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Counting Years in Irish

easy grammar tips

Counting years in Irish is, unfortunately, a little bit confusing! However, it's not impossible by any means! Watch the video above and you will have the hang of it in no time at all.


Counting Years

It's important to know how to count years in any language because it comes up so often in conversation! If you want to talk about how many years you lived somewhere; how old you are; how old your children / dog / grandmother is; how many years it is since something happened then you had better know how to count years!


Counting things in Irish

Generally counting things in Irish is quite simple!

There are just a couple of basic rules:

  1. Use the singular form of the word
  2. After one (aon) and the numbers from 2 - 6 there is a séimhiú (h) on the word following: aon chat amháin (one cat); dhá theach (two houses); trí mhadra (three dogs)
  3. After the numbers from 7 - 10 there is eclipsis (letter in front): seacht gcat; ocht gcapall (eight horses); naoi dteach (nine houses)



Counting Years

When counting years, however, there is (for some reason of which I am not sure!) a deviation from the above rules when counting from 3 years onwards.


One Year / Two Years

'One year' and 'two years' follow the usual rules as when counting any object: use the singular form of the word, i.e. bliain (year); and add a séimhiú (h) after 'aon' and 'dhá'.

One year / Aon bhliain amháín

Two years / Dhá bhliain


Three to Six Years

From three years onwards a 'special counting word' is used when counting years: 'bliana'.

There is usually a séimhiú after the numbers from 3 - 6; but with the word 'bliana' this doesn't happen (again don't ask me why!)

Three years / Trí bliana

Four years / Ceithre bliana

Five years / Cúig bliana

Six years / Sé bliana


Seven to Ten Years

Again the 'special counting word' 'bliana' is used from seven to ten.

This time, as is usual after the numbers seven to ten, there is eclipsis: mbliana

Seven years / Seacht mbliana

Eight years / Ocht mbliana

Nine years / Naoi mbliana

Ten years / Deich mbliana


Yes, it is confusing!

This is something that a lot of people struggle with when learning Irish, so don't stress / ná bí buartha! Give it time, and take note every time you hear someone referring to a number of years; or whenever you come across a reference to a number of years when reading. Just pay attention and you will have it in no time at all!


A Summary sheet for the fridge door!

There are certain things which are worth learning de ghlanmheabhair / off by heart, and how to use years correctly is one of those as this comes up so often in conversation. 

Click on the image below to print off a colour coded summary sheet. Stick this to the door of the fridge and have a quick look at it every time you open the fridge door. You'll have these off in no time at all! Another tip: focus on the numbers from 1 - 10 first and make sure you know those off the top of your head before you move onto the next section on the summary sheet.



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