Essential Vocab Introduction

We have compiled and recorded a selection of 150 most commonly used & useful interactions to support everyday chit chat. The content is outlined below in 9 exercises.


The very best exercise to hone & improve pronunciation, intonation, rhythm and flow of spoken Gaeilge is to pay close attention to and to practice native speaker dialogue. Imitating accent & inflection may initially feel strange but you will quickly overcome your self-consciousness as you become familiar to hearing your own voice speak as Gaeilge. The more focused you’re listening and repetition work is the more comfortable you become with the phonics and sound patterns.

Each exercise has 4 components.

Essential Vocab Components
  1. PDF Script: Download and print the series of Q&A in a lesson.
  2. Interactive Presentation: The target audio materials are presented in Q&A format. Audio files can be played at normal or at 60% speed. Listen intently and practice aloud. Imitate the tone, rhythm, alternating stressed and unstressed elements. Pay close attention to pronunciation.
  3. Tríáil é! (Give it a go): This test challenges your comprehension of the target audios. You will be asked questions from the lesson. You give your answer. You then check if your answer is the correct one. You allocate yourself a score for each correct answer.
  4. Phonics Player: Ideal for revision as it gives quick access to the audio material. Audio mp3s can also be downloaded so as to facilitate playback on other devices.

The audio material of each lesson should be revisited regularly. Spaced repetition is an acknowledged strategy in committing language constructions to long-term memory.


Far and away the best way to practice is with another person. Friends who will attend the cúrsa Gaeilge together are the ideal learning partners. They will greatly benefit by not only internalizing invaluable language skills but also by normalizing the use of Gaeilge amongst themselves.

Key to the highlighting of text

Key to the highlighting of text
  1. Initial consonant mutations. Séimhiu (lenition) in red / Urú (eclipse) in blue.
  2. Phonemes (sounds) that are not in English and therefore require addition attention and scrutiny are highlighted in orange.
  3. Phonetic Spelling (Purple): Colloquial Gaeilge deviates from academic spelling in a handful of commonly used words/phrases. One prominent example being “mé” (may) is often sounded as “me” (meh) “sé” (shay) as “se” (che) and “é” (ay – as in bay) as “e” (eh).
  4. Verb endings in present / future and conditional tenses are highlighted in green.


Conversation Is King: Focus on becoming conversational. Working and practicing with real conversation leads to real progress. OIDE sets out to highlight authentic conversational materials and keeping coursework relevant to communication needs. You don’t need to know everything right away as you can quite readily get by on the basics you already have while expanding your conversational skillset as you proceed with coursework.

Prioritize functional dialogue.

Concentrate on everyday exchanges as these can be put to immediate use. Learn by heart the basic Q&A constructions of simple, everyday chit chat. The most common 1,000 words account for 80% of all spoken communication. You already have more than enough vocabulary to get by and fundamental grammar will get you speaking basic sentences right away.

Pronunciation, intonation, rhythm & flow:

We don’t speak word by word in the way that language is learnt from a textbook. We communicate in word chunks where spaces between many words disappear. A common fault is to focus on specific words instead of on the rhythm and natural flow of speech. Imitating native speakers is the best thing you can do to program your pronunciation.

Mimic Sound Morphing & Connected Speech:

Native speakers (in all languages) cut, mix, leave out sounds when they speak informally. OIDE focuses on several prevalent examples as spoken in Conamara. Mimicking these gives maximum return for minimal effort.

  • Ce’ chaoi…..? – How …..?
  • Cá ‘il ….? – Where ……?
  • Céar’ ‘tá …..? – What …….?
  • ‘Bhfuil tú …? Are you ….?

Pay Attention To “Foreign” Sounds:

Gaeilge has several phonemes (sounds) that are absent from English. These are the characteristic sounds & pronunciations that make Gaeilge unique in the same way that French phonics define the French language.

An example being the “ch” sound as in “chuaigh / chonaic / amach / oíche” which English speakers instinctively sound as a “k” while German speakers already have that sound, as in “Bach” and “ich”

Gaeilge isn’t difficult it’s different.

The main challenges learners encounter are down to some basic differences between Gaeilge & English. Recognizing and understanding these differences will be a great help.

  1. 1. One characteristic of Gaeilge is what’s called “Initial Consonant Mutation” which basically means that sound changes may occur at beginning of nouns & verbs. These sound changes (mutations) are important in understanding the relationship between words and can change the role they play in a sentence. The two type of sound changes (mutations) are lenition (séimhiú) and eclipse (urú). OIDE highlights and gives guidance on these pronunciation changes
    • Séimhiú (lenition c –> ch b –> bh d –> dh f –> fh etc
    • Urú (eclipse) b–> mb, c –> gc, f –> bhf, g –> ng, p –> bp
  2. Verb endings differ according to tense. Recognising the pattern of verb endings is essential.
  3. Gaeilge doesn’t have words for Yes / No, as Germanic & Romance languages have.
    • (Oui / Non , Ja/Nein) Instead, the verb used is echoed in the answer to express the affirmative & the negative.
    • Ar chaith tú é? (Did you throw it?) Chaith (Yes) Níor chaith (no)
  4. English does not have distinct prepositional forms of pronouns such as agam (at me) orm (on me) dom (for /to me) liom (with me) (about 15 in total). The use of prepositions is a fundamental difference between Gaeilge & English and results in things being expressed differently and makes word for word translation impossible. There is a pattern/system to using prepositional pronouns that becomes very clear with practice.
  5. Two forms of the verb to be that are completely different and non interchangeable. These are the most frequently used verbs in Gaeilge so this issue needs to be sorted ASAP.
    • “Tá” – is used to describe / to convey actions/ to place or locate (location).
    • Tá sé fuar, te/ láidir / éasca etc ( Tá sé – followed by an adjective)
    • Tá sé ag ithe / ag rith / ag caint etc ( Ta sé – followed by an action)
    • Tá sé ar an mbord / ag an scoil / in aice leat ( Ta sé – followed by location)
      • * Tá sé duine. ( Tá sé – never ever, followed by a noun)
      • “Is” is used to define what something is and is usually followed by a noun.
    • Is fear é.
    • Is fear ard é.
    • Is lá álainn é. (Tá an lá go hálainn)
    • Is seomra mór é. (Tá an seomra mór)
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