Fáilte (Welcome) › Forums › General Discussion (Irish and English) › Why is it ‘Tá mé i mo chónaí i ___” instead of “Cónaí mé i ___”?
- This topic has 5 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 9 years, 2 months ago by zzxjoanw.
January 16, 2014 at 12:58 am #36666
I’ve seen a few other similar forms, like ‘Tá mé i mo mhac léinn’. How do I know which form to use? What’s the general rule here?January 16, 2014 at 3:33 am #44902Héilics ÓrbhuíParticipant
There are instances in which you will see “cónaíonn” as a verb (or forms of it) but usually not in a general statement about where you live. It’s something you will have to pick up through experience as you feel out the language.
As for the other examples, there are two ways of saying things like that. One uses the copula, ex: “is dochtúir mé”. This denotes a more permanent state, i.e. that I am and generally always have been a doctor. The other is using “tá”, ex” táim i mo dhochtúir”. This denotes a less permanent state, i.e. I am working or being as a doctor. It is a subtle distinction that may or may not be glossed over in everyday speech, meaning for all I know, in the Gaeltacht it is just a matter of personal choice which version you want to use or maybe it is a dialectical thing (I don’t know if the copula version is as common in Munster Irish, for example), but as for that I can’t say.January 16, 2014 at 3:49 am #44903SeáinínParticipant
Tá fáilte romhat, a zzxjoanw.
A good question and, of course, the answer is more complex than might be hoped for. The examples you’ve given are sometimes classified as belonging to two different grammatical categories. The first, “tá mé i mo chónaí….” describes a physical state (e.g. standing, lying, sitting, residing, sleeping), the second is a classification sentence that doesn’t use the copula. (There are other categories of phrases that look similar to these as well, just to keep things interesting.)
I think of the physical state clauses as ones that express a condition I have moved into, I am no longer in motion for the time being, but I will likely be moving out of this state at some point. So, “tá sí ina seasamh” – “she is standing”. In English it’s a little confusing — do we mean that she is in the act of standing up, or that she is currently in a standing state? In Irish it is clearer.
Classification sentences can indicate a more permanent or temporary identification. The more permanent meanings use the copula, whereas the verb “bí” and the preposition “i” suggest a more recent or potentially changeable condition. Nancy Stenson, in Intermediate Irish uses these examples:
Is múinteoir é.
Tá sé ina mhúinteoir.
Both can be translated to “He is a teacher”, but the first suggests that this is a permanent part of his identity, whereas the second suggests he is currently doing this as his job.
There is an excellent, albeit somewhat dense, grammar at http://nualeargais.ie/gnag/gram.htm. The sections titled “usage of the possessive pronouns” and “Classificatory and Identificatory Clauses Without the Copula” are pertinent, as are Units 18 and 19 in the Stenson book referenced above.
Ádh mór!January 17, 2014 at 6:48 pm #44911
GRMA, a Sheáinin. That really helped me understand what was going on there.January 17, 2014 at 11:24 pm #44912Héilics ÓrbhuíParticipant
You’re welcome.January 18, 2014 at 12:42 am #44913
Agus tú freisin, a Héilics.
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