The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2004 (April-June) » Present habitual tense of "to be" « Previous Next »

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Rómán ( -
Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 06:50 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Yesterday I bought Oxford Pocket Irish dictionary. Of course, I was extremely excited and I looked it over and over. One thing that I really could not understand is the fact that in the Grammar section under "bí" there was only "táim, tá tú etc" paradigm for present tense, no mentioning of "bím, bíonn etc" whatsoever. Interestingly enough, the form "bíonn" doesn't feature in the corpus of dictionary either (confusingly, the forms of other irregular verbs do). As if it had never existed. Now I checked the grammar section of daltai - no mentioning of "bím, bíonn etc". Is it some kind of cospiracy?

Unrelated to this I have a specific question. Is there any material difference between "ólaim" and "bím ag ól"?

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Fear na mBróg ( -
Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 10:08 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Sorry Rómán, can't explain that one.


Ólaim = I drink

Bím ag ól = I do be drinking

9 times out of 10 you use "Ólaim".
You use "Bím ag ól" when you're referencing it to another simultaneous action:

Bím ag ól nuair a bhíonn Séamas ag bearradh an fhéir.

See how it's very specific about time periods, ie. the actions are performed simultaneously, as opposed to:

Ólaim an féar nuair a bhearrann Séamas an féar.

This may suggest that I'll only drink once Séamas has cut the grass.

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Seosamh Mac Muirí ( -
Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 04:44 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

A Rómáin, a chara,
Your question relates to aspect of the verb so I did a search for that 'aspect of the verb' on the left here, remembering that we had touched on it previously, went down to no. 4 and found what I was looking for (expecting it to be there anyway). I'm inserting it at the bottom of this note.

Ólaim nuair a bhíonn an t-airgead agam chuige =
Bím ag ól nuair a bhíonn an t-airgead agam chuige.
(The ever so lightest stress on the act of drinking occurrs in the first of the above-equated sentences.)

Ólaim sa gcás go mbíonn an t-airgead agam chuige =
Bím ag ól sa gcás go mbíonn an t-airgead agam chuige.
(Similarly with unweighable distinction.)

Ólaim gach lá = Bím ag ól gach lá.

But when one instances the verbs of the senses, feel, see, hear, remember, .., the differences appear quite stark:

(A) Mothaím fuar. (anois AGUS ar chúinsí eile, fágaim) (now and under other circumstances).

(B) Bím ag mothachtáil fuar. (ó am go chéile) (now and again/under certain circumstances).

That is, (A) can equal some of the work area covered by (B) but it, (A), has some special jobs of immediacy, or Present Point of Time, to do that cannot be performed by (B).
i.e. to say that 'Mothaím fuar' is a time-specific complete sentence (which doesn't need any adverbial phrase of time) that cannot be performed with the formula 'Bím ag mothú/achtáil fuar'.
Such is the Point of Time Present Tense.

The old post from the search result follows and it may help to dwell a little further on the matter:

Bail ó Dhia ort Doreen.

1. Tá tú ag machnamh ar cheist spéisiúil:

i.e You're pondering (on) an interesting question.
i.e. Láithreach Pointe Ama
/ Present Tense point of time.

2. Machnaíonn tú ar cheist spéisiúil:

Gnáthláithreach / Present Habitual. (something you do for more than just a point of time.)

The difference is quite distinct:

1. 'You're pondering (on) an interesting question.'


2. 'You ponder (on) an interesting question.'

No. 1 can only be used when such is at that point in time a reality, be it a factual reality or imagined reality. (the latter is something we use for other subtleties which I sha'n't bother you with now)

No. 2 can mean (a) instances of no. 1 it but can also and most often does mean (b) that you do ponder as a matter of habit. We don't need the habitual of the verb 'be' or any adverbial phrase to carry the meaning for us. It is witnessed in the verb just as we say/write it.

There are other matters that you don't mention but they affect a full understanding of the matter. Na Briathra Céadfa/í, or Verbs of the senses, bolaím / I smell, feicim / I see, mothaím / I feel etc. carry both 'understandings' and yet their spoken/written form remains the same:

1. Mothaím fuar. (anois)

2. Mothaím fuar. (gach lá san áit sin)

1. Feicim mo dhuine anois.

2. Feicim mo dhuine domhnach is dálach.

To finish the matter, there is one verb in the language which has a distinct form for both of these meanings, 1 & 2. The verb to 'be':

1. Táim


2. Bím.

1. Táim ag lasadh an scáileáin.

2. Bím ag lasadh an scáileáin gach lá ag an am seo; which brings us back to where we started, because of course it =
Lasaim an scáileáin gach lá ag an am seo.

We call such matters of tense, Gné an Bhriathair - Aspect of the Verb. Is fíorspéisiúil é agus oibríonn sé sa dea-urlabhra níos minice ná a shílfí.

Coinnigh an misneach. Beidh rudaí spéisiúla eile romhat amach anseo, ach tiocfaidh tú ina dtaithí de réir a chéile, ná bíodh faitíos ort.

Go n-éirí sin leat.

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