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Can someone explain to me when to use "cuid"?

 

I hope it's not too broad of a question. But I see "cuid", "chuid", "gcuid", etc used and apparently it's to indicate some form of a possession, such as mo cuid gruaige or "my hair". But then I've seen simply "mo chara" or "my friend without "cuid". Can someone explain to me when I should use the cuid/chuid/gcuid?

go raibh mile maith agat!

For learning: Gaelic (Irish)
Base language: English
Category: Language

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    It's not too broad at all, in fact it's a good question and one that often causes confusion to beginners.
    The literal meaning of "cuid" is "a share or portion of something", so "mo/do/a chuid, a cuid, ár/bhur/a gcuid" (followed by a noun in the genitive case) mean "my/your/his/her/our/your/their share of ...". It follows from this that "cuid" is generally used with plural nouns or, as in the case of "gruaig", collective nouns indicating a plurality (although grammatically singular).
    So in Irish we say "mo chuid gruaige" - "my share of hair" - rather than just "mo ghruaig" - "my hair" - which sounds a bit strange, as if all hair belongs to me(!). We can't use the "cuid" construction in place of "mo chara" because it wouldn't make any sense with the singular noun ("my portion of a friend"?), but it can certainly be used with the plural "cairde" - "friends": "mo chuid cairde" - "my friends". Likewise, "mo chuid leabhar", "a chuid smaointe", "a gcuid tithe" ("my books", "his thoughts", "their houses"), etc.
    Their are also some singular words with which it is usual to use "cuid":
    "mo chuid bia" - "my food", and other uncountable nouns denoting foodstuffs, such as "bainne", "arán", "feoil", etc. "Mo chuid" by itself generally means "my food" (in the sense of what I'm eating now); also other uncountable nouns such as "mo chuid airgid" - "my money";
    "mo chuid Gaeilge" - "my Irish" and other languages;
    "mo chuid oibre", "mo chuid foighne", "mo chuid ceoil" ("my work", "my patience", "my music") etc. and other abstract nouns that can be measured or quantified in some sense.
    "Cuid" is also used in the construction "... de mo chuid" - "one of my ...": "cara de mo chuid", "leabhar de mo chuid" ("one of my friends", "one of my books"), etc.
    So, to sum up, "cuid" indicates that what is possessed is in some way countable, measurable or divisible and the possessor only possesses a share, measure or portion thereof.

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