Medri is not able rather than able which is says in lesson 1..?

I just started learning and my wife and other Welsh speakers have told me that “medri” means unable whereas lesson 1 teaches that it means able. It also says course 1 (old) - am I meant to start at level 1 lesson 1? Is that the updated version or is that more advanced?

Croeso, welcome, rachael, @aran is in the throes of moving house, so not likely to be on here just at the moment. I do not really claim any expertise, but ‘medru’ (pronounced ‘medri’) means ‘able’ or ‘can’ (Dwi medru = I can). I am not sure how you differentiate between that and ‘medri’, which at least Google says means ‘canst’! “Dwi ddim yn medru” means I cannot!. Mostly, my Welsh is from the south, where we use ‘Gallu’ instead of medru, so no confusion arises!
@gruntius can you help with this at all?


As far as I know we use “dwi’n medru …” for I can or I am able and “dwi ddim yn medru …” for I can’t or I am not able. “dwi’n methu …” is another way to say I can’t.

I hope this helps. As you go through the lessons the meanings will become more and more clear to you.


Well, actually you have a choice. Course 1 (and 2 and 3), are the original SSIW course, and if you are using your smartphone (ffon clefar), it tends to default to course 1.
However, Level 1 and 2 are more recent and based on years of feedback from Course 1 & 2. So ,things are learnt in a different order and the consensus is that the Levels are indeed better (though I did the courses first) and recommended.
The levels are no more advanced, but contain more material, I think the three old courses are combined in the 2 levels (We are eagerly awaiting Level 3). Also the sound quality is much better on the Levels.

Dw i’n medru = I am able,
Dw i ddim yn medru = i am not able

Or as you may learn on Level 1 challenge 1:
Fedra i = I am able

Pob lwc

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Mmm… maybe there’s some ‘not hearing it clearly’ stuff going on here? Medru does absolutely definitely mean ‘to be able’, but as Geraint notes, methu means ‘to be unable’, so maybe that’s the most obvious culprit?

As for Courses vs Levels - I’d recommend starting with Level 1 - we’ll be quietly tucking the Courses further away (although never entirely invisible) in the not-too-distant future… :slight_smile:


Oh, @aran, I can see how that voiced ‘th’,(like English ‘thing’, @rachaelelizabethmile), could sound like ‘dr’, especially with a gogledd Cymru accent!! :wink:

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Possibly some dialects still use the more literary compact forms in some contexts, like fedra (i) ddim for a snappy ´I can´t´ or some form of fedri di (ddim)? for ´can you (not)?´ If so (confirmation anyone?) then just learn them as set ´lumps´ to be going on with. The compact forms of the present/future (to get technical again) are AFAIK very little used otherwise in modern spoken and written Welsh, except perhaps in a very formal speech style.

Nope, they’re used all over the place in spoken Welsh - and ‘fedra i’m’ is very common in the north for ‘I can’t’ (but I think it’s unlikely a first language speaker would confuse/mishear ‘fedra i’m’ with ‘medru’).

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My humble appologies, Aran. If I ever post anything that is totally wrong or badly confusing to your students, then by all means delete it, I won´t be offended, quite the reverse in fact.

I use “dwi ddim yn medru”, “dwi methu”, “fedra i ddim” or “fedra i’m” depending on whatever comes into my head first and I can’t remember every being misunderstood by learners or by firsties wherever I’ve been.

My point, for what it’s worth, is that it doesn’t matter which one you use, they all have the same meaning. (in my head anyway :wink:)

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So, could you say “dwi ddim yn methu” for “I can”?

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I read that as ‘I am not failing’, which is a form of ‘can’ in English. However, I remember asking about double negatives in Welsh and I re-call being told they don’t work quite the same way as in English.


Agree. I´d read that as ¨I´m not failing to X¨ i.e. ¨I´m (just?) managing to X¨.

Historically I think, gallu meant ¨having the power to do something¨ whereas medru was ¨having the skill or abitlity to do something¨. Now the choice is more one of dialect and the meanings are more diluted like ´can’ in English.

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Ah, thanks. I guess you could make a puzzle, on the order of “I’m not failing to X, but not for want of trying,” but that’s probably not part of the normal language.

I don’t think you would use “dwi ddim yn methu” - methu is a negative, so you’d just confuse people. Better to stick to the positive form - mi fedra i (medra i).

Also, as said - double negatives done work the same in Welsh. Example - Fedra i ddim yn cofio dim byd - I can’t remember nothing. This means “I can’t remember anything”.

It would certainly be a strange way of saying it! But then so would "I’m not unable to " be in English.

I’m not sure I would describe it as a double negative.
Welsh uses the word “dim” to form a negative, to go along with the disappearing “nid” in front of the sentence. Originally, “dim” was a positive intensifier, and only later acquired its negative meaning.
[Similar to what happened to ‘pas’ - step, bit of , pace in French, when it took on its negative meaning after being associated with the negative “ne”, which is now apparently also disappearing.]
However, “dim” in Welsh still retains in some circumstances its positive meaning. Or rather, the fact it used to be a positive has an effect on how it is used. It can be a bit confusing, and plays havoc with forming double negatives!

I wouldn’t say “I am not unable to” is a double negative, simply forming the negative of a verb, which happens to have a separate verb, opposite in meaning itself, which can do that much easier.

As Anthony Cusack says, it’s just not something that would be normally needed. In my experience, for what little it is worth, I can imagine someone having some reason to say and saying something along the lines of “nes i ddim methu’r arholiad/prawf/(whatever)!” (I didn’t fail the exam/test/whatever). Where the meaning of methu shades into situations where you might use it with a negative.

But just as a straightforward way of saying “I am able” or “I can”, it seems as redundant as “I am not unable” in English.

That would certainly only be used in very specific circumstances, “I am not unable to answer your question.” Unsaid, “But I don’t want to answer it!” Probably the reason would be clear in context! Whether this would work in Welsh, I don’t know, which is one reason I do not expect to ever feel fluent in yr hen iaith! (Because I have a rather good feel for the language of my conquerors - Grammar School education triumphs again damn it!)

Using that sort if double negative is certainly a feature of a small subset of English speech, going for understatement. By no means everyone would do it. But you could construct awkward and unusual situations where it could be used by everyone.

As I said,I can imagine “ddim methu” being used in some situations (I think I Actualky remember it being used, once, which is unusual for me! I normally somehow absorb it without remembering the individual cases. I am skyways in awe of people when they remember individual sentences of what people said to them in Welsh. I can’t remember my own! )

I don’t think that “double negative/understatement” thing is a common thing in Welsh though, certainly.

I’ve never heard anyone saying that - it would be quite likely to lead to misunderstanding, I think, so you’d probably only use it as part of a deliberate word game… :slight_smile:

No need to apologise - it’s great that you’re keen to help - maybe it would be good practice to substitute ‘I haven’t come across [x]’ as a general pattern instead of ‘[x] is wrong AFAIK’… :slight_smile:

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“I’m not unable to” has an implication of tentativeness or, as owainlurch said, understatement, but, yeah, without any context it can be more of a puzzle than anything else. Thanks for your comments!

But, in English you could ask “can you do it?” and an acceptable answer would be, “I can’t not.”

So, maybe “dwi ddim yn methu” would be an acceptable analogy in Welsh?