When would you use cyn as opposed to o’r blaen in Welsh?
This is a question many beginners – and even some intermediate learners – struggle with, since both can be translated as “before” in English.
The word cyn is a preposition in Welsh and can also be translated as “prior to” in English. It is used as a time expression that clarifies the sequence of events. For example:
- Wnes i ddarllen llyfr cyn mynd i gysgu. (I read a book before going to sleep.)
- Beth roeddet ti wedi’i wneud cyn hynny? (What had you done before that?)
- Beth wnest ti cyn i ti gael swper? (What did you do before you had supper?)
In each of these sentences, one event directly follows another in a time sequence. In the first, it comes before a verb (mynd); in the second it precedes an adverb (hynny); and in the third, it is used with the preposition (i).
O’r blaen, on the other hand, is an adverb that can also be translated as “previously” in English. Usually placed at the end of a sentence, it refers to a previous event or past time rather than a sequence of events. For example:
- Dw i wedi bod yno o’r blaen. (I have been there before.)
- Dydy o ddim yn mynd allan mor aml ag o’r blaen. (He doesn’t go out as much as before.)
You’ll often see it paired with the word erioed which means ‘ever’ or ‘never’ depending on the context.
- Dach chi erioed wedi clywed Meinir Gwilym o’r blaen? (Have you ever heard Meinir Gwilym before?)
- Dw i’n siwr bod ti erioed wedi cusanu llyffant o’r blaen. (I’m sure you have never kissed a toad before.)
As you’ve probably guessed by now, the two are NOT interchangeable, so you cannot say “
Wnes i ddarllen llyfr o’r blaen mynd i gysgu” or “ Dw i wedi bod yno cyn.”
Can you come up with a good phase using cyn or o’r blaen? Why not share it below? 🙂