imperative forms — ...
Sit you in front ch3

the — in IE there are some idiosyncracies in the use of the definite article ("the"). For example, in SE you'd say "Let's get him to hospital", whereas in IE the tendency would be "Let's get him to the hospital", even though no hospital has been previously mentioned.

"In Irish there is only one article, an, which is equivalent to the English definite article the. This article (an) is much more freely used in Irish than the is in English, a practice which we are inclined to imitate in our Anglo-Irish speech" – PWJ 1910.

Particularly in regards to illnesses, body parts, appetites:

"'I'm kilt with the cold,' is nothing to 'I'm kilt all over with the rheumatism'" – Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent, 1800.
"Well, it seems he had the consumption or something of that sort" – Lever, Charles O'Malley, 1841.
"But the leg is what has him destroyed altogether" – Somerville & Ross, Further Experiences of an Irish R.M., 1908.
"I believe you're lost with the hunger" – Griffin, The Collegians, 1829.

With languages, subjects:

"I'm only a year and a half at the Latin, and in two years more I'll be in the Greek" – Carleton, Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry, Vol2, 1830.
"... a downright astonishin' facility at the mathematics" – Barlow, Strangers at Lisconnel, 1895.

With family members and relatives:

"I goes to Brennan, and he sitting down to his breakfast, and the wife with him" – Somerville & Ross, All on the Irish Shore, 1903.
"The aunt thinks you killed your mother, he said. That's why she won't let me have anything to do with you" – Joyce, Ulysses, 1922.


"The Shame Is A Thief And A Robber" – chapter title, O'Casey, Pictures in the Hallway, 1942.
"... the calves mooing, and my own teeth rattling with the fear" – Synge, Playboy of the Western World, 1907.

Days, occasions:

"Ye might as well spind the Sunday pleasantly" – Sheehan, My New Curate, 1899.
"He has been laid on here like the gas," said Aunt Kate ... "all during the Christmas" – Joyce, Dubliners, 1914.

In cleft sentences beginning with "it is" or somesuch, the "the" seems to add emphasis or imply uniqueness:

"Bedad, it's the big heavy lumps they are" – Barlow, Strangers at Lisconnel, 1895.
"'The hussy,' replied the father, 'it's the supper she ought to have ready'" – Carleton, Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry, Vol3, 1833.
"Sure it's the big car I have, and it's often I took six, yes, and seven on it" – Sommerville & Ross, In Mr. Knox's Country, 1919.

on — names, conditions, appetites, emotional states – in IE these are often spoken of as being "on" a person:

"The name on him was Gerald" – Kennedy, Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts, 1891.
"... she had as little sin on her as an infant" – Kickham, Knocknagow, 1873.
"He should have gone when he was roused, when the anger was on him" – O'Casey, Pictures in the Hallway, 1942.
"I've a thirst on me I wouldn't sell for half a crown" – Joyce, Ulysses, 1922.

Another idiom regarding "on" occurs in sentences like "I had my trousers on me" (SE = "I had my trousers on"). The redundancy stems from the "compounding" in IG of prepositions and pronouns (e.g. air = "on", but orm = "on me", ort = "on you", etc.) Moving to English, Irish people found it odd to leave the pronoun out. So it's often tucked in at the end of phrases:

"I wouldn't go to Sunday school with boots like them on me, so I wouldn't, not for nuts" - O'Casey, I Knock at the Door, 1939.
"... and she with the fine shawl on her he made her a present of but yesterday!" – Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent, 1800.

on + pronoun — in SE the sentence "The waiter spilt my soup on me" would indicate that the waiter had spilt soup over me. In IE it tells nothing about where the soup landed, rather that it was spilt to my disadvantage. In other words, the complaint is not about my clothes being ruined, but about my soup being lost. As usual, the idiom is a transference from IG:

"There is an idiomatic use of the Irish preposition air, 'on' ... to intimate injury or disadvantage of some kind, a violation of right or claim. Thus, Do bhuail Seumas mo ghadhar orm, 'James struck my dog on me', where on me means to my detriment, in violation of my right, &c. Chaill sé mo sgian orm; 'he lost my knife on me.'" – PWJ 1910.

This "dative of disadvantage" is very frequent in IE:

"... ever since the other children came home alarmingly late with the news that Terence had got lost on them" – Barlow, Strangers at Lisconnel, 1895.
"... and then him to be killed on me with a cold on his chest" – Stephens, The Crock of Gold, 1912.
"... but come home around the road, as it might be dark on you before you could cross the river" – Kickham, Sally Cavanagh, 1869.

P.W. Joyce gives a fine example:

"I once heard a grandmother – an educated Dublin lady – say, in a charmingly petting way, to her little grandchild who came up crying:– 'What did they do to you on me – did they beat you on me?'" – PWJ 1910.

perfect — the tenses supplied in English by the perfect ("I have done something") and the pluperfect ("I had done something") do not appear in Irish-Gaelic. Even the verb used as the auxiliary in English (have) is absent from Irish. Consequently, when Irish-speakers began shifting to English, they found difficulty in accommodating these tenses.

"Sometimes they use the simple past tense, which is ungrammatical, as our little newsboy in Kilkee used to do: 'Why haven't you brought me the paper?' 'The paper didn't come from the station yet sir.' Sometimes the present progressive is used, which also is bad grammar: 'I am sitting here waiting for you for the last hour' (instead of 'I have been sitting') ...
"Corresponding devices are resorted to for the pluperfect. Sometimes the simple past is used where the pluperfect ought to come in:– 'An hour before you came yesterday I finished my work': where it should be 'I had finished.' Anything to avoid the pluperfect, which the people cannot manage. — PWJ 1910.

Two expedients that are used frequently in Irish-English are the after perfect and the literal perfect.


after perfect — Irish-Gaelic has no perfect or pluperfect tenses: the sense is supplied by constructions using prepositions meaning "after". IE borrows these constructions. Thus SE "I have done X" becomes IE "I'm after doing X"; and SE "I had done X" becomes IE "I was after doing X".

"I've put a quilt upon you I'm after quilting a while since with my own two hands" – Synge, Playboy of the Western World, 1907.
"... the youngest, to be sure, made a very good match – though she hadn't a penny – for they were after losing the property before her marriage" – Kickham, Knocknagow, 1879.

Sometimes, most often when used with the present tense ("I am after"), the sense is of a recent or immediate past. Thus IE "I am after doing X" > SE "I have just done X".

"Sure I'm after seeing him not five minutes ago, says Alf, as plain as a pikestaff" – Joyce, Ulysses, 1922.
"He's after declaring the Irish Republic, whatever the hell that is" – Iris Murdoch, The Red and the Green, 1965.

It's this usage (what has been called the "hot news" perfect) that is most often heard in current Irish speech. But the literature contains examples that stretch into the future, into the subjunctive, even into the passive mood:

"biad iar nglanadh, I will be after cleansing" – O'Donovan, A Grammar of the Irish Language, 1845.
"Last year your honour gave me some straw for the roof of my house and I expect your honour will be after doing the same this year" – Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent, 1800.
"... one would be apt to think the appearance of a spaking dog might be after fright'ning the ladies" – Carleton, Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry, Vol1, 1830.
"'You're after being told lies.' — 'I'm after being told nothing,' returned the doctor" – Kickham, Knocknagow, 1879.

literal perfectIE will often take the auxiliary verb "have" in its literal sense of "possessing". Thus SE "I've done it" becomes IE "I have it done". Similarly in the pluperfect: "I had it done beforehand".

"And who has him enticed now but your own daughther?" – Somerville & Ross, Further Experiences of an Irish R.M., 1908.
"She has the boat's share taken from ye in spite of yer teeth!" – Somerville & Ross, idem.
"... when the dog'd be out by night hunting, there wouldn't be a yard o' wather in the lakes but he'd have it barked over" – Somerville & Ross, All on the Irish Shore, 1903.
"... she thought how easy it was to know a gentleman even when he has a drop taken" – Joyce, Dubliners, 1914.

This is explained by the absence in Irish-Gaelic of the verb "to have":

"The concept of 'have' is expressed in Irish by the verb 'be' with 'at', e.g. tá an litir aige, he has the letter (lit. the letter is at him); and for the perfect tense the Irish construction tá an litir scríofa aige, he has written the letter (lit. the letter is written at him), is represented in [IE] by 'he has the letter written', which carries over the separation between the verb 'be' () and the past participle 'written' (scríofa): 'He's not nice when he has drink taken.'" — DHE.

yous — used in IE to form the "second person plural" pronoun. Technically, of course, "you" in English already forms the second person plural ("thou" being the singular). But "thou" had dropped out of use by the time the mass of Irish shifted to English.

In Irish-Gaelic the second person has both singular and plural forms. So:

"... it would appear that Irish speakers of English decided to distinguish singular from plural by attaching the plural signal s to the singular 'you', on the analogy of regular pluralizations such as 'cow—cows'" – DHE.


"I'll say yous are a lot o' starin' fools, watchin' an' waitin' for somethin' yous'll never be spared to see ... I wondher what all of yous, what any of yous 'ud do, if England went undher!" – O'Casey, Pictures in the Hallway, 1942.

Slanguage gives "youse, youze, yous, yis, yiz" for IE. Confusingly, "ye", which is often heard in Ireland, as often as not marks the singular.

"... don't yees pity me? Don't ye, avick machree, don't ye, Honor? Oh, don't yees pity me?" – Carleton, Fardorougha, the Miser, 1837.

relatives — with relative pronouns, IE has a tendency to prefer "that" over "who" or "which" forms, even when the latter would seem essential:

"... those long crossed letters Atty Dillon used to write to the fellow that was something in the four courts that jilted her" – Joyce, Ulysses, 1922.

Often there will occur what technically is known as a resumptive pronoun (required in IG, but unusual in SE) when a pronoun is inserted to refer back to the antecedent:

"Poor, brave, honest Mat Donovan that every one is proud of him, and fond of him!" – Kickham, Knocknagow, 1879.

Sometimes the relatives go "missing" altogether, in constructions where SE would retain them. This occurs particularly in cleft sentences beginning with "it is"/"it was":

"I recollect Sally Egan very well. It was she nursed me" – Kickham, Knocknagow, 1879.
"... it was he drew up all the plans according to the Hungarian system" – Joyce, Ulysses, 1922.
"Is it me call on Doolan's wife!" – Shaw, John Bull's Other Island, 1904.

In more complicated sentences these "missing relatives" can seem bewildering:

"You're one of the tinkers, young fellow, is beyond camped in the glen?" – Synge, Playboy of the Western World, 1907.
"... herself will be safe this night, with a man killed his father holding danger from the door" – Synge, idem.
"One of the bottlenosed fraternity it was went by the name of James Wought" – Joyce, Ulysses, 1922.

This omission occurs in many dialects and varieties of English, not just in Irish-English. Examples can be found in Shakespeare:

Here they come will tell you more – All's Well That Ends Well 3.2.

the way — in SE "the way" has the meaning "the manner in which": e.g. "I love the way you talk". In IE it carries a further meaning of "so that", "with the result that". As uual, it's a carry-over from IG:

"sa chaoi go or sa dóigh go, lit. the way that" – DHE.
"I'll sit there the way I can see them" – Somerville & Ross, Further Experiences of an Irish R.M., 1908.
"... twisted I was the way you'd get a squint in your eye if you only looked at me" – Stephens, The Crock of Gold, 1912.
"... and he getting old and crusty, the way I couldn't put up with him at all" – Synge, Playboy of the Western World, 1907.

"You constantly hear this in Dublin, even among educated people" – PWJ 1910.


amn't — am not. IE "uses the inversion of 'I am' in negative first-person questions instead of SE 'aren't I?'" – DHE.

"Still, still, bad as I am, an' bad as he is, isn't he my child? Amn't I his mother?" – Carleton, The Dead Boxer, 1843.
"Yes, I was, to be sure! Amn't I staying in the house?" – Somerville & Ross, Further Experiences of an Irish R.M., 1908.

Not always in questions, sometimes – rarely – in statements:

"It won't be nice, he murmured to his mother, if, when I grow up, I amn't able to read and write, will it ma?" – O'Casey, I Knock on the Door, 1939.
"I amn't my own man, now, do you hear that?" – Carleton, The Tithe Proctor, 1849.

in it — a carry-over of an IG usage into IE. The Irish ann (an adverbial preposition) has no exact equivalent in English. It literally means "in it" and it's used in statements of currency, presence, existence.

"atá aon Dia amháin ann, there is only one God; here the ann in the end, which has no representative in the translation, means 'in it,' i.e. in existence" – P.W. Joyce, A Grammar of the Irish Language, 1878.
"... this blessed an' holy Sunday that's in it" – Carleton, Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry, Vol2, 1830.
"God knows we done all we could, as poor as we are–we wouldn't see him want anything while he was in it" – Joyce, Dubliners, 1914.
"I went to Dublin, and I went to a great dentist that was in it that time" – Sommerville & Ross, In Mr. Knox's Country, 1919.
"It's cold it is the night that's in it, he said in Irish" – O'Casey, Drums under the Window, 1945.

to (infinitive w/o "to") — sometimes in IE the "to" is ommitted from the infinitive when SE would require it. This "unmarked infinitive" seems to occur mostly with auxiliaries like "used" and "ought":

"She had nursed him and Alphy too; and Joe used often say: 'Mamma is mamma but Maria is my proper mother'" – Joyce, Dubliners, 1914.
"The little milliner used come at the beginning, and bring her little novelettes and journals" – Sheehan, My New Curate, 1899.
"... for I think we ought take our food, as the Lord intended, with a calm mind" – Sheehan, idem.
"... ye ought fitter make your cases known to the priest" – Kickham, Knocknagow, 1873.

DHE notes this usage with "allowed":

"'I wasn't allowed play'; 'They weren't allowed walk across his land'" – DHE.
Is it Bartley it is? synge
it won't be on the strand they'll be dhrinkin' it." SR

yes and noIG lacks words that directly translate as "yes" or "no": the convention is to repeat in the response the verb in the question. This convention was imported into IE. Thus: "Are you well? — I am." "It's a fine day — 'Tis." "Will it rain later? — It won't."

"Yes" and "no" are of course used in HE, but less frequently than in SE, and quite often in redundancy or amplification: "Are you going to church today? — No indeed I am not."

"Are you better, mother?" said Mary... I am, honey," said she. stephens Are you satisfied now?" "I am," replied the ingenuous young man carleton
first tell me are you gettin' betther?" "I am," replied the youth, Carleton
Are you a Roman Catholic?" "Begob, I am, Miss - kickham
"Are you fond of reading?" "I am, Miss Kickham
Is it departed he is? NORA It is, stranger Synge
"Is it Mrs. Nugent?" "'Tis, Miss," Kickham
it is what I would have done myself - yes, indeed I would." Lawless

Indeed and I won't tell you a lie lever
Indeed and I did, then lever
indeed and I am, your honour shaw
"an illigant song he could sing, I'll go bail" – Lever, Charles O'Malley, 1841.
I wouldn't be long in his way, I'll engage". Griffin
She's a gamey mare and no mistake. Joyce
I feel for your situation, so I do - carleton
Oh, be gorra, it's well you ever seen me at all, so it is!" carleton
Cruelty to animals so it is to let that bloody povertystricken Breen out on grass Joyce
'tis enough to break the heart in a man, so it is. kickham
It's the queer world, so it is Stephens
you're a great rude man, so you are - carleton
about new Ireland he ought to go and get a new dog so he ought. Joyce


for to – in order to. In IE "for" is "constantly used before the infinitive: 'he bought cloth for to make a coat'" – PWJ 1910. The usage makes sense in transliterating from Irish, but it's probably a hold-over from older Standard English, vide any number of entries in Oxford English Verse, 1919 but e.g.:

"I sought in mountain and in mead,
Trusting a true love for to find" – Anonymous, 15th cent.

do and do be — in SE "do" + infinite is used to indicate strong emphasis ("you did do it"), mild emphasis ("how they do go on") or assurance ("they do say it's cold here in winter"). In IE the formulation carries a notion of continuity, habitualness. So, there is a distinction between "I went to school" and "I did go to school". The former (ideally) carries the notion "I went to school once and hated it"; whereas the latter says something like "I did go to school every day of my childhood". This "consuetudinal" tense, is a carry-over from IG.

"In the Irish language (but not in English) there is what is called the consuetudinal tense, i.e. denoting habitual action or existence. It is a very convenient tense, so much so that the Irish, feeling the want of it in their English, have created one by the use of the word do with be: 'I do be at my lessons every evening from 8 to 9 o'clock.' 'There does be a meeting of the company every Tuesday.' ''Tis humbuggin' me they do be.'" — PWJ 1910.

and + pronoun — in Hiberno-English often has the meaning of "while" or "as" or "because", thus "and it shaking" = "as it shook", "and I rambling" = "while I was rambling".

"We have in our Irish-English a curious use of the personal pronouns which will be understood from the following examples:– 'He interrupted me and I writing my letters' (as I was writing). 'I found Phil there too and he playing his fiddle for the company.' This, although very incorrect English, is a classic idiom in Irish, from which it has been imported as it stands into our English. Thus:– Do chonnairc mé Tomás agus é n'a shuidhe cois na teine: 'I saw Thomas and he sitting beside the fire'" – PWJ 1910.

Properly in Irish the pronoun appears in the objective (accusative) case (thus é instead of , "him" instead of "he"). This also frequently crosses into Hiberno-English: "His boots were ruined and him walking in puddles the day long".

"This word [and] has a much wider range of use in HE than in SE, because in Irish the conjunction agus (and) commonly functions as a subordinating adverbial conjunction (e.g. 'when', 'because', 'although', 'if') followed by a pronoun and a non-finite part of the verb or infinitive. This feature converts to HE in such idioms as 'She came in and I dressing'" ... which is ambiguous, because it can mean 'She came in when I was dressing' or 'although I was dressing' or 'because I was dressing' or 'if I was dressing', etc.– DHE.

happen — in SE things usually happen to a person. In IE they can just happen a person:

"I feel that if anything happened you, I'd break my heart" – Carleton, Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry, Vol2, 1830.
"Best thing could happen him" – Joyce, Ulysses, 1922.

The OED calls this usage obsolete or dialect; to this day it's very common in Ireland.