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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 article

The article


(p.63) 5 The article
Practical Manx
Liverpool University Press

Abstract and Keywords

In Manx, the definite article has three forms yn, ny and nyn: yn is the normal singular form; ny is the plural and the form used for the feminine genitive singular (f gen sg); and nyn is an archaic form sometimes found in place names. Manx has no indefinite article. This chapter discusses the singular definite article; feminine genitive singular ny; plural definite article ny; mutation after the article; uses of the definite article; the article expressing ‘of’ or possession; and the article with collective nouns.

Keywords:   Manx Gaelic, definite article, singular form, feminine genitive singular, collective nouns

The definite article has three forms yn, ny and nyn:

  • yn is the normal singular form
  • ny is the plural and the form used for the feminine genitive singular (f gen sg)
  • nyn is an archaic form sometimes found in place names

Manx has no indefinite article:


man, a man


woman, a woman, wife, a wife

5.1 The singular definite article yn applies to both masculine and feminine, nominative and accusative (acc) cases and to the masculine genitive singular (m gen sg)

yn ushtey (m)

the water

yn ushag happagh (f)

the lark

sollan y cheayn

the salt of the sea (m gen sg)

shelg yn drean

hunt the wren (m acc sg)

5.1.1 The n of the article may be dropped

  1. a) between consonants in mid-sentence

    Vel y noo ny lhie ‘syn ooir shoh? Is the saint lying in this soil?

    [R. C. Carswell, ‘Kione Vaghal’, Shelg yn Drane 1994]

  2. b) initially when the following word starts with a consonant

    y dooinney

    the man

    y dorraghys

    the darkness

(p.64) 5.1.2 The y of the article may be dropped following an unstressed word

  1. a) after a particle or preposition

    da'n dooinney

    to the man

    veih'n dooinney

    from the man

    fo'n ghrian

    under the sun

  2. b) after a word ending in a vowel, ‘h’, or ‘y

    Balley'n Ard Ainle


    brishey'n laa


  3. c) after ta and va, the independent present and past forms of ve, to be

    • Va'n dooinney roie cour y dorrys
    • The man was running towards the door

    Ta'n doodee feer ghroamagh

    The girl is very dejected

5.2 The genitive case of the definite article, feminine singular, is ny

broogh ny hawin

the bank of the river

The genitive of the definite article, feminine, is generally used only when the noun has a distinct genitive form:

kione ny bleeaney (blein)

end of the year

eaghtyr ny hooirey (ooir)

the earth's surface

but bing y çheshaght (sheshaght)

the committee of the society

5.3 The plural definite article for both genders is normally ny

ny stubbinyn

the Manx cats

ny quallianyn

the pups

ny meeghyn

the months

In a number of set phrases and place names the archaic form of the genitive plural nyn is used. In nouns, nasalisation is still sometimes found after this genitive plural form in old placenames:

Bwoaillee nyn Giark

Hens' fold

(p.65) 5.4 Mutation after the article

The initial sound of a word may change after the article (see 1.1):

5.4.1 Most feminine nouns in the nominative, vocative and accusative mutate after the article

Honnick mee yn ven (ben)

I saw the woman

cummal ghaa ny three dy firkinyn y pheesh (peesh)

containing two or three firkins apiece                 [John ii.6] (see 8.3.3)

5.4.2 Feminine nouns beginning with dentals t-, d-, çh-, j- do not mutate

Honnick mee yn doodee

I saw the girl

Va'n thunnag puhttey lurg ny grineyn

The duck was nuzzling after the grain

[Nigel Kneale, ‘Curphey's Follower’, tr. Brian Stowell, Duillaghyn 1, November 2005]

5.4.3 Masculine nouns in the vocative or genitive singular mutate after the article

laa yn chaggey (caggey)

the day of the battle

V'eh raad y vaaish (baaish)

He was on the way of death                                                   [John iv 47]

5.4.4 Singular nouns of either gender may mutate after preposition + article

er y cheayn (keayn m)

on the sea

harrish y vooir (mooir f)

over the sea

5.5 Uses of the article

5.5.1 before some abstract nouns

y vea


y baase


yn irriney

truth, the truth

y dooinney


5.5.2 in questions, placed between the interrogative and the noun

Cre'n ennym t'ort?

What is your name?

(literally: what the name is on you?)

Quoi'n cabbyl ren oo reih?

Which horse did you choose?

(literally: who the horse did you choose?)

(p.66) 5.5.3 before a noun followed by the demonstratives shoh, shen and shid

y ven shoh

this woman

yn dooinney shoh

this man

ny pait?hyn shen

those children

yn dooinney mooar shen

that big man

yn dooinney beg shid

yonder little man

Exception: proper nouns do not require the article with demonstratives:

Yeesey shoh

this Jesus

5.5.4 before established compound nouns

y dooinney-poosee

the bridegroom

ny fir-reill

the rulers

yn çheshaght-chaggee

the army

5.5.5 sometimes after lheid (such) and veg (in the sense of ‘any’)

lheid ny deiney

such men

veg yn argid

any money

  • son lheid y graih shen hug Jee da'n theihll
  • for such love did God give to the world                                 [John iii.16]
  • Kys ta lheid yn ynsagh ec y dooinney shoh?
  • How has this man such learning?                                           [John vii.15]

lheid y * cabbyl

such a horse

(*) In older usage, cabbyl would be lenited, because lheid is in reality a noun (meaning ‘the like’; ‘as y lheid’ means ‘and the like’, ‘et cetera’)

5.6 The article used to express ‘of’ or possession

5.6.1 ‘of’ expressed with the article + personal pronoun-preposition ec instead of a possessive pronoun (3.2.3, 4.1.4)

my hie/y thie aym

my house

e braar /y braar eck

her brother

e vac shinney /yn mac shinney echey

his eldest son

(p.67) This construction is especially useful in clarifying the ambiguous plural form nyn, our/your/their:

y thie ain

our house

yn obbyr eu

your (pl or formal) work

Ta shoh yn argid oc(syn)

this is their money

5.6.2 ‘of’ expressed with a nominative noun + Article + Nominative Or Genitive Noun

Bayr ny Hayrey

The road of the Ayres

Va ennym y voidyn Moirrey

the virgin's name was Mary

[Luke i.27]

thie yn vainshtyr-sc(h)oill

the schoolmaster's house

reayrt ny marrey

view of the sea

Note: Few nouns still have separate genitives. There is also uncertainty surrounding gender (see 2).

5.6.3 ‘of’ in compound nouns

In compound nouns made up of two nouns, the article or possessive is used only with the second noun:

cass y stoyl

the leg of the chair (chair-leg)

mwannal my laue

my wrist

(literally: the neck of my hand)

thie my huyrey

my sister's house

ben y dooinney

the man's wife

ushtey yn çhibber

well water

5.6.4 The article used instead of a possessive

The article may be used instead of a possessive with:

  1. a) persons, usually relatives

    yn jishig

    the (my) father

  2. b) parts of the body

    y cass aym

    my foot

  3. c) clothing

    Ta fys ec dagh ghooinney c'raad ta'n vraag gortagh eh

    Every man knows where the (his) shoe hurts him

(p.68) 5.7 The article with collective nouns

Collective nouns take a singular article but a plural adjective:

yn sleih

the people

yn ollagh

the cattle

yn vooinjer veggey

the little folk

Hooar eh ayns y çhiamble feallagh va creck dew … as y vooinjer va caghlaa argid

He found in the temple people who were selling oxen … and he found the people who were changing money                             [John ii.14]

cur coonlagh dys yn ollagh

giving straw to the cattle

[Tommy Leece (1859–1956)]