Medieval Welsh

A Self-Instruction Course created by Heather Rose Jones

Copyright © 2003, 2004 all rights reserved. This page most recently revised on: May 31, 2004

Return to main course page

Return to main unit page

Unit: 2b



The Indefinite Article ("a, an")

Welsh has no indefinite article. A noun such as gwr (man) when used alone may correspond either to "man" or "a man" depending on the context.

The Definite Article ("the")

The basic form of the definite article in Welsh is yr. But, as in English, this is usually an unstressed word, and it tends to be reduced in pronunciation (and spelling). Thus, if it follows a word ending in a vowel, it is reduced to -r. (In Modern Welsh and edited texts it will be written as 'r directly after the preceding word.) If the preceding word ends in a consonant (or there is no preceding word) and the following word begins with a consonant, then the article is reduced to y (written as a separate word). Otherwise the full form yr is used.

Pronunciation Note

There are a number of short, very common words in which the letter "y" takes the obscure (schwa) pronunciation when the regular pronunciation rules would predict the clear sound. The definite article is one of them. As a very general rule, this will happen in unstressed "function" words like pronouns, prepositions and such.


The various forms of the definite article depend on the environment. The following phrases create a varity of environments that may affect the form of the definite article. The additional vocabulary in the phrases will be introduced in later units: for now it is enough to know that a means "and" and gan means "with". (Both of these are a little more complicated in actual use, but this exercise is carefully constructed to avoid those complications.)

example "man" gwr
the man y gwr
and the man a'r gwr
with the man gan y gwr

Using the vocabulary in the previous lesson, substitute the following words in these phrases.

Key to the Exercise

Contact me -- or go to the entrance to my general web site.