Irish/Language/Commonly Confused Words

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Below is a list of words commonly confused by Irish language students.

Similar Words[edit | edit source]

Tips on dealing with commonly confused words:

Focus on pronunciation
Often these words look similar on the page but sound very different.
Respect your fadas
Don't ignore fadas, even though tools like Duolingo might let you get away with it.
Drill sentences, not just words
Include sample sentences in your flash card "answers" to get you used to seeing a word in its proper context.
Concentrate on the most common word
If you can quickly recognize and produce the most common word in the group, it will be easier to recognize the others

áit[edit | edit source]

air is the masculine singular compound prepositional form of "ar" ("on him")
áit means "place"
ait means "likeable" or "funny, queer"

cathair[edit | edit source]

cathaoir means "chair".
cathair means "city".
ceathair means "four".

ceann[edit | edit source]

ceann means "head", "roof", "end" or "one".
céanna means "same".
cheana means "already" or "previously".

ceannaigh[edit | edit source]

ceannaigh means "buy"
coinnigh means "keep"

cos[edit | edit source]

caol means slender
cos means foot or leg
col means sin, incest, or something prohibited

clog[edit | edit source]

clog means bell or clock
cloch means stone

deis[edit | edit source]

deas means "(to the) south" or "nice"
deir is the present tense of abair ("say")
deis means "right (side)"
déag is used in numbers between 10 and 20 ("-teen")

fear/fuar[edit | edit source]

fear means "man".
féar means "grass".
fearr means "better".

fuair means "got".
fuar means "cold".

feil[edit | edit source]

feil is the dependent form of "bí", usually seen eclipsed as "bhfuil"; it also means "blood"
feil means "suit, be suitable for"

imir[edit | edit source]

imir means to play (a game)
imigh means to leave

leanbh[edit | edit source]

labhair means "speak"
lámh means "hand"
léamh means "reading"
leaba means "bed"
leabhar means "book"
leannán means "lover"
léirigh means "reading"
leanbh means "baby"

leathuair[edit | edit source]

leathuair means half an hour
leathreas means toilet (literally derived from "leithleachas," separateness)

muintir[edit | edit source]

muinteoir means "teacher".
muintir means "people".

[edit | edit source]

means "or".
means "nor", "neither".
na is the article in the plural and feminine singular genitive.

post[edit | edit source]

post means "job" or "post".
pósta means "married".

siúl[edit | edit source]

sáil means "heel"
saol means "life"
seol means "send" or "sail"
saor means "free" or "cheap"
siúl means "walk".
súil means "eye".

seo[edit | edit source]

seo means "this"
seó means "show"
means "joy"

Words with Multiple Meanings[edit | edit source]

Another source of confusion is words with multiple meanings. A word like "a" can be hard to distill into a simple flash card, and if your flash cards only have one meaning of a word like "ann" on them, it can be hard to recognize when context calls for a different meaning.

a[edit | edit source]

a is used before a noun (e.g., a name) to address someone or something.

  A Sheáin...        Seán,...
  A chara...         (Dear) Friend,...
  Féach, a Mhamaí!   Look, Ma! 

a is also used before a noun to indicate possession.

  a chara   his friend
  a cara    her friend
  a gcara   their friend


a is also used before a number when counting.

  a haon, a dó, a trí...   one, two, three...


a is also used before a verbal noun when the direct object precedes it.

  Tá mé sásta míle a shiúl.   I am willing to walk a mile.


a is also used before a verb in a relative clause.

  Feicim an fear a bhí sásta.                 I see the man who was satisfied.
  Feicim an bord a bhfuil an leabhar air.   I see the table which the book is on.

an[edit | edit source]

an can mean "the".

  Feicim an sagart.   I see the priest.


an is also used to form a question.

  An bhfuil sí anseo?   Is she here?


an- is a prefix meaning "very", "excellent", or "great".

  Tá Máirtin an-mhór.       Máirtin is very big.
  Tá an-charr ag Máirtin.   Máirtin has an excellent car.


ann[edit | edit source]

ann can mean "there" or "in it", or simply to complete a sentence with the verb .

  Tá teach ann.       There is a house (there).
  Tá sé seomra ann.   There are six rooms in it.


ann can also mean "able".

  Tá an crann in ann fás.   The tree is able to grow.


aon[edit | edit source]

aon can mean "one" or "any".

  Tá aon charr amháin ag Cáit.     Cáit has one car.
  Níl aon charr ag Cáit.   Cáit hasn't any car.

[edit | edit source]

(dhá) is used in the conditional mood to mean "if".

  Dá mbeadh Máirtín anseo...   If Máirtín were here...


(dhá) can also mean "to/for his/her/its/their".

  Thug sé dá cháirde iad.   He gave them to his friends.
  Thug sé dá cáirde iad.    He gave them to her friends.
  Thug sé dá gcáirde iad.   He gave them to their friends.


dhá can also mean "two", when followed by a noun.

  dhá chapall   two horses

do[edit | edit source]

do can mean "your".

  do chóta   your coat


do is also used to "to" or "for".

  Tá mé ag scríobh litir do Cháit.   I am writing a letter for Cáit.


can also mean "to/for him/it".

  Tabhair an leitir seo dó.   Give this letter to him.


can also mean "two" (without a noun, e.g., when counting).

  a haon, a dó, a trí...   one, two, three...


also means "burning".

is[edit | edit source]

is means "is", "am", "are".

  Is mé an dochtúr.   I am the doctor.


is can also be a contraction for agus("and").

[edit | edit source]

can mean he, it, or six.


  Tá sé láidir.           He is strong.
  Tá sé chapall anseo.   There are six horses here.