Regular Verbs

Regular Verb Conjugation

Cumbraek verbs are conjugated, so have individual endings for 1st, 2nd and 3rd person singular and plural, plus an impersonal form (which is dealt with separately below). Regular verbs have one present tense, three past tenses (imperfect, preterite and pluperfect) and an imperative. The use of these tenses is explained in more detail below.

The dictionary form of Cumbraek verbs is called a verb noun, which is the equivalent to the English infinitive in to … or the gerund in …ing, e.g. the verb noun gwelet translates to see and seeing. In most cases, the verb noun is made up of a verb stem and an ending, such as -o, -ya, -i, or -et. These endings are dropped and the verb stem is used as the basis for the rest of the conjugation.

Present Tense

The present tense has a wider range of uses than the English equivalent. It is used to describe actions which are:

  • current and ongoing, e.g. mi redav I am running
  • generally true, e.g. can edhnot birds sing
  • regular or habitual, e.g. ni cerdhen bownidh we walk every day
  • in the future, e.g. oo ánt San Francisco they are going (will go) to San Francisco

Here are the forms of the present tense for the verb caro love:

carav  I love
ceridh  you love (sg)
car  he/she/it loves
caren  we love
caret  you love (pl)
carant  they love

Note that the of car- becomes before the ending -idh. This change affects all vowel stems with -a- in them. In many cases the stem vowel undergoes alternation in the 3rd person singular, e.g. per he/she/it causes (from par-),  gwil he/she/it sees (from gwel-).

Imperfect Tense

The imperfect tense is the equivalent of English was/were …ing as in I was walking, we were singing etc. It describes a past action which was ongoing or repeated for a period of time, so also includes phrases like mi cerdhun du’r gweyth I walked to work where the implication is that this was a habitual action.

The imperfect forms for caro love are:

carun  I was loving
carout  you were loving (sg)
care  he/she/it was loving
carem  we were loving
carewch  you were loving (pl)
carent  they were loving

Of course, in English, we rarely use was/were loving and prefer to use loved instead. However, because of the meaning of love, which is usually an ongoing state, the Imperfect would normally be used in Cumbraek.

Preterite Tense

The preterite tense might be called the ‘simple past’ and refers to actions which occurred at a specific point in the past, e.g. mi eth weles I saw youev redas adrev he ran home.

The preterite forms for caro love are:

ceres  I loved
cerest  you loved (sg)
caras  he/she/it loved
carsam  we loved
carsawch  you loved (pl)
carsant  they loved

Note the change of to in the first two forms. Verbs with a stem ending in -s simply merge with the plural endings, e.g. cossam we itcheddanggossant they showed.

A handful of verbs have singular forms with a -t or -th inserted and these follow one of two patterns:

  • cent I sangcentest you sangcant he/she/it sang can-
  • cummirth I tookcummirthest you tookcummerth he/she/it took cummer-

Like cano sing are gwano stab and emwano fight. Like cumbrit take are degumbrit acceptdifrit protectjovrit ban, forbidedvrit restore and emmedvrit recover.

A few common verbs also change -ed or –edh in the stem into -ot or -odh in the 3rd person singular form only. Examples include dewot he saidgwarot he savedestodh he satgorwodh he lay down. Irregular are gwoat quoth and ciglow he heard beside cluwas.

Pluperfect Tense

The pluperfect translates the English had …ed/en as in we had walked, you had given and refers to an action or state ongoing up until some point in the past, e.g. mi gwelsun er film cint gweth I had seen the film already.

The pluperfect forms for caro are:

carsun  I had loved
carsout  you had loved (sg)
carse  he/she/it had loved
carsem  we had loved
carsewch  you had loved (pl)
carsent  they had loved

This is not a commonly used tense and most cases of the English pluperfect would be translated with the Imperfect or Preterite tenses, e.g. mi gweles er film cint gweth I saw the film already.


The imperative is used to give commands or to make requests. There is no 1st person singular, but the remaining forms are:

car  love! (sg)
caret  let him/her/it love
carem  let us love
cerit  love! (pl)
carent  let them love

Summary of Regular Verb Conjugation

Present Imperfect Preterite Pluperfect Imperative
1sg carav carun ceres carsum   
2sg ceridh carout cerest  carsout  car 
3sg car care caras  carse  caret
1pl caren carem carsam carsem  carem 
2pl caret carewch  carsawch carsewch  cerit 
3pl carant carent  carsant carsent  carent