Getting hit in the head with the short form

Hi, everyone,

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, and it’s clearly time since I’ve hit a bit of heavy weather in my learning. When I last posted everyone was so helpful, and I need a bit of encouragement since I’m baffled.

Since starting last summer – after finishing the Duolingo Welsh course – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed SSIW, and have found that, for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m learning a language. I’ve pushed through, never used the pause button for the sake of slowing down, and have listened to all of the lessons and courses for Southern Welsh; I’ve actually worked through each of the course two and sometimes three times, which helps me fine-tune things, pick up things I’ve missed, etc. I regularly listen to one or two lessons a day; on weekends, like today, I’ve listened to four.

Everything seemed to be going along fine until Course 3 (old material). I’m now going through it for the second time, and while I’m clearly learning, I’m also having a mighty struggle with the short forms of the verbs. A lot of it is because so many of them seem very similar, and my brain is bouncing all over the place, trying to keep up. I’m even struggling just to come up with some mnemonics to help me remember one over the other.

Also, it wasn’t until about a month or so ago that I saw a post on the forum about the listening exercises. Somehow I’d missed them (I listen to a lot of lessons on my smartphone as I’m driving around or working around the house, and for some reason just didn’t see them). This is important, because my listening comprehension is, in a word, horrible. After closing in on a year of working on Welsh, I feel I can formulate a lot of sentences, but when I’m listening, my brain just freezes.

So I’m trying to catch up on the listening exercises and also watching “Anita” and other shows on S4C, listening to Radio Cymru and chasing down other listening opportunities.

Can anyone offer some hard-earned advice about sorting out these issues with the short form and with listening?

I’m not planning to give up – not a chance, I love it too much – but I am worried about getting myself thoroughly messed up. I’d like to get past this hurdle, as I hope to soon get a Skype partner and start really practicing my Welsh with another learner, rather than just talking to myself around the house and seeing my husband’s weird looks. :slight_smile:

Thanks so much for anything you can suggest.



IHi Elizabeth!

Could you give a few examples of the ones you’re struggling with?

With listening, it’s so hard when listening to recordings and the telly. I’d say that listening over a device has been the slowest part of understanding to grow. I think the reason is that context and implied meaning is harder to pick up on.

So my advice is, try not to understand every word. Listen for the meaning.

I was thinking about this the other day. My fiancée is a Welsh speaker and can turn the radio on and she knows what they’re saying. Like we can in English. The reason? The words are familiar. She’s heard them loads and loads and loads. That level of native understanding takes years to cultivate.

In face to face conversations it’s much much easier. You get the context from body language, setting, precedent, etc. Therefore, get into conversations now, you don’t need to wait for your understanding to improve. In many ways that’s like saying “I want to get fitter before I start exercising”. Conversations are exactly what it sounds like you need :slight_smile:
(Also, find a first language or very very advanced learner, go in the deep end - honestly, it will be better for your Welsh :slight_smile:)

Keep listening to everything you can. Avoid subtitles (my understanding has improved since I’ve stopped reading Welsh subtitles and just let programmes flow). Don’t worry about every word. If it recurs and seems to be important then look it up.

Hope that helps :grinning:


Well, I still get confused by short forms (long forms as well, to be honest… :slight_smile: ), so this is quite normal.

I found Course 3 (I happened to do northern) a bit frightening, because a lot of the endings sounded the same, and some of them had variations which I could not get my head around.

However, by then, I was doing some reading, lots of RC listening, and allowing myself the guilty pleasure of looking in grammar books (not something to do as a beginner, but it’s allowable (I think :slight_smile: ) when one gets a little further.

The best way to “avoid subtitles” is to listen to the radio more than watching TV … :slight_smile: since there aren’t any in the first place… :slight_smile: It is hard at first, and we have to let a lot of things just wash over us, and not worry too much. There will be plenty where they came from.

Pob lwc.


When you say ‘all the lessons and courses’, do you mean that you’ve also done Level 1 and Level 2 (the new material) for the southern course?

If you have, I’d recommend:

Listen to the accelerated listening exercises for 5 minutes every day - we’ll have new ones ready for Level 2 before too much longer.

Leave Course 3 for the time being - it’s not very well written, and if you’re starting to feel hiccupy with it, there’s no need for you to suffer.

Listen to as much Radio Cymru as you can (that can do the trick in and of itself, to a surprising extent).

Arrange a weekly conversation in Welsh - for at least an hour.

The last one is the really tricky one, for all sorts of reasons - but it’s the single most important thing you can do, and it will bring everything else into smooth working order for you… :slight_smile:


Hi, Aran,

Yes, I’ve done both levels one and two for Southern Welsh (new material), and courses one through three in the “old material” section.

Thank you for the advice as well as input on how course three was done. I had noticed some weird jumping around, introductions of words that I didn’t remember having been explained, etc.

Frankly, I really love how the newer levels one and two were arranged. The flow seems much more advanced and helpful than the courses. It’s clear there was an evolution in how the program has been done.

In response to Anthony and my short form confusion, I have been getting tangled up a lot in the future tenses between the “I see” and “I hear” verbs, plus all of the others (“I go,” “I come,” etc.). I’ve started looking up the written forms to see if that will help.

Thanks to Mike also for replying. It sounds like my experience with the short forms was similar to yours.

The next thing does seem to be getting into regular conversations, and to doing the listening exercises as Aran suggests, along with continuing to listen to Welsh programs.

Since I live in Northern California, I’m starting to (shyly) look for a Skype partner. I think I saw a thread devoted to that, but would also appreciate any suggestions.

Thanks so much!



To be completely honest, I cheat a bit. I tend to use “na i” (gwnaf i (I will do) but after a diet) if I can’t remember the other short form. So “na i weld” - I will see.

Or I use "bydda(f) i) - I will be. It’s how my partner and her family use Welsh. @aran do you use anything similar?

It’s good to be aware of the short forms, but don’t worry too much about remembering them. Once you find a practice partner, experiment and see if they understand. Choose a verb and put “a(f) i” at the end. If they look blank…maybe try another way :smile:

Hope that helps


I also use na’i for I will and bydda’i for I will be .
I have just started on the new level 3 and it uses bydda’i for I will for example it says , "bydda’in gofyn " (I will ask) but I have been replacing it with , “na’i ofyn” as that is what I am used to saying but I guess it doesn’t really matter
I agree that the levels are a lot better as it uses the short forms from the start but the old course 3 is also good for them as it is good for giving clarity


Sounds as though you’ve got a good, clear map for the way ahead - I strongly suspect that with all the work you’ve done, you actually won’t need many conversation sessions before you realise that you’re a Welsh speaker…:slight_smile:

@Deborah-SSi could ask in the email if anyone would like to be a Skype partner on Californian time, if you’d like?

I don’t tend to be all that conscious of my own usage patterns, to be honest - but I’d tend to feel that individual examples of the short form just start to sink in eventually - ‘dduda i’ for ‘wna i ddeud’, ‘wela i chdi wedyn’, that sort of stuff. [aka just ‘let it go, let it go-o-o’…]


I’d like to add one comment here (you’re actual questions have been answered already!):

The officially recognised route to “being a Welsh speaker” in Wales, via evening classes, include a timetable of 15 years to fluency for the most common “once a week” route.

15 years.

On the other hand, @elizabethlarson, you are concerned that you would struggle in a conversation after “…closing in on a year…” of learning, and only a month of listening practices.

In other words, your problem is not that you have “weak listening”, it’s because your speech is so strong after a year of hard work that your listening appears weak in comparison. In actual fact, I think that you will find once you have found the right skype partner, and the interesting radio programmes that you want to listen to, etc, you will suddenly find that your understanding starts to catch up with your extraordinarily good speaking skills.

Please remember though that listening is not something you can “work at” like speaking. You can chat to yourself subconsciously, have all kinds of extra curricular Welsh practices with making up sentences (even completely wrong ones teach you all about using and flexibility), and you can always run over old material to remember the thing that you wanted to use earlier. But listening takes its own time - all you can do is try to expose yourself to as much of other people’s Welsh as possible. Please, don’t be concerned if it seems to take an age - every second of Welsh that you hear is helping you, whether you can see your progress or not.

And most importantly, please sit back and look at what you’ve achieved already. That is extraordinary!


Hi Elizabeth,

My name is Keren and I’m from San Diego. I now live in Boston, it’s been a decade already! But if you don’t mind working out a 3 hour time difference, I’d be happy to Skype with you, or FaceTime if you have an Apple device. I completed the original courses/levels 1-3 a couple years ago, then did a one-week boot camp. I study Northern Welsh, but the boot camp I attended was with Iestyn and Cat. My daily listening practice is Pobol y Cwm, which features mostly Southern Welsh, and has given me a good deal of Deg vocabulary. I feel sort of bi-Welsh, reasonably comfortable in both. Watching the show (for purely educational purposes, of course, it’s not addicting at all! Ha!) has really boosted my Welsh listening skills, and my vocab. I’ve also messed around a smidge with new versions of the 3 levels, but haven’t gone through them properly yet.

Anyhow, if you want to do a test run and see if the time difference is superable, and if we click as practice partners, I am game to give it a go. Let me know what you think. And no, I won’t be offended if you strictly want a western time zoner.

Either way, pob luc!

Ta ra,


Hi Elizabeth,
I also found the short forms in Course 3 to be particularly challenging, but I can say that the more you listen to them and get exposed to them, the more they will sink in. Fortunately, as others have noted, the Levels do a better job of introducing the short form in more manageable “bite-sized” pieces.
I should also add that I am in northern California as well, and I gather I am at roughly the same level as you (based on what you’ve said here), so I’d certainly be happy to try Skyping with you. I was terrified of doing it the first time, but I have to say there are some amazing and very supportive people on this forum, and I survived! I’ve been learning the northern version, but I suspect I know enough of the southern at this point that it wouldn’t be an issue. Just send me a PM if you’d be interested.
Hwyl fawr!


@lestyn, Thank you so much for your response! I hadn’t thought of it that way – that my Welsh speaking skills might actually be strong. I did notice one day while puttering around the kitchen that I could easily put together little conversational sentences in Welsh, which kind of astounded me.

Also, thank you for explaining the issue with listening. It really is different, and I keep waiting for it to “click,” which of course it hasn’t, which I understand now is because it moves at a different rate. That does help – and makes me feel less dumb. :slight_smile:

Again, thank you so much. Everyone has always been so incredibly encouraging and helpful in the forum. It’s very rewarding to take part.



Thanks to Jason and Keren for both offering to Skype with me. I think I’d like to possibly take you both up on the offer starting in the weeks ahead, as it would probably be very helpful to interact with different people and their speech patterns.

I’m hoping to get a few projects off my desk in the next few weeks then can dive in. Are either one of you available around the start of May?

And Jason, if you’re close by, maybe we could arrange to meet up in person some time to chat.

Thank you!



Great to hear that’s happened!

Do let us know how it goes… :slight_smile:

As I am just struggling through Course 3, this thread was very helpful. Short form is daunting, as you say, but I find a “rightness” to it, given that I was recently studying Spanish, in which pronouns are rarely used. But it’s good to know that the short form is expected to take time to sink in.

My favorite TV show is Gwaith Cartref. I get words here and there, and once in a while, I’m excited to pick up a whole phrase or sentence! But I will have to try Radio Cymru.

Elizabeth, I see you’ve already got offers to Skype with people who are more advanced than I am (I’ve also gone through Levels 1 and 2, South, and been studying for just over a year); but if you want, I am in New York and need to practice. @greeneyes, I’m also available for East Coast Skyping if you’re interested.


Hi Elizabeth - yes, May looks to be good at this point. I’m in the Sacramento area, and would look forward to an actual in person conversation in Welsh if that worked out.

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Hi Elizabeth,

Early May sounds good. Shall we touch base in late April to set something up?

Ta ra,

Super! Thank you!


Yes, let’s do that. I’m in the final days of tax hell for the self-employed. Once that’s over, I’ll be ready for brain exercises of another type. Thank you!


Thank you! I am interested. I think that if I can make a lot of connections in the group and check in for occasional conversations, it would be very helpful. Everyone is going to bring a different kind of experience and voice, and learning to understand Welsh likely will be expedited by getting experience interacting with a broad range of people. :slight_smile:

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