Irish/Present tense in -idh

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Present tense forms in -idh

In Classical Gaelic there was a distinction between independent and dependent endings of the 3rd person sg. present tense, e.g. ithidh (sé) ‘he eats’ versus ní ith (sé) or ní itheann (sé) ‘he does not eat’. The -ann ending spread to independent position after the 15th c. and eventually mostly pushed the old -idh ending out by the beginning of the 18th c. These -idh forms like féadaidh sé, ólaidh sé are still used in certain dialects and contexts though.

In Teileann they remain as normal present tense forms, in free variation with forms in -ann[1]. Further north they appear to be only used as a "historical present" in a narrative register.

The historical present

The forms in -idh can be used in the narrative register to refer to past actions, for example:

Ach goidé a rinne sé ach ar bhfeiceáil ar thógáil ruball Árd-na-gaoithe dó, agus pillidh sé.[2]

These forms have been recorded in Toraigh [3]

See Also


  1. Wagner, H., 1979. Gaeilge Theilinn §277.
  2. Ó Grianna, S., 1927. Cioth is Dealán p. 91.
  3. Hamilton, J. N., 1974. A phonetic study of the Irish of Tory Island, Co. Donegal p. 172 §f.