Complimenting someone is a great way to be friendly and, therefore, improve connections with others. So when learning a language, it is always important to have some phrases that will allow you to do this.
Irish people tend to politely rebuff compliments, but they are still given widely, between friends, family, and people you’ve just met.
It is also common for nice thoughts about someone to come in the form of terms of endearment - of course, these are generally reserved for close friends and family.
Irish is a beautiful language and the wealth of terms available to congratulate or compliment someone makes it even more beautiful.
This article will give you all the tools you need to speak in a flattering or affectionate way about someone in Irish.
There are a number of ways to congratulate someone in Irish. If someone has done a good job, gotten a promotion, graduated university, etc., you might say one of the following:
The word “congratulations” itself is “comhghairdeas”. (note: an alternative formation of this word, primarily used in the northwest of Ireland, is the slightly longer “comhghairdeachas”).
“Comhghairdeas” can be used as a phrase on its own, or can be made into a sentence, such as:
A little more emphasis can be added with:
The short answer to the above question is: no. Irish people do not tend to take compliments well. They often brush them off and diminish involvement or achievements.
This is just the way a lot of Irish people are, but it is particularly evident in the older generation. You will come across this whether you speak English or Irish.
That being said, even though they might not admit it, Irish people secretly love to receive compliments. Because of this, it is useful to have some nice phrases in your arsenal when speaking to someone in Irish.
Firstly - what is the word for “compliment” in Irish?
“Moladh” is the Irish word for “compliment”. See below a few examples of the word used in a sentence.
In most languages, the words and phrases used will differ depending on whether we are speaking to a man or woman. Irish is no different.
These are some useful phrases that can be used to compliment a boy or man in particular:
If you would like to compliment a girl or woman in your life, you might like to use one of the below phrases to praise them:
Of course, there are also many phrases in Irish that can be used universally. Below are some compliments that can be used to praise someone of any gender:
As in most languages, a very simple way to give someone a compliment is to use a positive adjective to describe them. Here are some examples of positive adjectives in Irish that can be used to praise anyone:
In order to put any of these adjectives into a sentence, the copula tense must be used. This means that we use the noun, then the adjective. For the second tense - speaking directly to a person - we would say “Is (noun) (adjective) tú”. For example:
You will notice that the adjectives following “bean” and “cailín” carry a séimhiú (h). That is because, in Irish, the adjective must agree with the noun.
Feminine nouns such as “bean” and “cailín” will have an effect on the adjective that follows, in the form of a séimhiú.
This rule does not apply to masculine nouns. (Reminder: vowels, the letters n, l and r and the combinations sc, sm, sp, or st do not take séimhiús.)
As well as the above adjectives to compliment someone’s overall looks or personality, you might like to use some more specific phrases to praise a new haircut, the outfit someone is wearing, or a good job someone has done. See some examples below.
As mentioned, Irish people find it hard to take compliments; they are often brushed off or played down. Still, the standard response to a compliment - “thank you” - will always be appreciated.
If you want to thank someone for a compliment, you would simply say:
However, in Ireland (whether speaking Irish or English), it’s very common for people to respond to a compliment with a sentence which either explains or plays down the praise.
For example, if someone compliments an item of clothing, it’s normal for Irish people to respond by telling them where they got it.
If someone is praised for their hairdo or something they did well, they might explain why their hair looks nice, or how they did such a good job. Here are some examples of what that could be:
While compliments might be politely deflected or brushed off, Irish people love terms of endearment.
It’s a way to praise someone and let them know they are important to you, without explicitly stating it. There are some beautiful terms of endearment in the Irish language.
Irish terms of endearment can also be useful when writing a letter in Irish.
In Ireland, terms of endearment are used mainly among partners and family members. It would not be very common for friends to use these terms with each other, but that’s not to say that it never happens. Some terms you might use to speak to a friend are:
Irish is a very romantic language, and there are plenty of terms of endearment that can be used to speak to your significant other. Some examples are:
A note on ‘soulmates’:
There is a common misconception that the phrase “anam cara” means “soulmate” in Irish. This is often seen in books or movies which use Irish, or other Gaelic languages.
However, this is not actually the case. This phrase literally means “soul friend”, but it is not used as a phrase in Irish. Instead, you could use one of the below terms of endearment:
Irish mothers are known for always using very affectionate terms for their children.
If you’d like to use a sweet Irish nickname for your son or daughter, below are some options. Of course, these terms can be used by both mothers and fathers.
And there you have it! You should now have a good insight into how to congratulate, compliment, or give an affectionate nickname to someone in Irish.
We hope that this is helpful for learning the language, as well as for making connections with people from the Emerald Isle!
Editor's note: You can use our free language tool to make your own vocabulary lists, and record your own phrases.