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Aonad 38 Unit 38


NOTE: Click the sound file above to hear the Lesson. 

Cúpla Focal

Cúpla Focal Aonad 38 Unit 38

As you made your way through earlier units of Cúpla Focal you may have noticed that some nouns that start with the same letter will be aspirated/lenited when they have the word ‘An’ (the definite article), meaning ‘the’, placed before them. Others are not aspirated. Examples might be:

an geata but an ghaoth

an bád but an bhróg

an fear but an fhuinneog

Nouns in Irish are either masculine (firinscneach) or feminine (baininscneach) and those with the added ‘h’ above are feminine. It is important that you learn to differentiate between masculine and feminine nouns, paying attention to feminine nouns especially as their pronunciation can change (although not always).

As a broad rule, the following word families are feminine. 

  1. Words that end in –eog or –óg, examples being:

bábóg – an bhábóg 

cuileog – an chuileog 

bileog – an bhileog 

You should note that none of the vowels in Irish aspirate (a,e,i,o,u) 

The following –óg words are also feminine but don’t aspirate when preceded by an (the): 

spideog – an spideog

spúnóg – an spúnóg

The following consonants can be aspirated/lenited in Irish:

b, c, d, f, g, m, p, s, t 


  1. Places and nouns generally that end with the letters –lann

An phictiúrlann

An leabharlann

An amharclann


  1. The names of many countries, languages and geographical features:

An Fhrainc 

An Ghearmáin

An Bhreatain Bheag 

An Spáinnis 

An Ghaeilge 

An Ghréigis 

*note that Béarla is masculine*

An sliabh 

An fharraige

An mhuir 

An abhainn


  1. Nouns that have more than one syllable and end in (a)íocht





  1. Nouns that have more than one syllable and end in –(e)acht:

aidiacht (adjective)

cumhacht (power)

iarracht (effort)

éifeacht (effect)


banaltracht (nursing)


  1. Many nouns that end with a slender consonant (watch for the letter i)


feoil (meat)

fuil (blood)

gruaig (hair)

Cáisc (Easter)

ceist (question)

teist (test)

súil (eye)

suim (interest)

céim (step, degree)


Through increasing exposure to Irish, learners gradually become aware of the gender of most common nouns. The above notes, relating to feminine nouns, are general only and touch the surface. 

It would be time well spent if you consulted a suitable dictionary to check the gender of the following nouns (b. for baininscneach agus f. for firinscneach in an Irish dictionary)  and determine whether they should be aspirated when following the definite article (an). 


Scoil (b) an scoil

Coill (b) an choill

Cloch (stone)

Stair (history)

Maidin (morning)

Cistin (kitchen)

Lámh (hand)

Bó (cow)

Ubh (egg)

Feirm (farm)

Long (ship)

Eaglais (church)

Grian (sun)

Fadhb (problem)

Obair (work)

In the next Unit, we will look at the importance of learning to correctly use some feminine nouns.

Slán go fóill.


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