Irish Language Blog

An aimsir chaite – The past tense Posted by on May 20, 2021 in Grammar

An aimsir chaite – The past tense

The past tense is used to denote a single event in the past. In English, we typically add ‘ed’ to the end of the verb to form the past.

In Irish it is also formed from the verb stem alone, with some additions.

  1. When the verb begins with a consonant, séimhiú1add an h the verb.*

bris (to break)

bhris mé – I broke

bhris tú – you broke

bhris sé/sí – he/she broke

bhris muid  – we broke

bhris sibh – you all broke

bhris siad – they broke


glan (to clean)

ghlan mé – I cleaned

ghlan tú – you cleaned

ghlan sé/sí – he/she cleaned

ghlan muid – we cleaned

ghlan sibh – you all cleaned

ghlan siad – they cleaned


mínigh (to explain)

mhínigh mé – I explained

mhínigh tú – you explained

mhínigh sé/sí – he/she explained

mhínigh muid – we explained

mhínigh sibh – you all explained

mhínigh siad – they explained


2. When the verb begins with a vowel, put a d’ before the verb.

ól (to drink)

d’ól mé – I drank

d’ól tú – you drank

d’ól sé/sí – he/she drank

d’ól muid – we drank

d’ól sibh – you all drank

d’ól siad – they drank

3. When the verb begins with an f, put a d’ before the verb and aspirate / séimhiú the verb.

fafraigh (t0 ask)

d’fhiafraigh mé – I asked

d’fhiafraigh tú – you asked

d’fhiafraigh sé/sí – he/she asked

d’fhiafraigh muid – we asked

d’fhiafraigh sibh – you all asked

d’fhiafraigh siad – they asked

⚠(*Remember that you cannot séimhiú  words that begin with l, n, r, or sc, sm, sp, st)⚠


Could you conjugate the following Irish verbs in the past tense in the comments?⁉

cuir – to put

críochnaigh – to finish

ceannaigh – to buy

druid – to close

éirigh – to get up

amharc ar – to look at / watch

ól – to drink

éist –  to listen

oscail – to open

fág – to leave

freastail – to attend / serve

foghlaim – to learn


How do we negate verbs in the past tense?

To negate a past tense verb in Irish, put níor before the verb.

*Do not add a d’ after níor.


chuir mé (I put ) = níor chuir mé (I did not put)

bhris mé (I broke) = nior bhris mé (I did not break)

d’ol mé (I drank ) = níor ól mé* (I did not drink)

d’fhan mé (I waited) =  níor fhan mé* (I did not wait)

⁉ Translate the following in the comments: ⁉

níor bhain Baile Átha Cliath = ?

níor fhoghlaim siad = ?

níor cheannaigh muid = ?

níor éist sibh = ?

níor chuir mé = ?


Photo from Pixabay, CCO.

  • 1
    add an h
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About the Author: Bridgette

Just your average Irish-American Italo-Francophone. Client Engagement for Transparent Language.


  1. É.Ó C.:

    Thar a bheith soléir, áis iontach! 👍👍👌

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