My latest blog topic: When is iawn no iawn?

Blwyddyn newydd dda!

I wonder if some of you might be interested in reading my newest blog article for Welsh learners, ‘When is iawn not iawn?’, in which I try to sort out the different meanings of ‘iawn’ and how to use, and not to use, that ubiquitous little word.

Here’s the link:!When-is-iawn-not-iawn/c16ee/56869d2a0cf23a10fe3bad97



Thank you, Mererid, very interesting, as usual, and lots of great examples!
The iawn part I think I understand, but here is what I was curious about - is “Ai” in questions obligatory or can it be omitted? I mean, can I say “Blodau go iawn ydyn nhw?” or “Blodau go iawn yw nhw?”


Ah, yeah, this is a little word that gets left out a lot in Welsh courses, and it can be omitted completely, yes.

I tend to use ‘ai’ in my natural speech, though, as many other people do, when there isn’t a verb in the sentence (apart from the verb ‘to be’, which is a funny kind of verb anyway, considering that ‘being’ and ‘doing’ are quite different, but that’s another thing!).

Ai Stella wyt ti?
Stella wyt ti?

Both mean: are you Stella? The ‘ai’ part is almost like another ‘is it?’ at the beginning. Is it Stella you are? Literally, - Is it Stella are you? but that’s just a horrible construction and Welsh people don’t think of it translated in that way.

The dictionary says that ‘ai’ is an ‘interrogative particle’. Some people in mid-Wales say ‘A ife’, or even just ‘ife’ instead of ‘ai’. (Said as ‘iv -eh’)

Ife Stella wyt ti? for example. I live in Ceredigion and this is heard quite often here.

The answer would be 'ie/nage (or simply just 'na) ’ in the South and 'ia/naci (or again, simply just ‘na’) in the North.

Personally, I think it would be easier for learners to know which yes and no to answer in Welsh if courses included the ‘ai’ part of such question because ‘ai’ questions would always be ‘ie/nage’ or ia/naci’… (not counting your ‘maybes’ etc). It’s quite hard, as you know, to get your head around the different ways of saying ‘yes’ in Welsh because apart from ‘ie/nage’, as seen above, the concept a one-word agreement (‘yes’) across tenses and subjects just doesn’t exist.

Oh, I think there are a lot more blog article ideas here! :wink:

Hope that helps @stella.


Shwmae Mererid, a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i ti hefyd!

Your blog covered a lot of bases with this very flexible word which I found very useful.
Just one thing though - sometimes, “Da iawn” is also used to praise someone, like “da iawn ti!” - “well done you!” I didn’t see this in the blog. Is that because it is a much more colloquial use of “da iawn” and not really a proper way of saying “well done” to someone? And what other ways can we give quick praise to people when they have done something worthy of praise (other than single words like “ardderchog”,“ffantastig” or “gwych”)?

Also, will you be doing a future blog covering the correct use of “bod” at all? If it is written as well as this one it will be invaluable to many of us! :blush:

1 Like

Thank you, Mererid, very helpful! This “ai” particle looks really beautiful, I think I’ll use it from now on:) Makes the sentence somehow more melodic…

1 Like


That’s such a good point about giving praise! I might have to go back and put that in! I knew that I must have forgotten something, @faithless78, and I consigned myself to the fact that I would never be able to include all the different shades of ‘iawn’, but that one’s a pretty important one! Diolch! and da iawn ti!

Ha, yes, I’ve been working with bod recently, and to be honest, I’ve really had to sort it out in my own head as well because of the differences in using it in the present tense, and using it in the past and future tenses. I will try and do ‘bod’ for my next article. I wonder if I’d have to do it in parts, though. Or do you think it would be ok to put the whole thing into one blog post and just break down into sections, like I did with ‘iawn’?

Thanks ever so much for your kind words regarding my writing, @faithless78. I just hope that I’m able to help people, even if it’s confusing at first. But just like a book, you can put it down, come back to it later, and read bits at a time. Sometimes, even coming back to something a year later helps because it might make more sense with time, as people progress and get more of a feel for Welsh.


Ife is what I say, but I don’t always include it. It’s something that you never really get taught in formal courses (along, I would say, with that weird ‘n’ sound that many people use in place of fy).

Do you mean bod/taw/mai? In which case I would heartily agree. This confused me for years (until, funnily enough, I stopped worrying about it so much :smile: ).


@robbruce You’re right! ‘yn’ or ‘n’ instead of ‘fy’ - ‘yn fam i’ instead of ‘fy mam i’. That’s a good topic, especially for intermediate/advanced learners.

oh, I forgot about what you asked about other ways to praise. ‘Da iawn ti’ is the most common one. I’ll have a think about what you asked. I have a feeling that Welsh doesn’t have the same variety as English, such as ‘good on you’, but I reckon that different regions might have their own sayings, such as ‘da’n was i’ in the North. I’ll put the question out there to other Welsh speakers and get back to you!

1 Like

I think you could put in in a whole blog, broken down into sections, depending on how deep you want to go with it. But if you were going to include other forms of ‘bod’, like the preterite “bues/fues” and the conditional “baswn/taswn”, maybe writing this one in parts might be better. It will give readers time to digest each part, and create anticipation for the next one too! Also it gives you time to concentrate on making eact part easier too digest too.

I completely agree! I also have these, what I call “Eureka” moments, when I reveiw something I read or wrote about some time before and it almost instantly clicks into place and I understand it a whole lot better.

1 Like

I agree. It would (I think) be a bit easier on yourself @Mererid , and on your readers, to split it up into 2 or more smaller articles, allowing you to concentrate perhaps on one main theme per article.

But it’s your blog, and your choice of course. :slight_smile: However you do it, lots of examples would be very useful and very much appreciated. Diolch yn fawr, o flaen llaw! :slight_smile:

Thanks for being part of this community, and for your blog articles! :sun_with_face:


Thanks for clearing this up! That’s something I’d been vaguely meaning to check up on since hearing the sentence “Ife eich plant chi yw’r rheina?” (In level 1 somewhere I think).

Blog da iawn, diddorol iawn, diolch (yn fawr iawn)!

1 Like

I find this one of the most challenging parts of learning Welsh. It is so automatic in English to reach for the word “yes”" or “no” on any occasion.

My brain completely rebels when faced with having to choose a correct way of saying “yes” from several possibilities.

It would be both fun and educational to have an SSiW “dialogue”" devoted entirely to this - just like there is a bonus SSiW dialogue on “please talk more slowly - I’m learning and I really want to speak Welsh”. I doubt that there are many of us who wouldn’t benefit hugely from these very helpful dialogues.


1 Like

In English the Welsh way of replying with the verb in the same tense could be used quite easily instead of yes/no.
Will you take this man/woman to be your husband/wife? - I will/will not
Will you come with me to the party? - I will/will not
Would you like a slap? - I would not
Would to like a pint? - I would/i would not
May/can I go out? - yes you may/can/you maynot/cannot
Was it a good play? - it was/it wasn’t
Does this bus go to …? - it does/it doesn’t
Are they coming? - they are/they are not
and so on


Dolch yn fawr - this community is brilliant and I’m glad to be a part of it. Thank you for having me!