Speak Irish: Regular Verbs

Speak Irish: Regular Verbs
By Bob Carney

Cén chaoi a bhfuil sibh? Tá súil agam go bhfuil tú go maith. How are y’all? I hope you’re doing well. Irish verbs start off in their root form or command form, which is how you say a verb when giving an order. Unlike English, Irish does not use an infinitive form such as “to do” or “to be”,  and you don’t need to use any pronouns. Their is a distinction between singular and plural, so different forms are used when giving commands to one person or more than one person.

Singular Irish Commands                                           Plural Irish Commands

tóg (toeg) take                                                            tógaigí (toeg-uh-gee) y’all take

éist (aysht) listen                                                        éistigí (aysht-ih-gee) y’all listen

féach (fay-uk) look                                                      féachaigi (fay-uk-uh-gee) y’all look

siúil (shoo-ihl) walk                                                     siúlaigí (shool-uh-gee) y’all walk

rith (rih) run                                                                  rithigí (rih-hih-gee) y’all run

labhair (lau-wer) speak                                               labhraígi (lau-wruh-gee) y’all speak

scríobh (shkree-uv) write                                           scríobhaigí (shkree-uv-uh-gee) y’all write

ól (oel) drink                                                                 ólaigí  (oel-uh-gee) y’all drink

ceannaigh (kya-nee) buy                                            ceannaígí (kya-nuh-gee) y’all buy

When giving a command to more than one person, you add the endings “-igí” or “aigí to the end of the root verb, sometimes the root verb will drop its ending or drop a vowel from its ending or sometimes even add a vowel. There are patterns to these changes and will be studied as you continue in your Irish language studies.

We can also make a command negative, like we do in English, “Don’t be bad”. All you needto do is put the word “ná” in front of the command verb, you can use it for singular or plural. It does not cause any changes to the verb unless it starts with a vowel, then h- would precede the verb.

Negative Commands
Ná bí dána (naw bee dahn-ah) Don’t be bold (don’t be bad)

Ná siúil (naw shoo-il)  Don’t walk

Ná tógaigí (naw toeg-uh-gee) Don’t take

Ná h-ól (naw hoel) Don’t drink

Ná bí ag caint (naw bee ag kynt) Stop talking

Clarification is very important. When my boys were younger and living at home I had to be very specific. “Oh, you wanted us to shovel the walk today? Sorry, we thought we could do it next week.”

Object Pronouns
É (ay) he or it

Í (ee) she or it

Iad (ee-ud) they

Time Vocabulary
Inniu (inn-yoo) today

Amárach (uh-mah-rahk) tomorrow

Anois (uh-nesh) now

Anois díreach  (uh-nesh jee-rahk) right now

Níos déanaí (nees jee-nee) later

Specific Irish Commands
Tóg é anois direach! (toeg ay uh-nesh jee-rahk) Take it right now!

Déan deifir anois (dane def-her uh-nesh) Hurry up now.

Ná h-ol an t-uisce inniu. (naw hoel un tish-ka inn-yoo) Don’t drink the water today.

Ná tóg na boscaí amárach. (naw toeg naw bus-kee uh-mah-rahk) Don’t take those boxes tomorrow.

We can say where we want something done. Location words would come right after the verb r the verb and noun. If you use a pronoun for it or they, the pronoun is pushed to the end of the sentence.

Tar isteach anseo. (tahr ish-tahk un-shuh) Come in here.

Féach faoin mbord. (fay-uk fween mord) Look under the table.

Ná siúil faoi. (naw shoo-il fwee) Don’t walk under it.

Irish Commands for Pets
Suigh (see) sit

Suigh síos (see shees) sit down

Tar (tahr) come

Tar anseo (tahr ahn-sho) come here

Fan (fahn) stay or wait

Fan anseo (fahn ahn-sho) stay here

Stad (stahd) stop

Cuir faoi (kur fwee) settle down

Ciúnas (cue-ness) quiet

Bí ciúin (bee cue-inn) be quiet


Maith thú (mah who) good job

An-mhaith (ahn-wah) very good

Buachaill maith (boo-kel mah) good boy

Cailín maith (kuh-leen mah) good girl

Other Useful Irish Verbs and Phrases
Dún an doras (doon ahn dor-us) close the door

Éirigh (eye-rig) get up or rise

Ná bí dána (nah bee dahn-uh) don’t be bold (bad)

Imigh leat (ih-mig lyat) go away (bugger off)

Fan liom (fahn lum) wait for me

Tabhair cabhair (taw-ur kaw-ur) help him

Tabhair dom an cupán sin (taw-ur dom ahn koo-pun shin) Give me that cup.

Seo dhuit (sho gwit) Here you are.

 I hope you will use some of these verbs on a daily basis. By adopting one or two at a time into your daily vocabulary, your familiarity with the languge wiil grow. Remember you can use Irish no matter who you are speaking with, my dogs will back me up on that!



*Bob Carney is a student of Irish language and history and teaches the Speak Irish Cleveland class held every Tuesday at PJ McIntyre’s. He is also active in the Irish Wolfhound and Irish dogs organizations in and around Cleveland. Wife Mary, hounds Rían and Aisling and terrier Doolin keep the  house jumping. He can be reached at [email protected]

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