How to choose a modal of obligation for a given context?

Fáilte (Welcome) Forums General Discussion (Irish and English) How to choose a modal of obligation for a given context?

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  • #36759
    Duncan
    Participant

    There are so many ways to say that “you have to leave;” the ones I’ve learned offhand are:
    1. Caithfidh tú imeacht.
    2. Tá agat le himeacht.
    3. Tá ort imeacht.
    4. Is éigean duit imeacht.
    5. Ní foláir duit imeacht.
    6. Ní mór duit imeacht.

    When I’m trying to pick one to use, how do the implications differ for a given situation?
    11. Which of these are used the most and the least often in practice?
    12. Does caithfidh always imply a need anticipated in the future (“You’ll have to leave.”)?
    13. Does any come close to being a direct order (like “Imigh!”)?
    14. Does any sound more like a suggestion or advice (like “Ba chóir duit imeacht.”)?
    15. Is there one that sends the most urgent message? (“It’s vital that you leave right now!!!”)?

    And a couple of questions of usage:
    21. I realize that, if I negate 1-4, e.g. “Níl ort imeacht,” I’m saying “You don’t have to leave.” Can I also say it in 5-6 if I replace “ní” with “is” (“Is mór duit imeacht”), or am I saying something entirely different (or perhaps just nonsense)?
    22. What is the best way to say “You mustn’t leave?” Does it involve using gan: Does “Tá ort gan imeacht” work? Or is it usually best to use cead: “Níl cead agat imeacht?”

    As always, I appreciate your help.

    #45393
    Seáinín
    Participant
    #45396
    Duncan
    Participant

    Great link! I don’t know how I missed finding that among my searches. I see it’s part of “Foclóir.ie” as is the Corpas na Gaeilge. I’ve added that to my bookmarks. GRMA, a Sheánín.

    #45397
    Cúnla
    Participant

    Don’t forget http://breis.focloir.ie/ga/

    #45398
    Duncan
    Participant

    Thanks, Cúnla, another one I hadn’t known about! I’m pretty new to this forum, and it’s great to get such good input from everyone on this site. GRMA, a chách!

    #45399
    Onuvanja
    Participant

    2. Tá agat le himeacht.

    Are you sure about this one? You can say “Níl agam ach imeacht” (“I have no alternative but to leave”), but I have some doubts about “tá agat le himeacht”.

    As regards “mór”, its meaning is “(too) much”, so “Ní mór duit imeacht” actually means “You should not consider it too much to leave”, which is a nice roundabout way for saying “You must leave”. 🙂 The inverted structure “Is mór duit imeacht” would mean “You should consider it too much to leave”, but I don’t think anyone would really produce such a phrase…

    When it comes to usage, I would say that “caithfidh tú imeacht” and “tá ort imeacht” are the most common ones, though the latter puts more emphasis on the obligation. “Is éigean duit” or “B’éigean duit” and “Ní foláir duit” are also quite common – I would translate the former as “You need to leave” and the latter as “You have to leave”. To those forms, you can add “Ba chóir duit”, “Ba cheart duit” etc. “Ní mór duit” is more formal and used for example in job adverts to list all the required skills, so you wouldn’t say it in a conversation.

    But of course, this is just my reading of it. 🙂

    #45400
    Hugo
    Participant

    2. Tá agat le himeacht.

    Are you sure about this one? You can say “Níl agam ach imeacht” (“I have no alternative but to leave”), but I have some doubts about “tá agat le himeacht”.

    The structure “tá agam le himeacht” is okay. And with an object: “tá agam leis an teach a phéinteáil”. The first time I came across it I thought it was a typo for “Tá an teach le péinteáil agam”. I suppose they correspond to the English “I have to paint the house” and “I have the house to paint”. I think it’s more of an Ulster form, though “caithfidh mé” would be more common. I remember seeing it in GGMB in a section about ways to express obligation.

    #45401
    Onuvanja
    Participant

    Thanks, Hugo! I had no idea. 🙂

    #45402
    Duncan
    Participant

    Again, thanks. It’s helpful to see some potential English equivalents such as you’ve provided. After all, there are many different expressions we use in English to say “must” as well. I now have a far better idea of how to apply the various Irish phrases. It looks as if the all-purpose phrases that would work with just about anything are “caithfidh tú” and “tá ort.”

    Incidentally, from the standpoint of “must not,” I’ve followed some of the links above, and see that “caithfidh tú gan” works. It appears that the imperative is used more often than in English; for example, I have a copy of the standard Catholic Irish Bible, and see that “thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13) comes out very simply as “ná déan marú!”

    I appreciate all the help I get in this forum. Tá súil agam nach crá croí mé, leis an oiread sin ceisteanna. [Hmm…ar dúirt mé é sin ceart?] 🙂

    #45405
    Héilics Órbhuí
    Participant

    You left at least one out: “is gá duit …”
    Not to be confused with “tá gá agat le… ” which is when you actually need a thing, not an action (as I understand its usage)

    It seems in Connacht at least, 1 and 3 are the most common these days, but someone may correct me on that one. 4-6 are somewhat more formal sounding, I think. I find the “éigean” variety is usually encountered in the past tense as “b’éigean”, whereas I hardly ever see “caithfidh” re-conjugated into the past tense, and seems almost always to refer to something you haven’t done yet.

    #45408
    Duncan
    Participant

    You left at least one out: “is gá duit …”

    GRMA, Héilics Órbhuí. I hadn’t run across that expression before; as a matter of fact, it’s the first time I’ve run into the word ! I imagine, then, that “Is gá dom rud a dhéanamh” would be a good expression to use for “I need to do something,” right?

    Up to now I’ve been using díth to express a need, e.g. “Tá rud de dhíth orm” to say “I need something,” although I understand that it’s really more like saying “I don’t have something.” Is “Tá gá agam le rud” perhaps a more acceptable way of stressing the actual need for something, leaving díth to point out the lack of the object? I appreciate the input.

    #45409
    Onuvanja
    Participant

    I could be wrong, but I think “de dhíth” is mostly used in Ulster. Its meaning should be more or less the same as that of “tá (rud éigin) ag teastáil uaim” or “tá (rud éigin) uaim” (“I need such-and-such”).

    #45410
    Héilics Órbhuí
    Participant

    “Is gá dom rud a dhéanamh” would be a good expression to use for “I need to do something,” right?

    Yeah, I think so. Although it seems slightly more common to use it in the negative, i.e. “ní gá duit a rá” = you need not say, needless to say. But there’s nothing stopping you from using it in the positive.

    #45411
    Duncan
    Participant

    OK, thanks for the clarifications, both of you. GRMA faoin gcabhair, mar i gconaí, a chách!

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