Irish Lesson 43

The numbering system in Irish differentiates among simple cardinals (either stand-alone numbers, such as occur in mathematics, or numbers giving the quantity of some object) and ordinals, which put objects in some order. This will become clear when you study this lesson.


These numbers are used in counting, telling time, and when the noun to which they refer goes before them.

  1. a haon

  2. a dó

  3. a trí

  4. a ceathair

  5. a cúig

  6. a sé

  7. a seacht

  8. a hocht

  9. a naoi

  10. a deich

  11. a haon déag

  12. a dó dhéag

  13. a trí déag

  14. a ceathair déag

  15. a cúig déag

  16. a sé déag

  17. a seacht déag

  18. a hocht déag

  19. a naoi déag

  20. fiche

Examples of use:

  • Counting to start a race: a haon, a dó, a trí.

  • Serially numbered objects: seomra a seacht, bad a sé deag.

  • Arithmetical work: a trí agus a naoi, sin é a dó dheag.

Giving quantities of some object, with the number preceding the noun:

aon bhó amháin, one cow

dhá bhó, two cows

trí bhó

ceithre bhó

cúig bhó

sé bhó

seacht mbó

ocht mbó

naoi mbó

deich mbó

aon bhó dhéag

dhá bhó dhéag

trí bhó dhéag

ceithre bhó dhéag

cúig bhó dhéag

sé bhó dhéag

seacht mbó dhéag

ocht mbó dhéag

naoi mbó dhéag

fiche bó

In this use, as you can see, aon, one, aspirates, "two" becomes "dhá" and aspirates, "four" has changed slightly, and from 11 on, there is a "dheag", similar to English "teen", added on. From 1 to 6, the number causes aspiration (where possible), and from 7 to 10, the number eclipses (where possible).

It all sounds complicated, but if you will practice on the lists above, and then try to use the numbers several times a day, say in counting or in reading license plates, one numeral at a time, you will be pleasantly surprised at your facility.

Now for a simpler and often-used help: telling time.

  1. one o'clock -- Tá sé a haon a chlog

  2. two o'clock -- Tá sé a dó a chlog

  3. three o'clock -- Tá sé a trí a chlog

  4. four o'clock -- Tá sé a ceathair a chlog

  5. five o'clock -- Tá sé a cúig a chlog

  6. six o'clock -- Tá sé a sé a chlog

  7. seven o'clock -- Tá sé a seacht a chlog

  8. eight o'clock -- Tá sé a hocht a chlog

  9. nine o'clock -- Tá sé a naoi a chlog

  10. ten o'clock -- Tá sé a deich a chlog

  11. eleven o'clock -- Tá sé a haon déag a chlog

  12. twelve o'clock -- Tá sé a dó dhéag a chlog

What time is it? Cén t-am é?

a good morning, maidin mhaith

good night, oíche mhaith

mid-day, meán lae

mid-night, meán oíche

in the morning, ar maidin

in the afternoon, tráthnóna

at night, san oíche

Days of the week

Monday, An Luan
On Monday, Dé Luain

Tuesday, An Mháirt
On Tuesday, Dé Mháirt

Wednesday, An Chéadaoin
On Wednesday, Dé Chéadaoin

Thursday, An Déardaoin
On Thursday

Friday, An Aoine
On Friday, Dé Aoine

Saturday, An Satharn
On Saturday, Dé Sathairn

Sunday, An Domhnach (DOW-nahk*)
On Sunday, Dé Domhnaigh (DOW-nee)

(c) 1998 The Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.

Irish Lesson 42

Irish Lesson 44

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