Activity Workshop

BBC Catchphrase Lessons 1-6

These audio lessons are the first 6 in the BBC's "Catchphrase" course for learning Welsh. The audio comes from the BBC, and the course notes below are adapted from the BBC's rtf files. The hope is that the attached subtitles, when combined with the audio, help to reinforce the learning and connect together the way that Welsh sounds with the way it's written.

You may want to run through certain lessons more than once, either with or without looking at the subtitles, and try to build up the sentences yourself before reading the answer. If you need more time, the pause button is your friend, and you can drag the time marker back to repeat sections as you wish.

If you use the BBC's course notes, beware that in their notes the elongated "y" character as in the word "tŷ" is shown for some reason as a "þ", and an elongated "w" as in "dŵr" is shown as a "ð", which can be a bit confusing. Also you'll need some office software like for example LibreOffice to view their files.

The first six lessons cover the following:

  1. Sounds of the language
  2. Greetings and smalltalk about the weather
  3. Where do you live and work?
  4. Likes and dislikes
  5. Talking about he, she and they
  6. Using the informal "ti"

Gwers un - Lesson 1

Concentrating on basic pronunciation of sounds such as "ch", "ll", "dd", "rh" and the long and short vowels.

To play this lesson, try clicking the "play" button in this box below. The subtitles should appear inside the rectangle.

If that doesn't work (maybe your browser doesn't support these features?) you can download and save both of the following files to your computer, and use a player like VLC to play the audio together with the subtitle file. You'll need both the .mp3 (from the BBC) and the .srt subtitles file. And possibly also the .rtf file for the BBC's notes.

Rhan un - Part 1, sounds in Welsh

CH - will be familiar to German speakers already. It sounds exactly as it does in the Scots word 'loch' and in the name of the composer 'Bach'.


LL - a sound unique to Welsh, like an aspirated "l". Occurs often in place names as "Llan" followed by the name of a saint, such as Llanelli (St. Elli), Llanon (St Non, the mother of St David), Llantrisant (the church of the three saints), Llanfairpg...

llanenclosure, perhaps around a church

R and RH - far more distinctly pronounced in Welsh than in English. R is always well-rolled (even at the end of a word).

y Rhondda 
rhoito give
rhedegto run

DD - pronounced exactly like the voiced 'th' in 'this', 'that', 'those', 'these'.

y Rhondda 

F - always pronounced like the English 'v' or the 'f' in the word 'of'.


'Dafydd' is a name often mispronounced. It combines the two sounds 'f' and 'dd' - as does the word 'eisteddfod'.

FF - sounds like the English 'f', as heard in 'often', 'after' and 'if'. In English the letter 'f' is sometimes pronounced like a 'v' and sometimes like an 'ff'; in Welsh 'f' is always like in 'of' and 'ff' is always like in 'off' (and the letter 'v' is not used).

hoffito like
Rydw i'n hoffi coffi.I like coffee.

Rhan dau - Part 2, short and long vowels in Welsh

(like 'man', 'hat')
(like 'llama', 'dahl')
(like 'pen', 'let')
gweldto see
(like 'eh')
(like 'pin', 'tip')
ciniolunch / dinner
(like 'meet', 'see')
(like 'hot', 'lost')
(a bit like
'so', 'sore')
dodto come
(like 'i' in S.Wales
or 'u' in N.Wales)
(like 'ee')
(like 'bun', 'lucky')
wrthby / near
(like 'ghoul')
gŵrhusband / man

Special case: unlike the other vowels, the vowel sound of 'Y' can occur in two different forms, called 'clear' and 'obscure'.

Y - clearshort
(like 'pin')
myndto go
bywto live
(like 'meet')
Y - obscureshort
(like 'uh')

The word 'mynydd' (mountain) contains both obscure and clear 'y' sounds - in that order.

The diphthong 'wy' is the combination of the two vowel sounds 'w' and 'y' and makes much more of an "oy" sound than an "ooey" sound.

ClwydNorth East Wales

And that's all for lesson 1. Hwyl fawr! - Cheerio!

Gwers dau - Lesson 2

Greetings and smalltalk. Hello, how are you, and isn't the weather rainy today?

To use the files separately, you'll need the .mp3 (from the BBC), together with the .srt subtitles file. And possibly also the .rtf file for the BBC's notes.

Rhan un - Part 1, greetings

Firstly, some basic vocabulary. Here are some times of day:

nawr (S.Wales)
rŵan (N.Wales)
y bore 'mathis morning
y p'nawn 'mathis afternoon
henothis evening / tonight

Now we can put those together to make some simple greetings. The adjective ("good") comes after the noun in Welsh, so it's "morning good" instead of "good morning".

bore dagood morning
prynhawn dagood afternoon
noswaith ddagood evening

Note that in the special case of "noswaith", the hard "da" is changed, or softened, into a "dda". This is called a 'soft mutation' and follows rules which we'll learn later. (Put briefly, the "da" is an adjective (meaning "good"), and when adjectives follow female nouns (as "noswaith" is), they get softened. This means that the beginning of the word gets changed according to certain rules, and if the word begins with a "d", this "d" changes to a "dd". There are many other similar rules, as we'll see later).

Now let's look at some farewells:

nos dagood night
hwyl / hwyl fawrcheerio / bye
da boch chigoodbye (formal)

Further greetings and asking how people are:

Sut mae?
(Shwmai? / S'mai?)
How are things?
Sut rydych chi?
(Shwt 'ych chi? / Sut 'dach chi?)
How are you? (formal)
Sut mae Tom?How is Tom?
Sut mae'r plant?How are the children?
Sut mae'r teulu?How's the family?

And a few example answers to "how are you?":

Iawn!Alright / O.K.!
Da iawn!Very well!
Eitha(f) da!Quite well!

And you could, of course, add:

diolch yn fawr (iawn)thank you very much
A chi?And you?

Rhan dau - Part 2, talking about the weather

When talking about the weather, we use "Mae hi" (literally "she is") in the present tense. As there is no neuter "it" in Welsh, we always refer to the weather as "she".

Mae hi'n braf[The weather] is fine

The word "Yn" is abbreviated to 'n after a vowel, similar to the contraction "it is" to "it's". So "Mae hi yn braf" becomes "Mae hi'n braf". In ordinary speech, the pronoun "hi" is also often omitted, so the phrase "Mae hi'n" is further abbreviated to "Mae'n".

Mae'n brafIt's fine
yn hyfrydlovely
yn dwym
yn boeth
yn sychdry
yn gynneswarm
yn wlybwet
yn wyntogwindy
yn niwlogmisty, foggy
yn oercold
yn gymylogcloudy

It can be useful to combine these weather observations with a time of day, for example:

y bore 'mathis morning
y p'nawn 'mathis afternoon
henotonight / this evening
Mae'n wlyb y bore 'maIt's wet this morning
Mae'n wyntog y p'nawn 'maIt's windy this afternoon

Depending on whether the weather is good or bad, you can agree in different ways:

Ydy!Yes, it is!
Ydy, diolch byth!Yes, thank goodness!
Ydy, wir!Yes, indeed!

You can also add "isn't it?" to the end, to turn the statement into a question:

on'd ydy?isn't it?
Mae'n sych heno, on'd ydy?It's dry tonight, isn't it?
Ydy, diolch byth!Yes, thank goodness!
Mae'n ddiflas y p'nawn ma, on'd ydy?It's miserable this afternoon, isn't it?
Ydy wir - ac yn oer.Yes, indeed - and cold.

Here's an example conversation combining these greetings, weather comments and farewells:

Bill: Bore da Elin.
Elin: Bore da Bill. Shwt 'ych chi?
Bill: Da iawn diolch. A chi?
Elin: O - gweddol. Rydw i wedi blino.
Bill: Sut mae Gareth?
Elin: Iawn diolch. Mae'n braf y bore 'ma, on'd ydy?
Bill: Ydy wir, ac yn sych, diolch byth.
Elin: Wel - da boch chi, Bill.
Bill: Da boch chi.

Gwers tri - Lesson 3

Who are you, and where do you live, work and shop?

To use the files separately, you'll need the .mp3 (from the BBC), together with the .srt subtitles file. And possibly also the .rtf file for the BBC's notes.

Rhan un - Part 1, who are you, who am I?

Firstly, some basic vocabulary:

bywto live

Let's start with asking who someone is. (We'll use the formal "chi", as we don't know the person yet).

Pwy ydych chi?Who are you?

And if someone asks us this question, we can answer either just with our name, or making a sentence with "I am ...".

Nigel(I'm) Nigel
Nigel ydw iI'm Nigel

Again, notice how the word order in Welsh is opposite to that in English.

And we can turn the tables by asking "who am I?"

Pwy ydw i?Who am I?
Basil ydych chiYou are Basil

Now let's look at saying where we live and asking where others live:

Rydw iI am
yn bywliving
Rydw i'n bywI live / I am living
Rydych chi'n bywYou live / You are living

And if we add the word for "where", we can ask questions:

Ble rydych chi'n byw?Where do you live?
Ble rydw i'n byw?Where do I live?

To answer these questions, we need the word for "in":

yn Aberystwythin Aberystwyth
Rdw i'n byw yn AberystwythI live in Aberystwyth

Unfortunately, the word "yn" has magical effects on the word following it, if it begins with certain consonants. For example, if the place name begins with a "C" sound, like Caerdydd/Cardiff, the beginning of Caerdydd gets a so-called "nasal mutation" and changes to a "Ngh" sound, and the "yn" also changes to a "yng". For example:

Caerdydd -> yng Nghaerdydd
Caernarfon -> yng Nghaernarfon
Cricieth -> yng Nghricieth
Caerfyrddin -> yng Nghaerfyrddin

To say the opposite, that you don't live in a certain place, you need the word "ddim" for the negative, but the "Rydw i" and the "Rydych chi" also change slightly, as follows:

Dydw i ddim yn byw yng Nghricieth.I don't live in Cricieth.
Dydych chi ddim yn byw yn Aberystwyth.You don't live in Aberystwyth.

When you hear spoken Welsh, it's often abbreviated, so "rydw i'n" may become just "dw i'n", and "dydych chi ddim" may become "d'ych chi ddim", and so on.

Rhan dau - Part 2, working and shopping

Let's add some more vocabulary to talk about where we work and shop.

gweithioto work
siopato shop

With the verb "to work", it should be easy now to ask somebody where they work:

Ble rydych chi'n gweithio?Where do you work?
Rydw i'n gweithio yn Aberteifi.I work in Cardigan
Dydw i ddim yn gweithio yng Nghlwyd.I don't work in Clwyd.

The letter "P" is another consonant which has this nasal mutation after the word "yn", for example:

Penarth -> ym Mhenarth
Pontypridd -> ym Mhontypridd
Paris -> ym Mharis

You'll notice that once again the word "yn" itself has changed to "ym", simply to make it easier to glide the two words together. But again - put these changes in perspective and don't lose any sleep over them!

Ble rydych chi'n gweithio?Where do you work?
Rydw i'n gweithio ym Mhenarth.I work in Penarth.
Dydw i ddim yn gweithio ym Mharis.I don't work in Paris.

Now we'll change the verb again, and use "siopa" to talk about where we do our shopping:

Ble rydych chi'n siopa?Where do you shop?
Dydw i ddim yn siopa ym Mhorthmadog. Rydw i'n siopa yng Nghonwy.I don't shop in Porthmadog. I shop in Conwy.

The words "ac" / "a" (and) and "ond" (but) are useful to join statements together.

Rydw i'n byw yng Nghaerffili a rydw i'n siopa yng Nghaerffili.I live in Caerffili and I shop in Caerffili.
Dydw i ddim yn byw yn Aberystwyth ond rydw i'n byw yn y Barri.
Ond dydw i ddim yn gweithio yn y Barri. Rydw i'n gweithio ym Mhontypridd.
I don't live in Aberystwyth but I live in Barry.
But I don't work in Barry. I work in Pontypridd.
Rydw i'n byw yn Aberaeron ond dydw i ddim yn siopa yn Aberaeron.
Rydw i'n siopa yn Aberystwyth.
I live in Aberaeron but I don't shop in Aberaeron.
I shop in Aberystwyth.

I could turn the tables and ask a question about myself:

Ble rydw i'n byw a ble rydw i'n gweithio?Where do I live and where do I work?
Rydych chi'n byw yn y Barri ond dydych chi ddim yn gweithio yn y Barri.
Rydych chi'n gweithio ym Mhontypridd.
You live in Barry but you don't work in Barry.
You work in Pontypridd.

Here's an example conversation combining these questions and statements, with "ac" and "ond":

Gareth: Hylo. Gareth ydw i. Pwy ydych chi?
Gwyn: Hylo. Gwyn ydw i.
Gareth: Ble rydych chi'n byw, Gwyn?
Gareth: Rydw i'n byw yng Nghaernarfon. Ble rydych chi'n byw?
Gareth: Dydw i ddim yn byw yng Nghaernarfon ond rydw i'n byw yn Llandudno - ac rydw i'n gweithio yn Llandudno.
Gwyn: O - rydych chi'n byw ac rydych chi'n gweithio yn Llandudno.
Gareth: Ydw - ac rydw i'n siopa yn Llandudno hefyd.

Gwers pedwar - Lesson 4

More about likes and dislikes, and talking about "us".

To use the files separately, you'll need the .mp3 (from the BBC), together with the .srt subtitles file. And possibly also the .rtf file for the BBC's notes.

Rhan un - Part 1, where do we live, work, and what do we like?

Up until now we've been talking about ourselves (I am, I live, I like) and about the other person (you are, you live, you like). Now we'll learn how to say things about ourselves in the plural form (we are, we live, we like).

Just to recap how to say people's names, we already learnt:

Nigel ydw iI am Nigel (literally "Nigel am I")
Cennard ydych chiYou are Cennard (literally "Cennard are you")

And to answer in the "we" form:

Pwy ydych chi?Who are you? (singular or plural)
Nigel a Cennard ydyn niWe are Nigel and Cennard
(literally "Nigel and Cennard are we")

Notice how, just like in English, we use the same word "chi" to mean "you" (just you in the singular) and also to mean "you" (all of you in the plural).

Similarly, we've seen how to use "rydw i" (I am) together with the verbs "yn byw", "yn gweithio", "yn siopa" and "yn chwarae". We can do the same for "we are" as follows:

Rydyn niWe are
Rydyn ni'n byw yn Radur.We live in Radur.
Rydyn ni'n gweithio yn Aberystwyth.We work in Aberystwyth.
Rydyn ni'n siopa yn Sblot.We shop in Splott.
Rydyn ni'n chwarae yn Llanelli.We are playing/We play in Llanelli.

Often in spoken Welsh, these "proper" forms are shortened or abbreviated:

Rydw i -> Dw i
Rydych chi -> R'ych chi
Rydyn ni -> R'yn ni

We can also now say that we like certain things:

R'yn ni'n hoffi wisgiWe like whisky
R'yn ni'n hoffi rygbiWe like rugby
R'yn ni'n hoffi ffilmiau cowboiWe like cowboy films
R'yn ni'n hoffi siopaWe like shopping
R'yn ni'n hoffi byw yng NghaerdyddWe like living in Cardiff

And we can similarly say that we don't like certain things using "ddim". Then the "Rydyn ni yn" changes to "Dydyn ni ddim yn", and this is often shortened to "D'yn ni ddim yn":

D'yn ni ddim yn hoffi bananasWe don't like bananas
D'yn ni ddim yn hoffi tomatosWe don't like tomatoes

Rhan dau - Part 2, more on the "we" form and saying what you hate

We've seen how the "chi" form can mean either "you" (in the singular) or "you" (in the plural). Therefore we might need to answer the question "where do you live?" either by saying "I live in ..." or alternatively "We live in ...":

Ble rydych chi'n byw?Where do you live?
Dw i'n byw yng Nghaerdydd.I live in Cardiff.
R'yn ni'n byw yng Nghaerdydd.We live in Cardiff.

You can practice answering these questions in both "I" and "we" forms:

Ble r'ych chi'n gweithio?Where do you work?
Ble r'ych chi'n siopa?Where do you shop?
Ble r'ych chi'n chwarae golff?Where do you play golf?

In a similar way, to answer the question "where are we playing today?", you might need to answer either "you are playing in ..." or "we are playing in ...", depending on who is meant by "we":

Ble rydyn ni 'n chwarae heddiw?Where are we playing today?
Rydyn ni'n chwarae yn Abertawe.We are playing in Swansea.
Rydych chi'n chwarae yn Abertawe.You are playing in Swansea.

We'll introduce another verb - "casáu" (to dislike / hate / loathe):

(Ry)dw i'n casáuI dislike
R(yd)ych chi'n casáuYou dislike
R(yd)yn ni'n casáuWe dislike
(Ry)dw i ddim yn casáuI don't dislike
R(yd)ych chi ddim yn casáuYou don't dislike
R(yd)yn ni ddim yn casáuWe don't dislike

As with "hoffi", we can combine this verb with a noun (like tomatoes) or with a verb noun (like playing golf):

Dw i'n casáu tomatosI dislike tomatoes
R'ych chi'n casáu chwarae golffYou hate playing golf

Here's an example conversation using the "we" form (with Bill and Ben speaking together) and the verb casáu:

Mari: Mari ydw i. Pwy ydych chi?
Bill a Ben: Bill a Ben ydyn ni.
Mari: Sut rydych chi? (Shwt 'ych chi?)
Bill a Ben: Rydyn ni'n iawn, diolch.
Mari: Ble rydych chi'n byw?
Bill a Ben: Rydyn ni'n byw yn Llandaf.
Mari: Ble rydych chi'n gweithio?
Bill a Ben: Rydyn ni'n gweithio yn y BBC.
Mari: Da iawn.
Bill a Ben: Da iawn wir! Rydyn ni'n casáu gweithio yn y BBC!

Gwers pump - Lesson 5

Talking about "he", "she" and "they".

To use the files separately, you'll need the .mp3 (from the BBC), together with the .srt subtitles file. And possibly also the .rtf file for the BBC's notes.

Rhan un - Part 1, where does he or she live and work?

We've already seen in earlier lessons how to ask "who are you", and "who am I":

Pwy ydw i?Who am I?
Pwy ydych chi?Who are you? (singular "you" or plural "you")

Now we can ask about "him", "her" and "them":

Pwy ydy hi?Who is she?
Pwy ydy e? (South Wales)
Pwy ydy o? (North Wales)
Who is he?
Pwy ydyn nhw?Who are they?

And we can answer in a very similar way to "Nigel ydw i" but using these "he", "she" and "they" forms:

Pwy ydy hi?Who's she?
Mair ydy hi.She's Mair.
Pwy ydy e? (or Pwy ydy o?)Who's he?
Bill ydy e. (or Bill ydy o.)He's Bill.
Pwy ydyn nhw?Who are they?
Mair a Bill ydyn nhw.They are Mair and Bill.

You should also remember asking about where do I, or where do you, live / work / shop / play rugby:

Ble rydych chi'n byw?Where do you live?
Ble rydw i'n gweithio?Where do I work?
Ble rydyn ni'n siopa?Where do we shop?

So now, let's ask about a third person, called Gareth:

Ble mae Gareth yn byw?Where does Gareth live? (literally: where is Gareth living?)
Mae Gareth yn byw ym Mhorthmadog.Gareth lives in Porthmadog (literally: Is Gareth living in Porthmadog)
Ble mae e'n gweithio?Where does he work? (literally: where is he working?)
Mae e'n gweithio yng Nghricieth.He works in Cricieth (literally: Is he working in Cricieth)

Note that for North Wales, the word for he is "o", not "e", so you'd say "Ble mae o'n gweithio" and "Mae o'n gweithio..."

For asking about a female person, the referral by name is exactly the same, but we use "hi" for "she":

Ble mae Gwen yn byw?Where does Gwen live?
Ble mae hi'n chwarae golff?Where does she play golf?
Mae hi'n chwarae yn Llanelli.She plays in Llanelli.

Rhan dau - Part 2, using the negative sense "doesn't"

First, let's do a quick recap of how the positive form (I do) changes to the negative form (I don't) for the I, you and we cases that we've already seen:

Rydw i ...I am / I do->Dydw i ddim ...I'm not / I don't
Rydych chi ...You are / You do->Dydych chi ddim ...You're not / You don't
Rydyn ni ...We are / We do->Dydyn ni ddim ...We're not / We don't

So can see a pattern emerging where the negative form starts with a "Dy" when the "ddim" comes in. And luckily enough, very similar things happen for he, she and they:

Mae e ...
Mae o
He is / He does->Dydy e ddim ...
Dydy o ddim
He isn't / He doesn't
Mae hi ...She is / She does->Dydy hi ddim ...She isn't / She doesn't
Maen nhw ...They are / They do->Dydyn nhw ddim ...They're not / They don't

Here are some example sentences using these new negative forms:

Dydy Gwyn ddim yn byw yng Nghaerdydd ond mae e'n byw yn Abertawe.Gwyn doesn't live in Cardiff but he lives in Swansea.
Dydy Geraint ddim yn gweithio yn Llandudno rŵan ond mae o'n gweithio yn Llanrwst.Geraint doesn't work in Llandudno now but he works in Llanrwst.
Dydy hi ddim yn byw yma nawr.She doesn't live here now.

Now, there's another complication to introduce with words following "yn". We've already seen how the letter "C" gets mutated when it follows "yn", and also words beginning with "P":

Caerdydd -> yng Nghaerdydd
Porthmadog -> ym Mhorthmadog

There's another mutation to watch out for, with words beginning with "B":

Bangor -> ym Mangor
Blaenau Ffestiniog -> ym Mlaenau Ffestiniog

And although words beginning with "M" aren't mutated, the word "yn" gets changed anyway, to roll more easily into the following "M":

Merthyr Tudful -> ym Merthyr Tudful
Machynlleth -> ym Machynlleth

And finally, there's a small complication with "mae" and "maen" when you're talking about several people. If you refer to them as "they", that's the only case in which you use "maen", for example: "Maen nhw'n byw ym Mangor." For other cases, when you refer to the same people as "the children", or "Bill and Ben", you have to use the singular "mae" instead:

Ble mae Bill a Ben yn byw?Where do Bill and Ben live (using singular "mae")
Ble mae'r plant yn byw?Where do the children live (using singular "mae")
Ble maen nhw'n byw?Where do they live (using plural "maen")

It may be easier to think of it as "mae" being used for both singular and plural, but the pronoun "nhw" being a special case which uses a different verb form "maen". And it's a similar situation in the negative form:

Dydy'r plant ddim yn hoffi coffi.The children don't like coffee (using singular "dydy")
Dydy Bryn a Mair ddim yn hoffi te.Bryn and Mair don't like tea (using singular "dydy")
Dydyn nhw ddim yn hoffi jeli.They don't like jelly (using plural "dydyn")

Here's an example conversation talking about where he and she live and work:

Emyr: Shwmai Aled?
Aled: Shwmai Emyr? (pointing) Pwy ydy hi?
Emyr: O - Bethan (ydy hi).
Aled: Ble mae Bethan yn byw?
Emyr: Mae hi'n byw yng Nghonwy ond dydy hi ddim yn gweithio yng Nghonwy.
Aled: (again pointing) Pwy ydy e?
Emyr: Rhys (ydy e).
Aled: Ble mae e'n byw?
Emyr: Yng Nghonwy hefyd.
Aled: Ble mae Bethan a Rhys yn gweithio?
Emyr: Dydyn nhw ddim yn gweithio yng Nghonwy. Maen nhw'n gweithio yn Abergele. Ac maen nhw'n hoffi gweithio yno.

Here we see a new word "yno":

ynothere (in this case, Abergele)

Gwers chwech - Lesson 6

Using the informal version of "you are", "rwyt ti".

To use the files separately, you'll need the .mp3 (from the BBC), together with the .srt subtitles file. And possibly also the .rtf file for the BBC's notes.

And that's the first six lessons completed. You can of course repeat any of these lessons to get some more practice, or proceed on to the next set, lessons 7 to 12.