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Cé mhéad? / How much? How many?

easy grammar tips seanfhocail

The Irish for both 'how much' and 'how many' is the same: cé mhéad.

There is one very common mistake that is easy to make when using 'cé mhéad',and it's very easy to correct it. Read on if you want to banish this mistake from your Irish forevermore!


How many apples?

In English 'how many' is always followed by the plural form of a noun:

How many people where in the room?

How many apples did you buy?


In Irish, however, ‘cé mhéad’ (how many) is followed by the singular form of a noun.

Cé mhéad duine a bhí sa seomra? (lit. how many person were in the room?)

Cé mhéad úll a cheannaigh tú? (lit. how many apple did you buy?)


It is common in Irish to use the singular form of a noun in many instances where the plural would be used in English. That is why ‘cé mhéad daoine a bhí sa seomra'? is a common mistake!

But not one you’ll ever make now ;-)


A couple more words!

Another word which is followed by the singular in Irish, and not the plural as in English, is ‘cúpla’ ( a couple / a few).

In English 'a couple of' is always followed by the plural form of a noun:

I bought a couple of things in the shop.

I read a couple of books.


In Irish, however, the word ‘cúpla’ is followed by the singular form of a noun.

Cheannaigh mé cúpla rud sa siopa (lit. I bought a couple of thing in the shop)

Léigh mé cúpla leabhar (lit. I read a couple of book)


Cúpla focail or cúpla focal?!

People often say that they only have a 'cúpla focail' of Irish.  If you're going to say that, make sure to say 'cúpla focal' and not 'cúpla focail'!

Cúpla focal (lit. a couple of word)


Cúpla ceist

Now, here are a couple of questions / cúpla ceist for you to try out. 

If you don't have the necessary vocabulary to complete the entire sentence try at least to complete the 'how many...' phrase in the sentence.

  1. How many dogs does she have?
  2. How many girls are in the class?
  3. I spent a couple of days in Killarney
  4. He drank a few drinks
  5. He has a few words of Irish (i.e. couple of words).

The answers are below the image.



  1. Cé mhéad madra atá aici?
  2. Cé mhéad cailín atá sa rang?
  3. Chaith mé cúpla lá i gCill Airne
  4. D'ól sé cúpla deoch
  5. Tá cúpla focal Gaeilge aige


As for castles ...

Cé mhéad bliain a thógfadh sé (lit. how many year would it take)...

to build a castle?

De réir a chéile a thógtar na caisleáin!

Castles are build gradually / de réir a chéile

This is the equivalent expression to:

Rome wasn't built in a day!


More Grammar Tips!

If you liked this post then check out these other blog posts for some more easy grammar tips in Irish:


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