsa is used in all other cases (preceding an article, but very seldom and archaic also ars)
With Ar, arsa one may only use the emphatic forms of the pronouns (mise, tusa, seisean, sise, sinne, sibhse, siadsan)

"Tuigim anois", arsa Seán = "Now I understand", said Seán.
"Ní thuigeann tú ar chor ar bith", ar sise = "You don't understand a thing ", she said

In indirect speech, another verb must be used (e.g. abair = say ):
Dúirt sé léi gur thuig sé = he told her that he understood.
Dúirt sí leis nár thuig sé ar chor ar bith = she told him that he didn't understand a thing.

dar = appear

This verb exists only in one form: dar = (it) appears . It is also temporally independent.
It is always used in combination with the preposition le = with : dar liom = it appears to me (I think, thought, etc. lit.: "(it) appears with-me").
Dar leis an bhfear go bhfuil sé ann = it appears/appeared to the man, that he was there / the man thought that he was there

dóbair = almost happen

Variations: d'fhóbair, hóbair.
This verb appears also only on one form (3rd person singular preterite).
Although its origin is a verb, it now has taken on the meaning of an adverb ("almost", "nearly").
Dóbair dom titim = dóbair go dtitfinn = I almost fell

the copula is = is

With good cause, the copula is seen as a defect verb.
Because its description would be to involved to be included here, it has its own chapter in the above link.

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© Lars Braesicke 1999 / 2000

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