Who's wrong - me, evening classes or SSIW?

I’ve been learning Welsh for ages at evenings classes and I’ve learned (or think I’ve learned) lots of words and grammar. But SSIW seems to use different words and grammar!! For example, ‘Roedd e…’ means He Was, but SSIW uses ‘Oedd e’ to mean He Was, whilst my evening class books say that ‘Oedd e’ is the ‘question’ format, i.e., Was He? Similarly, SSIW says ‘Byddai fe’ means ‘He would’, but my books say ‘Basai fe’ is He Would. Do I need to unlearn everything before starting SSIW?

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Evening classes tend to teach a more standardised version of Welsh whereas SSiW teaches many different forms that you’ll hear used in speech. None of them are wrong - although you could say that spoken Welsh often ‘takes liberties’ compared to standardised, formal or literary Welsh.

It can be difficult to get your head around it to begin with, so my advice is to use what you feel comfortable using, but to be aware of the different forms you may encounter so that they don’t throw you if you hear them in a conversation.


No-one of the two is wrong, but you will rarely hear the full “Roedd e” in a pub or down the shop.

As Siaron writes up there. The evening classes tend to take a quite formal approach to Welsh, which isn’t wrong or right - its just different to what you’ll hear when you’re not speaking to a Welsh tutor and you’re chatting with mates down the pub or random people down the coffee shop.


I could write a book on this topic. If I was less controlled I would by now have destroyed my laptop, my phone and the gym equipment (I did most of my SSIW in the gym). The following sentence wasn’t quite in the lessons but, in the past, I had learnt to say something like ‘Rydw i eisiau mynd i fyny’r grisiau’ which became ‘dw i’n moyn mynd lan star’!! However, I still think everything I learnt before is relevant and the ‘new’ stuff complements it. In fact, now, I am glad I have gone through both. The main problem for me is learning the southern word, the northern word, all the variations of the two to discover that most Welsh speakers use the English one!! Dal ati, we all need to understand how most people speak and there is always something new (and unexpected) around the corner with Welsh.


Spoken Welsh loves to drop letters. Nesaf often becomes Nesa. Yfory becomes Fory, etc. And as you already noticed, Roedd becomes Oedd.

Furthermore, pronunciation varies as well. Oedd is often pronounced awthe in the south rather than oithe.


My thanks to all, all the replies are uaeful, even if only to show me that I’m not alone in my difficulties. I’m sorry if I sound depressed, I really love SSIW, but sometimes it gets so intense that I just have to walk away from it for a while.


Hi Roger - Shwmae? :slight_smile:
Nicky is correct here, but it’s also important to note that no-one will care or maybe even notice if you use roedd instead of oedd, so it’s important not to worry about it. Use what you’re most comfortable with, and be aware that that might gradually change as your experience of Welsh matures.


My memory (which may be faulty) is that the original SSiW - the “Courses” as opposed to the “Levels”- did actually teach “roedd”, at least in the early stages.

Although I can remember seeing conversations in the forum at about the time I was doing these lessons that said that in speech either was acceptable.

As far as “he would” is concerned, I seem to remember SSiW Northern Courses teaching “basai”.
(I don’t know if SSiW Southern taught “byddai”).

Somehow or other, I relatively soon became aware that both/either were correct, and that they were essentially regional variations. And I think that is confirmed in Gareth King’s Comprehensive Grammar book. Similarly, of course, “byddwn i” vs “baswn i” etc.

It is a potentially confusing area, admittedly. I suspect that books aimed specifically at learners don’t give all the variations because they don’t want to confuse / overwhelm people (and I think that’s a good thing). The book mentioned above is a reference grammar, and definitely not aimed at early learners. GK has other grammar books which are more targeted at learners, and explain it in a slightly more simplified way, and with useful exercises.


I may well be wrong, but I suspect that, if you say ‘roedd’ it might mark you as a learner. This could work either way. If you are not ultra-confident, it might be quite handy if folk speak clearly and are gentle with you, but there is a definite possibility they will switch to English!

With the general disclaimer of “don’t worry you’ll be understood either way”, both byddai and basai translate back to “he would”. The difference is whether the conditional sentence is open (balanced likelihood - os byddai) or closed (hypothetical - pe basai).

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Interesting … that’s not quite how I thought it worked, and now I must check with The Bible (i.e. Gareth’s great big grammar book).

Don’t worry - that’s not a hardship. I’m Jekyll and Hyde about grammar: My Dr Jekyll is a normal everyday guy who just wants to speak and be understood, and to understand without worrying about the nitty gritty. However, my Mr Hyde is a secret grammar nerd who worries about every last detail, and then some. He only comes out on occasions though. It’s a guilty pleasure which fortunately is still legal in this jurisdiction. :slight_smile:

The one thing that always stuck in my mind from Course-whatever it was - 2, probably - was the

Taswn … mi faswn … pattern.
If I (were to) do something… then I would be …something or other.

I guess that’s the hypothetical case. Where my memory disagrees though is that I thought both forms were acceptable in that kind of sentence.

I do remember GK writing (and saying in this forum), that the “byddai” form can also be used as a kind of imperfect past tense in literature, and I’ve seen it used like that. Whereas the “basai” form can’t be. But that’s a different thing really.


This, and also that they tend to use forms that provide a whisper of the more formal, written Welsh that they aim to lead students on towards at Uwch level. Since SSIW is entirely focussed on the informal, spoken language, it doesn’t need to worry about such subtlety.


Reflecting on my own learners journey, as a learner we want to know the ‘one true right way’ to say something. However, languages don’t always provide only one way to say things. In English, phrases may be taught such as It is and I am going, but in reality people say It’s and I’m going.
Both oedd and roedd are correct and will be understood. Oedd is just Roedd without an r. If you ask a question while saying roedd instead of oedd, everyone will understand, and most people won’t even notice that there was an R there. I’ve had a think about whether I say oedd or roedd, and I believe that it is a mixture; I am am not fully sure which will come out and until it actually has.
People who have been using the language for many years may make a conscious choice to adopt a consistent register of language. The rest of us mortals don’t worry about that sort of thing and concentrate on making sure that people know we ordered sglodion instead of deep fried pineapple and would like a peint instead of babycham…

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Blimey, is that still going? - Yes, apparently! Brings back memories (mostly of TV ads, since I hardly ever drank the stuff. Reminds me of other drinks that only ever existed in ads as far as I was concerned: “Do 'ave a Dubonnet”. Or “Noilly Prat” (with Pete Murray, if I remember correctly).
Amazing, both of those are still going, apparently.

Edit: http://www.headington.org.uk/adverts/drinks_alcoholic.htm (and yes it was Pete Murray).

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Rum and coke - had to be dark rum. Captain Morgan’s! Beer (bitter) when only wimps drank lager! I was raised on cider so never saw it as a proper drink for adults! Now I drink Perrier water! Went off alcohol in my forties!

Apparently even Blue Nun is still going. This became the byword for cheap & easily drinkable plonk for the masses, with serious wine drinkers avoiding it like the plague. (I liked it, so draw your own conclusions… :slight_smile: ). Apparently, after a takeover, it was made less sweet, and a bit more grown-up. I don’t know if serious wine drinkers take it any more seriously, but I’ll bet it’s gone up in price.

Well it must surely be better than Babycham which i hated? Mind i don’t like champagne either!

Just as in English (or any other language) you have a literary form, a “correct” grammatical modern common usage form and a spoken everyday, sometimes slang form (that’s why I have difficulty watching “Pobl i Cym” on S4C!!) . That’s what makes language learning so interesting.

Just don’t go to Glasgow if you are an English learner!!!

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