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Lesson 3. Simple Sentences


Revision 1.13 of this page, last updated on 2003/02/17.
(C)opyright 1994-2003 Mark H. Nodine

3.1. How to say "a" and "the"

In English, we have two kinds of article: a definite article ("the") and an indefinite article ("a", "an"). Welsh has no word for "a" (you can still say "uh", though, when you're trying to think of what to say next). The Welsh language thus proves the indefinite article to be superfluous by omitting it. (Some languages, such as Russian and Latin, omit both articles, but that's for a different set of lessons.) Thus, the word "car" can be translated either "car" or "a car", depending on the context.

The definite article in Welsh has three different forms, just as the English indefinite article has two forms. They are summarized in the table below:

Condition Form
If the preceding word ends in a vowel 'r
Else if the next word starts with a vowel yr
Otherwise y
An "h" at the beginning of a word is considered a vowel. Contrarily, sometimes a "w" at the beginning is not considered a vowel.
Some examples:

y gwely
yr achos
yr haf
Mae'r gwely yma.
the bed
the cause
the summer
The bed is here.

Although most place names do not use the definite article, there are a few that do, including:

yr Affrig
yr Alban
yr Eidal
y Swistir
Note on pronunciation
The "y"s in the definite article go against the normal pronunciation of "y" in monosyllabic words, and are obscure.

3.2. How to say "I am reading"

As mentioned back in Section 2.1, the verb "to be" is used as a helping verb in making the present tense of other verbs. The particle "yn" is used to do the linking. (The "y" sound in "yn" is obscure.) Here's the general sentence pattern:

Mae Alun yn darllen. Alun is reading.

After pronouns ending in vowels, the "yn" is contracted:

Mae hi'n darllen. She is reading.

The sentences in this can be translated "is reading", "reads", or "does read". A direct object can be placed after the verb:

Rydyn ni'n darllen llyfr. We are reading a book.

Negative sentences can be constructed in a similar fashion:

Dydy hi ddim yn darllen. She doesn't read.
The singular form of the verb is always used with a compound or plural subject. The "maen" form only occurs with the pronoun "nhw". Thus, we have
Mae Alun a Mari yn mynd.
Mae llewod yn mynd.
Maen nhw'n mynd.
Alun and Mari go.
Lions go.
They go.

3.3. Adjectives I

No language would be complete without adjectives (although I am told Hebrew has only a few), and Welsh is no exception. Welsh is like French in that it places the adjective after the noun that it modifies:

gwely bach a little bed

The adverb "iawn" (very) goes right after the adjective it modifies:

da iawn very good

3.4. "This" and "that"

"This" and "that" can be expressed by putting the definite article before the word and either 'ma or 'na (respectively) after the word:

yr achos 'ma
y ty+ 'na
this cause
that house

Ymarfer 3

Make up sentences by picking one item from each column

Mae Sia+n a fi yn
Dydyn ni ddim yn
Rydw i'n
Mae llewod yn
Maen nhw'n
meddwl yn y ty+ 'na.
gweld gwely yma.
byw yn yr Eidal.
darllen llyfr bach.
osgoi'r plentyn 'ma.

Sgwrs 3

[A translation of this conversation can be found in a different file.]

Plentyn bach
Ble mae'r ci mawr yn byw?

Mae'r ci yn byw yma yn y ty+.

O. Ble mae llewod yn byw?

Maen nhw'n byw yn yr Affrig.

Ydw i'n byw yn yr Affrig?

Nag wyt. Dwyt ti ddim yn byw yn yr Affrig.

Chi a Dadi, ydych chi'n byw yn yr Affrig?

Nag ydyn. Dydyn ni ddim yn byw yn yr Affrig.


Achos rydyn ni'n osgoi llewod.

Geirfa 3

a (ac) - (conj.) and
achos - (conj.) cause, because
Affrig, yr - Africa
bach - (adj.) small
ble - where
byw - (v.) to live
ci - dog
da - (adj.) good
darllen - (v.) to read
Eidal, yr - Italy
gadael - (v.) to leave, to let
geirfa - vocabulary
gweld - (v.) to see
gwely - bed
haf - summer
iard - yard
iawn - (adv.) very
llewod - lions
llyfr - book
mam - mother
mawr - (adj.) large
meddwl - (v.) to think
mynd - (v.) to go
osgoi - (v.) to avoid
pam - why
plentyn - child
sgwrs - talk, chat, conversation
Swistir, y - Switzerland
ty+ - house
yma - here
ymarfer - practice
yn - (prep.) in
yn - <untranslatable particle>

  1. The "ac" form is used before vowels.

  2. The word "osgoi" is pronounced with the stress on the final syllable.

  3. The "y" in both forms of "yn" is obscure.

Exercises 3

[The answers can be found in a separate file.]

1. Give the correct form of the definite article below:

Ble mae _____ ci?
Wyt ti'n gadael _____ achos?
Ydych chi'n gweld _____ llewod?
Rydw i yn _____ iard.
Maen nhw yn _____ ty+.
Ble mae _____ haf?

2. Translate the following sentences into Welsh

I read a good book.
Alun and Nerys avoid lions.
The little child lives in this house.
I think because I am.
We don't leave that cause.
Lions don't think in the summer.
Do you (formal) live in Switzerland? No.
They see that very good child.
Is the big dog in the yard? Yes.

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14 June 2003 at 23:33:23