Irish Language Blog

Clásail Choibhneasta Arís: An Briathar “Beir” (Give birth, bring, take, grab, etc.) Posted by on Apr 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

After some recent digressions, ranging from the “sobhlasta” (coiníní seacláide) to the “éigeantach” (Uncail Sam) or the “dosheachanta” (an bolcán / an Mháthair Dúlra), let’s return to na clásail choibhneasta le briathra neamhrialta.  Today’s blog will show the irregular verb “beir” in the three tenses (láithreach, caite, fáistineach) and in a declarative sentence, a question, a direct relative clause and an indirect relative clause.  

Remember that the verb “beir” is one of the more irregular irregulars, changing root for the past tense in a major way and for the future tense in a minor way: beireann sí (she gives birth), rug sí (she gave birth), béarfaidh si (she will give birth).  Also, this verb has a huge range of meanings, especially when you start adding prepositions like “le” or “ar.”  Our example will be very basic, “the cow calves / calved / will calve,” a deliberately short sentence to focus attention to the structure.    

First, though, let’s review the samples I’ve written up previously, for the verb “to say,” in a similar range tenses (deir, dúirt, déarfaidh) and structures.  The main subjects of these sentences are three types of fools: amadán (male or general), óinseach (female), gamal (generally male, since there’s a female equivalent, gamalóg)

Aimsir láithreach: Deir an t-amadán rudaí amaideachaAn ndeir t-amadán rudaí amaideacha?

Direct relative (normally lenites, but not here) Seo é an t-amadán a deir rudaí amaideacha

Indirect relative (with eclipsis): Seo é an t-amadán a ndeir a bhean rudaí amaideacha. 


Aimsir chaite: Dúirt an óinseach rudaí amaideacha.  An ndúirt an óinseach rudaí amaideacha?

Direct relative (normally lenites, but not here): Seo í an óinseach a dúirt rudaí amaideacha. 

Indirect relative (with eclipsis): Seo í an óinseach a ndúirt a cara rudaí amaideacha.


Aimsir fháistineach: Déarfaidh an gamal rudaí amaideacha.  An ndéarfaidh an gamal rudaí amaideacha?

Direct relative (normally lenites): Seo é an gamal a déarfaidh rudaí amaideacha. 

Indirect relative (with eclipsis): Seo é an gamal a ndéarfaidh a mhac rudaí amaideacha.    

Now, here’s “beir

Aimsir láithreach:  Beireann an bhó gach re bliain (The cow calves every other year). An mbeireann an bhó gach re bliain? (Does the cow calve every other year?) 

Sentences with relative clauses:

Direct relative: Seo í a bhó a bheireann gach re bliain.  This is the cow that calves every other year.

Indirect relative: Seo é an feirmeoir a mbeireann a bhó gach re bliain.  This is the farmer whose cow calves every other year.   


Aimsir chaite: Rug an bhó. (The cow calved). Ar rug an bhó? (Did the cow calve?)

Direct relative: Seo í an bhó a rug.  This is the cow that calved.   

Indirect relative: Seo é an feirmeoir ar rug a bhó.  This is the farmer whose cow calved.   


Aimsir fháistineach: Béarfaidh an bhó (The cow will calve).  An mbéarfaidh an bhó? (Will the cow calve?) 

Direct relative: Seo í an bhó a bhéarfaidh.  This is the cow that will calve.

Indirect relative: Seo é an feirmeoir a mbéarfaidh a bhó.  This is the farmer  whose cow will calve.   

Finally, although we’ve stuck to the most basic meaning of “beir” here, there are lots of other meanings.  Here’s just a short sample, not involving relative clauses:

Rug siad ar an mbuachaill.  They grabbed the boy (preposition “ar”)

“Beir leat chuig do mhamó é,” arsa an mháthair agus í ag tabhairt ciseán bia do Chlóicín Dearg.   “Take it to your granny,” said the mother as she gave a basket of food to Little Red Riding Hood. 

Beir uaim thú.  Take yourself away from me (more or less like “scram” or “skedaddle,” uses the preposition “ó,” with its first-person form “uaim”).

And finally, a quite common traditional saying:

Go mbeirimid beo ar an am seo arís.  May we live to see this time next year.  Like most blessings, this is in the subjunctive mood, as hinted at by the particle “go.”  Of course, Irish has four words spelled and pronounced “go” [say: guh], ach sin ábhar blag eile.    

Nótaí: dosheachanta [DUH-HAKH-un-tuh] inevitable; éigeantach, obligatory; sobhlasta [SUH-VLAHS-tuh], toothsome, lit. good-tasty;

Nóta don nóta (fuaimniú an tsiolla “uh” sna nótaí): Just as a reminder, since I’ve said this intermittently, I use “uh” to indicate the sound “uh” as in “about,” “fun,” or even “enough.”  These examples show that this sound is spelled various ways in English and there’s no really good way to indicate this sound in a rough phonetic guide, as I’m providing.  I know “uh” could suggest a long “u,” pronunciation, as in “Huhn” or “Kuhn,” but that’s not what’s involved here.

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  1. Mike Maloney:

    a Róislín:
    A couple of typos on your blag. For beir in aimsir cháite I believe in the direct relative you meant Seo í an bhó a rug. Also in direct relative for aimsir fháistineach. Also in aimsir fháistineach there is a fada on the “a” in mbéarfaidh.

    I love your lessons. They are so helpful. I’ve been trying to learn Irish for over 10 years. Thanks very much, or should I say Go raibh míle maith agat!
    Mike Maloney

  2. róislín:

    A Mhaidhc, a chara,

    Go raibh maith agat as do nóta. Tá an ceart agat — “an bhó” a bhí i gceist agam, ach amháin sna frásaí neamhdhíreacha (áit a raibh “a bhó” i gceist, mar a thuig tú).

    Tá áthas orm go mbaineann tú sult as na blaganna, go mór mór mar sílim go bhfuil tú an-líofa cheana féin.

  3. Mise Áine:

    Go raibh maith agat, a Róislín.

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