Welsh phrasebook

Phrasebooks > Welsh phrasebook


Welsh (Cymraeg) is a language spoken by 29% of the population, or around 870,000 people, in Wales (Cymru), according to a 2020 population survey. Welsh speakers are found in every part of Wales, but the highest percentages are in communities in the north and west of the country, where 50% or more use the language every day. There is a sizeable Welsh-speaking diaspora in the rest of the UK, but especially in England (Lloegr), along the border and in its larger cities. The language is also spoken by several thousand people in the Chubut province of Argentina (yr Ariannin), as well as by people scattered around the world. All Welsh speakers old enough to attend school in Wales also speak English, while those in Argentina speak Spanish.

Welsh is a Celtic language closely related to Breton and Cornish, and more distantly to Irish, Manx, and Scottish Gaelic. It has also adopted many loanwords from Latin, French, and English, although the spelling and pronunciation of such words has often been radically altered; for instance, the English verb to smoke and the Latin noun leo (lion) are barely recognisable as ysmygu or llew. The Welsh of Patagonia (Cymraeg y Wladfa) has taken on some loanwords from Spanish not found in British dialects.

Pronunciation guide[edit]

Welsh is a relatively phonetic language, with most letters having only one pronunciation. Complications may arise with the various consonantal digraphs, particularly "dd" which is represented in English as "th" as in "breathe", while "th" is represented in English as "th" as in "think"; "ll" is a famously difficult (and common) sound for non-Welsh speakers to produce - made by positioning the tongue at the top front of the mouth and blowing, and represented here as "lh". "Ch" is always pronounced like the German name "Bach" or the Scottish "loch"; the sound which appears in the English word "church" is represented by "ts".

There are relatively minor pronunciation differences between northern and southern Welsh, most notably that "i" on the one hand and "u" and "y" are two distinct sounds on the other in the north, while in the south these letters are pronounced identically as the sound of "i".

Unless overridden by an accent mark, the stress in Welsh words nearly always falls on the last but one syllable of a word. As syllables get added to words, for example to denote a plural or a female person of a particular occupation, the sound of a word can change dramatically.

Welsh is written in a version of the Latin alphabet containing 28 letters, including 8 digraphs which count as separate letters for collating purposes (and crossword puzzles): a, b, c, ch, d, dd, e, f, ff, g, ng, h, i, l, ll, m, n, o, p, ph, r, rh, s, t, th, u, w, y.

The letters j, v, x and z do not exist in normal Welsh usage, but have been adopted from English for limited use e.g. in personal names. "K" is regarded as redundant in Welsh as the sound is always represented by "c", but it is found in the prefix "kilo-", although "cilo-" is always acceptable.

Vowels[edit]

Vowels in Welsh can have accent marks, most commonly the circumflex (^), called the to bach (little roof), which lengthens the sound of the vowel, and the acute (´), which shortens it. Occasionally the diaeresis (¨) appears, dividing two vowel sounds from each other. Vowel sounds tend to resemble those of major continental European languages rather than English.

There are seven vowels in Welsh, which have both short and long forms. The following sounds are only approximations in English:

a
like "pat"
â
like "father"
e
like "pet"
ê
like "pear"
i
like "pit"
î
like "machine"
o
like "pot"
ô
"port"
u
like "pit" (South Wales)
like a French "u" as in "tu" (North Wales)
û
like "machine" (South Wales)
longer version of French "u" as in "tu" (North Wales)
w
when followed by a consonant or at the end of a word, like "u" in "put"
when followed by a vowel, like "w" in "well"
ŵ
like "oo" as in "moon"
y
when the only or last vowel in a word, like "i" in "pit"
when earlier in a word, like "u" in "put"
NB: in a few common words, such as fy (my) and dy (your), y is pronounced as in "put"
ŷ
like "machine"

Consonants[edit]

b
like "b" in "bed".
c
like "c" in "cat".
ch
like "ch" in German "Bach" or Scottish "loch".
d
like "d" in "death".
dd
like "th" in "the".
f
like "v" in "van".
ff
like "f" in "fun".
g
like "g" in "garden".
ng
like "ng" in "pong". Sometimes, like in "finger".
h
like "h" in "heart".
j
like "j" in "jump"
l
like "l" in "link".
ll
place the tongue at the top of the mouth, and blow.
m
like "m" in "meet".
n
like "n" in "news".
p
like "p" in "pen".
ph
like "ph" in "philosophy".
r
like "r" in "red" (well rolled, as in Scottish pronunciation).
rh
an aspirated, breathy "r".
s
like "s" in "state".
si + vowel (not a consonant, but a sound)
like "sh" in "shore".
t
like "t" in "time".
th
like "th" in "think".
ts + vowel (not a consonant, but a sound)
like "ch" in "chocolate"

Common diphthongs[edit]

Only southern forms unless otherwise stated. English approximations are also given.

ae
like "eye".
ai
like "eye".
au
like "aye", with a rounded closing sound. When used as the plural marker, often pronounced "ah" in the north and "eh" in the south.
aw
like "ow!".
ei
like "ey" in "hey!"
eu
like "ey" in "hey!", but with a rounded closing sound.
ew
like "eh-oo" said quickly.
ey
like "ey" in "hey!".
iw
like "you".
oe
like "oy" in "boy".
oi
like "oy" in "boy".
ou
like "oy" in "boy".
uw
like "you".
wy
like "oo-ee".
yw
like "you" (in monosyllables).
yw
like "uh-oo" (in polysyllabics).

The differences between some of the diphthongs are often very subtle.

Grammar[edit]

Grammatically, Welsh is relatively complex with two grammatical genders, masculine and feminine, which all nouns are assigned to, and also masculine and feminine forms of the numbers "two" "three" and "four" which have to match the gender of the object being counted; there are also two separate counting systems, decimal (base 10) and the more traditional vigesimal (base 20). The phenomenon of mutation is a characteristic of the Celtic languages, where the initial letters of words change depending on the grammar of the sentence, which can make tracking words down in a dictionary difficult.

Phrase list[edit]

Basics[edit]

Hello.
Helo. (Hello)
Hello. (informal)
S'mae. (s-my) (north) / Shwmae (shoo-my?) (south))
How are you? (formal)
Sut ydych chi? (north) Shwd ych chi? (south)
How are you? (informal)
Sut wyt ti? (north) Shwd wyt ti? (south)
Fine, thank you.
Iawn, diolch. (yown, DEE-ol'ch)
What is your name? (formal)
Be' ydy'ch enw chi? (bay UHdi'ch ENoo ch'ee?)
What is your name? (informal)
Be' ydy dy enw di? (bay UHdi duh ENoo dee?)
My name is ______ .
______ ydy f'enw i. (_____ you ven-oo ee.)(South) ______ (North)
Nice to meet you.
Braf cwrdd â chi. (Brahv corth ah khi)
Please.
Os gwelwch chi'n dda. (Ahs guWELLuch in tha)
Thank you [very much].
Diolch [yn fawr]. (DEE-ol'ch [un vowr])
You're welcome.
Croeso. (CROY-so)

There are no exact equivalents of "yes" and "no" in Welsh; the concept is conveyed grammatically with regard to agreement between the person and tense by indicating agreement or disagreement e.g. "yes there is" or "no there is not", which is said in different ways depending on how the question was phrased. If the question begins "Oes...?" or "A oes...?" ("Is there...?") then the reply is "oes" or "nac oes"; if the question begins "Ydy...?" ("Is...?") then the reply is "ydy" or "nac ydy" etc

Yes.
Ie (ee-yeah)
No.
Na (Nah)
Excuse me. (getting attention)
Esgusodwch fi. (es-gis-OD-oo'ch vee)
Excuse me. (begging pardon)
Esgusodwch fi. (es-gis-OD-oo'ch vee)
I'm sorry.
Mae'n ddrwg gen i. (My uhn th'roog gen ee)
Goodbye (Formal)
Da bo chi. (Da BO ch'ee)
Goodbye (Informal)
Hwyl! (hooill)
I can't speak Welsh [well].
Alla i ddim siarad Cymraeg [yn dda]. (Alh'a ee thim SHARad kym-RYE-g [uhn tha])
Do you speak English?
Ydych chi'n siarad Saesneg? (UD-ich ch'een SHARad SAYES-neg?)
Is there someone here who speaks English?
Oes rhywun yma sy'n siarad Saesneg? (Oyss RHEEW-in UMma seen SHARad SAYES-neg?)
Help!
Help! (Help)
Look out!
Hendiwch! (HEN-dyoo'ch!)
Good morning.
Bore da. (BOR-eh dah)
Good afternoon.
Prynhawn da. (PROINhaun dah) (North)
Good evening.
Noswaith dda. (NOSS-why-th thah) (South) (NOSS-waith-thah) (North)
Good night.
Nos da. (NOHS dah)
Good night (to sleep)
Nos da. (NOHS dah)
I don't understand.
Dw i ddim yn ddeall. (DWEE thim in THEEall)
Where is the toilet?
Ble mae'r tŷ bach? (Blay my'r tee bahch?)

Problems[edit]

Numbers[edit]

0
dim (dim)
1
un (een)
2
dau (die) (m); dwy (doo-ey) (f)
3
tri (tree) (m); tair (tire) (f)
4
pedwar (PED-war) (m); pedair (PED-ire) (f)
5
pump (pimp); pum (pim) before a noun
6
chwech (ch'way'ch); chwe (ch'way) before a noun
7
saith (sayeth)
8
wyth (oo-ith)
9
naw (now)
10
deg (day-g); deng (deng) before a noun
From this point, the first term is the vigesimal form, the second is the decimal form. Replace "dau", "tri" and "pedwar" with "dwy", "tair", and "pedair" as appropriate.
11
un ar ddeg (een ar thayg); un deg un
12
deuddeg (DAY-theg) deuddeng (DAY-theng)before a noun; un deg dau
13
tri ar ddeg (tree ar thayg); un deg tri
14
pedwar ar ddeg (PED-war ar thayg); un deg pedwar
15
pumtheg (PUM-theg), pumtheng (PUM-theng)before a noun; un deg pump
16
un ar bymtheg (een ar BUM-theg); un deg chwech
17
dau ar bymtheg (die ar BUM-theg); un deg saith
18
deunaw (DAY-now); un deg wyth
19
pedwar ar bymtheg (PED-war ar BUM-theg); un deg naw
20
ugain (IG-ine); dau ddeg
21
un ar hugain (een ar IG-ine); dau ddeg un
22
dau ar hugain (die ar HIG-ine); dau ddeg dau
23
tri ar hugain (tree ar HIG-ine); dau ddeg tri
30
deg ar hugain (DAYG ar HIG-ine); tri ddeg
40
deugain (DAY-gine); pedwar deg
50
hanner cant (HAN-ner kant); pum deg
60
trigain (TRIG-ine); chwe deg
70
deg a thrigain (DAYG ah THRIG-ine); saith deg
80
pedwar ugain (PED-war IG-ine); wyth deg
90
deg a phedwar ugain (DAYG ah FED-war IG-ine); naw deg
91
un ar ddeg a phedwar ugain (een ar thayg ah FED-war IG-ine); naw deg un
100
cant (KANT); can (can) before a noun
200
dau gant (die gant)
300
tri chant (tree ch'ant)
1000
mil (meel)
2000
dwy fil (doo-eey veel)
1,000,000
miliwn (MIL-ioon)
number _____ (train, bus, etc.)
rhif _____ (Rheev)
half
hanner (HAN-ner)
less
llai (lhie)
more
mwy (moo-ee)

Time[edit]

now
rŵan (ROO-an)[North]; nawr (NOW-r) [South]
later
hwyrach (HOOIR-ach)
before
cyn (kin)
after
wedi (weddy)
morning
bore (BOR-eh)
in the morning
yn y bore (un uh BOR-eh)
afternoon
prynhawn (PRUN-hown) - commonly pronounced p'nown
evening
noswaith (NOSooaith); noson (nosson)
in the evening
gyda'r nos (Gudar nohs)
night
nos (nohs)

Clock time[edit]

one o'clock AM
un o'r gloch y bore (een oh'r glo'ch uh bor-eh) - 1:00 y.b.; 01:00
two o'clock AM
dau o'r gloch y bore (die oh'r glo'ch uh bor-eh) - 2:00 y.b.; 02:00
noon
hanner dydd (HAN-ner DEE-th) - 12:00 pm
one o'clock PM, 13:00
un o'r gloch y p'nawn (een oh'r glo'ch uh p'nown) - 1:00 y.p.; 13:00
two o'clock PM, 14:00
dau o'r gloch y p'nawn (die oh'r glo'ch uh p'nown) - 2:00 y.p.; 14:00
quarter to seven, 18:45
chwarter i saith - 6.45 y.h.
quarter past seven, 19:15
chwarter wedi saith - 7.15 y.h.
half past seven, 19:30
hanner wedi saith - 7:30 y.h.
midnight
hanner nos (HAN-ner nohs) 12:00 y.b.

Duration[edit]

_____ minute(s)
_____ munud(au) (MINNID(eh))
_____ hour(s)
_____ awr, pl. oriau (our, plural OR-yai)
_____ day(s)
_____ dydd(iau) (DEEth, plural DUTH-yai)
_____ week(s)
_____ wythnos(au) (OOITH-noss, plural ooith-NOSS-eye)
_____ month(s)
_____ mis(oedd)(mees, plural MIS-oeth)
_____ year(s)
_____ blwyddyn, pl. blynyddoedd (BLOOITH-in, plural blun-UTH-oeth)
daily
yn ddyddiol (uhn dhuh-iol)
weekly
yn wythnosol (uhn ooith-NOSS-ol)
monthly
yn fisol (uhn VIS-ol)
yearly
yn flynyddol (uhn vluh-NUTH-ol)

Days[edit]

today
heddiw (HETH-you)
yesterday
ddoe (THOY)
tomorrow
yfory (uh-VOR-ee)
last night
neithiwr (NAI-thee-uhr)
the day before yesterday
echdoe (ECH-doy)
the night before last
echnos (ECH-nos)
this week
yr wythnos hon (uhr WITH-nos hon)
last week
yr wythnos diwethaf (uhr WITH-nos dyoo-ETH-av (commonly pronounced "dyoo-ETHA"))
next week
yr wythnos nesaf (uhr WITH-nos NESS-av (commonly pronounced "nessa"))
Monday
Dydd Llun (deethe lheen)
Tuesday
Dydd Mawrth (deethe MOW-rth)
Wednesday
Dydd Mercher (deethe MER-cher)
Thursday
Dydd Iau (deethe IAI)
Friday
Dydd Gwener (deethe GWEN-er)
Saturday
Dydd Sadwrn (deethe SAD-oorn)
Sunday
Dydd Sul (deethe seel)

Months[edit]

January
Ionawr (ION-our)
February
Chwefror (CHWEV-ror)
March
Mawrth (MOWRTH)
April
Ebrill (EB-rilh)
May
Mai (MY)
June
Mehefin (me-HEV-in)
July
Gorffennaf (gor-FEN-nav)
August
Awst (OWST)
September
Medi (MED-ee)
October
Hydref (HUD-rev)
November
Tachwedd (TACH-weth)
December
Rhagfyr (RAG-vir)

It's sometimes necessary to put the word mis (month) in front of the name, as some have other common meanings. For instance, Mawrth means both "Tuesday" and "Mars", while hydref means "autumn".

Writing time and date[edit]

Dates are written day/month/year. So if you see 04-12-2003, you know that's y pedwerydd o Rhagfyr, not April 12. A date (18-12-1963) fully spelled out is y deunawfed o Ragfyr mil naw chwe tri (you specify the number of thousands, then the individual number of the hundreds, tens, and units; for years from 2000 onwards say "dwy fil" (two thousand) followed by the significant number, omitting the zeroes - thus 2005 is "dwy fil a phump" (two thousand and five), compared with 1987 which was "mil naw wyth saith" ((one) thousand nine eight seven).

The ordinals are as follows. The feminine form is given with feminine nouns.

1st - 1af, cyntaf
2nd - 2il, ail
3rd - 3ydd, trydydd (m.), trydedd (f.)
4th - 4ydd, pedwerydd (m.), pedwaredd (f.)
5th - 5ed, pumed
6th - 6ed, chweched
7th - 7fed, seithfed
8th - 8fed, wythfed
9th - 9fed, nawfed
10th - 10fed, degfed

Times are either written in the 24 hour clock or with hours and minutes separated by a colon or dot and suffixed by "y.b." (y bore),"y.p." (y p'nawn) or "y.h." (yr hwyr) equivalent to "a.m." and "p.m.".

Seasons[edit]

spring
gwanwyn (GWAN-win)
summer
haf (haav)
autumn
hydref (HUD-rev)
winter
gaeaf (GAI-yav)

Colours[edit]

black
du (dee)
white
gwyn (m) / gwen (f) (gwin/gwen)
grey
llwyd (lh'oo-id)
red
coch (KO'ch)
blue
glas (glaas) - note that this word is also used to describe the colour of grass.
yellow
melyn (MELLIN)
green
gwyrdd (m) / gwerdd (f) (gwirth/gwer'th)
orange
oren (ORRen)
pink
pinc (pink)
purple
porffor or glascoch (POR-for or GLASko'ch)
brown
brown (brown)
silver
arian (AR-yan)
gold
aur (ire)

Transportation[edit]

Bus and train[edit]

How much is a ticket to _____?
Faint yw tocyn i _____ ? (Vy-nt yoo TOK-in ee)
One ticket to _____, please.
Tocyn i _____, os gwelwch yn dda. (TOK-in ee ____ oss GWEL-ookh uhn thah)
Where does this train/bus go?
Ble mae'r trên/bws hwn yn mynd? (blay mire trayn/boos hoon uhn mind?)
Where is the train/bus to _____?
Ble mae'r trên/bws i _____ ? (blay mire trayn/boos i ____)
Does this train/bus stop in _____?
Ydy'r trên/bws hwn yn galw yn _____ ? (Uh deer trayn/bws hoon uhn GA-loo uhn _____)
When does the train/bus for _____ leave?
Pryd mae'r trên/bws i ______ yn gadael? (preed mire trayn/boos i _______ un GAD-ile)
When will this train/bus arrive in _____?
Pryd fydd y trên/bws hwn yn cyrraedd _____ ? (preed veeth uh trayn/boos hoon un KUHR-ithe _____)
a one-way ticket
tocyn sengl
a return/round trip ticket
tocyn dwy ffordd

Directions[edit]

Bilingual place names


As Wales is bilingual, many places in the country have both a Welsh name and an English name. Very often, these closely resemble one another:

Sometimes the names are quite different, but you can see the etymological connection:

Other times, however, the names are completely unalike:

Where is the _____?
Ble mae'r _____ ? (blay my'r _____)
abbey
abaty (a-BA-tee)
beach
traeth (tryth)
bus/railway station
orsaf fysiau/reilffordd (OR-sav vuh-SHY / RAIL-fordh) (NB: orsaf is a mutation; the base form you'll see on signs is gorsaf)
castle
castell (cas-DELH)
church / cathedral
eglwys / eglwys gadeiriol (eg-LOIS / eg-LOIS ga-DAY-reeol)
farm
fferm (ferm)
house / cottage
tŷ / bwthyn (tee / BUH-thin)
hotel
gwesty (GWES-dee)
island
ynys (UN-iss)
lake
llyn (lheen)
library
lyfrgell (luvr-GELH) (NB: mutation; base form is llyfrgell)
market hall
neuadd y farchnad (NAY-adh uh VARKH-nad)
mountain
mynydd (MUN-idh)
museum / gallery
amgueddfa / oriel (am-ghee-EDH-va / OR-yel)
park / garden
parc / ardd (parc / ardh) (NB: ardd is a mutation; base form is gardd)
port / harbour
porth (porth)
pub
dafarn (da-VARN) (NB: mutation; base form is tafarn)
river / stream
afon / nant (A-von / nant)
town/city centre
canol y dref/ddinas (CAN-ol uh drev / DHI-nas)
North
Gogledd (GOG-ledh')
South
De (day)
East
Dwyrain (DOOY-rine)
West
Gorllewin (gor-LH'EW-in)

Taxi[edit]

Taxi
Tacsi

Lodging[edit]

hotel
gwesty
bed & breakfast
gwely a brecwast
campsite
gwersyll / maes gwersylla
tent
pabell (pl: pebyll)
caravan
carafán
self-catering
hunan arlwyo

Money[edit]

Pound
Punt
Penny
Ceiniog

Eating[edit]

bread
bara
potatoes
tatws
chips (i.e. fries)
sglodion
fish
pysgod
meat
cig
lamb
cig oen
sausage
selsig
vegetables
llysiau
leeks
cennin
fruit
ffrwyth
apple
afal
orange
oren
cheese
caws
eggs
wyau
laverbread
bara lawr
cake
cacen (south), teisen (north)
chocolate
siocled
sweets
losin
butter
menyn
coffee
coffi
tea
te
water
dŵr
juice
sudd
milk
llaeth (south), llefrith (north)
Welsh produce
bwyd o Gymru

Bars[edit]

pub
tafar
beer
cwrw
bitter
chwerw
real ale
cwrw go iawn
cider
seidr
wine
gwin
white wine
gwin gwyn
red wine
gwin coch
whisky
chwisgi
vodka
fodca
rum
rym
coke
cola
lemonade
lemonêd
A bottle / Half a bottle
Potel / haner potel
crisps (potato chips)
creision (tatws)
nuts
cnau
Cheers! (good health)
Iechyd da!

Shopping[edit]

shop / shops
siop / siopau
supermarket
archfarchnad
market
marchnad
dairy
llaethdy
bakery
popty
butcher
cigydd
change
newid
open
ar agor
closed
ar gau
buy
prynu
sell
gwerthu

Driving[edit]

road
ffordd
motorway
traffordd
services
gwasanaethau
car park
maes parcio
insurance
yswiriant
accident
damwain
Is there a petrol station here?
Oes na orsaf petrol fan hyn?
Where's the road to Pandy?
Ble mae'r ffordd i'r Pandy?
The road via Gwersyllt is quicker.
Mae'r ffordd drwy Gwersyllt yn gyflymach.
Try to avoid Cefn-y-Bedd.
Ceisiwch osgoi Cefn-y-Bedd.
Is there a prettier route to Brymbo?
Oes ffordd perta i fynd i Frymbo?
Turn left at the old steel works.
Trowch i'r chwith ger yr hen waith dur.
There's nothing to see there.
Does dim byd yna i weld yno.
There's a petrol station in Rossett but Sainsbury's is cheaper.
Mae na orsaf petrol yn Yr Orsedd ond mae Sainsbury's yn rhatach
You can park in Heol Hyfryd for free.
Gewch chi barcio yn Heol Hyfryd am ddim.
Don't park in Bryn Hyfryd it's a rough area.
Peidiwch â pharcio ym Mryn Hyfryd - mae'n ardal ryff.

Authority[edit]

police
heddlu (HEDH-lee)
fire station
gorsaf dân (GOR-sav daan)
This Welsh phrasebook is a usable article. It explains pronunciation and the bare essentials of travel communication. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.