Oedd/wnaeth?

Hoping for a simple answer - but this is Welsh we’re learning so I’m not holding out much hope!
This from challenge 12:
oedd hi’n moyn – she wanted
…and this from challenge 14:
wnaeth fy mrawd i gwrdd â – my brother met with
Looks the same tense to me - so when do I use oedd and when do I use wnaeth?
I’m obviously missing some fundamental point.
Thanks in advance of enlightenment.

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oedd hi’n moyn – she wanted
…and this from challenge 14:
wnaeth fy mrawd i gwrdd â – my brother met with

oedd = was, so – she was wanting
…and this from challenge 14:
wnaeth = did, so - my brother (did meet) met with
“Simples” :slight_smile:

No, seriously we’ve all had to get over that hurdle.
Oedd/on and equivalents is for stuff happening over a period.
Wnaeth/wnes, etc, something that (did) happen once.

I hope that this helps

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@CaerlanChris You might find this 14-minute video made by Nicky helpful: it explains the three main past tenses in Welsh very clearly, and when to use them:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hGh1c0cnC0&t=2s

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I’ve watched that video about 10 times now; it’s so helpful and each time I view it I learn a bit more. Cheers @Nicky

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It all counts towards the figures!!! Every view is something like 0.0000000000000000000000001p in my back pocket :smiley:

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Spot on! Many thanks for speedy answers… I was overthinking it… As usual. Much clearer now.

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Hi Chris,

Try out the video linked, but it basically comes down to…roughly

Wnaeth/Gwnes/All the others (roughly equivalent to the English “did”)
examples (in English)
I ate breakfast yesterday.
I ran 5 miles this morning.
I did my homework.

These are all “one-time” things. You may eat breakfast every day, but we are talking about this exact occasion. Likewise, you may go running every morning, but we’re talking about that exact occasion.

Oedd/O’n i/Oeddwn/All the others (roughly equivalent to the English “was”)
examples (in English)
I was thinking about buying a new car.
She was trying to find out about university.
He was a good footballer when he was younger.

These are things of a more “continuous” or “on-going” nature. In the first one, I thought about buying the car for a period of time, it had been on my mind for a while. In the second one, whoever it was was thinking about university for a period of time. In the last one, that kid was a good footballer for a while - they didn’t just become bad overnight :smiley:

Although there some oddities - lots of them come around from oddities of the English language rather than the Welsh…
I thought about becoming a fireman for example - Is this phrase a one off (wnes i) or a bit more continuous (o’n i…) the word “thought” makes it sound like a one-off, but then there’s an implied meaning of “I was thinking about becoming a fireman”.

Loosely speaking - Wnaeth will follow DID, and Oedd will follow WAS. There’ll be times when the lines will blur, and its probably best not to worry about them - everyone will understand :smiley:

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If you think anything in Welsh is unusual - I’ve been reading about the Senegal language of Wolof and the verb never changes - there are no tenses and no verb conjugations.

The language is more than capable of describing things that usually happen, are imminently about to happen and things that are completed and also express whether the action was of a short or long duration - all without using tenses, which I think is really cool.

No tenses? No verb conjugations? Oooh…I like the sound of that!:sunglasses:

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If you’ve done any other languages, especially in a traditional manner, you may recognise the grammatical names of these tenses, but to cut a long story short,

the “oedd” form is traditionally known as the “imperfect” tense, and
the “gwnaeth” form is sometimes called the “preterite”, also just known as the simple past tense.

(the other well-known past tense is traditionally called the “perfect” tense - in Welsh that’s the one formed with “wedi”. (Sometimes referred to as the “present perfect” ( because it’s supposed to “link the present with the past”, which I think is confusing and contrived, but that’s another story)).

You don’t really need to know any of this, except that you will come across names like these in traditional grammar books.

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I did think… implies to me that it was over and done with and no career change ensued. I was thinking… implies a bit more thought but the same result. So maybe in that case ir really doesn’t matter?

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This sounds like one of those “If you wanted to hard-translate it from English, you could make an argument for it being in both” kind of scenarios I think :smiley:

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I think that’s a very important point. If you just accept that there are grey areas where you can’t translate 1-to-1 equivalence, eventually you develop a subconscious ‘feel’ for the way that the tenses work. Trying to force it will just cause confusion. Letting it ‘emerge’ as it where, into your understanding of the language will be relatively painless, marked only by you occasionally selecting the ‘wrong’ (but still perfectly comprehensible) tense along the way.

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I lived and worked in Senegal although didn’t do Woolof. A bit of Fulani & Kriolo (from Guinea Bissau) and started Manjako. Most of these languages have what is called a “time marker” at the beginning of the conversation and then continues in the present tense. Really interesting.

Most languages don’t do 1-1 translation. I do get a wee bit frustrated as I am analytical and want to do that naturally. SSiW is so good for putting me in my place that way, and getting me to try to just learn to communicate.

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I saw a post on an English Language FB group yesterday, suggesting that even in English, the “back a stage” construction might have been contrived by Latin loving scholars. The sort of thing was " He said that he was…" rather than “that he is” . It seems so ingrained now that I can’t see it changing any time soon.

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That’s interesting. I wonder if that’s a widely held view among linguists who specialise in English. Even if it was originally contrived, I think that it has bedded down well into the language as it is actually spoken, and not just by educated people, so that it doesn’t sound contrived now.

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American Sign Language does this. Tenses are awkward in a visual language. It’s interesting that there are verbal languages that do this as well.

ASL also has an interesting solution for pronouns. It uses positional markers in a semi-circle in front of the “speaker”. Once established what person is at what position, the speaker just points to that position to refer to that individual.

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I have read that in many of the african languages in this area that distance and position from the speaker, both spatially and in terms of time are also key linguistic aspects

Sounds like they would adapt to ASL quite well.

Hmm. Colour me unconvinced: I can immediately think of a couple of examples from native (i.e. not translated from Latin) Old English prose where a past-tense verb of speaking is followed by a past-tense verb in reported speech that would have been present in direct speech. (Actually, they use a past subjunctive in the subordinate clause.) Along the lines of “They said that no kinsman were more dear to them than their lord…” (i.e. “No kinsman is more dear to us than our lord,” in direct speech. Ond þā cuǣdon hīe þæt him nǣnig mǣg lēofra nǣre þonne hiera hlāford.) Of course, the monks writing this stuff down would also have been literate in Latin, but if it’s been there in English prose since the earliest records I’m going to need some persuading.