Achos + tense

I’ve been doing Lesson 6 of the Old Course Level 3 and it raised a few questions for me.

Firstly, the use of achos + bod / oedd. The examples given shift between tenses when the English stays the same, and I wondered whether there was a guiding principle to this. The following are examples (though it happens more often in the lesson):

“(X) didn’t go because there was no need” was translated as both

  • aeth o ddim achos oedd dim angen
  • aeth hi ddim achos bod dim angen

“(X) didn’t go because (X) didn’t want to go” as both

  • Est ti ddim achos doedd hi ddim isio mynd
  • Aeth hi ddim achos bod hi ddim isio mynd

Both constructions are obviously in widespread use or they wouldn’t be used in the lesson, but

  • is there any nuance of meaning between the two (the English is identical)?
  • Is one felt to be ‘more Welsh’ (or more correct / standard) than the other?

Secondly, please could someone explain what the ‘ei’ is doing in these sentences from the lesson:

  • Es i i weld beth oedd o’n ei fenthyg
  • Es i iweld beth oedd hi’n ei baratoi

It looks like an active verb (subject o / hi) with a masculine object/possessive pronoun (ei + SM) but what is the object referring to?

Is this commonly used, say in “Nes i ofyn beth oedd o’n ei feddwl” for example?


Hi David

I came across this post somehow, and have just realised that you asked back in February and got no reply. I can’t solve your main achos question for you, but maybe answering the other bit will bump it back up the Forum page so someone else notices it. (Or we could just use the bat-signal to summon @garethrking!)

As for the second bit – I spent a fruitless hour this morning trying to search the forum for my posts when I (a) asked the same question because I was confused by it, too; (b) got a good, helpful reply from @Novem; (c) forgot the good, helpful reply and asked the same question about a year later; and (d) got a good, helpful reply from @Novem (again).

I couldn’t find the wretched things, even with Advanced Search, so here goes:

In your examples, what’s going on is that the original/underlying structure is something like “I went to see what thing it was (that) he was borrowing it.” Beth (“what”) is shortened from Pa beth i.e. “what thing”; and the linking word “that” has disappeared, leaving something that looks much more like the English “what he was borrowing” – apart from the fact that it’s still got that puzzling ei in there.

The other thing that can happen, of course, is that even the ei can disappear, but still leave the mutation behind – so you’ll also see things like Beth wyt ti’n feddwl? (about 4650 results on a Google search) alongside Beth wyt ti’n meddwl? (about 12800 Ghits). The second form is what you’d get if the missing ei were feminine, but it’s also what you’d get if you just didn’t bother mutating in the absence of an obvious reason to do so, which is more likely to be what’s happening. I get the impression that Beth wyt ti’n feddwl? is just a thing that some people actually say, but that spelling it out in full as Beth wyt ti’n ei feddwl? might be a bit fussy/fancy/Literary, but I could be mistaken on that.

More examples in Iestyn’s comment on an old thread here: What am I hearing? - #285 by Iestyn


This is an interesting statistic in itself, and is a cautionary illustration of the potential perils of Google - even though I do use the ‘Google-hit’ trick myself from time to time. But the fact is that the higher count for Beth wyt ti’n meddwl? over Beth wyt ti’n feddwl? (which, as Richard rightly points out, is what people say - the native speakers all say this, because it is correct) is simply an indication that in this instance the correct form (with feddwl) is gradually losing ground to the incorrect form (with meddwl)
Not that one would necessarily go to war over this, of course - but we must remember that there are no quality control systems on the modern marvel that is the internet, and act accordingly with some caution. I’ve seen whole chunks of completely wrong stuff on Welsh on various outlets, presented as fact by (in some cases) people who call themselves ‘language hobbyists’, and have clearly just added Welsh to their bag. Next month they’re giving everyone the authoritative low-down on Lithuanian or Ojibwa or whatever has taken their fancy next. :rofl:

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Speaking as a ieithgi, I resemble that remark.

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Replying to myself to add that I have finally found a place where I had a very similar query (just not with beth) answered by @garethrking:

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You know what? That guy is great - he should write a book!


Thank you @RichardBuck and @garethrking for an interesting discussion!

I think I can see what’s happening and why – whether I’ll ever remember to use it is a completely different matgter, of course. I suspect I’ll end up remembering the SM and forgetting to put ei in, but it sounds like a lot of people do that anyway.

BTW, what’s the formal (or normal) grammatical term for this feature / process / structure / thingy please?

Many thanks.


They do indeed - and the important thing, certainly in speaking, is the SM, not the ei that technically causes it. :slight_smile:

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I think it’s a resumptive pronoun, which the article rightly points out are grammatically a bit iffy in English, but absolutely compulsory in some other languages.

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Thank you both!