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19  Pluperfect Tense

19.1  The pluperfect is equivalent to the English tense with 'had'
lladdysseihad killed
gorddyfnasseihad been accustomed
gwelseihad seen
gwybuyssynthad known
buasseihad been
Our examples are all third persons, but look at the full conjugation in Appendix C and GMW 114, etc.


  1. Ac ar hynny at y cwn a ddoeth ef, a gyrrwys yr erchwys a laddyssei y carw i ymdeith.
  2. Ni weleis ansyberwyd fwy ar wr, no gyrru yr erchwys a laddyssei y carw i ymdeith.
  3. A hynny ni orddyfnassei hi ys blwyddyn, a hynny a feddyliwys hi.
  4. Ac o'r a welsei o helgwn y byd, ni welsei cwn un lliw ac wynt.
  5. Wynteu hagen ni wybuyssynt ei eiseu ef.
  6. Beth a fuassei ei arglwyddiaeth ef arnunt wy?
  1. i ymdeith -- 'away' -- see 7.8.
  2. mwy . . . no -- 'greater than'.
  3. un lliw: possibly to be written unlliw -- 'the same colour'. In the same way, unllef -- 'the same voice'.
19.3  There is a preverbal particle ry, originating from *pro -- 'before' (as in the Latin word). This can be thought of as a "perfective" particle, emphasizing the "completion" of the action. In Old Welsh this was frequently used as a prefix to pluperfect and preterite forms, but this use is dying out in the era of the Mabinogi. We have sporadic examples:
  1. Ac y bu ddigrif ganthaw ymweled a'i ynifer ac a'i deulu, canís rywelsei ef wy ys blwyddyn.
  2. A dechreu ymofyn a gwyrda y wlad, beth a fuassei ei arglwyddiaeth ef arnunt wy y flwyddyn honno i wrth ryfuassei.
  3. Ac i'r neuadd rygyrchwys i ddiarchenu.
  1. canís -- 'because . . . not'. But be warned! Normally you find no difference in spelling between this and canys -- 'because'.
  2. I wrth ryfuassei -- 'as against (compared with) what it had been before'. Here the prefix has a real utility, because it refers to something before the pluperfect.
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All text copyright © 1996 by Gareth Morgan. Online layout copyright © 2001 by Daniel Morgan.