Masculine vs feminine

Dear clever linguists…
Why is if Mae hi’n braf (its nice) but mae fe’n mynd (it goes)? Is mae fe’n brag and mae hi’n mynd acceptable too?

Generally, abstract “its”, such as in “it’s fine”, use the feminine (but naturally you will come across exceptions!), but when you are talking about a specific “it” - i.e. you are replacing the actual noun with the ‘it’, e.g. the car goes > it goes, the ‘it’ takes on the gender of the original noun to which you are refering, so “it goes” refering to a car = “mae fe’n mynd” but “it goes” refering to a van = “mae hi’n mynd”.

I hope that helps answer your question, but the golden rule is not to worry about it - some areas tend to default to one gender or the other regardless, others ‘mix-and match’ - just get used to using what you hear in common phrases (like “mae hi’n braf”) and for less-common phrases where you’re not sure, use whichever pops into your head without thinking too much about it, because chances are you’ve actually heard the phrase subconsciously somewhere, so go with it!


Thanks Siaron. Is there any guidance about which ones are masc. and which are fem? When I studied French, German and Italian the noun’s gender was specified and learnt with the nouns but the gender seems to be a bit secretive in welsh unless I’m missing something obvious.

No, you’re not missing something obvious - unfortunately there is very little guidance other than checking a dictionary because just you think you’ve found a ‘rule’ you can remember, you tend to then come across loads of exceptions!

Possibly one ‘trick’ (which, I know from experience, is easier in theory than in practice) is to learn what 2 of the noun is everytime you learn a noun - dau for masculine (dau gi) and dwy for feminine (dwy gath). But even this is not infallible - some nouns can be either masculine or feminine (e.g. tafarn)!


How very 21st century. Nouns of ambiguous gender. I like the tip though. Diolch

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Thank you @siaronjames, I think that perhaps give me a clue why in the dictionary some nouns are annotated ebg (feminine/masculine) or egb (masculine/feminine) Is it that these can, as you say be either gender but presumably predominantly female if ebg and masculine if egb?! I like your suggestions of learning the nouns in twos - great idea, thank you.

Probably cheating (and a backwards way of doing it), but If a following adjective, such as bach or mawr gets mutated to fach or fawr I generally assume that it is feminine. :slight_smile:

I guess it could be. In these cases though, you definitely don’t have to worry too much - neither would be wrong after all!

Not cheating at all John - another excellent way of learning genders, learn a noun as a big or small one!

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