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    In Irish, how do the infinitives relate to the word itself? Like, from looking at a verb, how could you take it back to it’s infinitive form?
    Ithim ( I eat)
    Itheann (You, He, She eats)
    Ithimid ( We eat)

    Those are the conjugations I know for that verb at least. I think itheann included you eat as well but i’m not sure. If anyone could give me a pointer there too, that’d be great.


    I’m sure someone else will come up with a good answer . .

    ithim is irregular, so not a good one to choose, maybe.

    My dictionary (O’Dónaill) gives the verbal noun (of each verb) which is used for the infinitive.

    many of the regular infinitives are made by adding -adh or -eadh to the stem, but others are made by adding -áil, úint etc etc

    le dea-ghuí eadaoin


    From the way you phrase it, Daniel, I wonder if you mean “infinitive” or “root” form? As Eadaoin mentions, the verbal noun is used for the infinitive in Irish. The verb root is sorta where the conjugation examples you give start from. (“Ith” in the verb you use.)

    Pé scéal é, you can search the online O’Dónaill dictionary using almost any form a word and if it is not already the root it will suggest that the word you searched with might be a form of the root that it then gives you, which is a hyperlink to the definition for the root word. From there you can go to the Grammar tab and find all of the conjugations, verbal noun and adjective and other variations. The dictionary can be found here:

    Go n-éirí an t-ádh leat!

    Héilics Órbhuí

    Yeah, these guys both give good answers. I will chime in with my own two cents.

    There is technically no such thing as an infinitive in Irish. Many languages lack infinitives, but most European languages have them, so this is a feature which makes Celtic languages slightly atypical in general. The Irish “verbal noun” most closely resembles the English “gerund” in meaning, i.e. eating, drinking, doing.

    As Seáinín says, these are formed various ways from the “root” of the verb, i.e. cas, déan, goill, fan, etc. The way they are formed, however, is not entirely predictable. If you have no idea what the verbal noun is, you can usually make a pretty good bet however, if you know the conjugated forms. If you know that it one of the -íonn type conjugations, i.e. maraíonn, etc. it has a good chance of ending in -ú, i.e. marú. If you know it is one of the -ann type conjugations, i.e. bualann, it has a good chance of ending in -adh, i.e. bualadh. This is not always the case, in fact nowhere near it. For example, éiríonn’s verbal noun is just éirí. The verbal noun of déan is déanamh. Some verbal nouns are just the verb root without anything attached, i.e. teip. Other common verbal noun endings are -(e)an, -(i)úint, -(e)ach, -(e)acht, -(e)eachtáil, -(e)áil. The other thing to note is that these endings aren’t always the same in each dialect. For example, you will see both goilliúint and goilleadh, tréigean and tréigint, ligean and ligint, etc.

    Also keep in mind that different dictionaries use different forms. If you’re using An Foclóir Beag, for example, all verb entries are by verbal noun (it has the conjugations within that entry though, and if you search for it, it will come up with the correct verbal noun for you – it will be the headword and also noted below as “ainm briath”, short for ainm briathartha = verbal noun). In Ó Dónaill, if you look up a verbal noun, it will tell you the noun meaning of the word, accompanied by some text saying “vn of ___” (verbal noun of _verb_), so you then have to click that link to see the actual information about the verb. In De Bhaldraithe’s dictionary and some others, the verbal entries are given in the first person singular, i.e. if you look up “beat” (since it’s English – Irish), it will say buailim.

    Hope that helps.


    Okay, I think I understand. As an example, “Ólann sé uisce”, “He drinks water”. Ólann, in this case, is the verb “drinks”. So the root would be ól, or óladh? Correct me please if I’m wrong.

    Héilics Órbhuí

    Yes, the verb root is ól. In this case, the verbal noun is also ól and not óladh, as you might expect.

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