Use of nad clause after gwadu

I just came across this sentence in a novel: ‘Ni ellid gwadu nad oedd achos yr erlyniad yn gryf’. From the context this can only mean: ‘It could not be denied that the prosecution’s case was strong’, but I am confused by the ‘nad’, which of course usually introduces a negative clause: ‘Dwi’n siwr nad Fred dorrodd y ffenest’ (Gareth, section 496). So, two questions (assuming that this is correct Welsh and not just a mistake by the writer): is this double negative construction of ‘ni…nad’ something you get with verbs of denying like ‘gwadu’, and if so what would be the Welsh for ‘‘It could not be denied that the prosecution’s case was not strong’?


Personally I would say that the Welsh you have translates to say ‘not strong’ (but I’m a learner myself) - replacing the negative nad with a that would remove the not.

However, the double negative seems to be a dark arts detail in Welsh - two negatives almost seeming twice as good to me, so far. :smile:

Efallai does neb sy’n gallu ateb y cwestion yma… heblaw un! (did you see what I did there? :wink:)

Rich :slight_smile:


There’s a good Wikipedia page for “double negative”. Welsh and according to the wiki entry, the majority of languages, including Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian etc have negative concord or emphatic negation, as did Middle English. So each negative re-enforces or agrees with the last and doesn’t cancel each other out as in modern English.

I suspect, that Welsh by now is also being influenced by English and you might get a bit of both, where maybe some people might think things like “Does neb” or “Does dim byd” might be wrong, when they’re actually perfectly correct.


I just saw the last part of your question and I’m wondering myself - how you would say it the other way around, apart from changing gryf for gwan, I have no idea.

In South Wales, in colloquial English, you will hear people saying things, like “you can’t deny it wasn’t a good game”, meaning it was a good game. The opposite in English, won’t use deny and might be something like “you can’t pretend that was a good game” or “you have to admit, that wasn’t a good game”

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It is interesting that the Wikipedia article mentions Afrikaans in this respect, but doesn’t expand on it as it does with other languages.

My only knowledge of the language is in my friends’ social media posts and that it very similar to Dutch (its parent language). However I notice that negative sentences always seem end with an additional (not). This seems to distinguish it from Dutch and other West Germanic languages. I understand that this item of grammar has been borrowed from another African language.

I think that @Toffidil is on the money here, if the meaning is as you have inferred, the author got himself confused by three negatives (ni, gwadu, nad), the construct gwadu nad - to deny that - is common without a ni or dim:

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I would appreciate a response from @garethrking on this one please :slight_smile:
I’ve come across this occasionally myself in more formal style writing and wondered what the rules are, but struggled to find a way of looking it up, even in Gareth’s excellent Comprehensive Grammar.


Yes, Dee - nad is negative of course, so this appears to be illogical given the context you identify. However the GPC notes (rather guiltily, I can’t help thinking):
‘a’i dilyn yn aml gan y negydd na, nad
‘and is often followed by the negative na, nad’.

So what we’re left with is a particular verb gwadu deny that carries with it an implicit negative connotation, and this sort of ‘spreads’ to the construction following - a bit like craindre fear in French, where we say je crains qu’il NE soit trop tard I fear it may be too late.
So the answer in this case is that na(d) and fod are both OK, and both heard. And the one with nad is therefore indeed ambiguous, since it could indeed also mean ‘It could no be denied that the prosecution’s case was not strong’.


Diolch yn fawr Gareth! I had wondered when I saw it previously if it were similar to the French construction, but not read anything about it.

So one to be aware of but avoid using, I would think :slight_smile:


Certainly where there is a real danger of ambiguity, yes Dee - I would go with fod after gwadu. Though to be fair, such cases are probably rare, since context (as indeed in your example) generally makes the intended sense clear.

Not sure if this helps but I too came across a similar sentence and some research produced the following;-
‘Nad’ represents the combination of mai(taw) ddim there are two forms ‘na’ which is followed by SM and is used before consonants and nad is used before vowels so ‘ nad oedd’ is used here.

Essentially na and nad link two sentences together with ‘that is not’
so perhaps the translation is that the prosecutions case is not strong.

Except that Dee mentioned that the context made it clear the other way in this instance. But of course in broader terms it is ambiguous.

Every example I’ve found so far uses the negative to express the opposite i. e. nad being used like bod. I’ve looked at about ten so far - some old and formal and some relatively recent.

“Ni ellir gwadu nad” is very common.

“Nid oes modd gwadu nad yw’r status quo yn aneffeithiol ac annerbyniol”

All of these negatives together can be a mind bender and I can’t be sure I’ve interpreted things correctly every time.

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