Easy Irish Sentence Structure: 3 Basic Concepts

November 13, 2021
Samaha Kazmi

Do you have enough vocabulary in the Irish language but always mess up the Irish sentence structure? Are you always confused about where to put the verb and subject and start using the English sentence structure and Irish vocabulary to make Irish sentences? The temptation can be hard to get rid of. If that's the case with you, then worry no more! In today's post, we will walk you through the basic grammatical points you need to learn to start creating meaningful sentences. If you are up for that, then let the learning begin!

Syntax In The Irish Language

Easy Irish Sentence Structure

Irish is one of the renowned Celtic languages which is mainly spoken in Ireland but also in other regions like England. The Irish language uses various prepositional pronouns which is a similarity shared by other Celtic languages. Those other Celtic languages include Welsh, Cornish, and Manx, etc. Irish verbs are different from English verbs in many ways.

Most of the European languages have similar syntax in their writing however, Irish syntax is somewhat different from the other languages. The reason behind this is that the Irish syntax uses a unique sentence order i.e. verb subject-object order.

Word Order

Irish grammar has a specific sentence structure. Syntax word order in Irish is different from other languages. There are a lot of examples provided in this blog for you to get a better understanding of the word order in Irish. It is important to ace the word order to start delving deep into Irish.

The basic Irish Sentence structure consists of the VSO order. This order is found in many languages including the Spanish language. V refers to the Verb, S refers to the Subject, while O refers to the Object (Verb Subject Object). This is different from many other languages including English which follows an SVO order.

For instance, "Chuaigh mé go dtí an tospidéal" is the Irish translation of an English sentence i.e "I went to the Hospital". In this example, "Chuaigh" (go) is the verb (past tense), "mé" (I) is the subject, and "an tospidéal" (the hospital) is the object. Also, "go dtí" is an Irish preposition that translates to "to" in the English language.

Another example is "D'ith mé úll" which is the Irish translation of an English sentence i.e "I ate the apple". In this example, "D'ith" (eat) is the verb (past tense), "mé" (I) is the subject, and "úll" (apple) is the object.

VSO order is a basic order which does not include the other parts of speech like nouns etc. The complete normal word order in Irish is "preverbal particle, verb, subject, direct object or predicate adjective, indirect object, location descriptor, manner descriptor, time descriptor". This word order needs to be followed while making the sentences which are usually long and complex.

For newbies, basic sentences are the best sentences to make since they are formed easily and with fewer chances of making mistakes. Not making mistakes while saying/ writing something in a language is better than using extraordinary vocabulary and messing up the basic word order.

There are three types of simple tenses: present tense, past tense, and future tense. The forms of verbs used in each tense are different. Verbs are changed in different forms based on the alphabet used in those words and therefore, it is extremely important to have required attention to detail to change the form of the verb.

To make these sentences you can learn the ways mentioned below using Irish Verbs and Vocabulary using numbers, colors, vegetables and animal names, etc.

Present Tense

Present tense uses the same basic sentence order i.e VSO. Verb is often conjugated with the subject to provide a complete meaning. Using the same verb-subject-object order we can make a sentence of simple present tense "Tá mé i mo chónaí i mo theach" which translates to "I live in my house".

Some examples of the present tense sentence structures are provided in the table below;

Sentence  Subject Verb  Object Preposition
Scríobhaim leabhar
(I write a book)
(Im)
(I)
Scríobhaim
(Write)
Leabhar
(Book)
Nil
Nigh an seaicéad
(Wash the jacket)
Nil Nigh
(Wash)
Seaicéad
(Jacket)
Nil
Tagann tú go dtí mo teach
(You come to my house)

(You)
Tagann
(Come)
Nil Go Dtí
(To)
Ithim úll
(I eat apple)
(Im)
(I)
Ithim
(Eat)
Úll
(Apple)
Nil
Cloiseann tú torann
(You hear noise)

(You)
Cloiseann
(Hear)
Torann
(Noise)
Nil
Feicim thú
(I see you)
(Im)
(I)
Feicim
(See)
Thú
(You)
Nil
Faighim airgead
(I get money)
(Im)
(I)
Faighim
(Get)
Airgead
(Money)
Nil
Léigh mé leabhair
(I read book)

(I)
Léigh
(Read)
Leabhair
(Books)
Nil
Cócaim bia
(I cook food)
(Im)
(I)
Cócaim
(Cook)
Bia
(Food)
Nil
Imrím peil
(I play football)
(Im)
(I)
Imrím
(Play)
Peil
(Football)
Nil

Past Tense

The Irish sentence structure in the past tense is the same however, it uses the past tense form of the verb. There are several rules to transform a verb into the past tense. These rules have certain exceptional cases but overall are essential for every learner to learn and know.

Three main rules to change a verb into its past tense are;

Rule #01

For all the verbs starting with the consonants (besides f, l, n, r, sc, sm, sp, and st), the letter "h" is added after the consonants. This process is called to aspirate/ séimhiú the verb. For instance, the verb for to walk "siúl" becomes "sHiúl" in the past tense. Another example is to sit "suigh" which becomes "sHuigh".

The verbs which start with the consonants that are exceptions stay the same even in the past tense. They are not changed. For instance, "las" (light) stays the same even in the past tense.

Rule #02

If the verb starts with a vowel then a "d’" is added before the vowel in the verb. For instance, the verb to recognize "aithnich" becomes "d'aithnich". Another word is "Ól" which becomes "d'ól"

Rule #03

The word starting with the letter "f" is followed by a "d'h". For instance; the verb to hide "falaichhas" the past tense "dh'fhalaich". Adding h to the alphabets changes their sounds as well.

Some examples of the past tense sentence structures are provided in the table below;

Sentence  Subject Verb  Object Preposition
Scríobh mé leabhar
(I wrote a book)
(mé)
(I)
Scríob
(Wrote)
Leabhar
(Book)
Nil
Nigh mé an seaicéad
(I washed the jacket)
(mé)
(I)
Nigh
(Washed)
Seaicéad
(Jacket)
Nil
Tháinig tú go dtí mo teach
(You came to my house)

(You)
Tháinig
(Came)
Nil Go Dtí
(To)
D'ith mé úll
(I ate apple)
(mé)
(I)
D'ith 
(Ate)
Úll
(Apple)
Nil
Chuala tú an torann
(You heard the noise)

(You)
Chuala
(Heard)
Torann
(Noise)
Nil
Chonaic mé thú
(I saw you)
(mé)
(I)
Chonaic
(Saw)
Thú
(You)
Nil
Fuair mé airgead
(I got money)
(mé)(I) Fuair 
(Got)
Airgead
(Money)
Nil
Léigh mé leabhair
(I read book)

(I)
Léigh
(Read)
Leabhair
(Book)
Nil
Chócaráil mé bia
(I cooked food)
Mé(I) Chócaráil
(Cooked)
Bia
(Food)
Nil
D'imir mé peil
(I played football)

(I)
D'imir
(Play)
Peil
(Football)
Nil

The Future Tense

The Irish sentence structure in the future tense is the same however, it uses the future tense form of the verb. There are several rules based on the type of vowel used to transform a verb into the future tense. Again these rules are not applicable in all cases and have certain exceptions. However, in most cases, only these rules are used to change the form of the verb into future tense.

Two main rules to change a verb into its past tense are;

Rule #01

If the verb has slender vowels (e, i) in it then, the root word is followed by "idh". For instance, the word "bris" has a slender vowel "i" in it therefore it is followed by "idh" and becomes "brisidh"

Rule #02

If the verb has broad vowels (a, o, u) in it then, the root word is followed by "aidh". For instance, the word "òl" has a broad vowel "ò" in it therefore it is followed by "aidh" and becomes "òlaidh".

Some examples of the future tense sentence structures are provided in the table below:

Sentence  Subject Verb  Object Preposition
Scríobhfaidh mé leabhar
(I will write a book)
(mé)
(I)
Scríobhfaidh
(will write)
Leabhar
(Book)
Nil
Nighfidh mé an seaicéad
(I will wash the jacket)
(mé)
(I)
Nighfidh
(will wash)
Seaicéad
(Jacket)
Nil
Tiocfaidh tú go dtí mo theach
(You will come to my house)

(You)
Tiocfaidh
(will come)
Nil Go Dtí
(To)
Beidh mé ag ithe úll
(I will eat apple)
(mé)
(I)
Beidh mé ag ithe
(will eat)
Úll
(Apple)
Nil
Cloisfidh tú an torann
(You will hear the noise)

(You)
Cloisfidh
(will hear)
Torann
(Noise)
Nil
Feicfidh mé thú
(I will see you)
(mé)
(I)
Feicfidh
(See)
Thú
(You)
Nil
Gheobhaidh mé airgead
(I will get money)
(mé)
(I)
Gheobhaidh
(will get)
Airgead
(Money)
Nil
Léifidh mé leabhair
(I will read book)

(I)
léifidh
(will Read)
Leabhair
(Book)
Nil
Déanfaidh mé bia a chócaráil
(I will cook food)

(I)
Déanfaidh -a chócaráil
(will cook)
Bia
(Food)
Nil

Copula

Copula refers to the words and phrases which provide a connection between a subject and a subject complement. This usually means that one word is the main subject while the other word is the complement. One of the most common words for indicating the copula in English is the verb "to be".

For instance, in the sentence "She is my mother", the word "she" is the main subject while the phrase "my mother" is its subject compliment. And since the verb "to be" (is) is connecting the two, it acts as a copula.

In Irish Sentence Structure, the sentence structure for the sentences which connect the subject with its subject complement is different from the normal Irish sentence structure VCS, where V refers to the Verb, C refers to the Complement, while S refers to the Subject

For instance, in the sentence "Is dalta mé" (I am a student) "is" (am) is the Verb/Copula. The word "dalta" (student) is the Subject complement, and "mé" (I) is the subject.

The copula is not as simple as that and we will be uploading another blog on all the rules related to copula but one tip is that a definite noun should never be placed before a copula directly, instead "é , í or iad" should be added.

Speak Irish Today!

A tip for getting fluent in any language is to start thinking in that specific language. The same is the case with the Irish language. When you are trying to speak Irish, try to have the proper sentence structure in Irish. If you would try to get the vocabulary organized in the English sentence structure order and later in the Irish sentence structure, then there would be a filter in your thought process.

To enhance your thought process, it is suggested that you start to think in the Irish language and practice making sentences using the Irish sentence structure. With enough practice, you will automatically and unintentionally start thinking in the Irish language. That way your spoken Irish language will significantly improve as well.

Learning Tip For Beginners In Irish

For all my champs learning the Irish language, the cookie of the day for you is to keep an Irish pocket-size dictionary with you. Such a habit will not only make you explore more words in the Irish language, but also develop your habit of reading.

An alternative for this is to download a dictionary on your phone and look up any nouns, adjectives, or other words immediately. Such dictionaries can not only enhance your vocabulary but also provide you with countless examples to help you improve your grammar. However, a printed dictionary would still be preferred.

If Irish is not your first language and you are interested in learning more about Irish, then make sure to visit Ling app by Simya Solutions. This platform brings you blogs and outstanding free language courses developed by real native speakers and professionals. Try it out today!

Start learning Irish for free now

Say goodbye to school books

Fun mini-games and quizzes help you mastering a new language quickly.
Practice hundreds of dialogues on the go. Talk to our chatbot about daily life topics.
Master the language with extensive grammar tips and instructions.
Samaha Kazmi

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

More From The

© 2021 Simya Solutions. All Rights Reserved