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Practical Manx$

Jennifer Kewley Draskau

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781846311314

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846315596

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The verb in use

The verb in use

(p.163) 11 The verb in use
Practical Manx
Liverpool University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the use of Max verbs. It covers uses of the tenses; ‘state’ verbs; infinitives with dy, y, ry-; verbs requiring prepositions; and Manx equivalents for English ‘-ing’ forms.

Keywords:   Manx Gaelic, tenses, state verbs, infinitives

11.1 Uses of the tenses

11.1.1 Future and future perfect

Manx often uses a future where English uses a present. This is actually quite logical, because either the action has not yet taken place, or else the time referred to is indeterminate, and therefore has an element of the hypothetical about it, which in other circumstances might warrant a subjunctive:

  • tra higmayd

    when we come

    (future independent of çheet)

    roish my vow my lhiannoo baase before my child dies      [John iv.49]
  • (Vow, future dependent of geddyn after roish my, before)
  • mannagh vaik shiu cowraghyn unless you see signs          [John iv.48]
  • (vaik, future dependent of fakin, see after mannagh, unless)
  • neeym kionnaghey ooilley dty eayin, my yiowmayd lesh prios beg
  • I'll buy all your lambs, if we can (will be able to) get them for a small price                                          [Joseph Woodworth (1854—1931)]
  • (Yiowmayd, future independent of geddyn, get)

Because most irregular verbs lack the future relative endings, they use the future independent:

cre-erbee jir eh

whatever he says

[John ii.5]

(future of gra (say))

Similarly, Manx has future perfect where English has present or future in sentences such as:

Tra vees Fer-ny-gherjagh er jeet, eh ver-yms hiu

When the Comforter has come, I will send him to you [John xv.26] (literally: ‘when the Comforter will have come, I will send him to you’. The first future in this example, vees, is relative, after tra)

(p.164) 11.1.2 Future relative

Those verbs which possess a distinct future relative form use this instead of the future tense in certain circumstances:

in relative clauses where the subject precedes the verb:

  • yn dooinney ghoys ayns laue yn obbyr shen
  • the man who will undertake that work
  • Nee'm cooney leshyn chooinys lhiams
  • I shall help the person who helps me
in future relative clauses where the direct object precedes the verb:
  • Mie lhiat y gioot chionneeys ee?
  • Do you like the gift she's going to buy?
after copula s' or she in future clauses, either expressed, as in the following examples:

s'atçhimagh vees yn sterrym nogh

the storm tonight will be terrible

she eshyn eiyrys orroo

it is he who will follow them

s'maynrey vees shiu

happy shall ye be      [John xiii.17]

or implicit:
  • Eshyn freillys ny annaghyn, t'eh freayll yn annym hene
  • He who keeps the commandments keeps his own soul
  • mairagh vees feailley'n eayst-noa
  • tomorrow will be the feast of the new moon
  • [1 Samuel xx.5]

After interrogative pronouns or adverbs:

  • cre? c'red?







    how long?



    c'ren aght/fa/oyr?

    how, why?



    Quoi oddys y chlashtyn eh?

    Who can hear it?            [John vi.60]

    Cuin roshys ad y charrick?

    When will they reach the rock?

    Kys inshys ee da?

    How will she tell him?

    Cre hirrym?

    What shall I be looking for?

    Eshyn smoo hayrys smoo vees echey
  • He who catches most will have most
  • Cre-voish oddys mayd arran y chionnaghey?
  • Whence can we buy bread?                                                        [John vi.5]
  • Liorish shoh vees fys ec dy chooilley ghooinney
  • by this every man will know                                                        [John xiii.35]
  • (p.165) Tra scuirrys y laue dy choyrt, scuirrys y veeal dy voylley
  • When the hand ceases to give, the mouth ceases to praise

In a subordinate clause introduced by: tra (when), chamoo (nor, neither), cho … as (as … as), derrey (till, until), -erbee (-ever), choud's (as long as), my (if):

my oddym

if I can

my chreckys eh e hie-troailt

if he sells his caravan

tra chaillym yn stiurtys

when I lose my stewardship

[Luke xiv.4]

My vees uss guilley mie as my nee uss fuirraghtyn aynshoh son sheshaght dooys, yiow oo yn thie shoh

If you are (literally: ‘will be’) a good boy and you (literally: ‘will’) stay here as company for me, you will get this house (geddyn)

[Ned Maddrell (1877–1974)]

derrey vees y jymmoose er ny chooilleeney

until the anger is avenged                                                [Daniel xi.36]

choud's vees y drogh-earish ayn

as long as the bad weather is here

cho tappee as oddysmayd

as quickly as we can

chouds veeym bio

as long as I live

[Fargher 1979: 465]

Verym freggyrt da dooinney erbee vrieys jee'm, qnoi erbee scarrys rish e ven, as phoosys ben elley, t'eh brishey poosey

I will answer any man who asks me, whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman, commits adultery            [Luke xi.18]

Quoi-erbee iuys jeh'n ushtey shoh bee eh paagh reesht

Whoever (will drink) drinks of this water he shall be thirsty again                                                [John iv.13]

The relative is not used after: cha, nagh, mannagh, dy or anywhere where the dependent form of the future would be required:

  • mannagh bee yn caa ayd

    if you don't get a chance (not vees)

    foddee dy vod eh feddyn magh
  • perhaps he will be able to discover (not oddys)
  • tra nagh gooinee shiu er arragh
  • when you will no longer remember (not chooineeys)
  • choud's nagh vaag ad eh
  • as long as they will not leave him (not aagys)

The future may also function as a subjunctive (see 9.1.5).

(p.166) 11.1.3 The past tenses: the preterite

The irregular preterites often look as if they came from a different verb:

honnick mee

I saw

(independent vaik mee, preterite dependent of fakin (see))

vaik oo?

did you see (Interrogative)

cha vaik mee

I did not see

This tense corresponds to English simple past.

Manx preterite may also be used where English might prefer to use the perfect:

  • Marish y cappan chaill eh'n cliaghtey moal
  • Has with the cup the graceless custom lost
  •     [Thomas Parnell, The Hermit, trans. anon. Mx l.254, Eng. 212]

11.1.4 Past tenses: periphrastic or compound past tenses

English forms these perfect and pluperfect tenses with auxiliary ‘have’. But Manx lacks a verb ‘to have’. It usually expresses possession with ta + ec (see 4):

ta lioar aym

I have a book

(literally: ‘there's a book at me’)

The perfect and pluperfect tenses of transitive verbs are frequently replaced by ta/va + direct object + past participle + [ec + noun or a form of ec]:

  • T'eh er vrishey yn uinnag, Ta'n uinnag brisht echey
  • He has broken the window
  • V'eh er vrishey yn stoyl, va'n stoyl brisht echey
  • He had broken the chair
  • Va mee er screeu yn lettyr, va'n lettyr scruit aym
  • I had written the letter

A perfect or pluperfect passive without an animate agent can also be expressed using this construction:

  • Va'n uinnag er ve brisht (lesh clagh)
  • The window had been broken (by a stone)

11.1.5 Aspect in past tenses

Aspect concerns the manner in which the verbal action is experienced or regarded, for example, either as having been completed, or else as on-going or in progress, or iterative, that is, often repeated. To express (p.167) actions in the past, in addition to the perfect and pluperfect, Manx has a range of options:

In general, it may be said that the ‘periphrastic imperfect/habitual’ which is formed with the auxiliary va, the preterite of ve, + verbnoun, expresses habitual or incomplete actions and continuous states in the past. The periphrastic past tense formed with auxiliary ren (the preterite of jannoo), like the simple preterite or inflected tense of the verb, expresses individual events in the past.

The wide range of options means that Manx can handle nuances of aspect with considerable subtlety:

Va mee my lhie ayns my lhiabbee cur booise da Yee, as haink eh hym as ren eh leih dou ooilley

I was lying in my bed giving thanks to God, and he came to me and forgave (= did forgive) me all

[Thomas Christian (1851–1930)]

Va ben Juan v'ee ben feer chrauee, as va shin kiaulleeagh carvalyn …

ren ben Juan jeeaghyn dooin yn voayl va'n luss gaase, as ren ee scrapey yn ooir voish yn luss

John's wife was a very religious woman, and we were singing carols … John's wife showed us where the herb was growing and she scraped the mould from the herb                          [Clague 1911: 2]

As yeeagh eh er Yeesey, myr v'eh shooyl, as dooyrt eh

And he looked at Jesus, as he was walking, and he said

[John i.36]

Eisht loayr yn ainle; dy chlashtyn e choraa

Va eunyssagh, as shoh myr ren eh gra

(literally: ‘then spoke the angel; to hear his voice was blissful, and this he did say’)

[Thomas Parnell, The Hermit, trans. anon. 226–7]

Daink shiu veih Nerin? Cha daink, quoi va gra shen?

Did you come from Ireland? No I did not, (literally: ‘did not come’) who was saying that?                          [John Gell 1977]

Va'n moddey toiggal y Ghailck eisht? Va, dy jarroo, cha geayll eh rieau yn ghlare Vaarlagh

Did the dog understand Manx, then? (literally: ‘was the dog understanding’) Indeed he did (was), he never heard (i.e., never once) the English language                                                    [ibid]

To express habitual or repeated actions in the past, Manx has several other options. These involve using an extra element that means ‘used to’, ‘accustomed to’:

(p.168) va + cliaghtey + verbnoun, cliaghtit rish + noun (was accustomed):

  • Ta mee dy mie cliaghtit rish

    I am well used to it

    [Fargher 1979: 835]
  • V'ad cliaghtey ve goll dy Rhumsaa
  • They used to be going to Ramsey
  • [John Tom Kaighin (1862–1954)]
  • Shen yn bwaane va mish cliaghtey fakin
  • That's the cottage I used to see                         [Mrs Sage Kinvig (1870–1962)]
  • V'ad cliaghtey cur greesagh voan er yn chiollagh
  • They used to put turf ashes on the hearth                         [Clague 1911: 8]
  • Va guillyn aegey cliaghtey goll mygeayrt
  • Young boys used to go about                         [Clague 1911: 14]


boallagh, bollagh, b'oallagh, is made up from the past of the copula and the adjective oallagh (familiar, acquainted with). The original adjective oallagh has been given a first person ending. This later became used in the sense of ‘accustomed to’:

  • boallin

    I was used to

    [Judges xvi.20 cit. Fargher 834]

    bollagh eh

    it used to be      [I Samuel xviii.10]

    boallagh shin cloie ry-cheilley

    we used to play together

    Nagh nee shoh eshyn boallagh soie shirrey jeirk?
  • Is not this he who was accustomed to sit seeking alms?
  • [John ix.8]
  • Boallagh Yeesey dy mennick taaghey yn voayl shen
  • [Jesus was often accustomed to frequent that place      [John xviii.2]
  • Cha nel eh gobbragh myr boallagh eh
  • He does not work as much as he used to        Fargher 1979: 835]

Sometimes even in quite early Manx you may find imperfect tenses apparently formed with the past conditional:

  • Cha nee lesh e Chliwe ren eh ee reayll
  • Not with his sword did he defend it
  • Cha nee lesh e Hideyn, ny lesh e Vhow
  • Nor with his arrows nor his bow (shield?)
  • Agh tra aikagh eh Lhuingys troailt
  • But when he saw a fleet sailing
  • (p.169) Oallagh eh mygeayrt lesh Keau.
  • He would hide it round with mist.
  • Yinnagh eh dooinney ny hassoo er Brooghe
  • He would set a man on the brooghs
  • Er-lhieu shen hene dy beagh ayn keead
  • So you would think there were a hundred there
  • [Manx Traditionary Ballad 4–5]

Nevertheless, this tense is really best reserved for subjunctive and conditional usage, like the beagh in the second part of the example. In the above example, there would anyway be a case for reading aikagh and yinnagh as subjunctive /conditional in the sense of:

‘If he saw (were to see) ships approaching, he would place a man on the brooghs.’10

11.2 State verbs

The distinction between action and state can also be made with such verbs as ‘sit’, ‘stand’, ‘lie’, and also with some ‘state’ adjectives like host (silent) using the personal particles my, dty, ny, nyn:









I am standing (sometimes interpreted as meaning ‘I am-in-my-standing’)

yn pobble va nyn shassoo

the people who were standing

[John vi.22]

V'eh ny host

He was silent

(literally: ‘he was in his silence’)

T'ad nyn daue

They are idle

(literally: ‘they are in their rest’)

V'eh ny veshtey

He was drunk

(literally: ‘in drink, in a state of inebriation)

Va mee my chadley

I was asleep/sleeping

T'eh ny cadley

He has gone to sleep, is asleep/sleeping

Vel oo er dty ghoostey?

Are you awake?

Ta mee er my ghoostey

I am awake

  • (p.170) Cha nel mee er ve my lhie daa oor
  • I haven't been in bed two hours
  • Ta shiu er ve nyn lhie bunnys jeih!
  • You've been in bed nearly ten! (see 3.2.2)

11.3 Infinitives with dy, y, ry-

dy, y, ry- (to) may precede the verbnoun to form an infinitive:

dy is the usual preposition preceding a verbnoun to form an infinitive, especially where the object also precedes the verbnoun:

  • Cha nel aym agh yn enmys dy screeu nish
  • Now I've only the address to write
  • [John Kneen (c. 1852–1958)]
  • Ghuee mee er eh dy heet stiagh I begged him to come in
  • V'eh kiarit cre dy yannoo
  • He himself was resolved what to do                                [John vi.6]
  • Ta mee guee erriu dy chur da'n chooish geill shallid
  • I beg you to give the subject a moment's consideration
  • Ta mee geamagh erriu ooilley dy ymmyrkey feanish
  • I call upon you all to witness

11.3.1 dy of purpose (in order to, so as to)

dy cheau yn traa

to pass the time

[Clague 1911: 2]

dy yannoo magh ad shoh

to satisfy these

[John vi.5]

haink eh son feanish, dy ymmyrkey feanish jeh'n toilshey

he came for a witness, to bear witness of the light

[John i.7]

tra hug ny Hewnyn saggyrtyn dy ênaght jeh

when the Jews sent priests … to enquire of him

[John i.19]

Note that dy with verbnoun is also found on the English model ‘is to’, with future reference and some notion of destiny or necessity:

eshyn eh va dy vrah eh

he (is) he (i.e. the one) who was to betray him

[John vi.71]

cre'n baase v'eh dy surranse

what death he was to suffer

[John xviii.32]

(p.171) 11.3.2 y before ve etc.

y, sometimes for e, occurs regularly before ve, and quite frequently with other infinitives, especially where the object precedes the verb:









I shall



the bread which I will give (you)

[John vi.51

naight y chlashtyn

to hear a piece of news

[Fargher 1979: 38]

Kys oddys enney y ve ain er y raad?

How may we know the way?

[John xiv.5]

Lhig dooin padjer y ghoaill

Let us pray

Ren ad eh y haglym

They gathered them together

[John vi.13]

Cre-voish oddys mayd arran y chionnaghey?

Whence can we buy bread?

[John vi.5]

Nee eh dy gerrit eh y ghloyraghey

He will shortly glorify him

[John xiii.32]

quoi yinnagh eh y vrah

who would betray him

[John vi.64]

Nee yn irriney shiu y heyrey

The truth shall make you free

[John viii.32]

roish clashtyn y choyrt da

before giving him a hearing

[John vii.51]

Kys oddys ny reddyn shoh y ve

How may these things be

[[John iii.9]

dy vod shee y ve eu

that peace may be to you

[[John xvi.33]

Quoi oddys y chlashtyn eh?

Who can hear it?            [John vi.60]

V'ad shirrey eh y choyrt gy-baase

They were seeking to put him to death

dy row ny Hewnyn shirrey eh y varroo

that the Jews were seeking to kill him

[John vii.1]

Cha voddym jee'm pene nhee erbee y yannoo

I can of mine own self do nothing

[John v.30]

mannagh jean shiu feill yn Mac dooinney y ee, as e uill y iu

except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood

[John vi.53]

dy vod dagh unnane oc kuse y ghoaill

that each one of them may take a little

[John vi.7]

eshyn … cha jeanym … y yiooldey voym

him … I will not … reject (literally: ‘spurn from me’)

[John vi.37]

jean-jee yn vrooillagh … y haglym

gather up the fragments (çhaglym, to collect, gather)

[John vi.12]

er-gerrey da'n boayl (sic* ‘voayl’ would be expected after the article y ren ad arran y ee ayn

nigh unto the place where they did eat bread

[John vi.23]

* ‘voayl’ would be expected after the article y

(p.172) 11.3.3 Verbnoun with y functioning as a noun

Sometimes the verbnoun preceded by y is really functioning as a noun rather than as a verb:

yn coirrey y charraghey

(karraghey to repair)

to repairing boiler

S'taittin lesh shen y yannoo

He enjoys doing that

[Fargher 1979: 281]

11.3.4 y embedded in a Manx phrasal verb

A phrasal verb may include within it the infinitive marker y:

peccah y yannoo

to sin (also: jannoo peccah)

tranlaase y yannoo er

to oppress, tyrannize

(literally: ‘to do oppression upon’: also found as tranlaasey)

11.3.5 Infinitives formed with ry and verbnoun

Ry + verbnoun may form infinitives (usually passive, 9.11.5), especially these common ones:


to be seen


to be got, obtained


to be heard


to be felt

ry-ghra, ry-loayrt

to be said/spoken


to come

Cha row veg ry-chlashtyn jeu rieau arragh

Nothing was (to be) heard of them again

[Fargher 1979: 381]


cha nel eh ry-akin

it's not to be seen

[Fargher 1979: 670]

Cha jinnagh dooinney ta coyrt de ve ry-akin dy bragh jeirk 'sy dorraghys

A man who gives in order to be seen, would never do alms in the dark

[Cregeen 1984: 158]

t'eh ry-gheddyn

it is to be had        [Fargher 1979: 369]

t'eh ry ghra

it is said

thie ry-chreck

house for sale

daa ghooinney ry-chroghey

two men to be hanged

cre ta ry-yannoo ayns shoh?

what's to be done here?

*ta fockle aym ry-loayrt I

(literally: ‘to be spoken’)

I have a word to say

*bee raad liauyr ayd ry-gholl

you will have a long road to travel

[Fargher 1979: 641]

sheeloghyn ry-heet, eeashyn ry-heet

ages to come

traa ry-heet, laghyn ry-heet

times/days to come

dooyrt eh dy row ram enmyn ry-gheddyn

he said there were many names to be got


* The equivalent English sentence here prefers an active infinitive. But the Manx adopts the logical view that the word ‘is spoken’, the road ‘is travelled’, hence the passive infinitive marker ry.

Note that ‘seen’, ‘visible’ may be expressed with ayns akin, ‘within sight’

[Adrian Pilgrim, Oardagh Noa yn Erin 2006]

11.3.6 Negative infinitives

Negative infinitives are marked by gyn, dyn (not):

  • dy ve ny gyn dy ve

    to be or not to be

    abbyr rish dyn goll

    tell him not to go

    T'eh ny share dooin gyn ve er yn aarkey noght
  • It is better for us not to be at sea tonight
  • Abbyr rish Illiam dyn traaue y magher
  • Tell William not to plough the field
  • Gow eh, veagh eh ommidjagh gyn goaill eh!
  • Take it, it would be foolish not to take it!
  • (p.174) Choyrlee shin ny joarreeyn gyn ad dy hannaghtyn ny sodjey
  • We advised the strangers not to stay any longer

Classical Manx usually had ‘dy’ before the verbnoun in the negative infinitive as well as gyn: abbyr rish gyn dy gholl (goll lenites here because of the dy, like tannaghtyn in the last example).

11.4 Verbs requiring prepositions

Some verbs may require prepositions to be used after them.

verbs + da

bannaghey (salute)

bentyn (touch, belong to)

coyrlaghey (advise)

cur (give)

eeck (pay)

freggyrt rish (answer)

gialdyn (promise)

insh (relate, tell)

jeeaghyn (show)

leih (forgive)

lhiggey (allow)

oltaghey (welcome)

ynsaghey (teach)

leih dooin nyn loghtyn myr ta shinyn leih dauesyn

forgive us our sins as we forgive them who …

verbs + er

berraghtyn (overtake)

çhionney (oblige to do)

cooinaghtyn (remember)

cur (oblige to do)

feaysley (relieve)

greimmey (seize)

guee (beseech, pray for)

smooinaghtyn (remember)

troggal (rise)

yeearree (request)

cur fys (inform)

jeeaghyn (look at)

yllagh (call for)

shirrey (ask for)

yeearree (ask, desire, seek)

fuirraghtyn (er/rish) (await, wait for)

cur-jee er ny deiney soie sheese    make the men sit down

[John vi.10]

shirrey argid er yn charrey eu      ask your friend for money

shir er Jee ny grayseyn shen y choyrt dou

ask God for those graces

verbs + jeh

briaght (ask, inquire):

brie jeh cre'n traa te

ask him what time it is

fênaght (ask, demand):

  • D'ênee eh jeh cre'n oyr nagh row shoh jeant echey
  • He asked him why he had not done this

(p.175) verbs + huggey

cur (send):

Cur hym eh

Send it [to] me

[Fargher] (see 4.1.8)

cur fys huggey (send for):

Hug ee fys gys e leighder

She sent for her advocate

verbs + lesh

cooney (help):

as dooyrt mish dy jinnagh mee [sic] jannoo my share son dy cooney lhee

and I said that I'd do my best to help her

[Ned Maddrell (1877–1974)]

cur (bring):

As hug eh lesh eh gys Yeesey

And he (Andrew) brought him (Peter) to Jesus                [John i.42]

verbs + mysh

craid (make fun of)

verbs + noi

coyrlaghey (dissuade, advise against)

verbs + rish

gra (tell)

caggey (fight)

cur (practise)

eaishtagh (listen to)

fuirraghtyn (wait for)

loayrt (speak to)

scarrey (separate from)

lhiantyn (adhere to)

sniemmey (affix to)

freggyrt (reply, respond to)

festal (fasten)

Ta mee scarrey rish my vioys

I part with my life (literally: ‘separate from’)                [John x.15]

verbs + roish

goaill aggle (fear):

Ta aggle aym roish

I am afraid of him

goll (depart):

Jed shiuish myrgeddin reue?

Will you also go away?

[John vi.67]

(p.176) Some of these elements may not, in reality, be prepositions at all, but adverbs bound to the verb and therefore not declinable (this just means they don't have to change their endings for different persons, as pronoun-prepositions do).

Others relate to the English object, e.g. cur er, make someone do something, and others again to the subject, e.g. goll roish (go away), cur lesh (bring). Manx has large numbers of phrasal verbs, i.e., verbs which are formed from a verb combined with another element or elements to give a new meaning (see 10).

Manx examples of phrasal verbs include goaill aggle, fear (literally: ‘to take fright’), above.

11.5 Manx equivalents for English -ing forms

These are generally indistinguishable from the verbnoun, with g- being prefixed to verbs which begin with vowels. This form is generally used with jannoo, ve, foddym, in place of the verbnoun.

English -ing forms are used in the following ways and in most cases correspond to a verbnoun in Manx:

11.5.1 Gerunds

  • Hie ee roee dyn jeeaghyn peiagh erbee
  • She left without seeing anyone
  • Chum yn taarnagh mee veih cadley
  • The thunder kept me from sleeping
  • Son gyn jannoo shoh bee shiu kerrit
  • For not doing this you will be punished
  • Ghow eh rish jannoo eh
  • He confessed to having done (doing) it
  • Cre hon ghow oo eh dyn insh mee?
  • Why did you take it without telling me?
  • Ta lane eddyr raa as jannoo
  • There is much between saying and doing
  • dy freayll y baareyder veih giarrey ad jeh
  • to keep the barber from cutting them off
  • [Thomas Christian (1851–1930)]
  • Cha jeanym cumrail oo veih ymmyrkey magh dty yeearree
  • I shan't prevent you from carrying out your project
  • Va'n moghrey ceaut shooyl trooid yn aasagh feayn
  • The morning was spent walking (= in walking) through the wide
  • desert                          [Thomas Parnell, The Hermit, trans anon. 43]
  • (p.177) T'ee dy kinjagh taggloo ayns ynnyd jeh ynsaghey e lessoonyn
  • She's always talking instead of learning her lessons
  • T'eh shooyl er oirr eaynin fegooish ennaghtyn tollaneagh
  • He walks on the brink of a precipice without feeling giddy
  • Va ny Hewnyn wheesh shen smoo shleeuit er cur dy baase eh
  • The Jews were that much more keen on putting him to death
  • [John v.18]

In the following examples, the English -ing form gerund replaces a finite verb:

  • Lurg raipey eh, stamp eh er
  • after tearing it up, he stamped on it
  • (= after he had torn it up)
  • Erreish cur seose yn chrooin, hie eh stiagh ayns manishter
  • After relinquishing the crown, (after he had …) he entered a monastery

And here, a passive infinitive:

  • Ta my vraagyn laccal kerraghey
  • My shoes want/need mending (= to be mended)

11.5.2 Present participles

The English -ing form acts as a present participle. These have many functions. They may:

  1. a) correspond to an infinitive:

    As cheayll yn daa ynseydagh eh loayrt

    And the two disciples heard him speak(ing)                      [John i.37]

    V'eh dooinney beg giare lesh skeoghyn liauyr tuittym sheese er

    toshiaght yn eddin echeyTa mee er n'akin eh goaill lieh-keead punt as shey er e vair veg.

    He was a small short man with long curls falling over the front of his face … I have seen him taking 56 pounds (weight) on his little finger.                [Thomas Christian (1851–1930)]

  2. b) introduce a phrase:

    • Dyn fakin peiagh erbee çheu-sthie, daag mee yn çhamyr
    • Not seeing anyone within, I left the room
    • fakin dy vel eh red cairagh
    • seeing it is a righteous thing with God                [Thessalonians II i.6]
    • (p.178) fakin dy vel shiu er chasherickey nyn anmeenyn
    • seeing ye have purified your souls …                [Peter I i.22]

    Note that in the case of the verb ‘be’ the verbnoun/present participle is often omitted altogether [R. L. Thomson, Pargys Caillt, Introduction, p. 6]:

    Surranse foddey, […] lane mieys firrinagh, freayll myghin cour thousaneyn, lhiggey sheese mooad kerragh toillit

    Suffering long, being full of genuine goodness, keeping mercy for thousands, remitting the amount of deserved punishment

    [Pargys Caillt 44–6]

    Yn fastyr er

    It being evening

    [Pargys Caillt 251]

    Or a finite verb is substituted for ‘being’:

    Myr ta shiu ruggit reesht, cha nee jeh rass hed naardey

    Being born again, not of corruptible seed …                 [Peter I i.23]

    (= as you [are] born again)

  3. c) function as an adjective (often in the genitival verbnoun form):

    clagh rolley

    a rolling stone

    (although Manx often expresses this differently):

    Ayns aile loshtee cooilleeney kerraghey … Vees er nyn gerraghey lesh toyrt-mow dy bragh farraghtyn (loshtee, see 2.4.3.e)

    In flaming fire taking vengeance … who shall be punished with everlasting destruction                                [Thessalonians II i.8–9]

    In general, in most cases where English has an -ing form, Manx would use a verbnoun:

    • Jannoo eh-hene corrym rish Jee making himself equal to God
    • [John v.18]
    • Immee dy-jeeragh royd, dy-kinjagh geiyrt er y raad
    • Go straight on, always following the road
    • C'red ta shen ta croghey noi yn voalley?
    • What's that (that's) hanging against the wall?
    • Va e voir as e vraaraghyn nyn shassoo mooie shirrey loayrt rish
    • His mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak to him                                                [Matthew xii.46]

    (p.179) Liehbageynta follit, goaill fastee fo grineyn geinneet'ad bransey roue ersooyl, faagail nyn gooyl bodjallynta ein varrey gooillianshelg eeastyn

    … the flatfish … that are hidden, taking shelter beneath the … sand … they dash all before them away, leaving behind them clouds … seabirds are soaring …, hunting fish

    [R. C. Carswell, ‘Bun as Baare’, Shelg yn Drane 1994]

    Note that ve er-mayrn, er mayrn (remain), now corresponds to an adjective or present participle, ‘remaining’, or past participle ‘left’:

    • ny Manninee foast er mayrn

      the surviving Manx

      cha row veg er mayrn

      nothing remained/was left

      Ny Stanleghyn ta nish eck kione
    • As ermaarn jeusyn cha vel money
    • The Stanleys now are at an end
    • There remains of them no trace        [Manx Traditionary Ballad 58]

    … er-y-fa nagh row agh beggan jeh ny sampleyryn va prentit 'sy vlein 1947 foast er-mayrn

    … because only a few of the copies printed in the year 1947 remained [R. L. Thomson, Gys y Lhaihder, First Lessons in Manx,

    third revised edition 1965]


    Ayns Rama va eam treih er ny chlashtyn, yllaghey as keayney, as dobberan hrimshagh, Rachel keayney son e cloan, as gobbal dy ve er ny gherjaghey, er-yn-oyr nagh row ad er-mayrn

    In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they were not                [Matthew ii.18]

11.5.3 Verbal force

Where the English -ing form has verbal force, that is, it functions as a verb, Manx often expresses this differently:

  1. a) sometimes by using finite verbs:

    Ga dy vel ad fakin, cha vel ad cur-my-ner: as clashtyn, cha vel ad cur geill

    Because they seeing (Manx: although they see) see not, and hearing (Manx: although they hear) they hear not        [Matthew xiii.13]

    As yeeagh Paul dy gyere er y choonceil as dooyrt eh

    And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said:         [Acts xxiii.1]

    (Manx: And Paul beheld … and he said …)

    (p.180) As haink earrooyn mooarey dy leih huggey, as nyn mast'oc va croobee …

    And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame …                                                [Matthew xv.30]

    (Manx: … and among them there were the lame …)

    Ersyn ta shiu graihagh, ga nagh vel shiu er vakin eh; ayn, ga nagh vel shiu nish fakin eh, ny-yei credjal, ta shiu goaill boggey lesh boggey erskyn inshCosney jerrey nyn gredjue, …

    Whom, having not seen, ye love, in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice … Receiving the end of your faith …                                                          [Peter I i.8–9]

    (Manx: Whom you love, though you have not seen him; in whom, though now you do not see him, yet you believe … you receive the end of your faith)

  2. b) sometimes with a verbnoun expressing a state, such as shassoo (stand), soie (sit), used with the appropriate personal pronouns:

    • As honnick yn assyl ainle y Çhiarn ny hassoo ayns y raad
    • And the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way
    • [Numbers xxii.23]
    • Va daa ghooinney doal nyn soie rish oirr yn raad, as tra cheayll ad
    • Two blind men sitting by the wayside, when they heard …
    • [Matthew xx.30]
    • (Two blind men were [in their state of] sitting …)
    • cha der-ym ad ersooyl nyn drostey
    • I will not send them away fasting                    [Matthew xv.32]

  3. c) sometimes with an infinitive:

    Haink ny Phariseeyn huggey myrgeddin dy phrowal eh, as dooyrt ad rish

    The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying …

    [Matthew xix.3]

    (infinitive dy phrowal, to tempt, and active verb dooyrt, said)

  4. d) sometimes with a prepositional phrase:

    As cre erbee nee shiu geearree ayns padjer, lesh credjue, yiow shiu eh

    Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive

    [Matthew xxi.22]

    (lesh credjue = with faith)

(p.181) 11.4 Emphatic forms of the verb

In the future and conditional, both independent and dependent, the first person singular may be given an emphatic form by adding s or 's:

Tilgey (throw):



















The first person plural of the future, both independent and dependent, may have the emphatic form tilgmayds, in Northern dialects, tilgmainyn.

11.5 English verbs expressed differently in Manx, as phrases (See 10)

Sometimes the phrasal verb is an alternative option to a one-word verb:

11.5.1 Have: There is no verb ‘to Have’ in Manx

The usual equivalent to express possession is the verb ve (to be) + preposition ec, at:

  • Ta cabbyl ec Juan

    Juan has a horse

    Vel thie ayd?

    Have you a house?

    Va aigney mooar aym dy gholl

    I had a great mind to go

    Cha row thie oc

    They had no house

    Nagh row thie echey?

    Did he not have a house?

    C'red t'ain 'sy thie?

    What have we in the house?

    C'red vees eu son jinnair jiu?
  • What will you have for dinner today?

    Ta lhesh-eill-vart saillt ain

    We have a round of salt beef

  • Lhig stegyn-feill-vart as glassan ve ain
  • Let's have steak and salad

The same construction, with the preposition ec, is often used to form the perfect of transitive verbs with a direct object where English has auxiliary ‘have’:

T'eh jeant aym

I have done it

Cha row shoh scruit aym

I did not write this

Compare the alternative construction:

Cha nel ee er n'eeck yn coontey

She hasn't paid the bill,

Vel eh er choayl e lauenyn?

Has he lost his gloves?

(p.182) 11.5.2 Own: ve + lesh

  • Ta'n lioar echey nish, agh cha nel ee lesh-hene
  • He has the book now, but he doesn't own it
  • Nagh vel ny lioaryn shen lhiu? Nagh lhiu ny lioaryn shen?
  • Aren't those books yours?

11.5.3 Know: ve + fys (knowledge) + ec

  • Ta fys eu cre voish mee

    You know whence I came

    Vel fys ayd er yn ennym echey?

    Do you know his name?

    Cha s'ayms, va mee ro aeg, agh va fys echey er dy chooilley nhee ayns Gailck
  • I don't know, I was too young, but he knew everything in Manx
  • [WC]
  • My ta fys ayd, cre hon t'ou fênaght jeem?
  • If you know it, why are you asking me?
  • Cha noddym gra veg nagh vel fys hannah ayd [er]
  • I can't say anything you don't already know
  • Myr sloo yn fys t'ec fer, smoo corvian t' echey
  • The less a man knows, the greater his conceit

fys may be contracted to s':

Cha s'eu cre

You do not know what

Cha s'ayd eer shen?

You don't even know that?

Cha s'aym

I do not know [John ix.14]

Cha s'aym's dy nee drogh-ghooinney eh

I do not know whether he is a sinner                [John ix.25]

ve + enney + ec (know a person, recognise):

er-yn-oyr dy row enney echey er dy chooilley dooinney

because he knew every man

[John ii.24]

Ta fer shassoo nyn mast'eu, nagh vel enney eu er

One is standing amongst you whom you do not know

[John i.26]

as cha row enney aym's er

and I did not recognise him

[John i.31]

Cre'n enney t'ayd orrym's?

What (is the) acquaintance that thou hast with me?

[John i.48]

cur + enney + er (recognise):

cha dug mee enney er

I did not know him

as y seihll cha dug enney er

and the world did not recognise him

[John i.10]

as cha dug mish enney er

and I did not recognise him

[John i.33]

(p.183) cur + er +enney +da (introduce):

  • Lhig dou cur er enney diu my inneen
  • May I introduce my daughter
  • Cur mee er enney j'ee my sailliu!
  • Do introduce me to her!

    Cur er enney daue mee

    ntroduce me to them

11.5.4 Need, have need of: ve + feme + ec + er

Kionnee ny vees mayd feme cour y feailley

Buy what we shall need for the festival

[John xiii.29]

Ta feme ain er ushtey

We need water

Ta feme echey er kiarail

He needs care

agh row feme echey er unnane erbee

… he needed no-one

[John ii. 25]

11.5.5 Think (an opinion): er + lesh

Er-lhiam dy re shen eh!

I think that's it (re see 9.7)

Cre er-lhiat?

What do you think?

Er-lhiam dy vel oo red beg scoorit

I think you're a bit drunk

[Joseph Woodworth (1854–1931)]

Er-lhiam dy lhisagh eh jannoo eh

I think he should do it

[Thomas Christian (1851–1930)]

Un vlein, er-lhiam, ny shinney na mish

One year, I think, older than myself


Compare other ways of saying ‘think’ using smooinaghtyn, sheiltyn, credjal:
  • Cha smooinee mee dy row eh cho anmagh
  • I didn't think it was so late
  • Smooinee mee dy row ee er ve ec y chonsert
  • I thought she'd been at the concert
  • Vel shiu smooinaghtyn dy vel shin eeckit dy mie?
  • Do you think we're well paid?
  • (p.184) T'eh ny s'anmagh na heill mee It is later than I thought
  • Heill mee dy row shiu ny shinney
  • I thought you were older
  • Cha noddym sheiltyn kys oddys eh reih cullyr cho graney
  • I can't think (imagine) how he can choose such an ugly colour
  • Cha nel mee credjal dy jig reddyn lesh
  • I don't think (believe) he will succeed
  • Ta mee credjal nagh dooyrt ee eh agh myr spotch
  • I think she only said it as a joke

11.5.6 Owe

‘Owe’ is usually translated ta mee ayns (fo) lhiastynys (I am in/under debt), or with the pronoun preposition er:

  • Ta punt er

    He owes a pound

    Ta skillin erriu

    You owe a shilling

    Yn mayll d'eeck dagh unnane ass e heer
  • Va bart leagher ghlass dagh blein:
  • As va shen orroo d'eeck myr keesh
  • Trooid magh ny çheerey dagh Oeil-Eoin
  • The rent each one paid out of his land
  • Was a bundle of green rushes each year
  • And that was on them to pay as tax
  • Throughout the country each St. John's Eve
  • [Manx Traditionary Ballad 6]

When the creditor is mentioned as well as the debtor, two pronoun prepositions are used:

  • Ta punt aym er

    He owes me a pound

    Er hoh yn dooinney ta'n argid echey ort
  • Here's the man you owe the money (to)

11.5.7 Meet

As well as the verb meeiteil, ‘meet’ is usually translated by goll/çheet ny whaiyl, with the appropriate form of the possessive:

  • Haink mee ny whaiyl dooinney

    I met a man

    Haink ee my whaiyl

    She met me

    Higym dty whaiyl

    I shall meet you

    Ta mee goll ny quaiyl dagh moghrey as t'ee ç heet my whaiyl
  • I meet her every morning and she meets me

(p.185) Meeiteil is normally bound to a preposition:

*veeit Philip rish Nathanael

Philip met Nathanael

[John i.45]

* veeit is the preterite of meeiteil. Elsewhere in Biblical Manx meeiteil occurs without a preposition.

11.5.8 Help

The English idiom ‘I can't help it’ is translated by:

  • Cha vel niart aym er shen

    I have no strength on that

    Va graih aym urree – cha row niart aym er
  • I loved her – I couldn't help myself
  • [R. C. Carswell, ‘Ushag y Tappee’, Shelg yn Drane 1994]
  • Cha noddym jannoo rish cha jargym jannoo rish
  • I can't help (do to) it

fegooish (without) with a verbnoun is also used to express ‘couldn't help’:

  • cha row mee jargal dy yannoo fegooish garaghtee
  • I couldn't help laughing

11.5.9 Jargym (I can, am able) is rare, and occurs most often in negative constructions

Cha yarg ad eh y lheihys

They could not heal him

Cha jarg fer erbee y ghoaill ad

No-one can take them [John x.29]



(10) Thomson notes that in later Manx forms such as harragh ‘would come’ were only conditional, but earlier perhaps past subjunctive. [Etudes celtiques ix.1960: p. 543]