Officially confused!

Okay, I’ve started lesson 22 of course three and I am now in a complete muddle. It seems to me there is some overlap here. Both galla i (gallu) and ga i (cael) can mean can’t. Is this right? Mostly ga i is used in the sense of get to do something or be allowed but sometimes Iestyn uses the word can’t. But galla i is can’t in the sense of able rather than be allowed. Is this right?

This confuses me totally, because in the new course 1, I can’t is “alla i ddim…”! With that said, I’m only up to lesson 6 in course 3, so perhaps I’m missing something here!
Not much help I know. I just hope I’m not confusing you even more!! :confused:

Elizabeth Jane, my understanding is the same as yours. Galla i is about the ability to do something where Ga i is about being allowed or receiving (?) something .

In English, I think it’s pretty common to say “Can I have a cup of tea?” instead of “May I have a cup of tea?” so I think that’s why it’s confusing things yn Gymraeg for us.

Yes, we’re able to (can), but what we really want is for someone either to give us or permit us to have a cup of coffee (may) . We use them interchangeably in casual English, but there’s still a subtle difference.

Yes, I can see the logic. But when to use which? Perhaps they are a little interchangeable in Welsh too.

Galla i fynd mas heno. - I can go out tonight (because I have the free time to do so).
Alla i ddim mynd mas heno. - I can’t go out tonight (because I have to cook dinner).
Ga i fynd mas heno. - I can go out tonight (because I have permission).
Cha i ddim mynd mas heno. - I can’t go out tonight (because my mom said no).

For me, the gallu/cael thing has always just come down to intent. In the speaking practices, I often choose the wrong one because I don’t have the “backstory.”

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Think of Cael and derivatives as “may” rather than “can”, and you won’t go far wrong. I can go to town but I’m not allowed to - galla i fynd i’r dre, ond cha i ddim. (corrections welcome)

I think the issue is that in English we use can when we really mean may. Can I? is not the same as May I?, but we use either for the same thing. I think a lot of people have a problem with asking permission in the May I form, and use Can instead. I think of Ga i as May I, and Alla i, or Fedra i as I am able. Sorry - just read Hector’s post as I finished typing… :slight_smile:

Okay, so - just checking:
dw i ddim yn gallu = sa i’n gallu = alla i ddim = fedra i ddim ??

Yes - these are the long forms and short forms of the verb to be able to, with a northern construction at the end there.

This is starting to make a lot more sense to me now! :blush:

It seems to me there is some overlap here.

Yes, as in every single language in the world…:slight_smile:

Don’t waste your time trying to construct a set of rules about when to use which - imagine how thoroughly you would confuse an English learner if you tried to give them a rule-set for when to use ‘Can I?’ and when to use ‘May I?’ - they’d just end up never saying either.

Use whichever comes most easily to mind, recognise the other when you see it, and over time (with enough conversations) you’ll develop your own patterns based on how often and in what context you’ve heard them, without needing to make a conscious decision.

1 small point - Liz, you say ‘Galla i’ is can’t - but that’s not quite right. Alla i ddim (or ni allaf!) is can’t - ‘galla i’ is I can…:slight_smile:

Yes, of course Aran. Dw i’n dwpsin. But I did mention confusion. I can’t even get my English right.

The other point of confusion in that lesson is gada i - let me? Am I right in presuming this is a short form of of gadael?

Finally, is it mor fuan a phosib or mor fuan â phosib?

S’mae Elizabeth,

Yes, gad i mi - “let me” - is using a form of gadael. Actually, I think its the command form gadewch, because “let us” is gadewch i ni.

As for “as soon as possible”, its mor fuan â phosib.



I think gad is the ti command while gadewch is the chi command.

Yes, that’s great thanks Stu and Joanie. These are subtle differences and for me knowing which verb is the short form seems to help. I’m not sure that the lesson tells us. Unless, in my confusion, I missed it.