Singular and Plural Nouns in Welsh

I have just read an interesting book called ‘Rarebits for Welsh Learners’ by Colin Jones. I have always wondered why so many Welsh nouns are shorter in the plural form than the singular, which seems strange to an English speaker.

This is how Colin explains it.

An ancient Celtic man and his wife were looking into the night sky and saw lots of stars which they called 'sêr’ because it was the group of stars (sêr) they saw first. Then, after a while they noticed that one of the stars was shining brighter than the rest. Sêr un (one star), which over time, sêr un became ‘seren’, one star.

He gives several other examples. Coed, meaning trees. One tree coed un meaning one tree, became coeden
Moch meaning pigs, becomes moch un one pig, and later mochyn.

Fascinating stuff, or at least I thought so. Brilliant little book to add to your collection. I hope Colin doesn’t mind me producing this.


I’m sure he won’t mind @RobMorgan if it means more interest in the book and more sales! Just the simple fact of now seeing that those endings mean ‘one’ will hopefully jog my memory before I automatically go for the wrong word! Thanks for sharing :+1:

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I agree, it’s a great little book. He manages to be humorous about the language without being denigrating, but I instantly remembered all his talk of singular nouns often being longer than plural nouns in Welsh and it’s rare something sinks in so quickly with me, so it must have been good!

Many thanks for this book suggestion RobMorgan. I might ask for this book for my upcoming Birthday. Just up my street. Susan