Dw i'n medru -v- medra'i

The SSiW standard way of saying “I can” - PRESENT TENSE - seems to be “Dw i’n medru/gallu” (North/South). An alternative construction “medra i/galla i”, and the equivalent for ‘ti’, is presented in Level 1. Similarly we learn the negative form “fedra i ddim” etc.
This construction does not seem to be offered for other verbs. Is it specific to medru/gallu, and, from what I understand, gwybod, or can it be used for all verbs in the present tense?
I limit my question to the present tense.


I started writing a response and then it got me thinking.

My instinct is that this is the same as “gwnaf” - I will do. But then that’s more future tense isn’t it?

Like Gwela i, dweda i, ysgrifenna i a.y.y.b They’re all sort forms but they all have a future element.

So my quick answer has turned more into a “oh, interesting…I hadn’t really thought of that” moment.

There are short forms of gwybod - wn i, wyddost ti ayyb. They’re present tense. For the others though I shrug my shoulders…good question :smile:


I think that the present and future of these forms are the same.

Read the first two words again. :slight_smile:


And, sorry to not answer in the first reply, yes. Just as you can add the ‘es i’ ending to the root of the verb for the past (ysgrifenes i, gysges i, ddringes i, etc.) the same can be done for present/future … I think.


That was my initial first answer too. I guess it reflects my usage that i only tend to use them for future and use dwi’n… for present.

So wela i is i will see and i see?


Yeah. And you use ‘ga i’ when asking for something in the present tense. The same can be said for all the others I assume.


However, the actual answer to the question is you theoretically can, but you will sound like you’re reciting formal poetry. The number of verbs that are conjugated (as opposed to using bod as an auxiliary) in the present in spoken Welsh is very, very limited. Medru / gallu / gwybod just about covers it, and even there, the option with bod is always open.


I’ve always thought of ga i? as asking if you will be able to have something in the (albeit very near) future. :confused:


Although Gwela i is also used to say I see in the sense of ‘I understand’ (as a response to some information) - you hear that a lot in some areas.

Tydy’r moron 'ma ddim yn addas i’r brosiect.

  • Gwela i
    These carrots are not suitable for the project.
  • I see.

In the older language what we now call the short future (i.e. the future-with-endings: gwela i, gweli di, gwelith hi etc) used to be a stative (i.e. not an action) present. Can and know are the most commonly-used statives, both in Welsh and English, and so this meaning has persisted with these verbs - medra i I am able vs. (for example) ysgrifenna i I will write.


My entire knowledge on the subject of short forms outside of SSiW, @AnthonyCusack, comes from one book. :blush:

And, of course, as you can guess, there is a small section on the irregular verbs ‘cael, gwneud, mynd and dod’.


Oh yeah :roll_eyes: why didn’t I think of that one?!:joy:

Diolch bawb :smile:


Whenever I say this (which is often) Iestyn raises a disapproving eyebrow, so I’m guessing we have to allow for some variation in usage…:wink:


Thanks to all for such interesting answers! It’s definitely cleared up some confusion for this learner at least. Seems I’ve learned at least three things from this in less than 24 hours:

  1. Boundaries between future and present (certainly in the spoken language) are not black & white. This seems to have a parallel in English, for example, “I start tomorrow” where a present-tense verb takes a future meaning;
  2. I now know that "ayyb"means “etc.” - thanks @AnthonyCusack!
  3. This Forum brings out the most interesting and most helpful in so many of you!
    Diolch yn fawr i chi pawb eto…

Yes - general characteristic of Germanic that presents can have future meaning.


I think the full version is “ac yn y blaen” :slight_smile:


I get the impressions that this is one of those North / South splits. Having learnt with the Northern course I tend to use present tense forms with bod. Yet I get gentle castigation / disapproving eyebrows from my ‘Southern’ teacher: “…but you know the conjugated form, why not use it!”


If you watch S4C or listen to Radio Cymru, it would be interesting if you could pick up examples from fluent southern speakers. And if you (or anyone else) has time and patience, to reference them here in the forum, so people could check them out with Clic or iPlayer.

I mostly concentrate on northern stuff myself, and while the conjugated past tense is very common, I can’t say I’ve noticed much present/future, other than for the common verbs (gallu/medru etc) that have already been mentioned.

I must admit though, there has always been the small thought in the back of my mind that conjugated (short form) verbs are the “more Welsh” way of doing things, if only because they are less like English (which makes a lot of use of auxiliary verbs in the present tense, and doesn’t really have much in the way of conjugated tenses at all, at least for regular verbs). And I wonder if that’s how your Southern teacher thinks.


Well, OK. But there is a school of thought, though highly controversial, that English got its heavy use of auxiliaries from Welsh during the immediate post-Roman period. :slight_smile:


That’s interesting, Rob. I’d heard that the original (Old) English was just too difficult for the Britons, so it perhaps became Celticised.

I must admit that I still tend to use the NE & Scots type “I’d not thought” , “I’ll not …”, etc type construction, which to me feels more like “Dwi’n ddim y meddwl” etc. Probably nothing to do with what you are talking about, but beth bynnag (hey), it’s a Saturday afternoon.

Reminds me of the old English prefix “a-” as “a-singing” and “yn canu”. I have not the vaguest idea if there’s a connection (I have never studied language).

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