Imperfect tense

Near the beginning of L2 c10 (north) I’m hearing ‘oeddwn ni’n siarad’ for ‘we were talking’ but from a little learning before discovering ssiw I seemed to remember that ‘we were’ as being ‘oedden ni’. Am I hearing wrongly or am I just understanding something wrongly?

1 Like

You’re probably hearing ‘oeddan ni’ - the ‘en’ ending doesn’t often sound ‘right’ to northern ears, and often suffers an e->a switch… :slight_smile:

In practice, I’d say that the difference between ‘oeddwn ni’ and ‘oeddan ni’ is so vanishingly small as to be indistinguishable - meaning here is usually going to be something you get from context.

1 Like

Thanks Aran . It was just something that has been nagging at the back of my mind for a while. :blush:

1 Like

I had the reverse experience to trevorellis. I first learned the “Oeddwn ni” form first in level 2 (having never studied Welsh before) and then got completely thrown today by the use of “oedden ni” in level 3. I just spent well over an hour and a half trying to find the answer to this online.

Is it possible it could be a mistake with the algorithm? Because not only does it sound like “Oeddwn ni” to my ears too (I know my ears can definitely be wrong), but it is also listed as such in the vocabulary!
For example this, which I have copied from the vocabulary list for level 2 challenge 9:

We wanted to know what was going to happen - Oeddwn ni isio gwbod be’ oedd yn mynd i ddigwydd.

Or these from the list for Level 2 challenge 10:

we were talking - oeddwn ni’n siarad
we thought - oeddwn ni’n meddwl
we all thought - oeddwn ni i gyd yn meddwl

I would be really grateful if anyone could clear this up for me. I’m greatly enjoying the course, but I tend to worry a lot about stuff like this if I don’t know what’s going on.

Thanks in advance.

Edit: between level 2 and level 3, I did the old course 2 (quite a contrast!) and I remember practicing the “Oeddwn ni” form in that course too. I went back to check and, sure enough, it is listed this way in the vocabulary. That surely rules out a mistake in the algorithm. Moreover, I’ve actually found hits for this form on the BBC. I’m starting to think this must be dialect.

If it’s non-standard dialect, I think that’s pretty cool BTW. I quite like it when I hear Yorkshire people say stuff like “I were”, “it were”, etc and would love to see stuff like that in English courses.

I just want to know. :rofl: Sorry to be a pain.

I found your question while searching for another answer regarding Challenge 10 in Level 2.
I have this question, too, having reached the stage at which it would be helpful to write down the different tenses for bod to help it reach the parts of my brain that cannot yet be reached fast enough sometimes during a Challenge…. Also, I would like to be able to write out my own sentences in order to help build vocabulary and encourage learning of certain structures / phrases.

Is oeddwn ni the correct written form for northern Welsh?

Well, colloquially you’ll hear and read oeddwn ni all over the place, but formally correct (so what you’d expect in an official piece of writing, for example) is oedden ni.

Thank you, Hendrik. Useful to know this.

Helo Pawb. I have another question about the imperfect tense. Have noticed that when we use isio or angen in the past, we use it with bod, e.g. Oedden nhw isio mynd i’r dafarn. However, when we use this tense with other verbs, we use other structures, e.g. wnes i wylio’r teledu neithiwr or gwelais i fy ffrind wythnos diwetha.

Is there a rule about this? Is the past tense of bod only used with isio and angen or is it broader than this?

Well noticed!
Yes, there is a rule. The imperfect past tense of bod is used when the next verb is either a continuing action or a ‘state of being’ i.e. a continuous state rather than an ‘over and done with’ action, so no, doesn’t only apply to isio and angen - things like meddwl, gwybod, teimlo, gobeithio… these are all ‘states of being’, and lots of verbs can be 'continuous e.g. wnes i wrando ar y radio ddoe (I listened to the radio yesterday - i.e. I did it and it was done) but o’n i gwrando ar y radio pan ffoniast ti (I was listening to the radio when you phoned - i.e. I was doing a continuous action when something else happened).

Does that help make sense of it?

1 Like

Thank you, Siaron. This is very helpful and does make sense.

To an extent, it is the reverse of how we would use language in English (I’m getting used to this!), for example, in English we say “I knew” rather than “I was knowing” (O’n i’n gwybod) although we might say “I was thinking” (as in “I was thinking about that the other day”) as well as “I thought”, depending on context.

So, next question: (all?) state of being verbs also have a short-form of the imperfect, e.g. *meddyliais i” (I thought) (I hope I have written this correctly). So, what determines whether one uses “*O’n i’n meddwl”or “meddyliais i” ?

I get the impression that the difference is that the long form is the imperfect (completed action over a longer time in the past) whereas the short form is the preterite and refers to an action at a point in time. Your example ( o’n i gwrando ar y radio pan ffoniast ti (I was listening to the radio when you phoned - i.e. I was doing a continuous action when something else happened) supports this hypothesis. In English, we would make this distinction using the continuous past and simple past tenses.

I don’t wish to disturb your Sunday morning any further so there’s no hurry to reply!

Yup, spot on - you’ve answered your own question there! :smiley:

No disturbance at all - it’s what I come on the forum to do :slight_smile:

Thank you for your help, Sharon. Dydd Sul hapus!

1 Like