Irish Language Blog

A Brief Visit with ‘An Tuiseal Ginideach’ Plus a ‘Mioncheistiúchán’ (showing possession or adding description in Irish, plus a little quiz) Posted by on Aug 11, 2016 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Before we completely move away from the samhradh, samhraidh, an tsamhraidh, and samhraítheme and the related vocabulary covered in recent blogposts (naisc thíos), I thought it would fun to look at a nice succinct list of examples ofan tuiseal ginideach(the genitive case), based on Liam Ó Muirthile’s own description of his Irish-language column, “An Peann Coitianta” in the Irish Times.  These forms are vital for being able to use Irish nouns in different contexts.

country mouse, city mouse for 8-11-16 blog - public domain from Arachne's attic

The system of the genitive case is similar to what we find in Latin and German, and no doubt, other languages as well.  We have an echo of it in English, when we apply “apostrophe s” or just an apostrophe to nouns (the boy’s book, the boys’ books, the man’s shoes, the men’s shoes).

So here we are, short and hopefullymilis (sweet), with a list from some further commentary by Ó Muirthile, quoted by Mícheál Ó hAodha in his article “Books Ireland, Eanáir/Feabhra, 2015 Iriseoireacht as Gaeilge” (nasc thíos).

Ó Muirthile says hiscolúin (columns) pertain to “an saol” (life, lit. the life), including his own (he saysmo shaol féin) and the following other types ofsaol.”  I’ve left a blank space so readers can filled in the tuiseal ginideach (genitive case) forms.  Tá na freagraí thíosAnd if you want a quick review of the genitive case before embarking on this, please check out the various (actually a book’s worth, practically) entries from a few years back (naisc thíos).  The term to the right, in parentheses, is the root form of the noun, which needs to be adjusted for use in the phrase:

  1. saol ____________________ (an tuairisceoir)
  2. saol ____________________ (an scríbhneoir)
  3. saol ____________________ (an teaghlach)
  4. saol ____________________ (mo mhuintir)
  5. saol ____________________ (an chathair)
  6. saol ____________________ (an tuath)
  7. saol ____________________ (an Tuaisceart)
  8. saol ____________________ (an Fhrainc)
  9. saol ____________________ (an bruachbhaile)
  10. saol ___________________ (an straeire cinn; leid: only one of these words changes)

A few of the words are glossed below to help newcomers to the language.

Why does it seem complicated?  Remember, the system in Irish is a lot like Latin and German, but very unlike English.  So if English is your native language, you’re probably wondering, “Why so many endings?  So many patterns?”  All I can really say is welcome to the world of inflected languages.  English has a very simple approach to showing possession — we add “apostrophe s” or just an apostrophe, as we saw in the English examples above (boy’s books, boys’ books).  Irish, like German and Latin, has different endings for different categories of nouns.

So this was a liosta deas gonta.  To fully work on the genitive case typically takes at least six or so chapters in most textbooks, one per declension (the five categories of nouns), and at least one in general, to explain the function.  The previous posts in this blog, luaite thuas le naisc thíos, describe the situation further.   Hope you enjoyed it — Róislín

Gluais: bruachbhaile, suburb; muintir, extended family, inhabitants of a place; straeire, strayer, wanderer (btw, fánaí or seachránaí can also be used for “wanderer”); teaghlach, family, household


  1. saol an tuairsceora (an tuairisceoir, the reporter, m3)
  2. saol an scríbhneora (an scríbhneoir, the writer, m3)
  3. saol an teaghlaigh (an teaghlach, the family, the household, m1)
  4. saol mo mhuintire (mo mhuintir, my [extended] family, f2; “muintir” can also mean “inhabitants” but we wouldn’t typically say “my inhabitants” unless, fancifully, a city, town, or other dwelling-place is speaking in the first person, or should I say, “in the first residential”. Hmm, “Is mise an Ghaeltacht.  Tá mo mhuintir …”  Bhuel, b’fhéidir!)
  5. saol na cathrach (an chathair, the city, f5)
  6. saol na tuaithe (an tuath, the countryside, f2; also “the tribe” referring to ancient Ireland, but not for most anthropological contexts, which use “treibh“)
  7. saol an Tuaiscirt (an Tuaisceart, Northern Ireland, m1)
  8. saol na Fraince (an Fhrainc, France, f2)
  9. saol an bhruachbhaile (an bruachbhaile, the suburb, m4)
  10. saol an straeire chinn (an straeire cinn, m4; the wanderer, lit. the wanderer “of head,” which presumably means someone like a daydreamer; so far, I haven’t found this phrase anywhere else on the Internet or in any readily available dictionaries)

In case you’re wondering about the abbreviations which follow each entry (such as 3m or 1m), they are the standard way of designating the gender and declension for nouns in Irish.  Whether intentionally or not, Ó Muirthile’s list gives us a nice set of examples of all five declensions or categories:

1st declension, masculine: teaghlach, an Tuaisceart

2nd declension, feminine: muintir, tuath, an Fhrainc

3rd declension, masculine: tuairsceoir, scríbhneoir

4th declension, masculine: bruachbhaile, straeire

5th declension, feminine: cathair

Naisc (Ó Muirthile agus Ó hAodha): 

alt Uí Mhuirthile san Irish Times leis na foirmeacha seo den fhocal ‘samhradh’: samhradh, samhraidh, an tsamhraidh, samhraí (14 Lúnasa 2002)

leabhartha le Liam Ó Muirthile: Rogha Alt (1989-2003), Cois Life, 2014; . Tá cnuasaigh eile aige ach tá siad as cló: Ar an bPeann, Cois Life, 2006; An Peann Coitianta 2 (1992-1997), Cois Life, 1997, agus An Peann Coitianta, Comhar, 1991.  Tá i bhfad níos mó foilsithe aige (úrscéalta, dánta, srl.) ach is iad seo na cinn a bhaineanns leis an alt seo. 

alt le Mícheál Ó hAodha faoi scríbhneoireacht Uí Mhuirthile: (from Books Ireland, Eanáir/Feabhra, 2015 Iriseoireacht as Gaeilge)

na blaganna roimhe seo sa tsraith seo:

Samplaí an fhocail ‘samhradh’ in alt le Liam Ó Muirthile san Irish Times Posted by róislín on Jul 22, 2016 in Irish Language

Deich bhFrása Shuimiúla as Alt Uí Mhuirthile (‘Saoirí Samhraidh’ san Irish Times), Cuid 1 Posted by róislín on Jul 25, 2016 in Irish Language

Deich bhFrása Shuimiúla as Alt Uí Mhuirthile (‘Saoirí Samhraidh’ san Irish Times), Cuid 2 Posted by róislín on Jul 28, 2016 in Irish Language

Deich bhFrása Shuimiúla as Alt Uí Mhuirthile (‘Saoirí Samhraidh’ san Irish Times), Cuid 3 Posted by róislín on Jul 31, 2016 in Irish Language

Deich bhFrása Shuimiúla as Alt Uí Mhuirthile (‘Saoirí Samhraidh’ san Irish Times), Cuid 4Posted by on Aug 6, 2016 in Irish Language


Díochlaontaí agus an Tuiseal Ginideach (Declensions and the Genitive Case)

Overviews: Declensions, Generally Speaking Posted by róislín on May 30, 2011; Cineálacha Pióg De Réir na nDíochlaontaí Posted by róislín on Nov 21, 2011 in Irish Language

1st: An Chéad Díochlaonadh: Newts, Frogs, and, for Easter, Baskets Posted by róislín on Apr 8, 2011 in Irish Language

2nd: An Dara Díochlaonadh: Eggs and Legs, Clutches and Hutches Posted by róislín on Apr 11, 2011 in Irish Language

An Dara Díochlaonadh, Firinscneach: Lambs of Butter, Mountains of Butter Posted by róislín on Apr 15, 2011 in Irish Language

3rd: Díochlaontaí Arís! Posted by róislín on Apr 24, 2011 in Irish Language

M3, .i. An Téarma Gramadaí (Ní Mótarbhealach Atá i gCeist) Posted by róislín on Apr 27, 2011 in Irish Language

4th: An Ceathrú Díochlaonadh (4th-declension): Bealtaine, Duine, Domhainlascaine, srl., srl., srl. Posted by róislín on May 4, 2011

Piontaí agus an Ceathrú Díochlaonadh Posted by róislín on May 18, 2011 in Irish Language

5th:  Gaolta and the Fifth Posted by róislín on May 27, 2011 in Irish Language

An Iarmhír “-ach” sa Chúigiú Díochlaonadh: Beoir (Beer) vs. Beorach (of Beer), srl. Posted by róislín on Jun 3, 2011 in Irish Language

“Comharsa,” “Monarcha,” “Pearsa”: An Cúigiú Díochlaonadh Arís Posted by róislín on Jun 10, 2011 in Irish Language

Lámha Leitean (An Cúigiú Díochlaonadh, ar l.) Posted by róislín on Jun 14, 2011 in Irish Language

Díth Ingne (An Cúigiú Díochlaonadh, ar l. arís) Posted by róislín on Jun 17, 2011 in Irish Language

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