Learning the Irish Language Lesson 2


This is lesson two of the learning Irish language tutorial. In this lesson, we will discuss the definite article and the classes of nouns. After which, we will explain the usage of the verb “to be. Going forward from this tutorial there will be a small vocabulary list throughout the tutorial. Don’t try and memorize every vocabulary word in one sitting; it has been shown in studies that it is best to just learn a couple words at a time and not to memorizes a long list of words in one study period. If you try to cram many words into your head, you will just end up forgetting them all but if you learn a few and then take a break and learn a few more it will stick in memory better. Hopefully, this tutorial will help you learn the Irish language.


In the Irish language nouns are either masculine or feminine like Spanish. There is no real pattern to tell which gender is a noun, thus, it is best just to learn its gender as one memorizes the word

The Definite Article

The definite article “the” in Irish is “an”. The gender of the noun affects the word if the definite article “an” is used. If the noun is masculine and begins with a consonants and is preceded by “an” then the noun is unaffected. However, if the noun is masculine and begins with vowel and is preceded by the definite article then “t-“ is added to the word. See example below.

1) fear (man)			an fear (the man)
2) árasán (apartment)		an t- árasán (the apartment)

If the gender of the noun is feminine and begins with a consonant and comes after the definite article “an” the word is mutated (lenited). If the gender of the noun is feminine and begins with a vowel then there is no change to the word. If the noun is feminine and begins with the letter “s” then after the definite article “ts” (pronounced “t”) is added to the noun. See example below. Note: Irish do not have an indefinite article “a” as there is in English. Thus, bean (woman) means both “woman” and “a woman”.

1) bean (woman)			an bhean (the woman)
2) oifig (office)			an oifig (the office)
3) sráid (street)			an tsráid (the street)

Vocabulary List 1

Man – fear(m)        		Car – carr(m)
Women – bean(f)			Book – leabhar(m)
Table – bord(m)			Hat – hata(m)
Apartment – árasán(m)		Bicycle – rothar(m)
Office – oifig(f)		Home – abhaile(m)

Practice Exercis #1 (answer at the end of this tutorial):

Translate the following in Irish:
1) man
2) the man
3) apartment
4) the apartment
5) hat
6) the hat

The Verb “to be”

There are two version of the verb “to be” in the Irish language. The first one is “tá” and is used when the object being describe is temporary in nature. It is used to state “where something is” or “what state an object is in”. The second version is “is” and is used when an object is in a permanent state of being and roughly translates into “It is”. This version is not technically a verb; it is called a “copula” in Irish. We will discuss this version of “to be” later but at the moment the “tá” version is what we will be focusing on. Below is a table that shows the used of the verb “tá” being used with the personal pronouns.

Tá mé – I am		tá muid – we are
Tá tu – you are		tá sibh – you are
Tá sé – he is		tá said – they are
Tá sí – she is 

Vocabulary List 2 (adjectives)

Small – beag		Bad – dona
Soft – bog		Long – fada
Fine – Breá		Cold – fuar
Hard – crua		Strong – láidir
Nice – deas		Big - mó

Practice Exercises #2 (answer at the end of this tutorial):

Translate the following sentences in English.
1) Tá sé láidir.
2) Tá tu deas.
3) Tá sí beag.
Translate the following sentences in Irish.
1) He is cold.
2) She is nice.
3) You are big.

Word Order

The word order in Irish is different than in English. In English the normal word order is “subject-verb-object”. For example, he (subject) is (verb) cold (object). In Irish the word order is different. It is “verb-subject – object” Thus, the sentence above in Irish would be “is he cold” or Tá sé fuar. This will take a little practice to get use to but with a little practice it will become second nature to you.

Vocabulary List #3 (numbers 11-20)

11 – aon déag 
12 – dó dhéag
13 – trí déag
14 – ceathair déag
15 – cuig déag
16 – sé déag
17 – seacht déag
18 – ocht déag
19 – naoi déag
20 - fiche

The Verb “to be” second version

Remember earlier that there are two version of the verb “to be”. We went over the first version “tá” earlier in this tutorial. In this section we will focus on the second version “is”. This version is used when there is a permanent state of being. For example, when someone is stating their name one would use the second version “is” of the verb “to be” since it is a state of being that does not change. Another place where one use “is” is when one is stating their occupation. See below for an example of using “is”.

Cad is aimn duit? – What is your name?
Is mise Matthew – It is me, Matt.
Is mise runaí.  It is me, a secretary.

Practice Exercise #3

Translate the following sentence into Irish.

1) The apartment is small
2) John is my name.
3) I am a secretary
4) The bicycle is red

Answer to Exercises

Answer to exercise #1

an fear
an t-árasán
an hata

Answer to exercise #2

He is strong.
You are nice.
She is small.
Tá sé fuar.
Tá sí deas.
Tá tu mó.

Answer to exercise #3

Tá an t-árasán beag.
Is mise John.
Is mise runaí.
Tá an rothar dearg


This is the second lesson of learning the Irish language. The focus on this tutorial is on the different classes of nouns, the definite articles and the verb “to be”. These lessons are gear for beginners and will help a person get started in learning the language of Irish. The main goal of this tutorial is to hopefully do my part in trying to save the language from extinction.


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