Verbal nouns vs infinitives for the present tense, and 2 to 3 consecutive verbs.

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Polygot2017
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Verbal nouns vs infinitives for the present tense, and 2 to 3 consecutive verbs.

Unread postby Polygot2017 » Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:04 pm

I have some confusion about how to express the present tense in Gàidhlig, particularly with 2 or 3 consecutive verbs. Verbal nouns are making it so confusing.

It seems verbal nouns in Gàidhlig are used to describe the present progressive tense, i.e. something you are in the process of doing at a particular moment, (the equivalent to the present tense with 'ing' in English). But what about if you just want to express the simple present tense to describe actions you do in general, for example 'I eat bread', 'I speak Gaelic', 'I speak Spanish' etc? I.e. without the 'ing' form of the present tense.

I've seen conflicting info about this: according to the book 'Scottish Gaelic in 12 weeks', verbal nouns can also be used to express the simple form of the present tense too (without the 'ing), is this correct?

Yet, on the Taic website there is a lesson on the difference between verbal nouns and infinitives (lesson 8). It states that to get an infinitive, you have to add 'a' before the verbal noun, which then lenites the consonant following it. Therefore, to express the simple present tense, do I therefore need to use the verbal noun or the infinitive form? This conflicts what I read in 'Scottish Gaelic in 12 weeks'.

Finally, I've seen there is a 3rd way to express simple present tense actions you do repeatedly/usually, using the future tense, e.g. 'Bidh mi a’ fàgail an taighe aig cairteal gu naoi' ('I leave the house at quarter to nine').

So to say 'I leave the house at quarter to 9', which of these is correct?

1) 'Tha mi a’ fàgail an taighe aig cairteal gu naoi' (i.e. using the verbal noun for 'fàgail')

2) 'Tha mi a’ fhàgail an taighe aig cairteal gu naoi' (i.e. making the verbal noun 'fàgail' into an infinitive by leniting the 'f')

3) 'Bidh mi a’ fàgail an taighe aig cairteal gu naoi' (i.e. using the future tense to express the present tense habitual actions)

Also, what about with 2 or 3 consecutive verbs - do I just put 2 or 3 consecutive verbal nouns together, or must any of them be changed to the infinitive form? In most other languages, including English, you just use the infinitive form of the verb for the 2nd and 3rd consecutive verbs in a phrase, but I don't understand how to do that in Gàidhlig.

I'd just appreciate someone to clear this confusion up for me, thanks. Most of the other verb tenses in Gàidhlig seem pretty logical to me, but I just can't get my head round the present tense due to these verbal nouns.

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Verbal nouns vs infinitives for the present tense, and 2 to 3 consecutive verbs.

Unread postby akerbeltz » Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:28 pm

As to the infinitive, I suggest you read this first and if it's still foggy, we'll take it from there.

The Gaelic verbal noun is tenseless (same as English -ing forms) i.e. it is only the main verb which imparts tense. So:
ag ithe aran
just means eating bread and there's no way of telling WHEN this bread was being eaten. For that, you have to add
Tha e ag ithe aran
Bha e ag ithe aran
Bidh e ag ithe aran
Bhiodh e ag ithe aran


and so on. It's pretty simple actually, chances are, you're just trying to overthink this 8-)

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Verbal nouns vs infinitives for the present tense, and 2 to 3 consecutive verbs.

Unread postby Polygot2017 » Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:36 pm

Ok thanks for the reply. I read the article you linked to and I think it makes sense to me a bit more now, though I'll have to read it a few more times for it all to sink in 100%. So in other words, there is no actual infinitive form in Gàidhlig - it's just a verbal noun with 'a', which gives it the same function as an infinitive in other languages? (Isn't 'ag' sometimes used instead of 'a' too?).

I probably was just over-thinking it I guess, and trying too hard to compare Gàidhlig to those of other languages I've learned.

So what about 3 consecutive verbs, for example 'I want to practice speaking Gàidhlig' - would that simple be 3 verbal nouns in a row, and if so is the particle only used before the first verb?

And what about the future tense form I mentioned also that is used to express habitual present tense actions - when would I use this vs just using the verbal noun present tense form?

Finally, it seems that with modal verbs (even in question form etc), you just put the verbal noun after them too with no particle between them, when making sentences/questions like 'I want to eat' or 'Can you speak Gàidhlig?' etc. Have I understood that correctly?

Really appreciate your help!

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akerbeltz
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Verbal nouns vs infinitives for the present tense, and 2 to 3 consecutive verbs.

Unread postby akerbeltz » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:04 pm

it's just a verbal noun with 'a', which gives it the same function as an infinitive in other languages?

Yes but I want to stress again that this only applies in a truly tiny number of syntactic cases in Gaelic whereas the true infinitive of English, German etc is quite common.

(Isn't 'ag' sometimes used instead of 'a' too?).

No. Not in Gaelic infinitive-like constructions. The ag only ever makes a participle.

So what about 3 consecutive verbs, for example 'I want to practice speaking Gàidhlig' - would that simple be 3 verbal nouns in a row, and if so is the particle only used before the first verb?

Those aren't really three verbs, not even in English. Gaelic would avoid that, in any case and break it up into separate phrases, something like bu toigh leam cleachdadh fhaighinn air Gàidhlig a bhruidhinn but that sounds stilted. Bu toigh leam barrachd Gàidhlig a bhruidhinn ach am fàs mi nas fheàrr would be better Gaelic. On the whole where English piles lots-of-same on top of each other, Gaelic tends to split that, whether that's verbs or nouns.

And what about the future tense form I mentioned also that is used to express habitual present tense actions - when would I use this vs just using the verbal noun present tense form?

You can't differentiate the two. The listener/reader has to figure from context which one is implied. It's like asking how can you differentiate alienable and inablienable possession in the English word "your" - you just can't, you have to infer.

Finally, it seems that with modal verbs (even in question form etc), you just put the verbal noun after them too with no particle between them, when making sentences/questions like 'I want to eat' or 'Can you speak Gàidhlig?' etc. Have I understood that correctly?

Not entirely sure what you mean, give me an example?

Really appreciate your help!

You're very welcome :)

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Verbal nouns vs infinitives for the present tense, and 2 to 3 consecutive verbs.

Unread postby Polygot2017 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:40 pm

akerbeltz wrote: No. Not in Gaelic infinitive-like constructions. The ag only ever makes a participle.


Ok, I think I was getting confused with the rule that 'ag' goes before verbal nouns beginning with vowels, and 'a' ' goes before ones that being with a consonant. But I read the section in Taic about 'infinitives' and it seems that you just use 'a' for 'infinitive-like' constructions, even before vowels.

akerbeltz wrote:Those aren't really three verbs, not even in English.


It looks like 3 verbs (in English) to me: 'to want', 'to practice' and 'to speak' ('speaking'). Why do you say 'those aren't really three verbs'?

akerbeltz wrote:You can't differentiate the two. The listener/reader has to figure from context which one is implied. It's like asking how can you differentiate alienable and inablienable possession in the English word "your" - you just can't, you have to infer.


Ok, so for example if I wanted to say 'I go to bed at 9 o'clock', both the sentences 'tha mi a' dol dham leabaidh aig naoi uairean' and 'bidh mi a’ dol dhan leabaidh aig naoi uairean' are basically interchangeable?

akerbeltz wrote:Not entirely sure what you mean, give me an example?


I mean like if I use any modal verb, or question form of a modal verb, do I simply add the verbal noun after the modal verb to form a sentence? For example:

'I need to/I have to/I must eat' - 'Feumaidh mi ithe' (or whatever verb I wish to add after Feumaidh mi), or do I need to put a particle before the 'ithe' part?
'I can eat' - sorry, I have no idea how to say this
'Can you eat?' - 'An urrainn dhuibh ithe?' (or do I need a particle again after An urrainn dhuibh?).

I need to study modal verbs in Gàidhlig - perhaps I would be better starting another thread about them. But I'm just trying to figure out the general pattern for them, i.e. can they be followed by any verb, and is it just the verbal noun or the 'infinitive-like' construction form?

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Verbal nouns vs infinitives for the present tense, and 2 to 3 consecutive verbs.

Unread postby akerbeltz » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:21 pm

It looks like 3 verbs (in English) to me: 'to want', 'to practice' and 'to speak' ('speaking'). Why do you say 'those aren't really three verbs'?


I'm better on Gaelic grammar than English grammar but in I want to practice speaking Gaelic "want" is the verb of the main clause, "to practice" is an infinitive (containing a verb but not the main verb) and "speaking" is a participle - something derived from a verb but not quite a verb.

Ok, so for example if I wanted to say 'I go to bed at 9 o'clock', both the sentences 'tha mi a' dol dham leabaidh aig naoi uairean' and 'bidh mi a’ dol dhan leabaidh aig naoi uairean' are basically interchangeable?

Well, these days, the future is increasingly less used for the habitual but tha mi a' dol dhan leabaidh technically is present tense. You need to invoke the future to get the habitual i.e. bidh mi a' dol dhan leabaidh is either "I will be going to bed" or "I (habitually) go to bed". There's either context to help you unpick the exact meaning or addons like a h-uile latha or gach DiSathairne.

At the stage you're at (I'm guessing) I would treat the tenses fairly literally (i.e. present as present, future as future etc) until you have a good grip and the work out the nuances.

I mean like if I use any modal verb, or question form of a modal verb, do I simply add the verbal noun after the modal verb to form a sentence? For example:

'I need to/I have to/I must eat' - 'Feumaidh mi ithe' (or whatever verb I wish to add after Feumaidh mi), or do I need to put a particle before the 'ithe' part?
'I can eat' - sorry, I have no idea how to say this
'Can you eat?' - 'An urrainn dhuibh ithe?' (or do I need a particle again after An urrainn dhuibh?).


The answer to that is "depends". What it mostly depends on is whether there is an object or not and whether there's a preposition involved. Feumaidh mi ithe for I must eat is correct - if you avoid vowel initial verbal nouns it's more obvious what's going on i.e. I must hit feumaidh mi bualadh.

It gets more complicated when you're hitting something, you get onto something called inversion but that may be jumping the gun - what level are you at, roughly?

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Verbal nouns vs infinitives for the present tense, and 2 to 3 consecutive verbs.

Unread postby Polygot2017 » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:16 pm

Hi again, thanks for the reply. I'd say I'm about lower intermediate level. I'm not a beginner, and can say a fair few things in Gaelic, hold basic conversations etc, but I'm certainly not advanced either. I need to study the grammar of the verb tenses more, and then build up my vocabulary for the most common everyday verbs etc.

Most of what you've replied to me makes sense. As for modal verbs, it might be easier if I start another thread about them once I get to them.

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Verbal nouns vs infinitives for the present tense, and 2 to 3 consecutive verbs.

Unread postby akerbeltz » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:07 pm

Sounds like a plan, where you seem to be right now, I think inversion would be jumping the gun a little. Save some shocks for later 8-)


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