Colloquial Welsh prepositions
Colloquial Welsh prepositions deals with the prepositions (Welsh: arddodiad) of the colloquial Welsh language, the spoken register of the modern Welsh language as spoken in Wales by first-language speakers. This page does not deal with the literary standard forms of the prepositions nor any dialect which may have arisen outside of Wales. Welsh has two standardised forms: Literary Welsh – a conservative language reserved for literary purposes which retains some features of older Welsh; and Colloquial Welsh – the Welsh one will hear being spoken in Welsh speaking areas. For the most part the two languages share prepositions, though for some of them their usages can differ; there are also some which have lost their inflected forms in the colloquial language but is preserved in the literary standard. Colloquial Welsh also shows some variation in initial-consonant mutations, which is explained below, while the literary form retains the "proper" mutations in all cases. Welsh prepositions do (for the most part) perform the same rolls as English prepositions but there is variation and these must be learnt as they are encountered. For instance it is often taught that Welsh am means 'for' and i means 'to'; this is not incorrect but am can also mean 'about' or 'at' and i can mean 'for'. The usages given below outline how each preposition is used in modern colloquial Welsh.
- 1 Definitions of Welsh prepositions
- 2 Simple prepositions
- 3 Mutations after prepositions
- 4 Inflected prepositions
- 5 Prepositions and their uses
- 6 References
Definitions of Welsh prepositions
Prepositions are words like on, at, to, from, by and for in English. They often describe a relationship, spatial or temporal, between persons and objects. For example, 'the book is on the table'; 'the table is by the window'.
Welsh prepositions come in two categories: simple prepositions (arddodiad godidog) and compound prepositions (arddodiad cyfansawdd); the former are single words, like English on, at, from, to etc. while the latter consist of a simple preposition + some other element (often a noun) like English in front of or in addition to. Compound prepositions are less frequent than simple prepositions and are discussed below.
There are approximately two-dozen or so simple prepositions in modern colloquial Welsh. While some have clear-cut and obvious translations (heb ‘without’), others correspond to different English prepositions depending on context (i, wrth, am). As with all areas of modern Welsh, some words are preferred in the North and others in the South.
The main prepositions used in modern colloquial Welsh are (alternative forms in parentheses):
Most of these (but not all) share the following characteristics:
- they cause mutation of the following word
- they inflect for person and number, similar to verbs
- they can be used with a following verbal-noun
Mutations after prepositions
The majority of Welsh prepositions cause mutation to the following word – the most common, by far, is the soft mutation. Examples:
Several do not cause any mutation (most notably rhag, rhwng and mewn), while â, gyda and tua should cause aspirate mutation but in reality they are usually left unmutated (except for set expressions), since the aspirate mutation is dying out and for many speakers only mutation of c- /k/ is normal while mutation of p- /p/ and t- /t/ is not. Yn ‘in’ alone causes the nasal mutation which also is not as widespread as suggested by the literary standard and is often replaced by the soft mutation. It should also be noted that personal names are not mutated after prepositions but names of places and other nouns are: i ferch ‘to a girl’, o Fangor ‘from Bangor’, but i Dafydd ‘to Dafydd’, not *i Ddafydd (although mutation of personal names can be found in older texts).
When used with a personal pronoun, most prepositions insert a linking syllable before the pronoun. This syllable changes for each preposition and results in an inflection pattern similar to that found in Welsh verbs. Broadly speaking, the endings for inflected prepositions (arddodiad rhagenwol) are as follows:
Singular Plural First Person -a i -on ni Second Person -at ti -och chi Third Person Masculine -o fe/fo -yn nhw Feminine -i hi
There is some dialect variation between these endings, particularly with 1st and 2nd pers. sing., which can often end in -o i and -ot ti and 2nd pers. pl. -och chi is often heard as -ach chi. 3rd pers. sing. and 3rd pers. pl. endings are always as shown but almost always omit the pronoun element, leaving the inflectional ending by itself to indicate person:
- Gad lonydd iddo! – ‘Leave him alone!’ (instead of Gad lonydd iddo fe)
- Na i hala llythyr ati bore fory – ‘I’ll send her a letter tomorrow morning’ (instead of … ati hi…)
- Paid deud wrtho am y tro – ‘Don’t tell him for the time being’ (instead of …wrtho fo…)
But note that the 3rd pers. pl. -yn nhw is never shortened in this manner.
These differ from the literary standard where the 1st pers. sing. is -af i; the 1st pers. pl. is -om ni; the 3rd pers. sing. masc. is -o ef and the 3rd. pers. pl. is -ynt hwy. The literary standard also has the alternative 2nd pers. pl. pronoun chwi. Most of these are never encountered in the colloquial language and therefore will not be presented in the inflected forms in this article.
The linking element between the preposition and the ending is more complicated, however. Different prepositions use a different linking element. For example, am inserts -dan- before its endings (amdana i, amdanat ti, amdani hi etc.), while heb uses -dd- (hebdda i, hebddo fo, hebddyn nhw etc.) Rhwng changes its vowel (from w to y) as well as inserting -dd- (rhyngddyn nhw) while some, like at and wrth add the endings with no linking element (ato fe, atoch chi, wrthyn nhw, wrthon ni etc.) and some, like gyda and efo do not inflect at all.
Prepositions and their uses
Â / ag
- It indicates the means by which something is done or achieved, or the instrument of an action:
- Nes i agor ‘y mys i â chyllell fara – ‘I cut [literally ‘opened’] my finger with a breadknife’
This usage often uses ‘by’ in English as an alternative to ‘with’:
- Gawn ni dalu â siec fan hyn? – ‘Can we pay by cheque here?’
- Nes i agor ‘y mys i â chyllell fara – ‘I cut [literally ‘opened’] my finger with a breadknife’
- Where the relationship between two objects is regarded as a close and permanent association, â/ag is more common than gyda or efo.
- It means ‘as’ with equative forms of adjectives:
- Mor ddu â’r fran – ‘As black as a crow’’
- Used idiomatically with the verbs mynd and dod to create mynd â ‘take’ and dod â ‘bring’ [literally ‘go with’ and ‘come with’]. The Welsh word cymryd 'take' strictly means 'take hold of, seize, grab' and cannot be used in place of mynd â.
- Â/ag is used with many common verbs like siarad 'speak', cwrdd 'meet' and ymweld 'visit' to make siarad â, cwrdd â and ymweld â in which case Welsh aligns more with American English than with British English:
- Dim ond ddoe o'n i'n siarad ag e – 'It was only yesterday I was speaking to him' [...speaking with him]
- Lle gwrddest ti â fe gynta? – 'Where did you first meet him?' [...meet with him?]
(Note that in the previous two examples both ag e and â fe are permitted for 'with him'.)
- Pa mor aml dach chi'n ymweld â'ch nain yn y Gogledd? – 'How often do you visit your grandmother up North?' [...visit with your grandmother...]
- The verb peidio 'stop, cease' is used to form negative commands and is followed by â/ag in the standard language but its use is entirely optional in speech with the exception of certain set phrases, e.g. paid â malu 'stop talking nonsense'. In the colloquial language both paid â phoeni [or paid â poeni without mutation] and paid poeni are commonly heard.
- 'Exchange for' – this meaning is used with verbs like talu 'pay' to give talu am 'pay for' [give money in exchange for]:
- Dales i bedair punt am y rhain – 'I paid four pounds [£4] for these'
- In time expressions Welsh am is equivalent to English 'at':
- Ddo i'n ôl am saith – 'I'll come back at seven'
- Ddo i'n ôl am saith – 'I'll come back at seven'
- Am means 'for' in expressions of duration of time:
- Fuon nhw yng Ngogledd yr Eidal am fis – 'They were in Northern Italy for a month'
- Am means 'about/concerning' when used with the verbs siarad 'speak/talk', sôn 'speak/talk' and meddwl 'think':
- Am beth dych chi'n siarad? – 'What are you talking about?'
- Gawn ni weld be' mae'n feddwl am hynny – 'We will see what s/he thinks about that'
- Spatially, am means 'about/around' with a sense of something actually being surrounded or enclosed:
- Rhowch rwymyn am ei ben o – 'Put a bandage around his head'
Phrases like 'around the town' require a compound preposition like o amgylch or o gwmpas.
- Rhowch rwymyn am ei ben o – 'Put a bandage around his head'
- When am precedes a verbal-noun it means '... want to...':
- Wyt ti am ddod 'da ni neu beidio, 'te? – 'Do you want to come with us or not, then?'
- Dw i am siarad ag e cyn iddo fynd – 'I want to talk to him before he goes'
Using am to mean 'about' with verbs have been discussed above. With most other verbs am usually means 'for':
- Dw i wedi bod yn chwilio amdanat ti ers awr – 'I have been looking for you for an hour'
Inflected forms of am
The table below gives the inflected forms of am with their accompanying pronouns:
Singular Plural First Person amdana i amdanon ni Second Person amdanat ti amdanoch chi Third Person Masculine amdano fe/fo amdanyn nhw Feminine amdani hi
Ar has a number of English equivalents, but usually equates to 'on'.
- Ar means 'on' in a purely spatial sense with location and motion:
- Mae'r llyfr ar y bwrdd – 'The book is on the table'
- Rho'r llyfr ar y bwrdd – 'Put the book on the table'
- It means 'about to' when followed by a verbal-noun:
- Brysiwch, mae'r trên ar fynd! – 'Hurry up, the train's about to go!'
- Mae teledu lloeren ar ddod – 'Satellite TV is almost here' [literally 'about to come']
- Pan o'n i ar wneud hynny – 'When I was about to do that'
- Ar is used with expressions of temporary physical and mental states, like illnesses. It often (but not always) corresponds to English 'have':
- Mae'r ddannodd arna i – 'I've got toothache [literally 'toothache is on me']
- Roedd y ffliw arni – 'She had flu' [lit. 'the flu was on her']
- Oes ofn arnat ti? – 'Are you afraid?' [lit. 'is fear on you?]
- Ar can mean 'of' when talking about a part or sample:
- Dim ond rhyw flas ges i arno fo – 'I only got a taste of it'
- Ar is often used with expressions of time and the weather where its English equivalent can change:
- ar Ddydd Llun – 'on a Monday, on Mondays'
- ar yr un adeg – 'at the same time'
- ar dywydd poeth – 'in hot weather'
- Ar is used with the verbs gwrando 'listen' and edrych 'look' to make gwrando ar 'listen to' and edrych ar 'watch'. A common mistake made by learners is to use the preposition i :
- Ar beth dych chi'n gwrando? – 'What are you listening to?'
- Ar beth wyt ti'n edrych? – 'What are you watching?'
- Dw i'n edrych ar y teledu – 'I'm watching TV'
Inflected forms of ar
The table below gives the inflected forms of ar with their accompanying pronouns:
Singular Plural First Person arna i arnon ni Second Person arnat ti arnoch chi Third Person Masculine arno fe/fo arnyn nhw Feminine arni hi
While Welsh at often corresponds to English 'at', the field of scope of Welsh at is far wider.
- At is used for English 'to' when it implies motion up to (but not into) a destination (into is covered by i and the two are often confused by English speakers). In Welsh we must say, for example, danfon llythyr at Sioned 'send a letter to Sioned' but danfon llythyr i Lundain 'send a letter to London' – Sioned is a person and takes at, London is a place and takes i. More examples:
- Rhaid ini fynd â ti at y deintydd bore fory – 'We must take you to the dentist tomorrow morning'
- Lluchiwch y bêl ata i! – 'Chuck the ball to me!'
- It can mean 'for' with the sense of 'benefit/good/purpose of':
- At beth mae hwnna i fod? – 'What's that supposed to be for?
- Mae'r arian i gyd yn mynd at achosion da – 'All the money is going to(wards) good causes'
- Tuag at is the usual expression corresponding to the literary term tua 'towards'. In the colloquial language tua now means 'about' in expressions of time.
- Rhedwch chi i gyd tuag ata i! – 'All of you run towards me!'
- Hyd at is a variant of hyd 'up to':
- Dyma hi wedyn yn cochi hyd at ei chlustiau – 'Then she blushed right up to her ears'
Some verbs which use at include:
- anelu at – 'aim for/at'
- anfon/danfon at – 'send to (a person)'
- cofio at – 'remember (a person to another person)'
- cyfeirio at – 'refer to'
- cyfrannu at – 'contribute to'
- dychryn at – 'be frightened at'
- edrych ymlaen at - 'look forward to'
- hala at – 'send to (a person)'
- paratoi at – 'prepare for'
- (y)sgrifennu/sgwennu at – 'write to (a person)'
- synnu at – 'be surprised at, marvel at'
- ychwanegu at – 'add to'
Inflected forms of at
The table below gives the inflected forms of at with their accompanying pronouns:
Singular Plural First Person ata i aton ni Second Person atat ti atoch chi Third Person Masculine ato fe/fo atyn nhw Feminine ati hi
Cyn means 'before' in expressions of time, never in spatial expressions, e.g. cyn y Rhyfel 'before the War' or cyn deg o'r gloch 'before 10 o'clock'. It is also used as a conjunction. Cyn does not cause a mutation, nor does it have inflected forms. Examples of cyn:
- Mi ddaw hi'n ôl cyn hynny – 'She'll come back before that'
- Gadewch ini orffen hwn cyn y bore – 'Let's get this finished before the morning'
It is important for anyone learning Welsh to understand that the compound preposition o flaen 'in front of' cannot be used instead of cyn. The two are not interchangeable despite their interchangeability in English in sentences like 'to stand before/in front of the building':
- Na i gwrdd â chi cyn y cyngerdd – 'I'll meet you before the concert' [temporal]
- Na i gwrdd â chi o flaen Canolfan y Celfyddydau – 'I'll meet you in front of the Arts Centre' [spatial]
As an adjectival prefix, cyn- always means 'ex-' or 'former'.
Dan (sometimes heard as o dan) causes soft mutation and means 'under': dan y dŵr 'under the water', dan ddylanwad ei reini 'under the influence of his parents'. It should be noted that the related compound preposition oddidan (also odditan) means 'from under'.
The term dan ofal 'under care', abbreviated to d/o is the norm for 'care of' when addressing letters.
The two most important idioms using dan are:
- Dan ei sang – 'full to bursting, packed' (used of rooms, buildings, etc.)
- Dan haul – 'under (the) sun'
The unmutated form, tan is now, to all intents and purposes, obsolete in this meaning and has become a separate preposition in its own right and means 'until / till' (note that the form 'til is incorrect in English and is a hypercorrection by those who believe 'till' to be a contraction of 'until').
Inflected forms of dan
The table below gives the inflected forms of dan with their accompanying pronouns:
Singular Plural First Person dana i danon ni Second Person danat ti danoch chi Third Person Masculine dano fe/fo danyn nhw Feminine dani hi
- 'Over' in a purely spatial sense. For example, dros y bont 'over the bridge', edrych dros y clawdd 'look over the hedge'. It can also mean 'all over' when speaking about a large area: Mae caneuon Meinir Gwilym yn boblogaidd dros Gymru gyfan 'Meinir Gwilym's songs are popular all over Wales'.
- 'Over' in the sense of 'more than' (as in English): Mae dros fil o bobol yn y neuadd yn barod 'There are over a thousand people in the hall already'.
- 'For' in the sense of 'on behalf of':
- Nei di fynd lawr i'r siop drosta i? – 'Will you go to the shop for me?'
- Dan ni i gyd yn teimlo drostat ti – 'We all feel for you
- When used with nouns like rheswm 'reason' and esgus 'excuse' (and usually with a verbal-noun) equates to English 'for':
- Alla i'm gweld unrhyw reswm dros ymddwyn fel 'ny – 'I can see no reason for behaving like this'
- Barn Huw ydy fod 'na ddim esgus dros ragrith – 'Huw is of the opinion that there is no excuse for hypocrisy'
Idioms using dros tend to be adverbial. Two very common and useful set phrases using dros are:
- Dros ben llestri – 'Over the top'
- 'Sdim eisiau mynd dros ben llestri, nag oes? – 'There's no need to go over the top, is there?'
- Dros ben – 'Exceedingly'
- Mae'r sefyllfa yn un ddifrifiol dros ben – 'The situation is (an) exceedingly serious (one)'
Inflected forms of dros
The table below gives the inflected forms of dros with their accompanying pronouns:
Singular Plural First Person drosta i droston ni Second Person drostat ti drostoch chi Third Person Masculine drosto fe/fo drostyn nhw Feminine drosti hi
Efo (also hefo in some areas of North Wales) does not cause mutation and is a general word meaning 'with' and is restricted to Northern dialects of the spoken language. In the South gyda is always used instead. The only appearance of gyda in the North is in set phrases like gyda'r nos 'in the evening'. Efo and gyda are not, however, always interchangeable as gyda (or its contracted form 'da) is used in the South to express possession; in the North this is not achieved by efo but by gan. The following examples are all Northern dialect where (h)efo can be substituted for gyda in the South:
- Dan ni'n mynd i'r Swisdir efo'r Jonesiaid eleni – 'We are going to Switzerland with the Jonses this year'
- Hefo pwy dach chi'n rhannu tro 'ma, 'ta? – 'Who are you sharing with this time, then?'
- Mi ddo i hefo chdi rŵan – 'I'll come with you now'
Efo does not have inflected forms.
Gan (often heard as gyn) causes soft mutation. It is another Northern dialect word used to express possession and is replaced by gyda in the South. Mae gan Mrs Williams gath fawr 'Mrs Williams has a large cat'. Although gan and gyda are interchangeable in this context, the structure of the sentences differs and it is not as simple as substituting one word for the other. The following example sentence is translated using gan (Northern) and gyda (Southern) and means 'do you have enough money?':
- Oes gen ti ddigon o arian? (Northern)
- Oes digon o arian gyda ti? (Southern)
There are, however, other uses for gan not involving possession and are therefore common in both the North and the South:
- 'by' in passive sentences
- Fe geith copïau o'r llyfr eu harwyddo gan yr awdur bore fory – 'Copies of the book will be signed by the author tomorrow morning'
- Ges i mrathu gan gi ar y ffordd adre – 'I got bitten by a dog on the way home'
- By extension of 1 (above) it is also used to mean 'by' as in the author of a work:
- The Lord of the Rings gan J. R. R. Tolkien
- Equates to English 'from' or 'off' where something is handed over or transmitted from one thing to another: (Compare with oddiwrth)
- Ges i bunt gynno fo – I got a pound off him'
- Pa newyddion gaethon nhw gynni hi? – 'What news did they get from her?'
- Gyn bwy gest ti fenthyg ono fo? – 'Who did you borrow it from?'
- When used with verbal-nouns gan can imply a simultaneous action:
- Aethon nhw lawr y stryd gan guro ar y drysiau i gyd – 'They went down the street banging on all the doors'
- Gan feddwl, dw i ddim yn siwr fyddai hynny'n syniad da – 'Thinking about it, I'm not sure (if) that would be a good idea'
In this sense the pronunciation is usually gan and not gyn.
Some common idioms using gan:
- Mae'n ddrwg gen i – 'I'm sorry'
- (Mae'n) well gen i – 'I prefer' (c.f. well imi... 'I had better...')
- Mae'n dda gen i gwrdd â chi – 'I'm pleased to meet you'
Inflected forms of gan
The table below gives the inflected forms of gan with their accompanying pronouns:
Singular Plural First Person gen i, gyn i gynnon ni, ganddon ni Second Person gen ti, gyn ti gynnoch chi, gennoch chi, ganddoch chi Third Person Masculine gynno fe/fo, ganddo fe/fo gennyn nhw, ganddyn nhw Feminine gynni hi, ganddi hi
- Ger Barcelona mae Mark a'i deulu'n byw bellach – 'Mark and his family live near Barcelona now'
- Dan ni'n byw mewn pentre bach ger Harlech – 'We live in a small village near Harlech'
It should be noted that ger is related to the term gerbron which means 'before' in the sense of 'in the presence of' or 'for the attention of' and is used with nouns like llys 'court' or bwrdd 'board':
- Daethpwyd â chwe achos gerbron y llys bore 'ma – 'Six cases were brought before the court this morning' [formal]
- Bydd y bwrdd yn rhoi ystyriaeth fanwl i'r holl dystiolaeth a roddwyd gerbron yr wythnos hon – 'The board will carefully consider all the evidence that has been presented this week' [formal]
Ger has no inflected forms.
Gyda / gydag
Gyda (gydag before vowels) causes aspirate mutation and is the general term for 'with' in the South (c.f. efo in the North). With the exception of idioms, it is usually heard as 'da in speech: Oes amser 'da chi i brynu'r tocynnau? 'Have you got time to buy the tickets?'
Gyda/gydag is used in the South to show possession, as gan is used in the North, but their forms differ, compare the following sentence 'do you have enough food?':
- Oes digon o fwyd 'da ti? (South)
- Oes gen ti ddigon o fwyd? (North)
Heb can be used with a verbal-noun to make a negative construction in the perfect tense – equivalent to ddim wedi: Dan ni heb benderfynu 'We haven't decided' (=Dan ni ddim wedi penderfynu); Mae o heb fynd eto 'He hasn't gone yet' (=Dydy o ddim wedi mynd eto).
Heb + possessive adjective + verbal-noun corresponds to 'which/who has/have not been' or an adjectival 'un....ed': pobol heb eu cofrestru 'people who have not been registered' [lit. 'people without their registering']; pryd o fwyd heb ei fwyta 'an uneaten meal' [lit. 'a meal of food without its eating'].
Some idioms using heb:
- Heb ei ail (feminine: heb ei hail) – 'second-to-none, first-rate'
- Dyma bortread heb ei ail o fywyd y glowyr yn y tridegau – This is a first-rate portrayal of miners' lives in the thirties'
- Yn amlach na heb or yn fyw na heb – 'more often than not'
- Yn amlach na heb, mae'r fath ymddygiad yn arwain at drychineb – 'More often than not, this kind of behaviour leads to disaster'
Inflected forms of heb
The table below gives the inflected forms of heb with their accompanying pronouns:
Singular Plural First Person hebdda i hebddon ni Second Person hebddat ti hebddoch chi Third Person Masculine hebddo fe/fo hebddyn nhw Feminine hebddi hi
Hyd causes soft mutation and has the following meanings:
- 'up to, until' in a temporal sense. In this sense it is often interchangeable with tan.
- Mae'r cyrsiau'n para hyd ddiwedd mis Mehefin – 'The courses go on until the end of June'
- 'up to' in a spatial sense and is often expanded to hyd at:
- Oedd e hyd at ei wddw yn y dŵr – 'He was up to his neck in the water'
- Wedson nhw 'tha i am dalu hyd at ugain punt a dim mwy – 'I was told to pay up to twenty pounds (£20) and no more'
Pronouns are not normally used with this preposition.
- Cael hyd i – 'find'
- Gest ti hyd iddo? – 'Did you find it?'
- Dod o hyd i – 'find'
- Daethpwyd o hyd i gorff – 'A body has been found' [formal]
- Hyd yn oed – 'even'
- Mae hyd yn oed Gareth wedi dod – 'Even Gareth has come'
- Hyd yn hyn (or hyd yma) – 'so far, up till now'
- 'Sdim sôn am fynd at y llysoedd hyd yn hyn – 'There's no talk of going to the courts so far'
- O hyd – 'still; all the time'
- Dyn ni yma o hyd – 'We're still here'
- Mae o'n siarad o hyd am ei ffôn symudol – 'He's always going on about his mobile phone'
- Hyd y gwela i – 'as far as I can see'
- Fydd 'na ddim problemau hyd y gwela i – 'There'll be no problems as far as I can see'
- hyd y gwn i – 'as far as I know'
- Mae popeth wedi'i drefnu, hyd y gwn i – 'Everything's set, as far as I know'
- Hyd also appears as a conjunction meaning 'until' with a following verb
- Ewch ymlaen ffordd 'ma hyd gwelwch chi faes chwarae ar y dde – 'Go on this way until you see you see a playing field on the right'
- The compound preposition ar hyd 'along, the length of...' and with units of time 'all....... long'
- Ewch ar hyd y ffordd 'ma am ddeng munud, yna trowch i'r dde – 'Go along this road for ten minutes, then turn left'
- Ar hyd y nos – 'All night long'
Hyd does not have inflected forms.
I corresponds to English 'to' in the following senses:
- Motion towards or into a place
- Dych chi'n mynd i'r dre heddiw? – 'Are you going to town today?'
- Used with the indirect object (giving something to somebody). Note that English can (and often does) omit this preposition but Welsh always requires i.
- Roddes i'r llyfr i Fred – 'I gave the book to Fred'
- Elli di ddangos hwnna i mi am eilliad? – 'Can you show me that a moment?'
- Equates to English 'to' with the sense of 'purpose' or 'in order to' when followed by a verbal-noun:
- Fe adawodd y ddwy onyn nhw'n gynnar i ddal y bws – 'They both left early to catch the bus'
- Ddaethon ni â'r pris lawr i ddenu mwy o bobol – 'We brought the price down to attract more people'
In this sense the compound preposition er mwyn 'in order to' is often used as an alternative: ... er mwyn dal y bws... and ...er mwyn denu mwy o bobol etc.
Other common uses for i which do not correspond to 'to':
- English 'for'
- Mae gen i lythyron i chi – 'I've got some letters for you'
- Nes i'r holl waith paratoi i ti bore 'ma – 'I did all the preparation for you this morning'
- Arhoswch funud - na i llnau nhw i chi – 'Wait a minute - I'll clean them for you' [llnau is a colloquial contracted form of glanhau 'to clean']
- I can denote possession – especially when gyda/gan is not possible due to the nature of the sentence:
- Mae'r bobol 'na'n ffrindiau i mi – 'Those people are friends of mine' [lit. 'friends to me']
- Used after verbs of making or causing:
- Paid gwneud i Eleri chwerthin wrth iddi fwyta – 'Don't make Eleri laugh while she is eating'
- Yr unig esboniad a roddwyd oedd mai taro rhewfryn a achosodd iddi suddo – 'The only explanation given was that it was hitting an iceberg that caused her to sink'
- Used after conjunctions (usually of time) to introduce the subject:
- ...cyn i mi fynd – '...before I go'
- ...er mwyn iddo ddeall – 'so that he can/could understand'
- Means 'that' in past tense sentences + subject + verbal-noun:
- Dw i'n eitha siwr iddi ffonio rywbryd ddoe – 'I'm pretty sure (that) she phoned some time yesterday'
When 'i' follows a verb its meaning usually parallels English but it should be noted that the English preposition can often be omitted. It should also be noted that gofyn 'ask' must also take i which may be unexpected by English speakers.
- Gofynnwch iddo fo ydy o'n dod – 'Ask him if he is coming' [lit. 'ask to him...']
- Efallai y byddwch chi eisiau gofyn i'r plant am eu syniadau nhw – 'Perhaps you will want to ask the children for their ideas'
The idiom rhoi gwybod i means 'inform' or 'let..... know':
- Rhowch wybod i mi os glywch chi rywbeth – 'Let me know if you hear anything'
The idiom yn dal i is used to mean 'still ....ing':
- Mae Seren yn dal i deimlo'n sâl – 'Seren is still feeling ill'
- Mae'n dal i fwrw – 'It's still raining'
Even though i can cover 'into' (i'r tŷ '(in)to the house'; i Gymru '(in)to Wales' etc.) the expanded form i mewn i (and rarely i fewn i) can be used where this is the central idea or where it is emphasised:
- Drychon ni o amgylch yr ardd, wedyn mynd i mewn i'r tŷ ei hun – 'We had a look around the garden, then we went into the house itself'
Inflected forms of i
The table below gives the inflected forms of i with their accompanying pronouns:
Singular Plural First Person i mi, imi; i fi i ni, inni Second Person i ti i chi Third Person Masculine iddo fe/fo iddyn nhw Feminine iddi hi
- i mi and i fi are interchangeable but i fi is much more common in the South.
- An older form of the 2nd pers. pl. iwch is still heard in the expression Nos dawch!, 'sdawch! 'Good night!' (contraction of nos da iwch 'good night to you') and is heard in the North.
- mewn tŷ – 'in a house'; but yn y tŷ – 'in the house'
- mewn ardaloedd gwledig – 'in rural areas'; but yn yr ardaloedd gwledig – 'in the rural areas'
- mewn gwladwriaeth ddemocrataidd – 'in a democratic state'; but yn Israel – 'in Israel'
- mewn gwlad estron – 'in a foreign country'; but yn Lloegr – 'in England'
Mewn does not have inflected forms.
O causes soft mutation. It equates to English 'from' and 'of', but care must be taken – o cannot be used for genitive constructions (those showing possession) for which Welsh has a specific method of constructing. Care should also be taken not to confuse the preposition with the pronoun o ('he/him' in the North). O has the following meanings:
- 'From' in most English senses, whether motion is implied or not.
- Dw i'n dod o Fangor yn wreiddiol – 'I come from Bangor originally'
- O Lanfairpwll ar Ynys Môn mae'r gantores Elin Fflur yn dod – 'The singer Elin Fflur comes from Llanfairpwll on Anglesey'
- Mae mrawd i'n llogi tŷ yn Nyfnaint o fis Mehefin tan fis Medi – 'My brother's renting a house in Devon f.rom June to September'
- 'Of' in quantity expressions or where part of something is implied
- Wi'n moyn hanner pwys o gaws a dwy botel o laeth – 'I want half a pound of cheese and two bottles of milk'
- O can also be used with verbal-nouns:
- O ystyreid mai dyma'r tro cynta iddo siarad yn gyhoeddus, mae'n edrych yn hyderus iawn – 'Considering (or: When you consider...) that this is the first time he's spoken in public, he looks very confident' [lit. 'From considering...']
- O'n i'n mynd i fod yn grac, ond o siarad â nhw mae'n amlwg fod 'na ryw gamddealltwriaeth wedi bod yn rhywle – 'I was going to be cross, but (after) speaking to them it's clear that there's been some misunderstanding somewhere' [lit. '..., but from speaking...']
- O can convey adverbial '-ly' where it qualifies and adjective – arbennig o dda 'especially good', hynod o galed 'extraordinarily hard'
Inflected forms of o
The table below gives the inflected forms of o with their accompanying pronouns:
Singular Plural First Person ona i onon ni Second Person onat ti onoch chi Third Person Masculine ono fe/fo onyn nhw Feminine oni hi
- Variants ono i and onot ti are common.
- Extended variants adding -ho- are also used (these are, strictly speaking, more "correct" forms, but they are usually not encountered in rapid speech), so ohonoch chi = onoch chi etc. These extended forms also more like the literary standard forms with the exceptions of 1st pers. sing. and 3rd pers. pl.
- A negative variant mo is also in use and is a contraction of dim o. This can be heard as monoch chi = dim ohonoch chi.
Oddiar (also seen as oddi ar) causes soft mutation and is a compound of o + ar (with o in its 3rd pers. sing. fem. form). Oddiar also takes the same inflections as ar, e.g. oddiarno fo. It is basically the opposite of ar and describes motion in the opposite direction of ar. It therefore means 'off' in the sense of 'from upon': Cymer dy bethau oddiar y bwrdd, nei di? 'Take your things off the table, will you?'. Oddiar is not used to translate adverbial use of English 'off' ('turn off the TV', 'buzz off'), for which Welsh uses i ffwrdd (North) and bant (South).
Inflected forms of oddiar
The table below gives the inflected forms of oddiar with their accompanying pronouns:
Singular Plural First Person oddiarna i oddiarnon ni Second Person oddiarnat ti oddiarnoch chi Third Person Masculine oddiarno fe/fo oddiarnyn nhw Feminine oddiarni hi
Oddiwrth (also oddi wrth) causes soft mutation and is a compound of o + wrth (with o in its 3rd pers. sing. fem. form). Oddiwrth inflects in the same way as wrth, so oddiwrthi hi etc. It means 'from' but is restricted to sentiments sent from one person to another – the opposite of at: Gaethon ni ddim cerdyn oddiwrth dy reini eleni, naddo? 'We didn't get a card from your parents this year, did we?; or Penblwydd Hapus oddiwrth bawb yn y swyddfa 'Happy Birthday from everyone at the office'.
Where a verb of receiving (like cael) is used – as in the first example above, gan is a possible alternative to oddiwrth.
Inflected forms of oddiwrth
The table below gives the inflected forms of oddiwrth with their accompanying pronouns:
Singular Plural First Person oddiwrtha i oddiwrthon ni Second Person oddiwrthat ti oddiwrthoch chi Third Person Masculine oddiwrtho fe/fo oddiwrthyn nhw Feminine oddiwrthi hi
- 'from' but only after certain verbs, like atal 'stop', rhwystro 'prevent', gwahardd 'forbid, prohibit':
- Bydd rhaid ceisio atal y bobol 'ma rhag dod yn rhy agos – 'We'll have to try to stop these people from coming too close
- Dw i am rwystro chi rhag niweidio'ch hunan – 'I want to try to prevent you (from) hurting yourself'
- Fe waharddwyd y teithwyr rhag mynd ymhellach – 'The travellers were forbidden to go any further'
- Rhag is used as part of the conjunction rhag ofn 'in case, for fear that...':
- Dere di ag un yfory hefyd, rhag ofn i mi anghofio – 'You bring one tomorrow too, in case I forget'
- It can appear in set expressions such as rhag cywilydd! 'for shame!', which is a less common version of cywilydd arant ti! (or arnoch chi!) 'shame on you!'
As a prefix, rhag- usually equates to English 'pre-' or 'fore-': rhagfarn 'prejudice', rhagweld 'foresee'.
Inflected forms of rhag
The table below gives the inflected forms of rhag with their accompanying pronouns:
Singular Plural First Person rhagdda i rhagddon ni Second Person rhagddat ti rhagddoch chi Third Person Masculine rhagddo fe/fo rhagddyn nhw Feminine rhagddi hi
Note that these inflected forms are often pronounced as rhactha i, rhacthat ti, rhacthi hi etc.
- Bydd y gêm rhwng Cymru a Lloegr yn cael ei haildrefnu 'The game between Wales and England will be rescheduled'.
- Dewch draw rywbryd rhwng tri a pedwar 'come around between three and four
Inflected forms of rhwng (which has the stem rhyng-) are used to make idiomatic expressions like Rhyngddat ti a fi... and Rhyngddoch chi a fi... 'Between you and me...'.
Inflected forms of rhwng
The table below gives the inflected forms of rhwng with their accompanying pronouns:
Singular Plural First Person rhyngdda i rhyngddon ni Second Person rhyngddat ti rhyngddoch chi Third Person Masculine rhyngddo fe/fo rhyngddyn nhw Feminine rhyngddi hi
Tan, which causes soft mutation, means 'until, till' and is found with time expressions:
- Fyddwn ni ffwrdd tan fis Tachwedd – 'We'll be away till November'
- 'Dda i 'ma tan hanner awr wedi pedwar – 'I'll be here until quarter past four'
Tan can also be used when taking leave of someone: Tan yfory 'te! 'Till tomorrow, then!', Tan hynny! 'Till then!', Tan y tro nesa! 'Till the next time!', Tan Ddydd Llun! 'Till Monday!' etc.
Where English 'until' is used as a conjunction, that is when it is followed by a whole phrase with a verb in it, then nes is the preferred translation:
- Na i aros tan ar ôl cinio – 'I'll wait until after lunch'
- Na i aros nes iddo ffonio – 'I'll wait until he phones'
However, tan can be heard to be used as a conjunction in some areas, so it is possible to hear (and therefore say) Na i aros tan iddo ffonio; but there are also speakers who would consider this to be substandard or "bad Welsh".
Tan has no inflected forms.
Trwy (also trw and drwy), which causes soft mutation, means 'through' in the spatial sense, e.g. cyllell boeth trwy fenyn 'a hot knife through butter', edrych trwy'r twll 'look through the hole'. Trwy also has other uses:
- When used with a verbal-noun, it equates to English 'by (means of)... ing':
- Ceisiwch ymlacio trwy anadlu'n ddwfn am funud neu ddau – 'Try and relax by breathing deeply for a minute or two'
- Fedrwn ni ennill trwy ganolbwyntio'n fwy ar dactegau – 'We can win by concentrating more on tactics'
- When used with time expressions it means 'all' (not 'every' which is bob (< pob)):
- trwy'r dydd – 'all day'
(bob dydd – 'every day')
- trwy'r wythnos – 'all week'
- trwy'r flwyddyn – 'all year'
In this sense gydol is sometimes heard with trwy: trwy gydol y flwyddyn' 'all year' etc.
- trwy'r dydd – 'all day'
Inflected forms of trwy
The table below gives the inflected forms of trwy with their accompanying pronouns:
Singular Plural First Person trwydda i trwyddon ni Second Person trwyddat ti trwyddoch chi Third Person Masculine trwyddo fe/fo trwyddyn nhw Feminine trwyddi hi
Tua / tuag
Tua (tuag before vowels) causes the aspirate mutation and means 'towards' in a spatial sense, but this meaning has been taken over by tuag at in the modern language, except for set expressions like tuag adre 'home(wards)'. Its primary use in the modern colloquial language is for conveying approximation. For example, 'about' with both time and quantity expressions: tua naw o'r gloch '(at) about nine o'clock', tua pum pwys o datws 'about five pounds of potatoes'. With expressions of time tua/tuag can be replaced with the compound preposition o gwmpas: o gwmpas naw o'r gloch. Some examples of the use of tua/tuag:
- Mae tua hanner y boblogaeth leol wedi ffoi – 'About half the local population have fled'
- Mae e tua'r un fath fel arfer – 'It's usually about the same'
Tua/tuag has no inflected forms.
- In purely spatial expressions wrth means 'by' or 'at' where there is a sense of close proximity:
- Wrth y ddesg – 'By the desk'
- Mae rhywun wrth y drws – 'Someone is at the door'
- It also means 'by' when used after verbs of knowing or recognising:
- Nes i adnabod ti wrth dy ffordd o gerdded – 'I recognised you by the way you walk'
- After dweud ( or deud) 'say, tell' and other similar verbs:
- Beth yn union wedest ti wrth y ferch druan? – 'What exactly did you tell the poor girl?'
- When used with a verbal-noun, wrth means 'while..... ing' and refers the action back to the subject:
- Pwy welson ni wrth ddod allan o'r siop ond dy gyn-wraig! – 'Who did we see (while) coming out of the shop but your ex!' [i.e. we were the ones coming out from the shop]
- Wrth means 'for' after rhaid 'need'. Rhaid wrth '..... is needed':
- Rhaid wrth gyfaddawdu mewn sefyllfaoedd felly – 'There is a need for compromise in such situations'
- Rhaid wrth gefnogaeth – '(We) need support; Support is needed'
- Wrth (i) is also a conjunction 'as, while':
- Wrth i Iolo ddod allan, es i i mewn – 'As Iolo came out, I went in'
- Wrth can form a compound preposition wrth ymyl 'beside'.
Inflected forms of wrth
The table below gives the inflected forms of wrth with their accompanying pronouns:
Singular Plural First Person wrtha i wrthon ni Second Person wrthat ti wrthoch chi Third Person Masculine wrtho fe/fo wrthyn nhw Feminine wrthi hi
These inflected forms are routinely shortened to 'tha i, 'that ti etc. in speech in all parts of Wales, especially after forms of dweud/deud:
- Mae isio deud 'thyn nhw be' 'dy be', on'd oes? – 'They need telling what's what, don't they?' [Northern dialect]
- Be' wedodd hi 'thoch chi? – 'What did she say to you?'
Some idiomatic uses of wrth:
- Wrth + a possessive adjective + bodd means 'delighted' or 'in one's element':
- Dw i wrth 'y modd – 'I'm as happy as can be'
- Mae e wrth ei fodd – 'He's in his element'
- The 3rd pers. sing. f. form wrthi is used with yn + a verbal-noun to mean 'busy..... ing':
- Mae'r plant i gyd wrthi'n codi castell tywod draw fan 'na – 'The kids are all busy building a sand castle over there'
Yn causes nasal mutation (though soft mutation is often heard instead) and means 'in'. Yn 'in' is a true preposition and must not be confused with the complement marker particle yn seen after the verb bod. It is only used when a definite (specific) noun follows (c.f. mewn). Yn is therefore often seen preceding the definite article or the names of places: yn y car 'in the car' or yn Llandudno 'in Llandudno'. Compare the difference between the use of yn and mewn: yn yr ardd 'in the garden' (specific), but mewn gardd 'in a garden' (non-specific).
Mutations after yn
Yn causes the nasal mutation, but it undergoes a change itself depending on what follows. Therefore yn often appears as ym and yng, though ym only appears before a word beginning with 'm-' or 'mh-' and yng only appears before words beginning with 'ng-' or 'ngh-' whether this is the result of mutation or not:
- ym Mangor – 'in Bangor'
- yng Ngheredigion – 'in Ceredigion'
- yn Nolgellau – 'in Dolgellau'
- yng Ngogledd Cymru – 'in North Wales'
- ym mhwllheli – 'in Pwllheli'
- yn Nhalybont' – 'in Talybont'
- ym Machynlleth - 'in Machynlleth
- yn Llandudno – 'in Llandudno'
- yn yr Alban – 'in Scotland'
The examples above are all place-names, but the rule holds true for all words following yn. For example, yng nghanol y dre 'in the middle of the town'. It should be noted, however, that mutation of place names not of Welsh origin (often English) is often avoided, but not always. The following are all possible in colloquial Welsh for 'in Camden' (an area of London):
- yng Nghamden [Nasal mutation]
- yn Gamden [Soft mutation]
- yn Camden [no mutation]
It should also be noted that 'in Welsh' is always yn Gymraeg, even in the literary language and is never *yng Nghymraeg; it is sometimes heard as yn y Gymraeg, it is because of this definite article being omitted that yn Gymraeg is used and not *yng Nghymraeg.
Inflected forms of yn
The table below gives the inflected forms of yn with their accompanying pronouns:
Singular Plural First Person yndda i ynddon ni Second Person ynddat ti ynddoch chi Third Person Masculine ynddo fe/fo ynddyn nhw Feminine ynddi hi
- King, Gareth (2016) . "443-476 Prepositions". Modern Welsh – A Comprehensive Grammar (Third ed.). London and New York: Routledge. pp. 335–373. ISBN 978-1-138-82630-4.
- Thomas, Stephen J. (1980) . "Prepositions". A Welsh Grammar (First ed.). Cardiff: University of Wales Press. pp. 127–143. ISBN 0-7083-0737-X.
- King, Gareth (2016) . "Conjunctions". Modern Welsh – A Comprehensive Grammar (Third ed.). London and New York: Routledge. p. 396. ISBN 978-1-138-82630-4.