When a "g" is near "a", "o" or "u" in an Irish word,
it is called a broad "g". Pronounce it like the "g"
in the English words "go" and "good," but try to press
the sides of the tongue against the upper back teeth
and use more force than with the English equivalent.
gá (gaw*), a need; gairdín (gahr-DEEN),
garden; gó (goh), a doubt; gual (GOO-uhl),
coal; gabhar (GOU-uhr), goat; gáire (GAW*-i-re),
laughter; gadhar (GEYE-uhr), dog; gann (goun), scarce;
gob (guhb), beak; glám (glaw*m), a group; glan
(gluhn), clean; glaise (GLASH-e), greenness; glór
(glohr), a voice; glúin (GLOO-in), knee; gnáth
(gnaw*), usual; gnó (gnoh), business; gnús
(gnoos), grunt; grá (graw*), love; gradam (GRAH-duhm),
an honor; gró (groh), crowbar; grod (gruhd),
hasty; gruaig (GROO-ig), hair.
If the broad "g" comes just before a slender vowel,
there is often a sound like English (uh) or (w) between
the two. Examples: "ae" and "ao" are pronounced (ay*),
so "gaelach" Irish or Gaelic, may sound somewhat like
(GWAY*-luhk*), and "gaoth" wind, may resemble (gway*),
but the "g" is nevertheless pronounced as for "gá".
In the word "goid", to steal, the "o" tells you that
"g" gets its broad sound. The "o" is not pronounced.
The word sounds slightly like (gwid), although our
simplified pronunciation guide gives (gid); you must
remember to give the "g" its broad sound.
to pray, is similar. The broad "g" sound causes the
word to resemble (gwee) somewhat, although our pronunciation
guide gives (gee).
With combinations like "gl", "gn" and "gr", this effect
is not as apparent. "Gloine" (GLIN-e), glass; "gnaoi"
(gnee), affection; "groí" (gree), sturdy, are
examples. All have the broad "g", of course.
Pronounce an aspirated broad "g" at the beginning
of a word as if it were unaspirated: gairdín
(gahr-DEEN); mo ghairdín (muh gahr-DEEN). Sometimes
the back of the tongue is lowered slightly to let
a little air past, but this is not very noticeable
in most modern pronunciation.
An aspirated broad "g" inside a word is usually part
of a letter group with a special sound which has no
(g) in it: togha (TOU-uh), election; faghairt (FEYE-irt),
In English, you can say either "The son pays the bill"
or "The bill is paid by the son". In Irish, you know
how to say only "Íocann an mac an bille" (EEK-uhn
un MAHK un BIL-e). In Irish, this is the most common
and the preferred way to express the English form.
If, however, you don't want to say who pays the bill,
or don't know, there is another form that can be used
and is common in Irish. It is the free form or autonomous
an bille (EEK-tuhr un BIL-e), the bill is paid (meaning
that someone pays the bill).
Dúntar an doras (DOON-tuhr un DUH-ruhs), the
door is closed (meaning that someone closes the door).
Cloistear é (KLISH-tuhr ay*), he is heard.
Bailítear na nuachtáin (BAHL-ee-tuhr
nuh NOO-uhk*-taw*-in), the newspapers are collected
(meaning that someone collects them).
Feictear iad (FEK-tuhr EE-uhd), they are seen.
The rule: Add "tear" or "tar" to the imperative or
basic part of the verb. "Tear" if the nearest vowel
is "e" or "i"; "tar" if it is "a", "o" or "u". Examples:
cuir, cuirtear é (kir, KIR-tuhr ay*), it is
glan, glantar é (gluhn, GLUHN-tuhr ay*), it
For verbs like "ceannaigh" and "deisigh":
ceannaítear é (KAN-ee-tuhr ay*), it
deisítear é (DESH-ee-tuhr ay*), it is
For verbs like "oscail" and "freagair":
osclaítear é (OH-sklee-tuhr ay*), it
freagraítear é (FRAG-ree-tuhr ay*),
it is answered
Learn the proverb: Ní mar a shíltear,
bítear (nee muhr HEEL-tuhr, BEE-tuhr). Containing
two of these free forms, it means "Not as it is thought,
does it be", or "Things are not as they seem". "Bítear"
is the free form of "bíonn" (BEE-uhn); "bím
breoite" (beem BROY-te) means "I am ailing" or "I
am continually ill".
Cuir Gaeilge ar na h-abairtí seo leanas (kir
GAY*-lig-e er nuh HAH-bir-tee shuh LAN-uhs), put Irish
on the following sentences:
He is listened to; letters are written daily; much
milk is drunk here; work is done in the other room;
autos are repaired there; people come here often;
Irish is spoken here; it is believed; people go there
now and again.
Key: Éistear leis (AY*SH-tuhr lesh); scríobhtar
litreacha gach lá (SHKREEV-tuhr LI-trahk*-uh
gahk* law*); óltar mórán bainne
anseo (OHL-tuhr moh-RAW*N BAHN-ye un-SHUH); déantar
obair sa seomra eile (DAY*N-tuhr OH-bir suh SHOHM-ruh
EL-e); deisítear gluaisteáin ann (DESH-ee-tuhr
GLOOSH-taw*-in oun); tagtar anseo go minic (TAHG-tuhr
un-SHUH goh MIN-ik); labhraítear Gaeilge anseo
(LOU-ree-tuhr GAY*-lig-e un-SHUH); creidtear é
(KRED-tuhr ay*); téitear ann anois agus arís
(TAY-tuhr oun un-NISH AH-guhs uh-REESH).
Note that in English you cannot say, "It is come here
often". Instead, you must use some expression such
as "People come here" or "This place is frequented",
etc. The Irish free form corresponds largely to the
English passive but is perhaps more useful.
Note also that what you have learned in this lesson
covers only the present tense. The free form for past
and future differ in the word ending, as you will
1998 The Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.