Speak Irish: Common Questions

Speak Irish:  Common Questions
By Bob Carney

Questions are a large part of conversation, and the only way to obtain the information you desire. There are a few things a little bit different in Irish as opposed to English when it comes to asking and answering questions.

There are no yes or no in Irish, rather a question is answered with the declarative or the   negative declarative of the verb used in asking the question.  The only verb that the rule does not apply to is the verb “tá”, the Irish equivalent of is, am or are in English. The following chart shows the other “versions” of this verb in different forms and tenses.

Present tense – Tá

Declarative sentence – Tá (taw): Is Am Are

Question form – An bhfuil?(ahn will): Is? Am? Are?

Negative Declarative – Níl (neel): Is not Am not Are not

Negative Question – Nach bhfuil? (noch will): Isn’t? Am not? Aren’t?

To answer questions in the present tense : Tá for yes, Níl for no

Past tense of tá: Bhí

Declarative sentence – Bhí (vee): Was

Question form – An raibh? (ahn rev): Was?

Negative Declarative – Ní raibh (nee rev): Wasn’t

Negative Question – Nach raibh?(noch rev); Wasn’t?

To answer questions in the past tense: Bhí for yes, Ní raibh for no

Future tense of tá; Beidh

Declarative sentence – Beidh (bay): Will be

Question form – An mbeidh (un may): Will be?

Negative Declarative – Ní bheidh (nee vay): Won’t be

Negative Question – Nach mbeidh (noch may): Won’t be?

To answer questions in the future tense: Beidh for yes, Ní bheidh for no


An bhfuil tú go maith? (un will too guh mah) Are you good?

Tá. Tá mé go maith. (taw. Taw may guh mah)                                                                                                       Níl. Tá mé tinn. (neel taw may tcheen) No. I am sick.

Nach raibh tú tinn? (noch rev too tcheen) Weren’t you sick?

Tá, ach tá mé ceart go leor anois. (taw ach taw may kyart guh lore ah-nesh) Yes, but I’m OK now.

Common Questions

Cén chaoi a bhfuil tú? (keh hee will too) How are you?

Conas atá tú? (kun-us uh-taw too) How are you?

Cad é mar atá tú? (kuh jay mar uh-taw too) How are you?

           All three of the above examples mean “how are you?” in the three regional dialects.

Tá mé go maith. (taw may guh mah) I am good.

Níl mé go dona. (neel may guh don-uh) I’m not bad.

Cad is ainm duit? (kad iss an-um gwit) What is your name?

Cen t-ainm atá ort? (ken tan-um ah-taw ort) What is your name?

Is mise…, ….is ainm dom, ….atá orm (iss meesha…,…iss an-um dum,….ah-taw or-um) My name is…

Conas atá an aimsir? (kun-us ah-taw an am-sheer) How is the weather?

Níl an aimsir go dona. (neel an am-sheer guh don-uh) The weather isn’t bad.

Níl an aimsir go maith. (neel an am-sheer guh mah) The weather isn’t good.

Tá an aimsir go maith. (taw an am-sheer guh mah) The weather is good.

An bhféadfá cuidiú liom? (un vayd-faw cudge-oo lyum) Can you help me?

Cá? (kaw) Where?

Cá bhfuil? (kaw will) Where is/are…?

Cá raibh tú? (kaw rev too) Where were you?

Cén uair? (kayne oo-ir) When?

Cad é? (kad ay) What?

Cá mhéad? (ka vayd) How much or how many?

Cén fáth? (kayne faw) Why?

Cé acu? (kay acoo) Which?

Cá fhad a thógfaidh sé? (kaw hadd ah how-gee shay) How long will it take?

Cad é an fhadhb? (kad ay un ibe) What is the problem?

Cad é atá cearr? (kad ay ah-taw kyarr) What is wrong?

Cá bhfuill an leithreas? (kaw will ahn lyeh-riss) Where is the restroom?

An bhfuill sé i bhfad ón áit seo? (un will shay ih wodd own awch shoh) Is it far from here?

Cá fhad atá sé go….? (kaw had ah-taw shay guh….) How far is it to…?

Cá fhad a thógfaidh sé dul ann? (kaw had a hogey shay dull unn) How long will it take to get there?

Cá mhéad ar fad, le do thoil? (ka vayd air fad, leh duh hull) How much is that, please?

An dtuigeann tú Gaelainn? (ahn digg-un too gall-in) Do you understand Irish?

Ní thuigim. (nee higg-um) I don’t understand.

Tuigim beagán. (tigg-um bea-gone) I understand a little.

An bhfuil a fhios agat? (un will iss ah-gut) Do you know?

Níl fhios agum. (neel iss ah-gum) I don’t know.

Ar mhaith leat? (are vah lyat) Would you like?

Ba mhaith liom. (bah vah lum) I would like.

Ar mhaith leat rud éigin a ithe? (are vah lyat rudd ay-gin ah ey-ha)
Would you like something to eat?

Ba mhaith, ba mhaith liom rud éigin a ithe. (ba vah,ba lum rudd ay-gin ah ey-ha)
Yes, I would like something to eat.

Ar mhaith leat rud éigin a ól? (are vah lyat rudd ay-gin ah ol)
Would you like something to drink?

Níor mhaith, go raibh maith agat, ní anois. (neer vah, gorra mah ah-gut, nee ah-nesh)
I would not,thank you, not now.

You have probably noticed in the answers above where “tá” was not the verb used in posing a question, that the answer repeated the questioning verb back either positively or negatively. See if you can match the correct response with the question posed below. For  the answers go to

QUESTIONS                                                                                 RESPONSES

An bhfuil an bainne ban?                                                          Feicim

An itheann tú arán?                                                                   Tá

An raibh tú ceart go leor?                                                         Bhí mé

An bhfeiceann tú an bainne?                                                    Bhí mé ag ithe

Ceard a bhí tú ag déanamh?                                                     Ithim

Slán go Fóill!

*Bob Carney is a student of Irish history and language and teaches the Speak Irish Cleveland class held every Tuesday @Pj McIntyre’s. He is also active in the Irish Wolfhounds and Irish dogs organizations in and around Cleveland. Wife Mary, hound Morrighan and terrier Doolin keep the house jumping. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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