That tricky little word 'na'

One thing I have realised I am struggling ith, when I am listening to / reading scwrs Beca a phobl is the use of the word ‘na’.

From the lessons, my brain had got used to thinking of na as a marker for the negative. But then I kept coming across sentences that began ‘mae na’ which were clear NOT negative. I think I have finally worked out that this is a shortening of ‘mae yna’ and basically means ‘there is/are’.
I know that you can translate, say, “mae ysgol yn y dre” as there is a school in the town, so i guess “mae na ysgol” is more like “there is a school there” (not here, in a particular place).
So I think I need to retrain my brain a little to remember that mae is a positive marker and if i hear it together with na, na is not a negative marker but yna! Have i got that approximately right?
I had a similar problem trying to hear the tiny difference between dw i’n and dw i’m, but I think I’ve worked out that the telltale there will be that dw i’m will have to be followed by yn. (Eg dw i’n hapus but dw i’m yn hapus).
This language learning lark is a slippery beast, isn’t it?


yup, spot on!

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I don’t think it’s as complex as that. The yna or 'na is essentially redundant, not required, but is used by many, many speakers anyway.
It used to be the received wisdom that this ‘extra’ 'na was a particular feature of the language in the north, but my experience is that it’s distributed right across Wales.


Am I correct in thinking that a different meaning of ‘na’ is ‘than’, as in: ‘gwell na o’r blaen’ ?
At least, that’s what I’ve been using - hope that’s right!

yes Alan, you’re right, na can also mean ‘than’, but before vowels (as in your example), you need to add a g - “yn well nag o’r blaen”.


Diolch, Siaron.

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Oh yes to that! :slight_smile:


And just to make Catriona’s day even more perfect - there are at least four of them:


and not forgetting of course:


Someone really should write a handy little book that could deal with tricky things like this, shouldn’t they? :wink:


Oops! Five! I forgot:




Hey Jude?


and a ni ni … noo so, “ni ni na na na noo” - for all you Buster Bloodvessel fans…

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