Caibidil a Trí / Caibidil a Trí Déag

Modals and Auxilliary verbs (na Briathra Módúla agus Cúnta)



*With "subject"/"object" , we are speaking here of the word, which in German would have the subject- or object function. In Irish,in constructions with bí it is mostly the other way around, ... in copular constructions, that which is termed here as the "subject" is actually part of the predicate and the following subordinating clause or infinitive construction is actually the grammatical subject of the sentence.
The word called "subject" is also in Irish understood as the logical subject of the statement. "subject" ist hier also stets derjenige, der "must", "can", "soll", "may" etc.
Abbreviations: VN for verbal noun or infinitive construction ("infinitive with to": object + verbal noun), go for a go/nach-clause ("that").

I must.../would have to

  1. form of + ar + subject + VN*
    Tá orm imeacht = I must go (lit. "is on me to go")
    Bhéadh ar Sheán a theacht = Séan would have to come(lit.: "would be on Seán to come")
  2. form of + ag + subject + le + VN*
    This is an obvious borrowing from the English (comp. "to have to": bí ag = have, le = (in order) to).
    Tá agam le dul = I must go ("I have to go")
  3. caithfidh (= future tense of caith [use, throw etc].) + subject + VN/go
    Caithfidh mé imeacht = I must go (lit.: "use will I to go")
    After má (if), a habit. present tense form of caith in the meaning "must" is allowed and necessary (because the future after má is always prohibited):
    Má chaitheann sé imeacht = if he must go
    Otherwise (except in Munster) besides the future- only conditional forms of caith are common.
    Chaithfinn imeacht = I would have to go
  4. form of is + éigean + do + subject* + VN/go (especially in the preterite b'éigean do, is also common as a substitute for earlier in the present tense sense caithfidh )
    B'éigean dom é a dheanamh = I had to do it (lit. "was a force to me, it to do")
  5. negative form of the copula + mór + do + subject* + VN/go
    Ní mór duit bheith anseo = You must be here (lit.: "is not big to you, to be here")
  6. negative form of the copula + foláir + do + subject* + VN/go
    Ní foláir dom é a rá = I must say it (lit.: " is not too-much to me, to to say")
  7. An impersonal "must" in the sense of conditions and obvious necessities, the following expressions are used:

I should .../should have

  1. imperative:
    Tagadh Seán = Seán should come! (lit.: "Seán, come / it should come Seán! ")
  2. form of is + ceart + do + subject* + VN/go
    Is ceart do Shéan a theacht = Seán should come (lit.: "is right to Seán to come")
    Ba ceart do Sheán a theacht = Seán should have come
  3. form of is + cóir + do + subject* + VN/go
    Ba chóir duit é a dheanamh = You should do it (lit.: "would be right to you it to do")
  4. ghlacfadh + subject + VN (only in Ulster, only conditional of the verb glac = accept)
    Ghlacfainn imeacht = I should better go (lit.: "I-would-accept to go")
  5. form of is + beite + do + subject* + VN
    beite is the"participle of necessity" of
    Is beite do dhuine Dia a ghuí = One should pray to God (lit.: "is necessary-to-be to person God to pray")
  6. Instead of beite, it is theoretically possible to form a participle of necessity with any verb (form = verbal adjective) and then to make a statement closer to the "should, must" construct. But this participle is hardly useful if then in the negated form: "it is not necessary to ...":
    e.g.: Ní gearánta ar an aimsir duit = There is no reason for you to be complaining about the weather

I can..../could

  1. form of is + féidir + le + subject* + VN/go
    Is féidir liom Gaeilge a scríobh = I can write Irish (lit. "is possible with me Irish to write")
    Ach ní féidir liom Rúisis a scríobh = But I can not write Russian
    B'fhéidir go bhfuil sé ann = It could be (= maybe) it's here
  2. form of + subject + in ann / in acmhainn / in inmhe / abalta + VN (this is limited to "to have the ability to do something")
    Tá mé in ann Gaeilge a scríobh = I can write Irish (in Connacht)
    Tá mé abalta Gaeilge a scríobh = I can write Irish (in Ulster and Munster)
    (after ann, aicmhe, inmhe the genitive may follow, because these are nouns: in aicmhe a dhéanta = able to do it
  3. form of tig + le + subject* + VN (tig is actually the Ulster variant of tagann, the present tense of tar = to come.) Besides in the present tense (tig in Connacht, thig in Ulster) it is only common in the conditional (tiocfadh).
    Tig le Pól é a dhéanamh = Paul can do it (lit.: "coming with Pól it to do")
    Thiocfadh le Pól é a dhéanamh = Paul could do it (lit.: "would be-coming with Pól it to do")
  4. the "real" modal verb féad = can (all tenses possible) is rather rare:
    Nach bhféadfá fanacht? = Couldn't you stay?
  5. form of + + ar cumas + subject* + VN ("subject" in the genitive or instead of it a possessive pronoun)
    Tá sé ar mo chumas é a dheanamh = I can do it (lit.: "is it on my ability it to do"
  6. form of + subject* + i gcumas + VN
    Tá mé i gcumas é a dheanamh = I can do it (lit.: "am I in ability it to do")
  7. Certain abilities are not a matter of can, but of having (see below: have): form of + object + ag + subject*
    Tá Gaeilge agam = I can speak Irish (lit.: "is Irish by me / I have Irish")
    Tá léamh / snámh agam = I can read / swim
  8. form of faigh + VN
    The verb faigh means actually to receive. Here is in the sense of "to get the hang of something"
    Fuair sé an obair a dhéanamh = He could do the work (lit.: "he got (the hang of) the work to do")

I could..../may

  1. form of + cead + ag + subject + VN*
    Tá cead ag an bhfear fuisce a ól = the man may drink whiskey (lit.: "is allowance by the man whiskey to drink")
  2. féadfaidh (form of féad in the future tense) + subject + VN*
    Féadfaidh tú imeacht anois = you can/may go now. (lit.: "can-will you go now")
  3. A form of is + miste + le (+ recipient), actually.: "to bother someone " is often used in requests for permission (and the answers to that):
    Ar mhiste leat mé a dhul ansin? = May I go there? (= would it you bother, if I went there?)

I like..../would like

  1. form of is + maith + le + subject* + object/VN/go
    Ba mhaith liom fuisce a ól = I would like to drink whiskey (lit.: "would be good with-me whiskey to drink")
    To emphasise, one can use is + breá + le instead of that.
    Ba bhreá liom fuisce a ól = I would like a lot to drink whiskey (lit.: "would be nice with-me whiskey to drink")
  2. Form des verbs taitin + object + le + subject*
    Taitníonn iasc liom = I like fish (lit.: "pleases fish with-me")
    Thaitin an capall leis = He liked the horse

I would rather ...

  1. form of is + fearr + le + subject* + object/VN/go
    Is fearr liom tae ná caife = I like/would rather tea than coffee (lit.: "is better with me tea than coffee")

I want ...

  1. form of + object + ó + subject*
    Tá braon fuisce uaim = I want some whiskey (lit.: "is a drop of whiskey from me")
  2. form of + ó + subject* + VN/go
    Tá uaim fuisce a ól = I want to drink whiskey (lit.: "is from me, whiskey to drink")
  3. Teastaíonn + object + ó + subject*
    Teastaíonn arán uaidh = He wants/needs bread (lit.: "is need of bread from him")
  4. Teastaíonn + ó + subject* + VN/go
    Teastaíonn uaim fuisce a ól = I want to drink whiskey (lit.: "need from me, whiskey to drink")
  5. copula is + mian / áil + le + subject* + object/VN/go
    Is mian liom é a dhéanamh = I want/wish, to do it (lit.: "is desire with-me, it to do"
    "mian" can as the desired object also be carried as the genitive attribute : mian a dhéanta = desire, to do it (lit.: "desire of its doing")

I need ...

  1. form of + + ag + subject* + le + object
    Tá gá aige leis an bpeann = He needs the pen (lit.: "is necessity by-him with the pen")
  2. Teastaíonn + object + ó + subject*
    This can both be a "want" or "need" depending on the context (where one only should want what man really needs :-))
    Teastaíonn arán uaidh = He wants/needs bread(lit.: "is need of bread from him")
  3. form of + object + de dhíth ar + subject*
    Tá braon fuisce de dhíth orm = I want/need some whiskey (lit.: "is a drop of whiskey of loss on me")
  4. copula is + + do + subject* + VN/go
    Something that is necessary to be done, must be dome, what isn't necessary, needs not to be done.
    Is gá dom é a dhéanamh = I must do it (lit.: "is necessity to-me, it to do")
    Ní gá duit é a dhéanamh = You must/need not do it (lit.: "not-is necessity to-you, it to do")

I have ....

  1. form of + object + ag + subject*
    Tá teach agam = I have a house (lit.: "is house by-me")
    Níl carr againn = We have no car (lit.: "not-is car by-us")
    Bhí cúpla leabhar ag Síle = Síle had a couple of books (lit.: "was couple of book by Síle")

I have... (phys./psych. conditions, sicknesses, parts, names)

I have .... (own)

navigation bar
sentences and syntax
Gramadach na Gaeilge

© Lars Braesicke 2000

Valid HTML 4.0!