Caibidil a Trí: The verb (an Briathar)

Explanation of Conjugation

infinitive, verb root and verb stem
1st and 2nd conjugation
synthetic and analytical forms
overview der analytical forms
broad and slender stem final sound
lenition and eclipsis of the verb
dependent and autonomous forms
the autonomous form (an saorbhriathar)
about the irregular verbs

infinitive verb root and verb stem

Irish verbs have no infinitive (infinideach)!
When in German one would use the infinitive, in Irish mostly stands the verbal noun. With that, this is so to say a kind of infinitive at least to the point that it resembles the German infinitive usage as a noun ( e.g.: malen - das Malen etc.)
The setting of "no infinitive but just a verbal noun" though is not random.
The causes of this are the common noun suffixes of the verbal noun (e.g. -acht, -íocht) as opposed to the German infinitive suffix -en; as well as the fact that in certain cases in the genitive may appear and even carry a genitive object.
The verbal noun is also rather irregular (many different suffixes or even suffixsless).
This is why one can not so easily find verb stem just by crossing off a suffix.

In the dictionary, one looks up a verb then not with the verbal noun, but mostly with the verb root (fréamh briathartha). This is the 2nd person singular of the imperative(e.g.: mol = praise!, beannaigh = bless!)
This is a regular, suffixsless base form.

A different case is the verb stem (stoc briathartha) the form to which one adds the conjugations and suffixes.
In the 1st conjugation, stem and root are mostly identical
(sometimes depalatalisation is necessary to form the stem: e.g.: verbs ending in -áil sabháil - sabhálann, with verbs like dóigh, léigh the -igh: is omitted dónn sé, léann sé)
In the  2nd conjugation it gets a bit more complicated (but almost always only dur to orthographic reasons).

1st and 2nd conjugation

There are only 2 types of conjugation, the 1st and 2nd conjugation (also called type I and II)

The only real difference beween the two conjugations are the future tense-(and conditional -) marker -f- (1st conj.) and  -ó- (2nd conj.), e.g.:
1st conjugation: molfaidh sé = he will praise
2nd conjugation: beannóidh sé = he will bless

The other differences between the two are explainable using orthographic rules:
Important here is the "suffix" -igh of the verb root of the 2nd conjugation, that (also hidden) occurs in the verb stem
(Basically also in the future tense/conditional see: [ 1 ]) :
-igh together with (e.g.) the analytical verb suffix -ann (actually 1st conjugation) results in -igheann.
In old orthography one als wrote -igheann.
Today (in modern orthography):
-igh + -ann = -igheann ( instead of -ighe- one writes -í-) so -íann (instead of -ía- one writes -ío-): so -íonn

The suffix -igh can be "found" in the -í- of -íonn.
An example:
beannaigh + ann = beannaigheann becomes  beannaíann becomes beannaíonn = beann + íonn

verbs of the 2nd conjugation ending in -il, -in, -ir like imir have their -igh-" suffix"  only in the verb stem. Not in the verb root (imir = play!):
imríonn could (theoretically) also be written "imrigheann" , the verb stem of imir is also actually not imr- but imrigh-

verbs of the 1st conjugation ending in -igh
Also in the 1st conjugation the root suffix -igh can occur. But with these, the future tensemarker -f- also appears. Then they definately belong to the 1st conjugation. They are always monosyllabic.
Here one must differentiate between verbs with a long vowel and those with a short vowel.
verbs ending in a long vowel (dóigh, léigh) in the formation of the stem (and the conjugated forms) omit the -igh (e.g. dónn sé = he burns)
verbs ending in a short vowel (nigh, suigh) do not omit the -igh. They act (for orthographic reasons) almost like a verb of the 2nd conj. (nigheann > níonn sé = he washes).
Preceding the -f- there also comes an í (i with an accent: nighfidh > nífidh sé = he will wash)
Some of these verbs in the old spelling, ended in -idh, first in the reformed spelling it changed to -igh. (e.g.: suidh > suigh = sit, suidheann > suíonn sé = he sits)

Summary of examples:
conjugation type verb root verb stem verb im present tense future tense-marker verb im future tense
1st conjugation, suffixless mol mol- molann -f- molfaidh
1st conj. ending in -igh (-áigh, -óigh, -úigh) dóigh dó- dónn -f- faidh
1st conj. ending in -igh (-éigh) léigh lé- léann -f- léifidh
1st conj. ending in -igh (-igh, -uigh) nigh n(igh)- níonn -f- fidh
1st conj. ending in -áil sabháil sabhál- sabhálann -f- sabhálfaidh
2nd conj. ending in -igh beannaigh beann(aigh)- beannaíonn -ó- beannóidh
2nd conj. ending in -ir,-il, -in imir imr(igh)- imríonn -ó- imreoidh

The change von eo instead of ó in imreoidh occurs for orthographic reasons.
The future tense marker -f- is mostly spoken as [h] (glanfaidh mé = I will clean [glanh@ me:]), voiced consonants become through this [h] unvoiced (tuigfidh mé = I will understand [tik'@ me:]). Only the suffixes -f(e)á and -f(e)ar are mostly spoken as [f] (glanfá = you would clean [glanfa:], tuigfear = one will understand[tigf'@r]

synthetic and analytical forms (foirmeacha táite agus scartha)

The principal difference to be made is between the synthetic and analytical forms are the conjugation suffixes.

synthetic form (foirm tháite): "synthesis" of the verb and personal pronoun in one word :

Táite means welded.
verb and subject (pronouns) are combined into one word.
It does not need any additional, yes Virginia, no personal pronouns are allowed* (an extra one would be one too many)
e.g.: tuigim (tuig + mé) = I understand.
The addition of an emphatic suffix ist also possible: e.g: tuigimse (tuig + mé + se) = I understand!

*: after the 3rd person pl., there is an exception to the rule and a pronoun or a noun is allowed (whereby this form is also is used analytically):
e.g.: tuigid siad = they understand, tuigid na páistí = the children understand
analytical form (foirm scartha): "general" form, independent of person
Scartha means separated.
verb and subject are in 2 seperate words.
In addition to this verb form, the personal pronoun must* also appear (or a noun).
e.g.: tuigeann tú = you understand.; tuigeann an fear = the man understands
These analytical forms are the same for all persons (tuigeann tú, tuigeann sé, tuigeann sibh,...)
Historically they were limited to the 3rd person singular, but spread out and are today, in different degrees, used in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd person singular and plural.
In the direct relative clause (present tense, future tense) there are special analytical forms with an s-suffix, if the antecedent is the subject of the relative clause. e.g.: Cé a thuigeas sin? = Who understands that? An fear a thuigfeas sin = The man who would understand that.

*: in short answers there is no written subject (An dtuigeann sibh? - Tuigeann = (you)Understand? - Yes.)

The standard-conjugation contains both analytical and synthetic forms.
The latter is especially true of the 1st person (singular and plural : tuigim = I understand, tuigimid = we understand)
The the forms on the pages 1st conjugation and 2nd conjugation are the standard forms.

In some dialects (def. in Munster) synthetic forms are much more common (see "traditional conjugation") e.g.: tuigir = you understand, thuigis = you understood
In other dialects (def. in Ulster) analytical forms are the most used (patrially also for the 1st person, tuigeann mé = I understand, tuigeann muid = we understand)
synthetic forms are here often limited to the function of echoforms.

The analytical forms (overview)

1st conjugation
  indicative imperative conditional subjunctive
  present tense present tense
preterite imperfect future tense future tense 
present tense preterite
broad final sound -ann -as - -adh -faidh -fas -adh -fadh -a -adh
slender final sound -eann -eas - -eadh -fidh -feas -eadh -feadh -e -eadh

2nd conjugation
  indicative imperative conditional subjunctive
  present tense present tense
preterite imperfect future tense future tense 
present tense preterite
broad final sound -aíonn -aíos -aigh -aíodh -óidh -ós -aíodh -ódh -aí -aíodh
slender final sound -íonn -íos -igh -íodh -eoidh -eos -íodh -eodh -íodh

broad and slender stem final sound

The differences between verbs with broad and slender stem final sound are purely of orthographic nature, following the rule that broad consonants only are allowed to be surrounded by broad (dark) vowels and slender (light) vowels by slender consonants. The pronunciation of the suffix is almost the same.

lenition and eclipsis of verbs

Basically, conjugation and lenition/eclipsis have nothing to do with one another.

That verbs are in the preterite, imperfect and conditional are commonly lenited (as far as possible), is due to the following:

Preceding the verb, once stood the past verbal particle "do", which requires lenition.
In the standard (and most dialects besides Munster) the particle do is omitted, but the lenition remains.
Also: thuig mé < do thuig mé = I understood.
The rest of this particle in the standard is found in the d`(d'-prefix) preeceding verbs beginning with a vowel (incl. fh + vowel)in the above mentioned tenses (e.g.: d'ól mé = I drank, d'fhoghlaim mé = I learned ).

After other verbal particles/conjunctions, also in these tenses depending on which is necessary, the verb is either lenited or eclipsed. The d'  is then of course omitted. e.g. ar ól tú? = you drank?
The exception is the direct verbal particle a, which appears in addition to the d': e.g. a d'ól mé = which I drank, as well as the conjunction má e.g.: má d'ól mé = if I drank.

The autonomous form im preterite is never lenited.(if do occurs, then as a verb with h-prefix: do hóladh = one drank )

In the subjunctive, verbs are often eclipsed, while they mostly follow eclipsing verbal particles/conjunctions.
e.g. go mbeannaítear duit = may you be blessed
After lenition-requiring verbal particles (e.g. nár) verbs in the subjunctive are of course also lenited (e.g.: nár bheannaí sé duit = that he may not bless you!).

dependent and autonomous forms

dependent forms (foirmeacha spleácha)
are used after the following verbal particles or conjunctions:
an, ní, nach, ná, go, a [indir. relative particle], sula, mura, ach a, dá, cá
All of these particles cause eclipsis, except (lenition) and (neither lenition nor eclipsis).
In the preterite, forms of this particle with -r appear (ar, níor, nár, gur, ar, sular, murar, ach ar, cár), which always cause lenition.

autonomous / absolute forms (foirmeacha néamhspleácha)
are used in all other cases,
also after a [dir. relative particle] and

Only 5 of the irregular verbs differentiate between dependent forms and absolute forms ins some tenses (e.g. the verb bí: bhí mé = I was, ní raibh mé = I wasn't)
In the regular verbs, there are no differences in the verb form, only the verbal particle do appears only in the absolute forms (in the preterite, imperfect and conditional ; and then mostly only preceding a vowel as d')

ólaim = I drink
an fuisce a ólaim = the whiskey that I drink  
d'ól mé = I trank
an fuisce a d'ól mé = the whiskey that I drank
ólaim = if I drink
ólaim = I do not drink
an teach a n-ólaim ann = the house in which I drink
níor ól mé = I did not drink
an teach ar ól mé ann = the house in which I drank
n-ólfainn = if I would drink
tá sé ann = he is here
an fear atá ann = the man who is here  
(do) bhí sé ann = he was here
an fear a bhí ann = the man who was here
tá sé ann = if he is here
níl sé ann = he is not here
an teach a bhfuil sé ann = the house in which he is
ní raibh sé ann = he was not here
an teach a raibh sé ann = the house in which he was
mbeadh sé ann = if he were here

the autonomous form (an Saorbhriathar)

This form is typical for all Insular-Celtic languages.
With resepect to the agent, it is completely indefinite ("autonomous" or saor = "free")

lenition of the autonomous form:


In English, one can best translate the autonomous form with either:
    -with the impersonal pronoun "one"  (tuigtear é = one understands him) or but
    -(less accurate) with the passive voice (tuigtear é = he is understood).

According to the origin, the autonomous form is passive (comp. to the related Latin passive ending in -tur: amatur = he is loved). But the impersonal translation with "one" is more sensible in modern Irish, because it is also formed with intransitive verbs and even with transitive verbs no agent can be determined!
A passive translation (e.g.: "bristear é = it will be broken")could incur the justified question "by whom?". A form like: "it will by him be broken" is not possible with the autonomous form.

Earlier (still in Classical Irish) it was possible to include the agent using the prepositions le, ó, ar:
e.g. "Marbhadh leis é = he was killed by him." (Keating, 17. Jh.). In Modern Irish this is incorrect!
Purely idiomatic is the modern: "Casadh cailín orm = I met a girl", lit.: "One twisted the girl on-me".

The passive translation is also problematic for the reason that the following pronouns are in the object form and not in the subject form: Glantar é = one cleaned it (NOT: *Glantar sé)

forms of the 1st conjugation
  indicative imperative conditional subjunctive
  present tense preterite imperfect future tense present tense preterite
broad final sound -tar -adh -taí -far -tar -faí -tar -taí
slender final sound -tear -eadh -tí -fear -tear -fí -tear -tí

forms of the 2nd conjugation
  indicative imperative conditional subjunctive
  present tense preterite imperfect future tense present tense preterite
broad final sound -aítear -aíodh -aítí -ófar -aítear -ófaí -aítear -aítí
slender final sound -ítear -íodh -ítí -eofar -ítear -eofaí -ítear -ítí

For more about the pronunciation of the suffix -adh/-íodh see pronunciation and spelling

The irregular verbs feic, faigh, téigh, tar, clois, bí have preterite forms ending in -thas (chonacthas/facthas = one saw, fuarthas = one received, chuathas/deachthas = one went, thángthas = one came, chualathas = one heard, bhíothas/rabhthas = one was).
These forms (except fuarthas) are lenited and do not differ with respect to the other preterite-verb forms.

The irregular verbs (Briathra néamhrialta)

There are only 11 irregular verbs.
They are conjugated like regular verbs, but:

verb different verb stems def. dependent
no preterite-
verbal particle
auton. preterite
ending in -thas
(be) yes yes yes yes
déan (do) yes yes yes no
feic (see) yes yes yes yes
téigh  (go) yes yes yes yes
faigh (receive) yes yes yes yes
abair (say) yes no yes no
clois/cluin (hear) yes  no no yes
tar (come) yes no no yes
ith (eat) yes no no no
tabhair (give) yes no no no
beir (carry) yes no no no

And that's all there is of irregularity!

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1st conjugation / ending in -áil / ending in -igh
2nd conjugation
Gramadach na Gaeilge

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[ 1 ] About the future tense-ó of the 2nd conjugation:
Prinicpally:The future tense was once formed by lengthening the vowel of the last syllable zu ó.
In verbs ending in -igh the suffix -igh was then entpalatalised to -ach (comp. the opposite process by the declension of nouns: bealach-bealaigh) and -a- replaced with -ó-: the result was -óch, then came the personal suffix (e.g. -aidh for the 3rd person sg.), also: -óchaidh   (e.g.:ceannaigh - ceannach - ceannóch - ceannóchaidh).
This form was shortened in recent times to the modern -óidh (e.g. ceannóchaidh > ceannóidh).
-óchaidh is still used today in Ulster, even if it is pronounced [o:hi].

verbs ending in -il, -in, -ir, -is used to not form the future tense with -óch- (because no -igh was present) but by lengthening the vowel of the last syllable to -ó- or. -eo-, also -ir to-eor- and -in to-eon-, etc. (e.g. imir - imeor - imeoraidh). The conjugation of the tenses followed like as in verbs of the 1st conjugation (imir - imreann). Much later one took over the future tense- suffix -óchaidh (imir - imreochaidh > imreoidh). From this came the secondary "stem suffix" -igh to be used and parallel also in the other tenses (imir - imrigheann > imríonn). This is why these verbs "lack" the -igh today in their verb root (imir).
In the verb inis (tell) in Munster the future tense-/conditional form (i)neosaidh/(i)neosadh (instead of inseoidh/inseodh) is still used.
verbs of the 1st conjugation can not form the future tense not by lengthening the vowel of the last syllable (because they are mostly monosyllabic or the 2nd syllable is already long). This is why another principle was chosen (suffixes always begin with -f-: glan - glanfaidh).

[ 2 ] About the irregular verbs:
The irregularity is due to the fact that they were once combined verbs, in which there is an actual verb and affixed preposition and they were polysyllabic.
Through varied emphasis, either on the first syllable (prototonic: the modern dependent forms) or the second syllable (deuterotonic: the autonomous forms) come the "different" stems.
e.g.déan = machen: aut. form present tense : do-ghním (stress on ghním, still used today), dependent form déanaim (stress on dé as a form of the preposition do, ghním unstressed to-naim). The preteriteform do rinne comes from the deuteroton. form of *do-ro-gni (additionally to the present tense form, the particle ro, stress on ro as the 2nd syllable), the prototonic form déarna through stress on the same original form on the 1st syllable do.
e.g. abair = say: prototonic abair and deuterotonic deir come from the Old Irish as-beir > at-beir ("to bring out"), with deir the unstressed first syllable almost disappeared (the t in at- is still there in the d , earlier also written adeir). The preterite form dúirt, earlier adúirt goes back to adrubairt (ad + ro + beir) , and therefore contains the particle ro, this is why there are no r-forms necessary of the verbal particle.