Confusion with past tense

I am currently at Level 2 lesson 22 but I am often still not sure when to use bod or gwneud for the past tense. I am now even more confused by this lesson.
"wnaeth hi’m deud wrtha i beth oedd hi gwybod am film na.
Shouldn’t it be one or the other (wnaeth/oedd) for both parts of the sentence?: :confused:

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“She didn’t tell me what she knew about that film”

So what we have is one thing that happened in an instance (she didn’t tell me … a one off thing) and one that was prolonged (she knew … could be thought of as “she was knowing”).


The difference is generally due to whether something happens in a moment, or over a period of time.

“Wnaeth hi ddweud wrtha i” - she told me - happened in a moment, when she was speaking to you

“beth oedd hi’n gwybod am y ffilm 'na” - what she thought about that film - her opinion lasts over time, it isn’t something just in that moment. “Thinking” verbs like gwybod, meddwl, and others that I can’t think of right now generally use “bod”.

I’m sure someone else can improve upon this explanation. As usual, don’t worry about it, It’s something that gets easier with time and exposure, just like the rest of Welsh :slight_smile:


@gruntius We were simultaneously posting :smile:


Nope, not really. :smile:


What Geraint said…:wink: :star: :star2:


It probably doesn’t need saying, but I’ll say it anyway for emphasis: If you get the the wrong way round, or only ever use gwnes i, or any make any other mix ups with the various ways of forming the past, it will sound a bit odd, but will rarely, if ever, cause a confusion of meaning.

In other words, yes of course try to get them right, try to understand the difference, try to use them naturally, but don’t stress about them either - they will click on the end, of their own accord, just through using them and hearing them a lot. And if they don’t, yes it will matter, but probably only to you!


Diolch yn fawr iawn I bawb… Most helpful explanations.:relieved:

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I find the same thing. There isn’t time to think through which one to use (unless you use the pause button), and after all this time getting to the end of level 3 I still get maybe 25% right - as much as a monkey would get randomly selecting between … o’n i’n … nes i … dw i wedi … or a verb with the ‘es’ ending (e.g. dwedes i) …
The only ones I can reliably get right are ‘o’n i’n arfer’ and ‘dw i newydd’.
Sometimes I’m nearly certain I got it right but then both speakers say a different one, and I’m thinking, did I just plain get it wrong or were there 2 possibilities?

Sometimes there are 2 (or more!) possibilities, but one of the things SSiW tries to expose you to are the different ways of saying the same thing, so just because you’ve gone with a different version doesn’t mean to say you are completely wrong.

As a general rule, o’n i’n equates to “I was (something that happened over a period of time)”, nes i equates to “I did (do something)” and dw i wedi equates to “I have (done something in the past)”. The ‘es’ verb endings in past tense are when you don’t want to use the “was” or “did” or “have” e.g. “dwedes i” = I said, “o’n i’n dweud” = I was saying, “nes i dweud” = I did say, “dwi wedi dweud” = I have said

Hope that helps and doesn’t make it even more confusing!


Thanks siaron, I think partly one of the things which has tripped me up is doing parts of the old course (vocab units) as well as the new course. I think I might be right in saying that the new course seems to favour the form ‘dwedes i’ but the speakers in the old course use one of the other ones.
I have found a similar thing with ‘galla’ i’ and ‘dw i’n gallu’ which I hope I am right in concluding are synonymous (the former seem to be what the speakers say in the new course, the latter in the old course) - as well as the negatives ‘alla’ i ddim’ and something like ‘dw i ddim yn gallu’.

Don’t think of it as so much as getting tripped up as learning to recognise variations! It’s often the case that some regions of Wales tend to favour one form where other regions favour another, so being able to recognise other forms - even when you stick to the one you prefer - is a good thing!

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Thanks Siaron. Just an idea/suggestion/thought: I feel it may be helpful to have both speakers say 2 different possibilities (rather than the same variation) when there are 2 possibilities, so you don’t think you got it wrong if you said another option. A bit like with the pronunciation, where Cat and Iestyn have 2 different ways of saying words (e.g. ‘heddiw’) and I merrily pick and choose which one of the 2 I like the sound of the most when they give their answers :smiley:

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I see what you mean, but the only thing with that is that sometimes there are more than 2 possibilities, and when it comes to pronounciations, “in the wild” you’ll often come across far more variation than there is even between Iestyn, Cat, Aran and Catrin.
The more you can listen to a wide variety of spoken Welsh (TV. radio, face-to-face) and eventually reading too, the more attuned you’ll get at picking up what gets used when. It’s not easy, but it does come over time :slight_smile:


Your explanation is how I think of it, Siaron, although I’m starting to find the two ideas don’t quite cross over into English exactly.

On a related note, is there any semantic difference between using the short-form past and using gwneud as an auxialliary? Do “wnes i darllen” and “darllenais i” mean exactly the same thing, or is there a subtle difference?

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I wouldn’t say exactly the same, but the difference as I understand it is so subtle that in most cases it wouldn’t really matter. I see “wnes i ddarllen” as “I did read (and now I’ve finished)” and “darllenais i” as “I read (over a period of time)”, but that could be just my way of seeing it rather than the way of seeing it!

I’m sure there is a grammatical explanation, but I don’t speak grammar fluently - only enough to get by! :wink:

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