Confusion over tense in Level 1 Challenge 24 (Northern)

In challenge 24 level 1(Northern) Aran says in English’ I heard that you were going to eat as much as possible…’ Then, the Cymraeg sentence that follows, translated, says, to my ear, ’ I heard that you are going…’ This has got me puzzled. Is it because ‘last Sunday’ at the end of the sentence puts it into the past?


I think it’s because at time, even though it was in the past, what was said was in the present tense. That’s the way Welsh seems to work. So it compares more closely to: I heard you say “I am going to …”


Depends a bit on what the Welsh was - there are structures where the tense would carry over from the ‘clywes i’ - if you can remember what it was, we can help try and pin it down… :slight_smile:

Thank you, Aran. The exact sentence was: ‘I heard that you were going to eat as much as possible next Sunday’ The Welsh translation begins ‘Clywais i bod ti’n mynd i fwyta…’

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There’s a thing in the King James’ Version of the Bible where it recounts a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to one of the Marys using a turn of phrase borrowed from Latin. Mary doesn’t recognise him and, “thinking him to be the gardener”, asks where Jesus’s body is.
The Welsh ‘bod’ is working like that: dw i’n meddwl bo’ ti’n mynd = “I’m thinking you to be going” = “I think that you’re going”. O’n i’n meddwl bo’ ti’n mynd = “I was thinking you to be going” = “I thought you were going.” The ‘bod’ is the verb-noun, doing pretty much the same job as English ‘to be’ - it doesn’t change for tense, and doesn’t need to, because you can understand it from the other verb.

BIG CAVEAT: I’m pretty sure this is kosher, but I’ve now confused myself re the other thread about the use of ‘i’ for ‘that’, and I’m wondering why it isn’t i ti fod yn mynd etc. Paging @Iestyn and @garethrking for help!

ETA Is the difference between clywais i and o’n i’n meddwl significant in the choice of construction to follow it, I wonder?

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The underlying construction, of which o’n i’n meddwl fod ti’n mynd is the normal spoken reflex, is …dy fod ti… = your being

Simiarly clywais i (ei) fod o gartre heddiw = (lit.) I heard his being at home today = I heard he was at home today

The construction with i is somewhat more restricted in sense, and some might say slightly more formal.


Ah, I wondered if you had some bodding going on there…:wink:

There are two ways you can think about this - on the one hand, you can say that ‘clywais’ sets the tense which ‘bod’ in this context then inherits…

Or you can let go of the English… because that’s really trying to analyse the Welsh by mapping it to English (in the same way in which much of English grammar comes from a belief in the primacy of Latin, hence split infinitives = bad, etc)…

And if you can let go of the English (which is a tricky thing to pull off when you don’t yet have a comfortable internal life in Welsh) you can see that ‘bod’ expresses a state of being, and isn’t very fussy about tense, and that ‘clywais i bod ti’n mynd’ just… works…



Diolch, Aran. That helps me a lot. I just couldn’t get my head around it because of my fixation with English syntax (which isn’t surprising really with 70 years of using it).
Incidentally, I completed all of the old Course 1 (Northern), then had a year off, before taking up Level 1, which I am about to finish. It is level 1 which has suddenly given me wings…and I can now converse at length with my (first language Cymraeg) wife and in-laws. I am just so lucky to be able to practice every day, all day with people who love to hear my random and self-made sentences. Thanks to SSIW I have so much confidence…just last week I told some acquaintances of my wife to stop talking Saesneg because I need to practise Cymraeg. The look on their faces was a picture to behold! I love this approach of learning a language as a child learns it. It really messes with my head, but It is making it possible to fulfil my promise to my wife that I would be a Welsh speaker. So, pretty soon I should be subscribing to Level 2. Thank you to all at SSIW!


Diolch, Gareth…much appreciate you taking the time to help!


It’s such a delight to hear that, Brian - llongyfarchiadau mawr iawn i chi! :star: :star2:

This is a very useful thread, and reflects thoughts that I was having myself. I’d like to ask a different question - on fact rather than grammar (although I have to refer to the grammar to ask my question).

I believe that the construction of ‘…that you are…’ …that he is…’ etc formally translates as ‘…dy fod ti…’ ‘ei fod e…’ etc (as identified by Gareth K). In the southern version the first words are missed out, as well as the soft mutations so the translations appear as ‘…bod (bo’) ti…’ etc. In his reply, Gareth, in his answer, keeps the soft mutation even in the abbreviated form, so my question is:

When people speak everyday Welsh do they say ‘…dy fod ti…’? ‘…fod ti…’? or ‘…bod ti…’?

Following on from that, I seem to be hearing a double d (and perhaps an m) when saying ‘…that I…’ - ‘…bodd i…’ or ‘…modd i…’?

I’d say you’d either hear ‘dy fod ti’ or ‘bod ti/bo ti’ - I’m not conscious of ever having heard ‘fod ti’…:slight_smile:

I think that’s just an unfamiliarity thing happening there - ‘bo fi’ is what we use most of the time there, although you will also hear ‘bod fi’ and the more proper ‘fy mod i’…:slight_smile:

Diolch Aran

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Hello Brian - I have also found that Level 1 has given me a much better framework and confidence to actually speak that Course 1 did. The style is far more conversational though I learned a bit more grammar and vocab from doing the old course first.

Nearly finished with Level 1 now and looking forward to Level 2!!!


Yes, I often find that threads I didn’t even realise concerned me are actually very interesting. This thread has clarified things for me that I didn’t even realise I needed clarifying. The mutation often found when using “bod” for “that…” makes sense now Gareth has explained it.

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I’m aware I’m committing a cardinal forum sin of “necrothreadding”, but I’m having a spot of trouble trying to get my English-thinking head around this too.

I get that clywais/clywes sets the tense of the sentence (this seems to happen quite a lot in Welsh*), but I’ve just come across this in Challenge 24 of the new (southern) course:

Mae’n bosib fod e’n moyn dy helpu di.
“It’s possible that he wanted to help you.”

To me, that Welsh sentence looks thoroughly present-tense ("…that he wants to help you"), so I’m making sense of it by imagining it comes from a larger past-tense context: Galwodd John cyn i ti adael ddoe: mae’n bosib fod e’n moyn dy helpu di. “John called before you left yesterday: it’s possible he wanted (?wants) to help you.”
I’d still hear that as present-tense, though…

All part of the brain training, I guess!

*There’s also a lovely example of this - nothing to do with “bod” or this topic - in the Welsh translation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Gyrrodd [Yncl Vernon] nhw i ganol coedwig, mynd allan, edrych o’i gwmpas, ysgwyd ei ben… all interpreted to be in the past tense because of gyrrodd “he drove” at the beginning, even though all the subsequent verbs are (grammatically) tenseless.

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