Past tenses and medra i

I am struggling with a couple of things - I’m on lesson 15 and there seem to be alot of ways of saying something in the past tense. There’s ddudest ti, you said, wnest ti ddechrau, you started, and then do’n i ddim isio, I didnt want, and wnes i ddim dallt, i didnt understand. What’s the difference between these please? Can you say wnes i ddim isio or do’n i ddim dallt? Is it possible to say wnest ti dweud? Can you say do’n i isio without the ddim to mean i wanted? My head is definitely spinning!!!
The other thing i’m struggling with is medra. So far I’ve learnt mi fedra i for i can, os medra i for if i can, mi fedri di for you can, fedra i ddim for i can’t. I’ve tried to look this up and it seems to be a ‘short form’, which seems to be a different way of saying things in the present tense, is that right? I dont really understand what this is - is liciwn i the same thing? And can you say Dw i’n medra?
Sorry for all the questions. I’m asking because I’ll often guess wrong and be saying things like wnes i ddim yn gubod, or Dwi 'n medra!
Really enjoying the course though… thanks alot


Yes, there are a number of ways to say things in past tense. This thread (and the video linked into it) might help Wnes i ddim/ Do'n i ddim

As for medru, yes, there are long and short forms in the present too, and yes, you can use “dwi’n medru”.
Liciwn is a conditional form (I would like), but you can say dwi’n licio (I like), and nes i licio (I liked) for present and past.

Don’t worry about getting all the forms mixed up at this point - it’s a lot for anyone’s brain to process and takes time to slot into place, but it will do eventually. Even if you pick the ‘wrong’ one, it’s likely you’ll be understood, and mistakes are great learning tools anyway so don’t be afraid to make them! :slight_smile:


Thanks Siaron. I think I’m starting to understand… so Do’ni ddim isio is like O’n i isio, ie they’re both the imperfect tense (ie i was wanting/used to want/wanted something in the past for a period of time) ? That first D being there in the negative form threw me, I thought it was a different verb being used as the auxiliary… like what happens in French, where you get je suis arrivé vs j’ai marché (kind of like ‘I am arrived’ vs ‘I have walked’). So i think I get it now - there’s just an extra D on it when it’s negative???
So what about wnes i, is that a different tense or just a different way of forming the past tense? Can you say both wnes ti dweud and ddudest ti and do they mean exactly the same thing?
thanks again (sorry for all the questions!)


Yes, exactly - the d here denotes the negative.

wnes ti is, technically, a different tense (the preterite*) but it’s not a tense that English has, which is why when translating to English it all merges into one past-tense mush!
wnest ti ddweud and ddudest ti are both preterite and yes, they mean the same as each other.

*preterite is a tense of the verb denoting completed action in the past (e,g, es i / nes i fynd = I went) as opposed to the imperfect, which also has a past tense (o’n i, do’n i ddim etc) but denotes continuing action or state in the past (e.g. o’n i’n mynd = I was going).


Wonderful, thanks!

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The ‘D’ is a remnant of Jespersen’s Cycle (the shift from pre-verbal negation to post verbal-negation, like the French ne…pas). Pre verbal negation used ni, nid if the next word began with a vowel. So, it was originally Nid o’ni. But was often pronounced more like Ni do’ni. When ni gave way to post-verbal dim, the ‘D’ stuck around. Same thing with Does dim which was originally Nid oes.


I might be being very pedantic, but I wouldn’t say “wnes i lico” unless it was a very specific single completed action, “wnes i lico dy lun ar instagram” is okay but “o’n i’n licio dy got” sounds better.

Like you I was confused about tenses etc. Then I spoke to two friends and their first language is Welsh.
They both told me use whatever you want. I was puzzled . They explained that Welsh speakers would understand what you are meaning to say and they would correct you, or just get on with the conversation.
Don’t know if this will help but it helped me.
Also one of my friends said that Welsh was basically a form of shorthand. Meaning the language has been shortened.

Dwi’n casau’r gair “Licio”. Hoffwn i weld o diflannu’n llwyr!!! Diolch yn fawr am y Cwrs mae o di helpu fi yn fawr iawn ond dwi ddim yn hoffi’r hen “Licio”, gair diog, ‘ma…

Digon teg, ond mae’r gair ‘licio’ wedi cael ei defnyddio yn yr iaith Cymraeg ers o leia 1609 :wink:
Fair enough, but the word ‘licio’ has been used in the Welsh language since at least 1609 :wink:


On i’n mynd i ddwued yr un peth Siaron! Dw’i ddim yn hoffi’r gair chwaith ond yn cofio mamgu yn dweud “lico” trwy’r amser.


It’s nice to have the choice, especially to explain ourselves when we are struggling. Lico is 1st language welsh around the Swansea area.

Incidentally, looking from the other angle, I occasionally hear “gyrru” in place of anfon: to dispatch, drive or send (out).

Finally - I noticed from my 90s Neath class notes, that “siwr” was being used for “sure” and “sicr” for “certain”. Although I tend to find myself using them both for sure but in different sentences.

“Dwi’n casau’r gair “Licio”. Hoffwn i weld o diflannu’n llwyr!!! Diolch yn fawr am y Cwrs mae o di helpu fi yn fawr iawn ond dwi ddim yn hoffi’r hen “Licio”, gair diog, ‘ma…”

I also much prefer personally not to use “licio”, especially when “hoffi” is still widely-used. At the same time, pretty much all languages are constantly importing loan-words from elsewhere (including at least two English words in your own posting quoted here :slight_smile: ) - it’s worth bearing in mind that the vocabularies of all languages are dynamic.

Hey everyone - wasn’t trying be a smart a… and when I was growing up in the Porthmadog area the word “gorro” was used instead of “gorfod” … now I understand that could be referred to simply as slang. Point I would try to positively make now is really “not to sweat the small stuff” as when I started to become more fluent in Welsh ( and SSIW has been so wonderful for me) i spent ages trying to understand variations in spoken Welsh which in most cases turned out to be slang or dialect differences - as Aron says quite rightly: just practice speaking at every opportunity. Arglwydd Mawr ‘tisio mynedd efo’r hen ddysgu ‘ma!!!

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Ah the joys of ‘bratiaith’, eh?! Personally I think slang versions are often better than the ‘proper’ word.
Take popty ping for instance - far more fun than meicrodôn! And I’d really like to see trampolîn become bwrdd boing! :joy:


It has my vote.

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@julia95, as a fairly new learner (mid-Level 2), I make the choice between wnes i and o’n i according to the duration of the action. Did it happen once and was over, or did it continue for some time? For example, I’d say wnes i glywed but o’n i’n gwrando (ar): I heard vs. I was listening (to). The distinction isn’t always that clear, but it helps me to decide which to use in the moment.


Thanks for that , good advice