Using "yn" with verb formations (x-post from

/u/vikingr470 posted this on the Learn Welsh subreddit earlier today, and they haven’t gotten anyone who really knows the nuances to answer yet. I’ve heard great things about the SSiW forum, but I haven’t really been on it yet. Could any of you help out, please?

“Hello speakers/enthusiasts of Welsh!
I hope you’ve had a nice Christmas :slight_smile:
I’ve been looking at Welsh now for the past couple of days (for the first time ever - please excuse my ignorance if this is question has a really simply answer) and I’ve noticed verb phrases such as:
Dw i isio
Dw i angen
Dw i newydd
Dw i wedi (anghofio/dysgu…)
O’n i isio
However, others seem to have “yn” added (seemingly after the “i” in the present and after “bod” in past tenses:
Dw i’n mynd
Dw i’n trio
Dw i wedi bod yn (dysgu/siarad…)
On i’n trio
Could anyone please explain what the “yn” brings to the table in the formation of a verb phrase? :slight_smile:
Looking at the translations given, it would appear to be adding a progressive aspect. Is this right? If so, does this mean that “yn” can be added to any verb phrase in order to give it a continuous feel?
Dw i trio - I try ?
Dw i’n trio - I’m trying ?
Thank you very much in advance for any replies!
P.S. Are there any good sites or recommended books which tackle specifically Welsh grammar? :)”

Isio, angen newydd are really exceptions to the “yn”

Dw i’n hoffi = I like, and I am liking

Dw i’n darllen = I read, and I am reading

Dw i’n is part of the verb “bod”

I remember a teacher telling me once that one of the five things necessary to master Welsh was to be able to use the verb “bod” to be correctly. Sounds easy, just one verb, but there is an awful lot of it to learn!

If this is the first time your colleague has looked at Welsh there is no grammar book on earth that will not put him off (with apologies to @garethrking) ! If he wants to learn Welsh, start off with SSIW!


"isio is spelled wrong, right? Shouldn’t it be eisiau?

You will come across both spellings.

Cheers J.P.

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Can someone please tell me if this is right before I go ahead and post my reply on Reddit?

So I wrote all this and then realized that it might be way too much for a complete beginner. As someone on another forum said, if this is the first time you have looked at Welsh, there is no grammar book on earth that will not put you off. Grammar is definitely not the right way to start learning Welsh. Have you heard of SaySomethinginWelsh? If not, they’re the first place you should start before looking in depth at grammar.

Not an expert, but I took a Welsh course last summer that had some useful materials.

"Just like English, most Welsh sentences use the periphrastic (roundabout) construction, so instead of saying “he sings right now,” we usually say “he is singing right now.” The Welsh form of “is singing” is the verb-noun (berfenw), the dictionary form of the verb. Canu can be “to sing” (verb) or “singing” (noun), which is why it’s called a verb-noun. Think of yn as a giant hook: if a Welsh sentence has a predicate, it requires yn or something equivalent to hang it on. Yn causes no mutations in verbs.

The yn isn’t translated, but you can think of it as “in the process of / engaged in” if you need a meaning for it. When you stress the verb (he is singing), in Welsh you’d stress the yn (mae e yn canu). Other prepositions can be used in place of yn, with different meanings."

-Cymdeithas Madog, Cwrs Cymraeg 2015, Lefel 2

Let’s look at some of your examples:

  • Dw i isio

(I’m used to the spelling “Dw i eisiau”, so I’m going to use that one or else it will just look wrong to me.) The standard way of using eisiau would be like “Mae eisiau [rhywbeth] arni i”, or “I want [something].” It literally translates as “there is a want of [something] upon me.” Angen would be used in much the same way. Kinda weird, right? According to the same source as above,

“Prepositions are used to convey all sorts of transitory states where English uses a verb.”

Talking about eisiau and angen,

"Both of these words can be made into semi-verbs (under the influence of English):

Dw i eisiau [rhywbeth]. Note that there is no yn!"

It’s probably safe to assume that the lack of yn has something to do with the fact that it’s not really a proper Welsh sentence constuction.

  • Dw i angen

Same as above.

  • Dw i newydd

This is one that I’m not sure about, since newydd isn’t exactly a preposition. In this case, newydd is an adverb meaning “just”, or literally “newly.”

  • Dw i wedi (anghofio/dysgu…)

This is an example of using a preposition instead of yn. Wedi is a preposition meaning “after.” So, when you say “dw i wedi anghofio” to mean “I have forgotten”, what you’re literally saying is “I am after forgetting.”

  • Dw i wedi bod yn (dysgu/siarad…)

There is no yn after wedi, as in the previous example. I think the yn after bod in this case is the same usage as the yn in “Dw i’n dysgu.” After all, the dw in dw i’n comes from conjugating the verb bod.

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There is an awful lot going on here.

I’m just put in mind of asking for directions, and the best answer sometimes being “I wouldn’t start from here”!

I’d start with the idea that the present tense is formed by the verb “to be”, plus “yn” plus a verb, so
“Dw i yn trio” = “Dw i’n trio” = I try, and also I am trying.
“Dw i trio” does not exist, is not used, and means nothing.
This works for all verbs.
Apart from a very very few exceptions like eisiau and angen, which can be used without “yn”.
“Wedi” can replace “yn” and form a past tense. "I have (whatever) " being the equivalent in English.
"Newydd " can replace “yn” to mean something along the lines of “I have just (whatever)”.
I really am not against people looking into grammar, but when you say they have looked into it for a couple if days, this may be a case of just get the basics first, as it were!


I fully agree with Owain.
But as grammar was mentioned, I couldn’t resist.

“Yn”, “newydd”, “wedi” and also “ar” and “heb” are called aspect markers, that is, they say something about the action of the main verb. They exist in other languages such as English as well, but not usually to indicate the present, which is indicated by “yn” in Welsh - at least in the periphrastic structure of the verb, i.e. the structure using a form of “bod”, as in the examples by Margaret above.

Eisiau/isio and angen are very similar, but I’ve not seen these described as aspect markers.


I like Gareth King’s books (they have a very user-friendly mutation marking system - and his dictionary too, which is why I can find almost anything in it) and also the “Welsh rules” book that have wonderful lists of collocations (which verb is used with which preposition and so on). I also have “Welsh grammar you really need to know”, which is fine and quite clear and understandable.
I personally don’t understand why people seem to dread grammar so much. Grammar is beautiful, it’s the cosmos, as the Greek understood it, which gives form and harmony to chaos:)
But grammar is normally (English grammar and, as I’ve noticed, Welsh too) taught in levels - first something is explained without any complicated detail (just put Dw i’n + verb together and be happy). Then, when the learner’s more confident and has more vocabulary and can say more things, finer detail is taught. It’s not very useful to do 5 tenses with all their exceptions and nuances in one day, because the tired brain will just dismiss the information it doesn’t consider relevant at the moment (everything you can’t use in real speech).

I realized I just wrote with more complicated words what @owainlurch already said.


isio is one of the sound-spellings, the Gog pronunciation…and is often seen in writing as well. It’s only wrong if you take the view that literary or historical spellings count for more than sound-spellings, which is a point of view. Having said that, I suppose I would probably spell it eisiau if I was writing, but I notice that Golwg frequently uses isio and isie.


Aren’t they technically nouns (but not verb-nouns, which is why they can’t take “yn”)?
(although geiriadur.bangor doesn’t quite agree with me on this, but does, I think).

Just checked, and Section 396 of GK’s “Modern Welsh - A Comprehensive Grammar” (mine is the 1993 version) says they are pseudo nouns. As well as not taking “yn” when used with “bod” to form long-form verbs, they cannot take endings (i.e. they cannot be conjugated/inflected), so the only tenses you can form with them are those formed with “bod”. (Although I supposed you could still used “mynd i…”
e.g. “dw i’n mynd i isio peint ar ôl holl gramadeg 'na!”
(“I’m going to want a pint after all this grammar!” :slight_smile:

(But “moyn” is a true verb (or verb-noun), and hence takes “yn”)

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I think that’s the important make to the Reddit user - that usually verbs take ‘yn’ in the present, but that there are a few exceptions (eisiau, angen, mainly) that don’t - they are exceptions, and it’s probably best not to waste too much time worrying why, in the beginning at least.

In my mind, ‘wedi’ and ‘newydd’ don’t fit in the same list. Just as ‘yn’ tells you that the tense is the present (am doing), ‘wedi’ tells you it is the perfect (have done), and ‘newydd’ … well I’m sure it’s got a name but I don’t know what it is (have just done).

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“moyn”, amongst people I know, both people who don’t care about grammar and people I know who do, generally doesn’t take an “yn”. But some people will! It’s not really a literary word, so difficult to talk about what you ‘should’ or shouldn’t do!

And everybody I know who has an opinion on the matter (a very small number of people, we normally just talk Welsh about stuff, but as it happens I have talked about this very thing with various people, as it has come up on this site before, both with people whose jobs it is to know about Welsh grammer and people who just happen to speak Welsh :blush:) definitely regard and treat eisiau and angen as verbs (when they use them in that way) . Not saying anyone is right or wrong, of course.

The aforementioned grammar book (1993 edition) says it does take “yn”. However, there have been two editions (I think) of that book since then, and usage may have changed (and the latest edition may reflect this, since it is a descriptive grammar book, rather than a prescriptive one).

As for angen, eisiau/isio (sitting on a see-saw), on the northern course, we happily use them as verbs (minus the “yn” of course), even if they are not quite the real thing.

I doubt usage has changed that much since 1993! I certainly speak frequently to plenty of people who spoke Welsh before then :wink:, and they don’t say they’ve changed the way they speak that much since then :blush:. I certainly haven’t noticed Welsh changing that much (ie, more than other languages) since I grew up- but then I normally speak Welsh to people my age or older!:wink:*
We in the “South” certainly use eisiau and angen as verbs, and as nouns, depending on the sentence construct- as we speak the same language, being in the same country and all that :wink: And in most people’s minds I know, they are certainly real verbs when used as verbs :blush:
[*just like I do in English- it’s me rather than demographics of the language!]

So if the afore mentioned grammar book says that “moyn” ‘should’ take “yn”, it is incorrect, 1993 or not.:blush: Both descriptively speaking and prescriptively speaking. :blush:
“Moyn” may be a reduction of the verb noun “ymofyn”, but I go by

  1. What people use in common speech and
  2. What is thought of in literary style,
    1 being more important that 2.
    Now, 2 does not apply with ‘Moyn’, and round ‘ere, "moyn’ without “yn” is generally acceptable with 1.

Oh, incidentally… Ignoring the little red message telling me I’m talking too much…:blush: As “angen” and “eisiau” and “moyn” are verbs referring to a state of mind, they would tend to use the verb “to be” as an auxilliary rather than conjugating themselves. If I can use the phrase “conjugating themselves”. It sounds a little… indecent.
Tendency of course, and other verbs like that can sometimes be conjugated, but it shows that when they "became":blush: verbs there was no real need for conjugation to develope as an alternative. If youseewhatImean.
But anyway, as I say, everyone I know thinks of them as, feels them as and treats them as the verbs they are :blush:


Iestyn, of course, uses moyn with yn in the courses so originally I thought that was the truth! But I’ve just recently started noticing it used without yn quite a lot so I guess it’s one of those completely interchangeable things…
(Actually I think I tend to use eisiau more than moyn these days, as it’s what the kids say most often at school round here.)


Get me one as well while you’re there. :confused:

No…moyn is a verb, and still takes yn! :slight_smile: