Seem and mean

Afternoon pobol hyfryd!
Whilst I am pottering about and speaking Welsh to unsuspecting pets, or just narrating as I go along, I realise how much I want to use the word ‘seem’.
It seems to me that blah blah…
It seems to be raining.
I seem to have forgotten something important (like my head…)

Is this one of those verbs that doesn’t pan out in Welsh? Or could you use ‘looks like’ in all those sentences, and would that make sense too/instead?

Similarly with ‘mean’.
Do you see what I mean?
I mean it!
What does that mean?
I mean, who does that?

I use these phrases all the time in English and can’t think of how to move them over. If they just don’t happen in Welsh, I’d like to find some phrases with the same feel, so that I can go about muttering comfortably!
All help deeply appreciated!

I don’t know about “seem”, but “mean” uses the same word as “think”, which if memory serves comes up in Level 1.

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Seem (and appear) would be ymddangos and mean (and also to edit) would be golygu and also, as @hectorgrey says, meddwl could also be used to mean mean (os ti’n gwybod be’ dwi’n ei olygu/feddwl).


There are actually quite a few ways to express ‘seem’, but I’m reluctant to list them (well, copy and paste actually!) all because it might look disheartening at first glance (I certainly can’t remember them all myself when I need to!), but if you really feel you need some examples, go to and put ‘seem’ in the search box.


It’s interesting that golygfa means view - a space of meaning perhaps?

Aha! And yay! This forum is like having a big Welsh brain to pick! Amazing!
I shall enjoy digging through the examples - thank you @siaronjames - just the sort of thing I needed and not offputting at all!
Mae golwg (rhywbeth) arno/arni - that feels like a good way to phrase the things I mean when I use seem. As if I were saying ‘it has a (something) look on it.’
Also Mae’n debyg gyda fi.
I had looked up the relevant words, but had no idea how to put them in a form that felt right.
@hectorgrey - I can’t remember using meddwl like that in level one - only in the sense of dw i’n meddwl bo ti’n siarad yn dda and so on. Perhaps I need to go and revise!
@gruntius dw i’n meddwl bo fi’n gwybod be ti’n ei olygu. (Gobeithio!)
Nawr! Mae fy ymennydd wedi cwympo mas!!! :laughing:
Diolch i bawb!


Yes, I think it comes up a little later on as “to mean”. It fits in nicely though: I think/I mean seem fairly similar.

You could go really simple and use meddwl (to think / mean) for all of those.

In English when you say “it seems to be”, you are very often saying “I think it’s…”, or at least you could transmit the same information by using think

It seems to be raining (I think it’s raining)
You seem to be angry (I think you;re angry)
I seem to have forgotten my head (I think I’ve forgotten my head again)

The fact that there is no simple one-size-fits-all translation of seems to Welsh is a good indication that we probably don’t use the phrase “it seems to be” in the same way, so it’s well worth you thinking a bit deeper and considering exactly what you are saying, rather than just trying to fit Welsh words to your English patterns.

One of the challenges of learning a second language is that you are conditioned by your first to express yourself in a certain way, which may or may not be “normal” amongst first language speakers of your second language. And one of the most beneficial effects of having a second (or more) language is that your mind has to flip flop between different ways of expressing concepts, which is a really good brain workout.

So, while you learn new Welsh words to describe / translate the things that you do in English, you will also gradually get in to new Welsh language habits that describe the stuff that you do in English differently. That’s when you have absolute proof that you are a Welsh speaker!

Exciting isn’t it!


This is what I felt was happening. I had the feeling that these phrases didn’t happen in the same way in Welsh. When you are a learner though, and you come to something like this, it is really hard to know what to do about it. You can feel a bit stumped and spend the next however long NOT saying anything related to those phrases, because you know you can’t (and go back to the feeling of just not being able to say what you want). I’ve done that a lot before now, and it is the gateway to feeling crushed. Crushed people don’t speak happily and try less and less.
On top of that, you have no way to try and discover how another language would do that particular thing, because the only thing you know is that they don’t do what you do in your language. :worried:
Fortunately, this forum is full of wonderful people and advice! Here you can find out what people hear others saying, or what they use themselves! And no being crushed!!

New Welsh habits please! :laughing::laughing:


Sometimes you can get a handle on words like this by looking at related adjectives or adverbs.

In this context, I thought of “seemingly” or “seeming”. (one of my favourite online dictionaries) gives:


and if we reverse look this up, we get:

seeming, apparent

for the English translation. But it handily lists two Welsh alternative phrases:

yn ymddangos, i bob golwg

and if we look up “ymddangos”:

we get, as first English translation:

to appear, to seem

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A common structure in Welsh which gives the sort thing as ‘seems to be’ is this type of thing:

Mae e fel tasai fe’n gwella
He seems to be getting better

Dyn ni fel tasen ni’n hwyr
We seem to be late


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The beauty of learning Welsh though, is that because nearly all Welsh speakers also speak fluent English, when you force an English phrase into Welsh, it will be totally understandable nearly every time, which takes the pressure off a bit in real conversations.

So, two pronged attack:

  1. ask on the forum, because you will find out all sorts of useful stuff (as will a whole load of people who haven’t yet thought of the same question, or haven;t got round to asking it yet!) and;

  2. Don’t worry. Play with different ways of saying it in English to seem if one of them has a simpler translation (like think in my suggestions above), or turn on your spidey senses when you are having conversations / reading / watching TV etc. We definitely do say something that corresponds to “it seems to be raining” (and that particular one on a regular basis!), so keep listening out for it, and you will find it.

The fact that you are coming up with these “everyday Welsh” questions tells me that you are using your Welsh regularly, even if only to yourself. In order to do that, you must have a fair bit of Welsh under your belt already. That is brilliant, and is the only reason that you have reached this (or any other) particular impasse. How 'awesome are you?


I like this idea - it gives a more rounded sense of the words. [quote=“mikeellwood, post:10, topic:8443”]
i bob golwg

This is the type of phrase I expect myself to want to use, if that makes any sense!

This also - I enjoy the way the phrase works - sort of ‘It is as though he were getting better.’ Very pleasant![quote=“Iestyn, post:12, topic:8443”]
when you force an English phrase into Welsh

I really, really don’t want to do that!! :smile:
I think what I’m exploring is my need to be able to express things in ways natural to me - and of course I look to Englishisms first (but promise to stop that as soon as there is enough Welsh in there to crowd the other stuff out). It feels as though I’m going through all the English corners in my brain and wondering if they can be Welsh corners, but I’m more than prepared to abandon corners for some other shape altogether!

And the dog. The dog is fluent.[quote=“Iestyn, post:12, topic:8443”]
That is brilliant, and is the only reason that you have reached this (or any other) particular impasse. How 'awesome are you?

Nothing to do with me - all down to SSIW!! The singularly most amazing learning experience my brain has had the fortune to bump into! :grinning:


I have the feeling that Welsh people do this quite a lot, and that modern colloquial welsh may be developing at a bit of a gallop because of it. But that’s only the view of a (mostly) outsider.

I feel the need to say things like this quite a lot. Another one I often feel like saying is:

‘Mae e i’w weld yn gwella.’

Although I never feel completely confident of how idiomatic either of those sound when I say them, so am likely to chicken out and just say ‘Dw i’n meddwl ei fod e’n gwella.’

Any comments on how freely we can use those two?

Oh please put us out of our misery now!

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Oh sorry - that wasn’t supposed to be a tantalising “I know the answer, ha ha ha ha ha”. It was just that we must say something that corresponds to, but I have no idea what it is.

In fact, now that you ahve forced me to confront that, I’m not sure that I ever say “it seems to be” in English. The closest i can come up with is “It looks like …” (Mae’n edrych fel / Mae’n disgwyl fel…/ Mae i’w weld yn…). Does that work?

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Ah, how funny, I read it as a challenge!

I think it’s really interesting that it’s such a hard question for you to answer though! (I just love making Welsh speakers think about things like this, but sometimes need to resist the temptation so as not to get on people’s nerves too much!)

Does that justify my slight unease about saying something like “Mae i’w weld yn bwrw glaw”, although it sort wants to be on the tip of my tongue sometimes?

Mae hynny’n hollol iawn…:slight_smile:

Ac ia, mae i’w gweld yn bwrw glaw (fel arfer, dyddiau hyn)…:slight_smile:

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If seem means be apparent’. then it’s usually ymddangos

Mae’n ymddangos fod y lleill heb gyrraedd
It seems that the others haven’t arrived

But if ‘seem’ means ‘have an appearance’, then golwg is often used:

Mae golwg sâl arni
She seems ill

If ‘mean’ means ‘have in mind’, then meddwl is the word to use:

Dach chi’n gwybod be’ dw i’n feddwl?
Do you know what I mean?

If it means ‘signify’, then either the verb golygu or the noun ystyr:

Be’ mae hynny’n olygu? (Although I reckon feddwl might be OK here as well)
Be’ ydy ystyr hynny?
What does that mean?


Diolch yn fawr am hynny. These are words that have confused me a lot and you’ve made things clearer.

So as a linguistic question, is this right:

Beth ydy ‘gair’ yn ystyr yn Gymraeg? What does ‘word’ mean in Welsh

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I think you probably want:

Beth ydy ‘gair’ yn golygu yn Gymraeg?


Beth yw ystyr y gair ‘gair’ yn Gymraeg?

(Unless I’m missing the point of course… :slight_smile:)