Here\’s A

As they say in Irish Tús maith leath na hoibre (a good start is half the work), so let’s get started with the letter


Amn’t – Let’s start with one of the all time great sayings of Hiberno-English, amn’t. Standard English doesn’t like this at all, at all (more about at all, at all in a minute), preferring to use the construction I’m not for negative answers and aren’t I in question tags

Have a gander at these…

I’m not going to the gym.

I am meeting you later, amn’t I?

Hiberno English uses I amn’t for negative answers and amn’t I in question tags.

Have a gander at these…

I amn’t going to the gym, ye feckin’ poser.

I am meeting you in Dicey’s later, amn’t I?

Much to the chagrin of Standard English users and, it should be said, some snobby Irish people, the use of amn’t is very common throughout the country.

At all, at allThis is a phrase that Hollywood directors love to portray Irish people saying everywhere and always. It is still quite common, particularly outside of Dublin and among older people. The phrase is a direct link to the Irish language here.

The Irish phrase ar cor, ar bith translates as in no way at all and is used to emphasise the idea of never or ever in questions.

Does he come to the pub at all, at all these days?

I haven’t seen him at all, at all.

AboveMost Standard English users will recognise this as a preposition that describes one thing in a higher position than another.

The window above the door is broken

But in Hiberno English we can also use it for a geographical position.

Where’s John?

He’s above in Dublin = He’s up in Dublin.

Not so common in Dublin but still very common in parts of the West coast, particularly around the beautiful county of Kerry (though I’m open to correction on this)

AgeFor years, anytime I asked a student “What age are you?” I was confused when I was met with a blank expression. I have met Advanced speakers who did not know what “What age are you?” meant and now I understand the reason. It is not used in Standard English. This is another Hiberno English expression that comes from Irish.

Cén aois tú = What age are you?

So if you here this just think to yourself: “How old are you?”

Then again ‘old’ makes you sound….old.

After – Let’s keep the best one ‘til last. This is probably one of the strangest and in fact only dramatically different grammar structure that you are likely to hear in Ireland and yes again, it comes directly from Irish grammar structures.

In Irish there is no Present Perfect or Past Perfect. Instead Irish uses the verb to be + after + verb in the infinitive (Irish is very complicated by the way)

Táim tar eis mo dhinnear a ithe = I am after my dinner eat

After a few jigs and rearranging this becomes the Hiberno English expression…

I’m after having me dinner.

In Standard English that would be…

I have just had my dinner

It’s crazy but it’s true. It is still quite common to hear this in Ireland but don’t worry it is not something that you are expected to learn and it doesn’t mean we don’t have the present perfect or the past perfect in Ireland. We do.