Speak Irish: Tús Maith Part II

Speak Irish: Tús Maith Part II
By Bob Carney

Tá suil agam, go bhfuil sibh go maith. I hope you had the opportunity to use some of the greetings and introductions we covered last month as we begin our introduction to Gaeilge. It’s easier to learn a language if you use it on a daily basis.

There is no need to wait, you can use everything we learn in our daily interactions with others. Think of how many times a day you say thank you, hello or goodbye. Why not use Irish instead? It also gives you the chance to share your heritage with others.

This month we’ll continue with our basic conversational skills with some new vocabulary, a tiny bit of grammar and some example conversations. This builds on what was covered in last month’s  column, available online


The Verb Tá Present Tense

Tá (taw) is – am – are

An bhfuil? (un will) question form    is? – am? -are?

Níl (neel) negative form   is not – am not – are not

Nach bhfuil? (noch will) negative question form    isn’t – am not? – aren’t?

To answer questions posed with the verb tá in the present tense, you respond with Tá (yes) or nil (no)

Past Tense of Tá

Bhí (vee) was

An raibh? (un rev) was?

Ní raibh (nee rev)  wasn’t

Nach raibh? (noch rev) wasn’t

To answer past questions, Bhí (yes)  ní raibh (no)

Future Tense of Tá

Beidh (bay )  will be

An mbeidh? (un may) will be?

Ní bheidh (nee vay) won’t be

Nach mbeidh? (noch may) won’t be?

To answer future questions    beidh (yes) ní bheidh (no)

There is no direct word for yes or no to cover all questions, they are responded to using the appropriate version of the verb used in posing the question. If you would like to respond in Irish to a question posed in English, I use sea (shah) for yes and ní hea (nee hah) for no. This is so common in our home our grandchildren use it as well.

You may have noticed spelling ad pronunciation differences in some of the vocabulary with the same meaning. Words are changed due to grammatical rules that we don’t need to get into at this time, just be aware that they exist.


Go maith (guh mah) good

Go breá (guh braw) fine

Go h-iontach (guh hee-un tahk) wonderful

Go dona (guh dun-uh) bad or not well

Ceart go leor (kyart guh lore) right enough or ok


Mé (may) I

Tú (too) you

Sé  (shay) he or it

Sí (shee) she or it

Muid (mwidj) we

Sibh (shiv) y’all

Siad (she-ud) they


Basic Irish sentence structure has the verb first followed by the noun or pronoun then the adjective.  Tá mé go maith. (I am good) Nach bhfuil go h-iontach? ( Aren’t we wonderful?) look at all the possibilities with our vocabulary already! Try to build a few sentences yourself, pick a verb, a form of Tá, a pronoun, then the adjective.

Additional Vocabulary

Le do thoil (ley duh hoyle) please

Go raibh maith agat (gorra mah ah-gut) thank you lit. may there be good at you

Tá fáilte romhat (taw fahl-cha roe-it) you’re welcome

Gabh mo leithscéal (guh muh lesh-skale) excuse me

An mhaith (ahn wah) very good

Maith thú (mah who) good job or fair play to you

Maidin mhaith (mo-jin wah) good morning

Oíche mhaith (ee-ha wah) good night

Tráthnóna maith (tra-no-na mah) good afternoon or evening

Maith go leor (mah guh lore) good enough

Tá bron orm (taw brawn or-um) I’m sorry

An bhfuil sé ceart go leor? (ahn will shay kyart guh lore) Is it ok?

Tá sé sin go maith. (taw shay shin guh mah) It’s good

Is maith liom é (iss mah lum ay) I like it

Tuigim (tigg-um) I understand

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

An dtuigeann tú mé? (ahn digg-uhn too may) Do you understand me?

Tá an ceart agat (taw ahn kyart ah-gut) that’s right

Níl a fhios agam (neel iss ah-gum) I don’t know

Tá an lá go brea (taw ahn law  guh braw) It’s a fine day

An bhfuil Gaeilge agat?  (un will gway-lag-ga ah-gut) Do you speak Irish?

Tá beagáinín Gaeilge agum (taw bee-uh-gon-ing gway-la-ga ah-gum) I speak a little Irish

Cén fáth? (ken fah) why?

Cén scéal agat? (ken shkayle ah-gut)  What’s up?

Feicfidh mé thú (fek-ee may who) I’ll see you

Tá sé deas bualadh leat (taw shay jass boola lyat) It’s nice to meet you

Tá sé deas tú a fheiceáil (taw shay jass too eck-awl) it’s nice to see you

Tóg go bog é (toeg guh bog ay) take it easy


Liam: Dia duit. (dee-uh gwit) God to you (hello)

Nora: Dia’s Muire duit (dee-us morra gwit) God and Mary to you

Liam: Is mise Liam. (iss mee-shuh lee-um) I’m Liam   Cén t-ainm atá ort? (kayn tan-um ah taw ort) What is your name?

Nora: Is mise Nora. Tá sé deas bualadh leat. (iss meesha nora taw shay jass boola lyat) I’m Nora. It’s nice to meet you. Conas atá tú? (kun-us ah taw too) How are you?

Liam: Tá mé go maith, go raibh maith agat. Agus tú féin? (taw may guh mah, gorra mah ah-gut ah-gus too fayne) I’m good , thank you and yourself?

Nora: Mise freisin! (meesha fresh-in) Me too! Go raibh maith agat. Bhí sé deas tú a fheiceáil. (vee shay jass too eck-awl) It was nice to see you. Slán (slawn) Goodbye

Liam: Slán, tóg go bog é! (slawn toeg guh bog ay) Goodbye , take it easy!

There is a wealth of information here, but take it a step at a time learn a phrase or even a single word and incorporate into your daily use, next day add another and so on.

“I ndiaidh a chéile a thógtar na caisleáin!

“Stone by Stone Builds the Castle”

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 orginizations in and around Cleveland. Wife Mary, hounds Morrighán and Rían and terrier Doolin keep the house jumping. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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