Medieval Welsh

A Self-Instruction Course created by Heather Rose Jones

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Unit: 3j

Numbers 1-10


Using numbers means keeping track of a lot of different mutations and a few special masculine/feminine forms. (Using numbers over ten brings in more complications, but we'll deal with them at a later point.)

Unlike virtually all other modifiers, numbers are placed before the noun. When counting, the numbers are as follow:

  1. un
  2. deu (masc.), dwy (fem.)
  3. tri (masc.), teir (fem.)
  4. pedwar (masc.), pedeir (fem.)
  5. pump
  6. chwech
  7. seith
  8. wyth
  9. naw
  10. deg

Some of the numbers have slightly different forms when used with nouns. Following is a table of the most common forms for this, and of the mutations the numbers cause (if any). L=lenition, N=nasalization, A=aspiration.

Number Masculine Feminine
1 un un (L except for "ll")
2 deu (L) dwy (L)
3 tri (A) teir
4 pedwar pedeir
5 pum (N but irregularly)
6 chwe (A)
7 seith (N, rarely L)
8 wyth (L, occasionally N)
9 naw (N)
10 deg or deng (N)

Note: many of these mutations have been eliminated in Modern Welsh.

Normally, the singular of the noun is used with all numbers. (There are rare, random exceptions. A more common exception will be introduced with higher numbers.)

unus *
una (L)
duo (L)
duo (L)
tres (A)
tria *
quinque *
sex (A)
septem (N)
octo (L)
novem (N)
decem (N)

The explanations for five and eight are pretty straightforward. The final "m" in "pum" caused a sort of "secondary" mutation long after the standard mutations had been established. In the case of eight, being surrounded by numbers causing nasalization sometimes caused people to "regularize" the whole group. Conversely, because lenition is the most common type of mutation, sometimes it is substituted for other mutations after seven (and more rarely five and six). There are no good explanations for one (masc.) and three (fem.).


Using the "standard" or most common mutations for each number, put the numbers one through ten in front of the following nouns.

Example: "father"

  1. un tad "one father"
  2. deu dad "two fathers"
  3. tri thad "three fathers"
  4. pedwar tad "four fathers"
  5. pum nhad or pum tad "five fathers"
  6. chwe thad "six fathers"
  7. seith nhad "seven fathers"
  8. wyth dad "eight fathers"
  9. naw nhad "nine fathers"
  10. deng nhad "ten fathers"


Key to the Exercise

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