Saying "that" - I-forms and bod-forms

Hi. I know that there are many different ways to say “that” in Welsh, but I’m wondering about one thing in particular that trips me up in SSIW.

Most of the time when we’re saying something like “I thought that you did (something)” the answer seems to be “O’n I’m meddwl bo’ ti 'di gwneud (rhywbeth)”. But when it’s “I thought that you said”, the answer switches to “O’n i’n meddwl I ti ddweud (rhywbeth)”.

OK, I get that there are two different forms, and that’s what the grammar books say too. But is there any reason for choosing one form over the other? Is it anything with the second bit being “…that you said” rather than another verb, or is that just co-incidence in the way the examples come up in the course? Would I be wrong to say “O’n i’n meddwl bo’ ti 'di dweud”, for example?

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As far as I know, the version with ‘bod’ is really for when the saying/doing is at the same time as the thinking:
Dw i’n meddwl bo’ ti’n dweud…
= “I think that you are saying”
O’n i’n meddwl bo’ ti’n dweud…
= “I thought ‘you are saying’” which in English would become “I thought you were saying.” Not all verbs sound right in continuous (-ing) forms in English, so sometimes we’ll just use a past tense: O’n i’n meddwl bod ti’n meddwl… (I thought that you thought…) or O’n i’n meddwl bod ti’n ei charu hi (I thought that you loved her).

So what the … i ti ddweud structure does is situate the speaking before the thinking: I think you said > I thought ‘you said’ > I thought that you said. (The sequence of events isn’t always so clear in the way English does it.) However, I remember it being practised in an Uwch ii lesson with Dysgu Cymraeg, which suggests that they think it’s a fairly advanced point: I’m not sure if that’s ‘advanced’ as in ‘good, natural-sounding Welsh’, or ‘advanced’ as in ‘a bit precious and literary’, though.

However, I am fairly sure that you could say O’n i’n meddwl bo’ ti 'di dweud (I thought you’d said) in pretty much any context where … i ti ddweud is recommended, and have it (a) be understood, (b) sound natural, and (c) mean almost exactly the same.

As always, I stand ready to be corrected if I turn out to be misleading people :slight_smile:


Thanks Richard. I’m sure you’re right about the “i” form pushing things back into the past, but I’m also fairly sure that I’ve rarely heard it outside of the classroom (written down, yes). So I was a bit intrigued to find it in the middle of SSIW, and realised that I didn’t really understand when to use one and not the other, or indeed if there was any difference.

I would say also that the bod/fod…wedi…. option seems more common in speech than the i option, while in more formal writing there is not much to choose between them. If, for example, if we wanted to say It has been confirmed that the Queen of Lithuania arrived at court yesterday, then both these options are fine:
Cadarnhawyd fod Brenhines Llethaw wedi cyrraedd y llys ddoe
Cadarnhawyd i Frenhines Llethaw gyrraedd y llys ddoe

with the second one a bit more formal than the first.


Thanks. @aran needs to work that one into the next version of SSIW :slight_smile:


And today I learned the Welsh for “Lithuania” - every day’s a school day :slight_smile: Diolch!


And me! Llethaw! How cool is that?!


Yes, I have never forgotten saying Lithwania to my then Prof (of Irish!) Emrys Evans, and him saying to me ‘Why on earth aren’t you using the Welsh name? The language is Llethaweg, and the country is Llethaw!’ And so indeed it is. :lithuania: :+1:


A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Diolch!

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Thanks for asking this. On the topic of “that”, when should we be using “na”, e.g. “Clywes i na chest ti ddim amser”? I’m guessing it’s something to do with the past tense?

@kevin-20 You can use it when the following part of the sentence is negative, e.g.

“dw i’n meddwl bydd hi’n dod fory” - I think (that) she’s coming tomorrow
"dw i’n meddwl na fydd hi’n dod fory - I think that she’s not coming tomorrow

but you could also say “dw i’n meddwl fydd hi ddim yn dod fory”


Just to take it a step further, if Kevin’s example was positive, would there be an “y” in there - so clywais i y cest ti amser” - but you’d probably not hear the “y” in practice?

Diolch! I didn’t realise it was to do with the negative, so thanks for clarifying!

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By the way - further on Llethaw…there’s been quite a bit of flak flying in both directions recently in the more bonkers parts of the electrical internet about whether it should be Llethaw or ‘Lithwania’.
Well it certainly is Llethaw, and here’s a few further arguments, some of which I heard long ago on a Celtic Summer School in Dublin from the mouths of eminent Welsh (and Irish!) academics far loftier in knowledge and experience than me:
It’s parallel (clearly) to Lettow, which is found in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales - this was plainly the normal name of the country in (Middle) English back then, and the sound changes for an assimilation to Welsh of this word would certainly regularly give Llethaw. Let’s also note that the country suffix -nia in Lithuania (whether in English or Welsh) is a Latinism - very common for country and region names in both Classical and Medieval Latin, and it may reasonably be suspected that the latter encouraged the change in English from Lettow to Lithuania as the Renaissance happened and English coined massive numbers of Latinate words. And as an adjunct to this, it can be noted that the Lithuanian name for Lithuania is Lietuva (no -n- anywhere, note) - again the close parallel with Lettow is obvious.
I remember one of these professors (we were all gathered in a Dublin pub) pronouncing rather severely over his beer words to the effect that ‘why on earth should we be adopting the made-up Latin name in Welsh (‘Lithwania’) when there’s a perfectly good and authentic Brythonic name for it with a perfectly good pedigree?’
And surely nobody can seriously prefer ‘Lithwaneg’ to Llethaweg for the language, can they? Surely?


Here’s the reference for Chaucer if anyone’s interested: Canterbury Tales, General Prologue, ll.53-4

Aboven all nacions in Pruce;
In Lettow hadde he reysed and in Ruce

There you are - Prussia, Lithuania and Russia - three contiguous states!


I wonder if there was an earlier name for Estonia then? :thinking:

And according to Wikipedia:

The name of Estonia occurs first in a form of Aestii in the 1st century AD by Tacitus. However, at this stage it probably indicated Baltic tribes living in the area of Western Lithuania and the present-day Kaliningrad. In the Norse sagas (13th century) the term apparently was used to indicate the Estonians

I wonder. You see, in Estonian it’s Eesti - the -onia version is completely Latin again.

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That’s interesting, isn’t it? I wonder if the vikings back then distinguished between the Estonians and the Finns? The languages are very similar.

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