Irish language

Video: Telling people what you like and dropping hints about Christmas

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS: “Cad é ba mhaith leat don Nollaig?” is a question that will be asked in households across the Christian world as we in Ireland haven’t got round to calling it “holiday” yet as they do in the US of A

Go mbeannaí Dia daoibh, a chairde, agus tá fearadh na fáilte romhaibh chuig The Bluffer’s Guide to Irish.

We learned all about clothes last week and with Christmas Day just three weeks away, and hopefully you won’t get a geansaí with snowdrops and a Christmas pudding or a reindeer on it. It doesn’t even work on a post-ironic level.

But today, it’s back to prepositional pronouns today because, basically, they are vital to learning Irish.

We’ve done ar and ag already and now it’s the turn of another little word, le which means with.

You probably know it already in the phrase le do thoil - please or literally translated as with your will. 

So, when you are writing out your Christmas cards this year, you can write le gach dea-ghuí - with every best wish, le meas mór - with great respect, le buíochas - with thanks or even le grá - with love.

And now the moment you have all been waiting for – another wee list for you to learn off by heart. 

Here goes; liom - with me, leat - with you, leis - with him, léi - with her, linn - with us, libh - with you (pl) and leo - with them.

But how can I use these words in sentences I can say every day?

A very Irish way of saying what you feel is by using le. 

For instance, is maith liom - I like, literally it is good with me; is maith le Claire milseáin - Claire likes sweets or literally it is good with Claire sweets.

Is maith liom is I like and ba mhaith liom is I would like and that is something you will hear a lot off at this time of year as you ask the kids or the boyfriend/girlfriend/granny/granda/aunty/uncle/GBF/spouse/wee bit on the side what they want for Christmas.

Cad é ba mhaith leat don Nollaig? - What would you like for Christmas? 

Ba mhaith le Ciara smuideadh MAC - Ciara wants MAC make-up.

Ba mhaith le Séamaí ladrann - Seamie wants a drone. But that’s enough gender stereotyping for one column. It could easily be the other way round.

In English we say things to people while in Irish we say things with people.

Abair liom is tell me while dúirt sí leis means she told him.

Another really useful phrase with le in it is thig liom - I can which in a question becomes an dtig

An dtig le Máire theacht? - can Maire come. Thig léi - she can or you just say thig.

It’s probably well known that there is no single word in Irish for yes or for no, so basically Ulster can’t say no. Or yes.

You answer by using the same verb that is in the question. 

In English, it would be something like “did you see?” and the answer would be “I saw”; “Did you go to the pictures?” “I went.”; Would you like  to pull a cracker?” “I would like.” and so on.

Try it out yourself. You could turn it into a Christmas game to stop (or to encourage) people to fall asleep on the sofa. 

By the way, there is a full list of prepositional pronouns at the Daltaína Gaeilge site at


le do thoil (le daw hull) - please

le gach dea-ghuí (le gakh jaa-gee) - with every best wish

le meas mór (le mass more) - with great respect

le buíochas (le bweeakhiss) - with thanks

le grá (le graa) - with love

liom (lum) - with me 

leat (lat) - with you

leis (lesh) - with him

léi (layhe) - with her

linn (lin) - with us

libh (liv) - with you (pl)

leo (law) - with them

is maith liom (iss my lum) - I like

is maith le Claire milseáin (iss my le clare milshaan) - Claire likes sweets

cad é ba mhaith leat don Nollaig? (cadge ay ba why lat don nuleeg) - What would you like for Christmas?

Ba mhaith le Ciara smuideadh MAC (ba why le keera smidgeoo mac) - Ciara wants MAC make-up

Ba mhaith le Séamaí ladrann (ba why le shaymee ladraan) - Seamie wants a drone

Abair liom (abber lum) - tell me

dúirt sí leis (doort shee lesh) - she told him

thig liom (hig lum) - I can

an dtig le Máire theacht? (an jig le myra hakht) - can Maire come?

thig léi (hig layhe) - she can



Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: