Caibidil a Naoi

Other Words(Focail eile)

   , , cad, conas, cathain, an
   interrogatives with prepositions
Demonstrative pronouns
relative particle and -pronouns
   direct relative particles
   indirect relative particles
   reflexive relative pronouns
   generalising relative pronouns
determinant pronouns
indefinite pronouns
the pronoun féin
reciprocal pronouns
verbal particle
vocative particle
number particle

Interrogatives (míreanna ceisteacha)

One can subdivide interrogatives in:

This subdivision makes generally (and especially in Irish) little sense, because the adverbs are often used with the help of a pronoun (adverbial pronouns are) do not behave any differently than an innterogative pronoun. Some (e.g. ) can act as a pronoun, an adverb or an adjective.

While in German the interrogatives all start with "w", in Latin with"qu", in Irish they being with "c" (comp. lat. quod , dt. was, Ir. cad). The root of this is the indo-european "kw-"
Cé, cá, cad are autonomous interrogatives.
All other interrogatives are combinations with nouns, pronouns, prepositions or other words, also when the individual parts aren't easily recognizable(e.g. conas < cá ionas)

Syntax of interrogatives:

Interrogatives contain for the most part some (invisible) form of the copula or, better said, the copula is included in the formation of the interrogative. Interrogative particle and intentional copula comprise the copular clause.
The interrogative is considered then the predicate of the copular clause.
This "copular clause" most often consisits only of one word e.g. cé = who, lit. "who is(it)", but here the subject is nowhere to be seen (e.g. "it").
The subject is now the rest of the question, e.g.: cé hé sin = who is that?
If a verb should be incorporated (e.g. "who says that?"), there is still the need of a real subject, which is then replaced by a relative clause with the verb: e.g. cé a deir sin? = who says that?, lit.: "who is(it), that says that?". cé a rinne sin? = who did that?
More about this under Syntax: supplementary queries or under the copula in interrogative clauses

interrogatives can also be used in indirect questions as a conjunction:
(e.g. Níl a fhios agam hé an fear seo = I don't know, who this man is)

the interrogatives differ in their use strongly from dialect to dialect.


older form - also cia instead of cé

Cé in copular clauses

present present
preceding vowel
preterite preterite
preceding vowel
 cé  cé h  cér  cérbh

Cé in copular relative clauses

relative clause present present
preceding vowel
preterite preterite
preceding vowel
direct  (cérb) cér cérbh
indirect (cér) (cérbh) cér (cérbh)

Cé with the article an ( = which?)

   + an  + na
 cé   cén   cé na 


  1. who : (base meaning)
  2. what (as such especially in Connacht)
  3. what kind/which:
  4. who of / which of:
  5. where, where to:
  6. other combinations:
  7. despite:


Cá in copular clauses

present present
preceding vowel
preterite preterite
preceding vowel
 cá  cárb  cár  cárbh

Cá with indir. relative particle (in the meaning of: where)

present preterite


  1. what (no lenition/eclipsis) (especially so in Ulster)
  2. which/what (no lenition/eclipsis)
  3. how
  4. where / where to
  5. from where
  6. other combinations:



  1. what (base meaning, cad most common in Munster, in Ulster always cad é > goidé, in Ring (East-Munster) and Scotland cad é > )
  2. which
  3. from where
  4. other combinations


cá/cé + ionas > conas = what way,
conas is most commonly used in Munster



cá/cé + tan > cathain = what time




tense affirmative  L/E negative L/E
present  an   E  nach  E
preterite  ar  L  nár  L


  1. An is used as a marker (Verbal particle) in simple queries: An bhfuil tú ann? = Are you there?  Nach bhfaca tú é? = Haven't you seen it? Nár bhualamarna le chéile fós? = Haven't we met?
  2. combinations:
    how much: an mó e.g.: An mó atá ann? = How much is there?

interrogatives with prepositions

these words are called interrogative adverbial pronouns (forainmneacha dobhriathartha ceisteacha)

One uses the 3rd person singular masculine (less often also in the plural: cé acu = who of them, cé eatarthu = amongst whom).
These combinations mostly require an indirect relative clause (colloquially sometimes a direct relative clause; cé leis meaning "whose"/"to whom belongs" and cé as/cad as/cá has "where is ... from" and form a non-relative copular clause; cé acu, "who of them" requires a direct relative clause)

the usage and translation can be derived from the corresponding translation of the preposition (here, only the base meaning is given)

prep.  cé + cá + cad +  translation *
ag cé aige cá (h)aige cad aige at whose place, in which, at what, who has
ar cé air cá (h)air cad air upon whom, whereupon, on what
as cé as cá (h)as cad as from whom, where from, resulting from what, how
chuig cé chuige cá chuige cad chuige to whom, where to, to what end, why
de cé de cá de cad de from whom, from what (origin)
do cé dó cá dó cad dó to whom, who, where to
faoi cé faoi cá faoi cad faoi under whom, under what
i cé ann cá (h)ann cad ann in whom, in what, where
idir cé eatarthu cá (h)eatarthu cad eatarthu amongst whom, between whom, where between
le cé leis cá leis cad leis with whom, with what , to whom does ... belong
ó cé uaidh cá (h)uaidh cad uaidh from whom, where from, from what
roimh cé roimhe cá roimhe cad roimhe before whom, before what
trí cé tríd cá tríd cad tríd through whom, through what
thar cé thart cá thart cad thart via whom, via what, along which way
um cé uime cá (h)uime cad uime about whom, about what, at what

*only can be used when referring to persons and things , also cé air = upon whom/ whereupon,
cad and only in reference to things: cad air/cá air = on what
Instead of cad céard is also used.

Forms with are typical für Ulster, with cad more in Munster (cad chuige as 'tuige also in other dialects), is used in dialects if in reference to persons ("who"), in reference to objects ("what") is often common in Connacht.

Under in Ó Dónaills dictionary, forms like"cá air" are given for prepositions with a vowel. Given its initial vowel, forms with h (cá hair or cá h-air) seem more logical and are also found in literature. Under as, mostly "cá has" is written.
In spoken Ulster-Irish one hears cá and preposition often contracted. e.g.: c'air, c'as, c'aige.
the other prepositions with vowel (ann, uaidh, uime) I have not yet encountered with cá.

Derived prepositions

The genitive-requiring derived prepositions (preposition and noun) use the appropriate interrogative beside cad, céard, cé, cá always the possessive pronoun of the 3rd person masculine singular a = his


prepositionlit. interrogative lit.
ar nós = like "in way" Cad ar a nós = how, in what way? "what on his way"
de chois = close to "of foot" Cad dá chois = Close to what? "what of-his foot"
i dtaobh = regarding "in side" Cad ina thaobh = Regarding what, why? "what in-his side"
i gcoinne = against "in meeting" Cad ina choinne = against what? "what in-his meeting"
le haghaidh = for "with face" Cad lena aghaidh = for what? "what with-his face"

Derived prepositions without the genitive with simple prepositions (e.g. mar gheall ar = because of, in aice le = in the area of use here the 3rd person masculine of the prepositional pronoun (e.g. air, leis)


prepositionlit. interrogative lit.
mar gheall ar = because of "like bet on" Cad mar gheall air = why? "what like bet on-him"
in aice le = in the area of "in area with " Cad in aice leis = close to what? "what in area with-him"

Demonstrative pronouns (forainmneacha taispeántacha)

Seo, sin, siúd are the standard forms (adjectivial úd instead of siúd)
In Munster following broad consonants the forms so, san, súd are common (e.g. an capall so but na capaill seo, an fear san but an buachaill sin)
There are, in copular clauses ( the preterite) sometimes forms without "s" (eo, in, iúd) see also: "seo, sin, siud as copular forms"

meaning of seo, sin, siud:
with seo = this something spatially /temporally close to the speaker is meant. Also something emotionally close to him (e.g.: a chara seo = dear friend!)
with sin = that something either spatially / temporally close to the addressed party or spatially / temporally a bit away from the speaker is meant. Emotionally, as well, a rather cooler, more neutral relationship.
with siúd = that there something either spatially / temporally further away is meant. Emotionally, it indicates a greater distance, not only as politeness and admiration but also dislike.

standalone demonstrative pronomina

seo = this e.g. Seo é mo theach = this is my house. Tabhair dom seo! = Give me this here!
sin = that e.g.: Sin a raibh anseo = That is all that there was.
siúd = that there e.g. Siúd is feidir liom a thabhairt = That there I can spare

adjectivial demonstrative pronomina (this ..., that... etc,)

these pronouns for the indication of nouns are formed with the articles and the 3 words seo, sin, úd (in Ulster instead adaí)

an .... seo = this ... e.g.: an teach seo = this house
an ... sin = the ..., there ... e.g.: an cailín sin = that girl
an ... úd = that ... there  e.g.: an crann úd = the tree over there

Just as in German, one generally does not place a possessive pronoun next to a demonstrative pronoun ("this, my house"). If it is indeed needed to indicate the owner , one uses a form of ag in place of thepossessive pronoun:
e.g.: an teach seo (atá) agamsa = this house, that I have. Sa tír seo againne = In this, our country

Often, this construction of demonstrative pronoun and ag is used as the alternative to the possessive pronoun; in Ulster the demonstrative pronoun is then abbreviated to s' (s'agam, s'agat, etc.): an teach s'agamsa = my house, alternatively, in Connemara an abbreviated form of the prepsitional pronoun ('amsa, 'atsa, etc.) is used : an teach seo 'amsa = my house)

Such forms as : *mo theach seo, *inár dtír seo etc. are not possible!
the form "a theach seo" has another meaning. It does not mean "this, his house" but instead "this one's house" (see below)

Demonstrative pronomina with the personal pronoun (this, that etc,)

Only possible with the 3rd person (sé, sí, siad, é, í, iad or synthetic verb forms of the 3rd person pl. e.g. bhíodar = sie waren)
not with emphatic pronouns (seisean, sise, siadsan)!

sé/sí/siad seo = this e.g.: Is é seo a rinne é = This did it.
sé/sí/siad sin = der, die, das, die e.g.: Tá sí sin go maith = That is good.
sé/sí/siad siúd = jene(r,-s), jene e.g. Bhíodar siúd ina gcónai i mBéal Feirste = Those ones lived in Belfast.

Demonstrative pronomina with the possessive pronoun (his, hers, theirs, etc.)

also only possible with the 3rd person (a = his, her, their). Seo, sin, siúd refers to the possessive pronoun, not to the noun.

a .... seo = his, her, their e.g. a theach seo = his house
a ... sin = his, her, their  e.g.: a theach sin = this one's(m.) house, a teach sin = this one's(f.) house
a ... siúd = his, her, their e.g. a dteach siúd = those ones' house

with the verbal noun á ... seo/sin/siúd takes the place of the object (á = do + a).
e.g. Tá mé á dhéanamh seo = I'm doing this ("I am to his doing" or lit. "I am to-his doing it")

In German and English, all 3 forms translate to approximately the same thing, the only differences being the indication of distance to the person (his, her, their).
These distances are only possible in English or German only beyond the realm of fine grammar: "this his/that his" etc.

In German the word "dessen", "deren" also serves as the genitive-relative pronoun ("Der Mann, dessen Frau hübsch ist"=The man whose wife is beautiful.). In Irish, the indirect relative particle is used! ("An fear a bhfuil a bhean go hálainn")!

Demonstrative adverbs

these are formed simply using the "prefix" an- :

(an- is actually the prepositional pronoun ann = in him, used as an adverbial pronoun ("in that"), anseo then actually ann seo = lit. "in this" > "herein"), earlier also written with double-n . Ann alone as an adverb means also there, although this hasn't the demonstrative character it might carry in German.

anseo = here e.g.: Táim anseo = I am here
ansin = there e.g.: Bhíomar inár gconaí ansin = We lived there.
ansiúd = over there e.g.: Bhi siad ina gcónaí thall ansiúd i Sasana = They lived over there in England.

ansin can also be used as a temporal adverb ("then") : Ansin a bhí mé i mo chonaí i Londain = Then, I lived in London

In Munster, forms with broad s are also common (anso, ansan, ansúd)

also with the preposition mar one forms adverbial phrases:

mar seo = this way, at this time, in this way: Téir mar seo = go this way! Déan é mar seo = do it this way!
mar sin = so, that way, so then (also conditional): ní rachaidh tú mar sin = so then you won't go?, cúig phunt nó mar sin = 5 pounds or so

also in the formation of additional adverbial pronouns the demonstrative pronoun is used:
e.g.: aige sin = therewith, aige seo = herewith, air seo = hereupon, leis sin = thereupon , etc.

relative particle and -pronoun (míreanna agus forainmneacha coibhneasta)

relative pronoun are words, that refer to a word ("antecedent") in the previous partial clause
(like e.g. the word "that" in this clause, which refers to "words").
In the new partial clause, the pronoun forms the subject (direct relative clauses), a direct object (also direct relative clauses) or an indirect object (indirect relative clause)

direct relative particle (mír choibhneasta dhíreach)

In German, these are "equivalents" to the pronoun (der, die, das) "that" or also (welcher, welche, welches) "which". In Irish it's only a particle.

Why particle and not pronoun?
The Irish perspective sees it not as taking the place of a noun ("pro nomen") as the subject or object of the relative clause, but as the antecedent directly subject/object without the need of a pronoun! The relative particle only connects antecedent and relative clause. In addition to that, it is very short and flown over in speech. An extensive explanation is given in the footnotes[ 1 ]

A division between masculine and feminine is not made.

tense affirmative L/E negative L/E
present a.o.  a L  nach E
preterite  a L  nár L

An teach a bhí go maith = the house, that was good.
An scéal nach raibh go maith = the story, that wasn't good

The direct relative particle a requires the autonomous verb form. In the preterite with d' preceding vowel: e.g.: a d'ól tú = that you drank
The negative form nach/nár requires the dependent verb form. In the preterite without d' preceding vowel: e.g.: nár ól tú = that you didn't drink

More about the usage see: clause forms: direct relative clause

indirect relative particle (mír choibhneasta indíreach)

In German the (genitive) relative pronoun dessen, deren, (whose) (dative-/accusative-) relative pronoun with a preposition e.g. to whom, in which, on which etc.

This is a particle and not a pronoun, while an additional, real reflexive pronoun (forainm iartheachtach) appears (mostly a prepositional pronoun [dt. e.g. "on him"] or a possessive pronoun [dt. e.g. "whose"])
The indirect relative particle connects only relative clause and antecedent. The antecedent is represented by a reflexive pronoun in the relative clause, and is therefore only the indirect object of the relative clause.

tense affirmative L/E negativ L/E
present  a E  nach E
preterite  ar L  nár L

The indirect relative particle a/ar and nach/nár requires the dependent verb form. e.g.: ar ól tú inti = in which you drank

an teach a bhfuil mé ann = the house, in which I am. (a = relative particle, ann = reflexive pronoun)
an bord nach bhfuil sé air = the table, on which it is not. (a = relative particle, air = reflexive pronoun)
an teach a bhfuil a dhíon go dona = the house, whose roof is poor. (1. a = relative particle, 2. a = his = reflexive pronoun)

By inserting reflexive pronouns, one can convert a direct relative clause in an indirect one (if the antecedent is the object of the relative clause).
an teach a bhfeiceann tú é = the house, which you see. (a = relative particle, é = reflexive pronoun)
instead of a direct relative clause:
an teach a fheiceann tú = the house that you see.

In Munster, go/gur takes the place of the indirect relative particle (instead of a/ar)
e.g. an teach go bhfuil mé ann = the house, in which I am (go = relative particle, ann = antec. pronoun)

More on the usage see: clause forms: indirect relative clause

reflexive relative pronoun a (forainm coibhneasta iartheachtach)

In the above indirect relative clauses there is, besides the relative particle, a reflexive pronoun
(e.g. a prepositional pronoun: an bord a bhfuil an leabhar air = the table that the book is on).
In this case, the relative a is only a particle.

A preposition can also be placed directly before the relative.
In this case, the relative takes the form of a reflexive pronoun (then exactly like in German: the table on which ...). It is then a real pronoun and not just a particle:

an bord ar a bhfuil an leabhar = the table upon which the book is.
an teach ina bhfuil mé = the house in which I am.

Negative forms (nach/nár) do not allow the pronoun. Here one uses a normal indirect relative particle with a prepositional pronoun at the end of the clause (e.g.: an teach nach bhfuil mé ann = the house in which I am not)
More about the usage see: clause forms: indirect relative clause


The forms are identical with the indirect relative particle.

tense affirmative L/E
present  a E
preterite  ar L

There are combinations made with those prepositions ending in a vowel:

prep. with a  with ar translation
le lena lenar with that
de dar of that
do dar to that
i ina inar in that
ó óna ónar from that
faoi  faoina faoinar under/ about that
trí trína trínar through that

The reflexive relative pronoun requires the dependent verb form. e.g.: inar ól tú = in that you drank

General relative pronoun a (forainm coibhneasta réamhtheachtach)

In English, "that, which"; "all, that"; in Irish, just "a"
In the form (including the resulting eclipsis) it is identical with the indirect relative particle.
Although, there completely lacks a inflection of the antecedent. The relative pronoun takes the place of even the antecedent (réamhtheachtaí), hence the term réamhtheachtach

tense affirmative L/E
present  a E
preterite  ar L

The generalising relative pronoun requires the dependent verb form. e.g.: ar ól tú = all that you drank

Chonaic mé a raibh anseo = I saw all that was there
Tabhair leat a bhfuil uait = Take what you need

also together with gach:
e.g.: Gach a bhfuil ann = Everything that there is.

Together with those prepositions ending with a vowel, the same combinations are formed as with the reflexive relative pronoun:

prep. with a  with ar translation
le lena lenar with all that
de dar of all that
do dar to all that
i ina inar in all that
ó óna ónar from all that
faoi  faoina faoinar under all that 
trí trína trínar through all that

Most common of these is especially = "of all, that":
e.g. an fear is cliste dá bhfuil ann = the cleverest man of all that there are.

see also appropriate excerpt  clause forms: general. relative pronoun

Determinative pronouns (forainmneacha cinntitheacha)

whom, which

that, what

(something/that) what


Indefinite pronoun (forainmneacha éiginnte)

There are very few real indefinite pronouns. Instead of them, mostly nouns like duine (person), rud, ní (thing) or ceann (head) are used.
Used here are various pronominal adjectives like uile (all), eile (other), éigin (some), gach (every), ar bith (at all) or cardinal numbers like aon (one, no), that only seldomly appear as the substantive pronoun alone.
Some nouns are used in the sense of pronominal adjectives.

(some)one, one, something

only in interrogative clauses (the same forms in neg. clauses mean "no, nothing"):


every, everyone,  everything

every,  every second

other, another

malairt (athrach) means lit. "change", here as opposed to leithéid:
compare: a mhalairt sin de bhó = another cow (than this one) and a leithéid sin de bhó = such a cow (like this one)

same, the like



no one, no , none


such, such a

leithéid is a noun and means "likeness", a "resemblance", it is mostly used in the sense of "such", "like that". Then mostly with the possessive pronoun a = his (also with other possessive pronouns in the sense of "likes of me", etc.)

instead of leithéid one can sometimes use other phrases like den shórt sin = "of this sort", an cineál sin = "this kind", a samhail = "his likeness".

*: with sin more in the demonstrative light (a leithéid sin de cheol = such music), without sin more for intensification (a leithéid de cheol ar a fheabhas = such good music)

so much/as much/that much

Similar to a mhalairt (something else), a leithéid (something) appears also a oiread (so much) .
oiread = amount, number.

a lot, more


There is no "impersonal" pronoun like the German man.

the pronoun féin

féin (= self) is used as:

Retrospective pronoun (forainm aisbhreathnaitheach)

Reflexive pronoun (forainm athfhillteach)

féin appears (retrospective and reflexive):

féin is often pronounced [he:n'] instead of [f'e:n'] .
(part. dialect dependent, part. dependent on the preceding sound)
In Connemara e.g. only the pronunciation [he:n'] is common.
The pronunciation [p'e:n'] also appears e.g. in Munster and on the Aran Islands, if it follows an -m: dhom féin [γ@m pe:n'] =to myself. Then also part. written as péin (dhom péin).
Writing fhéin is wrong!

The adjective same is céanna: e.g. an fear céanna = the same man (see pronominal adjectives)

the adverb féin

féin = self can not only be used as a pronoun but also as an adverb(like in German)

It takes on the meaning of "even":
e.g.: Bhí Pól féin ann = Even Paul was there.
It can appear alone or as a complement to other adverbs.
e.g.: mar sin féin = even then, despite that, anyway; anois féin = even now; fós féin = even still; chéana féin = already

*: é/í/iad is mostly inserted to differentiate between pronoun and adverb.
ex..: Bhí Pól é féin ann = Paul himself was (personally) there (pronoun)
       Bhí Pól féin ann    = Even (himself) Paul was there (adverb)

Reciprocal pronouns (forainm cómhalartach)

  one another   a chéile 

céile ist actually a noun (partner, comrade, spouse),
a is actually the possessive pronoun 3rd person sg. (= his)
together, a chéile also lit: "his partner"
In place of a chéile (seldom) araile is used also.

As in German, here are combinations with prepositions being used.
The possessive pronoun a is often left out, but lenition is still necessary (e.g.: le chéile instead of lena chéile)

le(na) chéile = with one another, together,
ó(na) chéile = from one another,
trí(na) chéile =
in disarray, confusion (lit: through one another?)
as a chéile = in a row (lit: next to one another?)
ina chéile = in one another,
faoi(na) chéile = amongst/between (a pair/exclusive group),
dá chéile = to one another,
i ndiaidh a chéile = after one another,
mar a chéile = same
(lit.: like another),
oiread le chéile = everyone as much as the other
(lit.: amount with one another),
de réir a chéile = nach another, gradually
, etc.

Together with a noun and a few opposing prepositions (e.g. from/to, out/in) it means (from)one ... (until) another.
e.g.: ón lá go chéile = from one day to the next, as gach fásach ina chéile = from one wasteland into the other

the Vocative particle (an mhír ghairmeach)

form: a
this particle is always used when addressing someone (in spoken language it is often swallowed and is always unstressed)
The following nound is in the vocative.
a lenites the following word (even when it's "swallowed"), non-Irish personal names are not lenited
In today's usage is does not correlate to the German/English particle "o" (a thiarna! = [o] Lord!), because the Irish "a" is always a necessity, the"o" is more seldomly used and has then a strong appellative character.
One often leaves the vocative particle off in translation, e.g.: a Sheáin = Seán! (not: o Seán!)
One can bring in the appellative tone into Irish with a following ó: a chailín ó = o girl!

the number particle (an mhír uimhreach)

form: a
The number particle appears before (cardinal-) numbers , if no noun is to follow.

The number particle enables the adjectivial numbers to stand alone without a following noun (trí úll = three apples, a trí = three).
After a there is neither lenition nor eclipsis, but an h- prefix on numbers starting with a vowel (a haon, a hocht, a haon déag, etc.).

with prepositions, the particle a conjoins; the forms resemble those combinations of preposition and possessive / relative pronoun. They appear most often in calculations:
a sé faoina dó sin a dó dhéag = 6 times 2 equals 12 (faoi + a)
a dó óna trí sin a haon = 3 minus 2 equals 1 (ó + a)

(The form resembles the particle in the feminine possessive pronoun a =her)

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[ 1 ] the direct relative particle is actually unnecessary. It is a relatively new development, earlier there was only the lenition of the verb as an indicator of the relative without a particle or pronoun. (an fear chuireas = the man who lies)
a came to be from the earlier very common preterite particle do, that was used also in other tenses by irregular verbs. Eventually they wereable to be heard even in relative clauses, became accepted as the relativium and were applied also to other verbs: (an fear do chuireas =the man who lies), which would serve nicely as a possible "cause" of the lenition of the verbs. It then shrank to thecontemporary a (an fear a chuireas = the man who lies).
As one can see, a is a particle without own meaning, and cannot be a "pronoun". That in German the relative pronoun must be used, is a whole other story ...
[ 2 ] the form "+ direct relative clause" is used, if an té is a pronomial subject or dir. object of the relative clause. In the proper cases it is also possible as an indirect relative clause . e.g.: an té ar thug mé é dó = he to whom I gave it