"What" linking to a clause

How do I render into Welsh the equivalent of “what”, not as a question (‘beth ?’) but in -
“That’s not what I want”, or “that’s not what I expected”. Eg how would you translate into Welsh the following-

“I don’t understand what you mean”.

“He knew what he wanted”.

“This is what you will do”.

I understand that ‘beth’, in this context, is perceived as sloppy. So what is correct?


I can’t help with “correct“, but I can confirm that the SSiW lessons use ‘beth’ in this context.
He knows what he wants -> Mae fe’n gwybod beth mae fe’n moyn.


Well seeing as most of the people better qualified to answer such things are currently living it up in some party or other…

My feeling would be to use ‘beth’ for all three of these examples. I think you could also put in ‘yr hyn’ sometimes instead, but I doubt if it’s always necessarily better:

“Dyna beth dw i’n ei gredu.”
“Dyna’r hyn dw i’n ei gredu.”

“Dyna’r beth o’n i eisiau ddweud.”
“Dyna’r hyn o’n i eisiau ddweud.”

“Dw i ddim yn deall beth wyt ti’n feddwl.”
I don’t think there’s any reason to avoid ‘beth’.

“Oedd e’n gwybod beth oedd e’n moyn.”

Dyma beth y wnei di.

Very happy to be corrected by someone who knows more what they’re talking about!


Welcome, Robert. Excellent first question, I look forward to the official answer. In my limited experience, I also would go for “beth”.


Hello, hello and welcome to the forum first in this late night (here in Slovenia where I live).

For your question - I’m not the most qualified for “officially” answering this but like all here answered already, I’m quite happy to use beth in all these cases too and if I still remember correctly lessons teaches us this also. So, I believe you won’t go wrong using beth much more then you think it’s “propriate”. :slight_smile:

Tatjana :slight_smile:

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Well, Gareth King in his excellent Modern Welsh - A Comprehensive Grammar says:

“Spoken Welsh has something approaching a relative pronoun: ‘yr hyn’ meaning that which, the thing which. It usually corresponds to what in natural English and ‘beth’ is often an acceptable alternative in Welsh.” So I wouldn’t say it is sloppy. In “Ymarfer Ysgrifennu Cymraeg” (Practising Writing Welsh) by Gwyn Thomas, you see ‘yr hyn’, but he does not explicitly mention its use.


I don’t where this “official answer” is going to come from but I’m dying to find out. :joy:

Anyway, just to agree with everyone above, “beth (be’)” is what pretty much everyone on the street would say, that’s what everyone on the street would understand. There may be another way to say it, I have no idea, but it’s certainly not wrong. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


After sleeping on it, “beth” still feels right even for stuff like "I will ask her what her name is.

“That” or “which” on the other hand would be different.


Indeed it does! - in this case, the “what” is a question word, not a relative pronoun.


I’m getting a bit out of my depth now, but aren’t they all based on “what” question forms?

Perhaps on the other hand if we are looking at, say: “I don’t understand the thing that …”, we could use "dwi ddim yn deal y peth bod…


Hmmm… from where do you understand that?

‘Beth’ would be fine and completely normal speech for all of these, although you’d run into some different ways of phrasing some of this sort of thing in written Welsh, depending on what tone was being aimed for…


I have this book. On which page or section will I find this comment?

Hi Rob,
In my version it is section 144, page 103, fourth & fifth paragraph - it is indexed under ‘what’ in the index, not ‘yr hyn’


I was also thinking of “y peth bod/sydd”.
“What”, in english is just a shorthand for ‘the thing which…’. Eg “This is what I want” deconstructs to “This is the thing which I want”. Following up on this we would get- “Dyma’r peth bod i’n eisiau”. With ‘peth’ meaning ‘thing’ as against ‘what’. Unfortunate ambiguity there.

  1. Is it correct?
  2. Does it Sound correct? (or just sound weird/affected).

To me it sounds “correct”. But does it sound crazy?

1 - nope, 2 - nope. You’ll need ‘dyma’r peth dwi eisiau’, or you could go for ‘dyma’r hyn dwi eisiau’ - both of which sound a little more proper or stilted than the normal ‘dyma beth dwi eisiau’.