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Who, whom, which, what and that in statements

Page history last edited by David Tidy 9 years, 4 months ago

What are the Welsh equivalents of these words?  How do I translate them?


This was the subject of a discussion on the SSiW forum to be found here


As always,  one needs to be careful about translating the word itself, but to look at the underlying meaning. 


Informally these words should not be too troublesome as they are mostly omitted in Welsh!


Formal Informal   

"Who" clauses using a verb-noun are formed with sydd, the special form of bod which means "who is"

The man who cleans windows:

Y dyn sy'n glanio ffenestri

The girl who has won the prize:

Y ferch sydd wedi ennill y wobr

Other tenses and short form verbs use a+soft mutation 

The boy who was stealing apples

Y bachgen a oedd yn dwyn afalau

I saw the driver who had an accident

Gwelais y gyrrwr a gafodd ddamwain

Caution:  Informally in English we often use "who" when strictly we should say "whom". See the next section 

 Sydd is used in the same way the same informally. The particle a is mostly omitted infomally but the soft mutation persists:

Mi weles i'r gyrrwr gafodd ddamwain


"Whom" is the object of the subsequent clause: Welsh uses y(r) and usually inserts ei or the equivalent before a verb-noun to refer back to the object:

The man whom the dog was biting

Y dyn yr oedd y ci yn ei frathu

With short form verbs a is again used:

Y dyn a frathodd y ci.

(note the possible ambiguity here - it could mean the man who bit the dog! It would be unambiguous in a sentence  like Y dyn a frathodd gi because the mutation of ci indicates it is the object of the sentence) 

Informally the y is normally omitted, although oedd might become roedd. Likewise a is mostly omitted  
To whom

Welsh has no qualms abut prepositions at the end of a sentence. (Nor does English most of the time except with pedants. Churchill famously poked fun with his sentence "This is the sort of nonsense up with which I will not put"). The construction is similar to the "whom" above with the preposition tacked on at the end.

The woman to whom I am speaking:

Y ddynes yr ydw i'n siarad wrthi

The same applies to other prepositions.

Informally y(r) vanishes:

Y ddynes dw i'n siarad wrthi


This is the man whose poetry won the chair in the Eisteddfod

(In translation the sentence can be thought of as being in two parts linked by yr:-

This is the man - His poetry won the chair in the Eisteddfod)

Dyma'r dyn yr enillodd ei gerdd y gadair yn yr Eisteddfod

Y(r) is often omitted  

This is similar to who/whom

The fire which is burning

Y tân sy'n llosgi

The ship which sank

Y llong a suddodd

The book which I am reading

Y llyfr yr ydw i'n ei ddarllen.

As above - a and y(r) often disappear   

"That" is used in more than one way in English.  It is frequently used as a substitute for "who/whom/which". If one of those words can take the place of "that", then translate that word instead.

"That" as opposed to "this" is outside the scope of this discussion. 

"That" introducing a reported statement is the topic here and mostly uses the bod form:

Statement "The train is late" - Mae'r trên yn hwyr

"I hear that the train is late" - Dw i'n clywed bod y trên yn hwyr

"He said that the train was late"  Dywedodd bod y trên yn hwyr

(the tense of the statement is understood from the context here)

Statements with the future tense need y(r):

"It will rain tomorrow" - Bydd hi'n bwrw glaw yfory

"She says it will rain tomorrow": Mae hi'n dweud y bydd hi'n bwrw glaw yfory



Yr hyn is the more formal term to use 

He does not know what to do 

Ni ŵyr yr hyn i'w wneud 


Beth is commonly used informally instead of yr hyn:

Dydy o ddim yn gwybod beth i'w wneud 




Comments (1)

David Tidy said

at 6:21 pm on Mar 2, 2011

Work in progress. Nothing on negatives or focused sentences yet! Corrections and comments welcome!

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