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Verbs are of four kinds, Active, Passive, Impersonal and Neuter — the latter have no passive voice, the impersonals have a passive termination.

All regular verbs have

  1. two voices, Active and Passive.
  2. Six. moods; Imperative, Indicative, Potential, Conditional, Consuetudinal, and Infinitive.
  3. Three Tenses ; Present, Past, and Future ; these tenses have each of them a relative form, governed by a relative pronoun, expressed or understood.
  4. Two Numbers ; Singular and Plural.
  5. Three Persons ; and
  6. Three Participles ; Present, Past, and Future.
    Mr. O'Reilly and others very properly make but one conjugation, for the final Vowel being broad or long makes no difference in regard to the general rules of inflection.

Verbs as well as Pronouns have an emphatic form, thus — taim, I am, taimse, I myself am.

The second person singular imperative mood is the root of the Verb ; but, it appears in dictionaries under the first person singular indicative mood, and present tense.

The Consuetudinal Mood is denied by some grammarians, but I adopt it on the authority of O'Reilly, Lynch, Halliday, and others ; and it will be clear to any reader of Neilson, that he should have made it a mood, and not a tense, as he makes it to be sometimes past, sometimes future.

The inflections of Verbs are very much distinguished by initial changes, which appear in the example, and shall also be presented in one view hereafter.

The following general rules respecting final changes are borrowed from O'Brien.

  1. No Verb can grammatically end in m or i in the plural, or o in the singular.
  2. The first person singular indicative mood, present tense, is always formed by adding am or im to the root.
  3. The letter f should never be omitted in the future tense of any verb, except the Auxiliary ; thus, meall, deceive thou,meallfaḋ, I will deceive. This letter is also always used in the potential and conditional moods.
  4. Active Verbs in the consuetudinal mood, change the final m of the first person singular, indicative mood, present tense, into nn, if the pronoun accompany it ; but that mood in passive verbs is formed by adding r to their participles.
  5. When a relative is either written or understood, all the persons of the indicative present end in as or eas; but the past tense ends like the root of the verb.

The preceding rules are such as are most generally acknowledged and important — the student will learn others best, from the example of a regularly conjugated verb.

It is to be observed, that grammarians give two conjugations of a regular verb, the antient and the modern — the first is more common in books, the latter in conversation ; and it does appear to be a bending of the oral language to the necessity of assimilation with modern tongues, by the more frequent use of auxiliary verbs and separate particles, in order to express the various inflections. I conceive it to be necessary to exhibit them both ; but it will in the first place be proper to present the conjugation of the auxiliary, to be, &c.


The several modifications of the verb to be are drawn from five sources — as or is it is, ta is, it is, fuil is, it is, raiḃ was; and bi or biḋ it is.

  1. As or is is only used in two tenses of the indicative mood, as is me I am, or it is I; is tu, &c. and ba or buiḋ me I was or it was I, and so on witht he pronouns of the several persons.

    This auxiliary is frequenty used with a repetition of itself, or of ta, thus, is é is laidir, it is he that is strong; is me ta laidir, it is I that am strong. The English learner will here recognise a common Hibernicism, which is a literal translation of the Irish idiom. It is always used in assertion.
  2. Ta is used only in the present indicative, and as a positive affirmative, instead of the present indicative of bi; a is very frequently, but improperly, affixed to it, as ataim, I am.

    Indicative present — modern mode.

    ta me, or ata me I am; and so with the several personal pronouns]

  3. Antient mode
    Singular Plural
    taim, or ataim tamur, tamoid, or atamur, &c
    tair, taoir, or atair, &c taḃur, taṫai, taṫaoi, or ataḃur, &c
    ta, or ata taid, or ataid

  4. ḃfuil, or fuil, is, it is— modern mode

    ḃfuilim, of fuilim, and ḃfuil, or fuil me I am; ḃfuil, or fuil tu thou art; and so through the several persons.

    Antient mode
    Singular Plural
    ḃfuilim, I am ḃfuilmir, or ḃfúilmid
    ḃfuilir ḃfuilḃur, or ḃfuilṫid
    ḃfuil se ḃfuilid
    also, fuilim, fuilir tu, etc.  

    Negative Present (from O'Reilly and Nielson)
  5. ni ḃfuilim, niel me, or ní'l me, I am not ni ḃfúilid, ḃfuil sinn, nielmid, or ní'lmid
    n ḃfuilir, niel, or ní'l tu ni ḃfuilti, ḃfuil sib, niel, or ní'l siḃ
    ni ḃfuil sé, niel, or ní'l se n ḃfuil, niel, or ní'l siad

    Interrogative, of which a or án prefixed is the sign.

    Singular Plural
    a or an ḃfuilim, or ḃfuil me, am I? Ḃfuilmaoid, ḃfuileam, or ḃfuil sin?
    ḃfuilir, of ḃfuil tu? ḃfuil siḃ?
    ḃfuil se? ḃfuilid, or ḃfuil siad?

  6. Raiḃ, was, of which there is but one tense, to wit, the past. Mr. O'Reilly says that it is a contraction from ro ḃí.

    Modern Mode—raiḃ me I was, or was I? and so through the persons.

    raḃas, I was raḃamar
    raḃeas raḃaḃar
    raiḃ raḃadar

  7. bhí, or bídh, it is

      bíoḋ sinn, bíḋis, bíoḋmaoid
    bí, bíḋ, be though bíoḋ siḃ, bíḋiḋ,
    diaḋ, or bíḋ sé bíoḋ siad, bíd, bídis, bíḋid

    Indicative—Present tense

    bíḋim, I be, or exist bíḋin sinn, bíoḋmar, bíoḋmaoid
    bíḋin tu, bíḋir biḋin siḃ, bíoḋḃur
    ḃíḋin se bíḋin siad, bíḋiḋ

    Past Tense - This tense always requires the aspiration of the initial, if a nutable consonant.
    bí, ḃa, ḃíḋ me,or ḃíḋis, ḃaḋas, ḃíos ḃí, or ḃa sinn, ḃíomur, ḃamar
    ḃí, ḃa, ḃíḋ tu, or ḃíḋeis, ḃaḋais ḃí, or ḃa siḃ, ḃíoḃur, báḃur
    ḃí, ḃa, or ḃíḋ se ḃí, or bá siaḋ, ḃíoḋ4, ḃad4

    beiḋ me, beid, biad beiḋsian, beiḋmur, beiḋmid, beim, bioḋmaoid
    beiḋ tu, beiḋir beiḋ siḃ, beiḋḃur, biaḋaiḋ
    beiḋ, do beiḋ se beiḋ siad, beiḋid, ḃiaḋaiḋ
    Relative bhias or is me bhias.

    Potential mood—this mood always requires the aspiration of the intial
    ḃeiḋin, or ḃeiḋfinn, I would be ḃeiḋ sinn, ḃeiḋmír
    ḃeiḋeaḋ beiḋ siḃ
    ḃeiḋ se ḃeiḋ siad, ḃeiḋdis

    Conditional moode
    Present Tense
    ma ḃim, ḃiḋinn, or ḃiḋinn me, if I be ma biom, ḃimaoid, or ḃiḋinn sinn
    ma ḃiḋir, or ḃiḋinn tu ma ḃiḋinn siḃ
    ma ḃionn, or ḃiḋinn se ma ḃiḋinn siad
    Past Tense  
    da mbeiḋin, or mbeiḋ me, if I were da mbeiḋmaois, or mbeiḋ sinn
    do mbeiḋeadh, or mbeiḋ tu do mbeiḋṫi, or mbeiḋ siḃ
    da mbeiḋ, or mbeiḋ se da mbeiḋdis,or mbeiḋ siad
    Future Tense  
    ma ḃioin, if I shall be ma ḃiomaoid, or ḃionn sinn
    ma ḃionn tu ma ḃionn siḃ
    ma ḃionn se ma ḃionn siad

    Consuetudinal mood
    Present Tense  
    bím, beiḋim, or biḋinn me, I am usually dimaoid, biann sinn, or biḋsinn
    biḋir, biann tu,or biḋean tu biṫiḋ, or biann siḃ
    bi, biann se, or beḋean se, or bios biḋid, bid, or diann siad
    Relative beiḋeas, ḃis, ḃiḋean, that usually is
    Interrogative, an mbiḋean?
    Past Tense
    do ḃínn, I was usually do ḃimís, or ḃimaois
    do ḃiṫa de ḃiṫiḋ
    do ḃiḋeaḋ do ḃiḋís
    Future - none  

    Infinitive Mood and Participles
    do,or a ḃeiṫ, to be beiṫ, being
    iar mbeiṫ, having been ar ti ḃeiṫ, about to be

The interrogative is an, and it is often used without the verb, the latter being understood, as an me ? is it I? an tu? is it thou ? &c. This interrogative particle, used before consonants which can be eclipsed, causes eclipse, and then the n is generally omitted, as a mbiḋin tu? do you be ? and often the particle is dropped thus — mbiḋin ṫu?

The negatives of this verb are na and ni in the other moods

Note, that the tenses of the potential mood may be formed, by prefixing as or is for the present, ba for the past, and buḋ for the future tense, to such words as cóir, right, eigin, necessity, feidir power, &c. ; followed by the pronoun, which is properly the nominative to the verb, and the verb itself in the infinitive mood ; thus — ba ċóir ḋaṁ (or do me) a ḃeiṫ I should have been; literally, it is right for me to have been or be. They are also formed by placing tiġim,I come or agree, used impersonally ; or caíṫfiḋ, must, or it obliges, in like manner before the pronoun and verb, thus — ni ṫig liom (or le me) a ḃeiḋ, I cannot be. This idiomatic form of expression is very common, and must be carefully recollected and applied.



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grammar of the irish language—mason—1842
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