p h o u k a  h o m e i r i s h  l e s s o n s  h o m e

Book 3:


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106 107 108 109
110 111 112 113
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134 135 136 137
138 139 140  


exercise CXXXIX

§ 823. The inifinive mood of "to be".

In Irish the VERBAL NOUN has to do duty also for the present participle and for the infinitive mood.

Examples— Is fearr ḃeiṫ láidir ioná ḃeiṫ lag, it is better to be strong than to be weak. Here we see the form of the infinitive ḃeiṫ (vĕh); in S.L. usuall a ḃeiṫ (ă vĕh)

§ 824. When a negative precedes the infinitive, it is expressed by the word gan (gon); as, is fearr ḋúinn gan ḃeiṫ ar an ḃfairrige anois, agus an droċ-aimsir atá ann. Is it better for us not to be on the sea now, in this bad weather. S.L. gan a ḃeiṫ.

§ 825. The infinitive to be is used in Irish, as in many other languages, where the English has "that I (he, etc) should be". As, do b'ḟearr liom tusa do ḃeiṫ annsin ioná mise, I'd rather that you should be there than I. Duḃairt Peadar liom gan Seumas do ḃeiṫ linn ins an mbád, Peter told me that James should not be in the boat with us. Ní maiṫ liom é so do ḃeiṫ linn, I don't like this (person) to be with us. Naċ fearr ḋúinn gan iad so do ḃeiṫ ins an mbád? Is it not better that these should not be in the boat?

§ 826. In all these cases where a noun or pronoun precedes to be, notice that do ḃeiṫ is the correct form; outside Munster it is often softened to a ḃeiṫ, or ḃeiṫ.

§ 827. The use of to be for to have and to want gives rise to such sentences as the following—

Ar ṁaiṫ leat capall mar so do ḃeiṫ agat? Would you like to have a horse like this?
níor ṁaiṫ liom airgead do ḃeiṫ uaim, I should not like to want money.

§ 828. When ḃeiṫ is followed by a noun, idiom requires, as already explained, the use of the preposition in with the suitable possessive adjective mo, or do, a, etc. As, do b'ḟearr leis ḃeiṫ 'na ḋuine ḃoċt, he would rather be a poor man.

§ 829. Do ḃeiṫ is sometimes omitted, as in the line 'is truaġ gan mé (do ḃeiṫ) im' uḃaillín, nó im' neoinín ḃeag éigin, I wish I were (lit. 'tis a pity me not to be) a little apple (in my apple) or some little daisy. Is truaġ gan oiḋir 'na ḃfannaḋ, it is sad that there is not an hen in their company = would they had a successor! Ba ṁaiṫ liom agam, I shoudl wish to have.

§ 830. Seeing ḃeiṫ used above, after the prepositions do, to, and gan, without, we should infer that ḃeiṫ is really a verbal noun and this is the case. As a noun, it may be preceded by preposition, or by the possessives mo, do, a, etc.

Atá Doṁnall le ḃeiṫ annso i mbáraċ, Donal is (intends) to be here tomorrow. In Munster they use ċum insead of le.

Ar beiṫ ḋuit ansin, on being there to you, on your being there. Iar mbeiṫ (meh) ḋom ann, after being there for me, after my being there.

The verbal noun with prepositions or the possessives mo, do, etc, enables an Irish speaker to express with great terseness many common ideas. For a full treatment of these expressions, the student will have to consult the treatise on Gaelic Composition, which will be published by the Gaelic League as part of this series.

§ 831.

truaġ throo'-ă sad
oiḋir ee'-ir, Munster ei'-rĕ  
Farraḋ for'-roo company
iar ee'-ăr after
Paoraċ pwaer'-ăCH Power
maor mwaer steward
roinn   division

§ 832. Is truaġ (throo'-ă), it is a pity.

Hence, A Ṁuire, is truaġ, "wirras-thrue", O Mary, what a sad case!

Níor ṁaiṫ liom fearg do ḃeiṫ ar mo ṁaṫair. Ba ṁaiṫ liom Cormac do ḃeiṫ liom. Adeir Seaġan gur ab annso do ḃí an ḃó ar maidin, agus is truaġ gan í do ḃeiṫ annso anois. Adeir Pádraig naċ annso (ṫat is not here) do ḃí an ḃó, aċt ṡuas ar an sliaḃ úd. Is truaġ naċ linn féin an áit ḋeas úd. Is maiṫ liom go maiṫ ṫú. 'So duḃairt an Paoraċ do ḃí na ṁaor ar an loing, go mb'ḟearr leis aige féin í ioná Éire gan roinn. Ṫis is part of ṫe song of ṫe Coolun— "Tis what Power (who wasṫe steward in ṫe ṡip) said, ṫat he would raṫer have her himselfṫan all Erin, wiṫout division. Coolun, an Iriṡ an Ċúilḟionn (CHooloN) ṫe fair-haired girl from cúl, ṫe back of ṫe head, ṫe head of hair, and fionn, fair.

§ 833. Translate into Irish

  • I shoudl not like that you should be going to Scotland alone; I should prefer to go with you , considering the fine weather that is in it now.
  • I would like that no one (gan duine ar biṫ) should be very poor.
  • I should prefer that Patrick should not be here when John will be in the house.; I should like that they should not be here at the same time.
  • You know that John is an Englishman and that Patrick does not like him. Patrick does not know him well.


note that
are not
necessarily pronounced
as in English

See § 13-16


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