L3 C3 -- to ddim or not to ddim

I’ve been enjoying the new level 3 very much. I like the way it wraps all the previous information together.

There is one construction that is giving me fits, though.
In Challenge 3 we learn “na fedrwn ni” for We cannot.

For the life of me I cannot prevent myself from inserting a “ddim” in there. “na fedrwn ni ddim” I know that the “na” is already making it a negative, but I also remember that Cymraeg likes to negate all elements of a negative sentence, unlike English, but like Spanish.

I’m sure that the real answer is “don’t worry about it” But if I’m already worried, which is more usually heard?


na fedrwn ni - that we can’t


fedrwn ni ddim - we can’t

(that’s my understanding of it)


Na fedrwn ni (or na allwn ni for the south) just goes by itself. Na negates the whole thing, so ddim is unnecessary. That said, I’m sure people would understand it just as easily with the ddim; it’s just not what people are likely to say. Don’t worry; you’ll get used to it eventually ;).

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diolch. Beth am… nad ydan ni DDIM ? Dyn ni angen DDIM ? Wel ar ol 2 flynedd, dyna ydy’r tro cyntaf ar y forum.

Just to confuse things…if you search for na fedrwn ni ddim…you will find lots of results!

Not to be rude, but we tend to stick to English on the forum so as to not scare off the newer members.

That out of the way, I’ve never heard the negation in both places, but then I suppose it’s similar to a double negative in English; commonly used, even if some would argue it isn’t strictly “correct”.

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doedd o ddim (two elements indicating negation)

chlywesi i ddim (two negative elements)

does neb eisiau (two negative elements)

dydy o ddim yn gwbod dim byd (three negatives !)

I seem to remember Aran mentioning this in the old course 1, but I could be mistaken. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to that material.

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I meant the na/nag first. For example, you might hear “na dw i” or “bo’ fi ddim” in the middle of a sentence, but you’re unlikely to hear “na dw i ddim”.

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Thanks for the real world clarification. I took the “negate everything” rule a little too literally. But of course language is a slippery thing that doesn’t care about our attempt to find rules! Now to get ‘na fedrwn ni ddim’ out of my head …

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You’ll hear both of them plenty of times - very much a matter of personal taste, so just stick with what currently feels right for you… :slight_smile:


Phew thought so…thanks for clearing it up! :slight_smile:

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Oh good, it’s not just me then who is struggling with this.
It’s getting my head around ‘na’. I kind of think of it as an English that: ‘Beth sy’ ‘na?’ = what is that? with 'na as short for [hwn]na
Then recently, i’ve been hearing ‘nid’ and ‘nad’ in front of things as negations but @aran said this was a register/ formal thing. So is this ‘na’ the same thing as nid and nad?
Or is it that we’ve got so used to ‘…ddim’ to form the negative and it’s high time we broke this habit?

And what is this whole ‘ydan’ thing, is the na mutating the ‘dan’? So, what fresh mutation is this?

Having said all that. I am really appreciating level 3 :grinning:


You can put na in front of a verb to say the opposite thing. For example, when someone asks a question of you and you use ydw or nag ydw (or na dw, or nag w) as yes or no, the ydw, or dw, is just the verb “to be” when applied to oneself, and na (nag in front of a vowel) is the negation (so “ydw” is literally “am” and “nag ydw” is literally “not am” - or “am not”). So in the middle of a sentence, you’ll hear “na dw i’n” or “nag w i’n” in place “bo’ fi ddim yn” because they’re just different ways to use the verb “to be” in a sentence.

That pattern also applies to other verbs, so “bo’ fi’n medru” can be replaced with “medra i” and “bo’ fi ddim yn medru” can be replaced with “na fedra i”.

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I do know this! it’s just getting it into my speaking Welsh head that will take time.

…and yet “na…” rolls of the tongue more easily than “…ddim” for me, as it has survived in Geordie English. I notice my sisters using it a lot, even though they don’t speak Welsh. :smile:

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You will also hear and see “ni alla i” in the south. “Ni” acts like “mi/fe” but negative


This has cropped up in discussions before, but if anyone is interested, this bit of history of “dim” is an interesting little read.



Nope, no mutation - although now you say it, I can see why it might seem like that! ‘Dan’ is a contraction - of rydym ni - formally, you’d say ‘rydym ni yn gwneud’ for ‘we are doing’, then ‘dydym ni ddim yn gwneud’ for ‘we’re not doing’, and ‘ydym ni’n gwneud?’ for ‘are we doing?’.

But then you add the real world, and what you get slides around all over the place - with lots of people using ‘dan ni’ and ‘dan ni ddim’ - and then often ‘ydan ni?’ for the question - or in constructions like ‘nad ydan ni ddim’.

But remember, by Level 3, this really isn’t about being able to express yourself any more - you’ve already got the tools to do that - this is about widening your exposure to the language, so that you become able to pick up more and more from listening to media and getting into conversations - so there’s no need to learn this stuff, just give yourself the exposure to it (by slogging through the lessons) and then you’ll start to pick it up more and more easily when you hear it - and then at some point it will feel like the natural way to say something you want to say… :slight_smile:

There was an article on the Cambridge Uni site a few years ago (sadly deleted now) which discussed the shift of the negative. It’s apparently such a common feature of language that you can “class” a language by where it is on the scale.

In Welsh, the hegative was originally "ni … ", so gwnes i - I did > Ni wnes i - I did not. A similar thing used to happen in French. Je suis - I am > Je ne suis - I am not.

For emphasis, you could add a dim or a pas.

But over time, the dim or pas becomes a part of the pattern, and you get the French Je ne suis pas, or the Welsh Ni wnes i ddim.

Over time, the natural shift is towards the ommission of the weaker ni / ne, in favour of the stronger, more emphasised ddim or pas. You see this all the time in spoken French, even though the French Academie keeps the full ne … pas in the official written form. Welsh has also been trhough this, and generally come out of the other side. Wnes i ddim is what you will generally hear and write.

However, where the na / ni / nid is still part of the sentence structure, you will sometimes get the middle ni … ddim, and sometimes the more original na without the ddim.

If you think “Oh no, that’s confusing - that will; make things difficult”, think again. Basically anything goes! Although you will *sometimes sound a bit formal leaving the ddim out, or a bit sloppy leaving the ni / na / nid out, it really doesn;t matter, because people are used to the three forms in different situations, and will understand you fully.

Personally, and I think this is a southern generality, I don’t usually use ni and ddim in the same negative , but I know plenty of people who do, so use what comes naturally, and adjust it to what you har most as you go about your daily life.


I vaguely remember in one of the lessons the use of na ddylwn i ddim.

I’m guessing it’s the same.


Dwi’n gwybod na ddylwn i ddim gwneud hynny


Dw’in gwybod na ddylwn i wneud hynny