Caibidil a Trí Déag: Sentences and Syntax (Abairt agus Comhréir)
the Conditional Clause(an clásal coinníollach)
Complex clauses serve to describe conditions and their consequences ("if ..., then ...").
A conditional construct is generally comprised of:
- the subordinating clause (the actual conditional clause), which contains the condition (Protasis, céadbheart) and
- the main clause, which describes the consequence of the condition (Apodosis, iarbheart)
The order of main- and subordinating clause is random in Irish (as in German).
In Irish one differentiates between two forms of conditional clauses, real and irreal:
the real conditional clause (an clásal coinníollach oscailte)
The real conditional clause is used, when:
The main clause (Apodosis) is either in the:
- the condition is / would be/ will be fulfilled
- the condition is attainable
- the condition is probable, to be fulfilled.
The subordinating clause (Protasis) is in:
- indicative, imperative or subjunctive present tense, less commonly also in the conditional
Positive clause: (If...)
- the indicative and is introduced with má, mura(r).
má the future tense never follows, instead the (habit.) present tense
|present tense :
|| Má fheiceann tú an fear = If you see the man
|| Má d'ól tú fuisce = If you drank whiskey
Má requires lenition. The independent verb form is used (i.e. in the preterite one needs the d'-prefix).
Negative clause: (If not...)
|| Mura bhfeiceann tú an fear = If you don't see the man
|| Murar ól tú fuisce = If you didn't drink whiskey
mura requires eclipsis and the dependent verb form.
murar requires lenition
mura one can also use the subjunctive present tense (in the future sense).
regional also: mara, marar or muna, munar
The irreal conditional clauses use the same conjunction (mura), but then either the subjunctive preterite or conditional and not the indicative.
Murar appears only in real conditional clauses.
The irreal conditional clause is used, when:
The main clause (Apodosis) is always in the:
The subordinating clause (Protasis) is:
- the condition is not attainable
- it is sure, that the condition will not/could not be fulfilled
- there is a reasonable doubt about the attainability of the condition.
- in indirect speech, the real conditional clause (if in the future tense) is converted into an irreal conditional clause.
Positive clause: ("if/then...")
- either in the conditional or in the subjunctive preterite and is introduced by dá, mura.
|| Dá bhfeicfeá an fear = If you would see the man
|| Dá bhfeicteá an fear = If you would have seen the man
regional (Connacht) instead of dá also: dhá
- Dá requires eclipsis and the dependent verb form.
- The subjunctive preterite has the identical form as the imperfect.
- Dá-clauses with the subjunctive preterite (rather old fashioned) and the conditional are lexically equivalent
- Irreal conditional clauses are indifferent in tense ("If you would see the man / had seen the man ")
Negative clause: ("if/then not ...")
|| Mura bhfeicfeá an fear = If you wouldn't see the man
|| Mura bheicteá an fear = If you hadn't seen the man,
regional instead of mura also: mara, muna
- mura requires eclipsis.
- mura with the subjunctive is generally seen as archaic, but was probably the original form
- in place of the subjunctive preterite one can take the conditional (the most common form today)
The real conditional clauses use the same conjunction (mura), but after that, then not the subjunctive/conditional but the indicative (present tense etc.) or murar with the indicative preterite.
If more than one condition is to be fulfilled (real or irreal) , then:
e.g.: Ní chreidfinn an scéal sin mura bhfeicfinn an fear agus é a chloisteáil
- only the first condition contains má, dá, mura with a finite verb form (see above)
- further conditions are conjoined with agus and stand as infinitive constructions with the verbal noun
= I wouldn't have believed the story, if I dian't seen the man and had heard him
sentences and syntax
Gramadach na Gaeilge
© Lars Braesicke 1999 / 2003