Five Hundred Most Useful Words

Curious to see what common Cornish words look like?

Like to have a smattering of Cornwall's own language?

Starting to learn Cornish seriously?

Here are the numbers one to ten plus five hundred more words that will be most useful at the outset.

And if you think five hundred might be your limit, well – begin with these and see how it goes. They might whet your appetite for more.

To put the words into sentences correctly you'll need a coursebook too.

For a key to the abbreviations,  and some brief explanations, see the end. There is a pronunciation guide on the Grammar tab at

Counting up to TEN

ONEN (UDN(2) before nouns) one DEW2 (DYW2 before feminine nouns) two TRY3 (TEYR3 before feminine nouns) three PESWAR (PEDER before feminine nouns) four PYMP five WHEGH six SEYTH seven ETH eight NAW nine DEG ten

194 most useful NOUNS

8 beginning with B

BENYN f benenes woman BLEDHEN f bledhydnyow year BOOS food BORD m bordys table BOTEL f botellow bottle BRE f breow hill BREUS f breusow judgment, opinion BŸS m bÿsow world

25 beginning with C

CÂN f canow song CANA m canys can CARR m kerry car CARTEN f cartednow card CATH f cathas cat CHAIR m chairys chair CHY m treven house CÎDER cider CLASS m classys class COFFY coffee COFFYVA f coffyvaow café COLLEL f kellyl knife COPY m copiow copy COREF beer CORNEL f cornellow corner CÒST m costow cost CÔTA m côtys coat COTHMAN m cothmans friend COV memory COWETH m cowetha companion CRES (also used as adjective) middle CROUST snack(s) CUBMYAS permission CUDYN m cudydnow snag, problem CÙSSUL f cùssulyow advice

18 beginning with D

DALATHOR m dalathoryon beginner DARAS m darajow door DARN m darnow piece DËDH m dedhyow day DEHEN cream DELE·RGH back (not anatomical) DEN m tus man, person DESCADOR m descadoryon teacher DEWAS m dewosow drink DÊWLA du [pair of] hands DIETH YW it’s a pity / shame DYSCOR m dyscoryon learner DOR ground DORN m dornow fist, hand DOWR water DUW God DYLLAS clothing DYWETH end (in time)

8 beginning with E

EBRON sky EDHEN m ÿdhyn bird EGLOS f eglosyow church EHEN f ehenow kind, sort ESEL m esely limb, member ESETH f esedhow seat EUR f euryow time (specific), o’clock EXAMPYL m examplys example

9 beginning with F

FENESTER f fenestry window FLOGH m flehes child FLOUR m flourys flower FOLEN f folednow page FORDH f fordhow road, way FORGH f fergh fork FOS f fosow wall FOWT m fowtys defect, mistake FRÛT m frûtys fruit

19 beginning with G

GER m geryow word GERLYVER m gerlyvrow dictionary GERVA f gervaow vocabulary, glossary GLAW rain GOLOK sight, view GOLOW m golowys light GORDHUWHER evening (also used as adverb 'in the evening') GORTHYP m gorthebow reply GOUR m gwer man, husband GOVENEK hope GRAMER grammar GWËDH col gwedhen trees GWEDREN f gwedrednow glass (for drinking) GWERYN folk, ordinary people GWEYTH work (in general) GWIAS web, internet GWIN wine GWREG f gwrageth wife GWYNS wind

5 beginning with H

HANAF m hanafow cup HANOW m henwyn name HANTER half HOT m hottys hat HOWL sun[shine]

6 beginning with K

KERNOW Cornwall KERNOWEK Cornish language KESCOWS conversation KEVARWETH information KY m keun dog KYTTRYN m kyttrynyow bus

11 beginning with L

LAVAR m lavarow saying, sentence LAVAREN f lavarednow phrase LES interest, benefit LESSON m lessons lesson LETH milk LEUR m leuryow floor LEVERYANS pronunciation LO f loyow spoon LOSOW col losowen vegetables LOST m lostow tail, queue LYVER m lyvrow book

16 beginning with M

MAB m mebyon son, boy MABM f mabmow mother MÀL m eagerness MANER f manerow manner MANYLYON pl details MARTH wonder MATER m maters matter MEDHEK m medhygyon doctor (also used as adjective 'medical') MENCYON m mencyons mention MESSACH m messajys message MIS m mîsyow month MONA money MOR sea MÛSYK music MYRGH f myrhas daughter, girl MYTTYN morning (also used as adverb 'in the morning')

3 beginning with N

NOS f nosow night NOWODHOW pl news NYVER m nyverow number

4 beginning with O

OBER m oberow work (specific) OTHAM need OUR m ourys hour OWN fear

18 beginning with P

PAPER m paperyow paper PASTY m pastys pasty, pie PEDN m pednow head, end (in space) PELLDER distance PELLGOWSOR m pellgowsoryon phone PENS m pensow pound  PËTH m property (also used as pronoun 'what') PLÂT m plâtyow plate PLUVEN f pluvednow pen POBEL people, public POLS brief moment PORPOS purpose, intention POYNT m poyntys point PRËS m prejyow time (for sth) PRIS m prîsyow price, prize PROV proof, test PROW advantage PYNTA m pyntys pint

1 beginning with Q

QWESTYON m qwestyonow question

6 beginning with R

RADN f radnow part RES necessity RÊSON m rêsons reason REW frost, ice ROL f rolyow roll, list ROM m rômys room

19 beginning with S

SAGH m seghyer bag SCAVEL f scavellow bench, stool SEHES thirst SEMLANT appearance SEYTHEN f seythednow week SHOPPA m shoppys shop SHÙGRA sugar SIN m sînys sign SKEUSEN f skeusednow photo SON m sonyow sound SOWSNEK English language SPÂSS space, opportunity SPÊDA success SPELLYANS spelling STAIRYS pl stairs STAP m stappys step, stage STRÊT m strêtys street STYR meaning SÙM m sùmys sum

15 beginning with T

TABM m tybmyn bit TAN fire TAS m tasow father TAVAS m tavosow tongue, language TAVERN m tavernyow pub tea TERMYN time (in general or specific) TESTEN f testednow subject, topic TEYLU m teyluyow family TÔKYN m tôknys token, ticket TRA f taclow thing TRE f trevow town (also used as adverb 'home, back') TRO f troyow turn, time (occasion), excursion TU side (of sth) TYLLER m tyleryow place

2 beginning with W

WHANS desire WHEDHEL m whedhlow story

1 beginning with Y

YÊTH f yêthow language (formal)


73 most useful ADJECTIVES

1 beginning with A

ARAL pl erel other

3 beginning with B

BIAN little, small BRÂS big, large BYSY busy, important (with verb-noun)

11 beginning with C

CABM wrong CALES hard CERTAN certain CLÂV sick, ill CONT·ENT satisfied COSEL quiet COT short COTH old COYNT odd CREV strong CUV kind

5 beginning with D

good DESEMPYS sudden, abrupt DEWETHA last DROG bad DU black

2 beginning with E

ÊSY easy EWN right, correct

7 beginning with G

GLÂN clean GLËB wet GWAG empty, hungry GWELL better GWELLA best GWIR true GWYDN white

3 beginning with H

HAGER ugly HIR long HOLERGH late

3 beginning with K

KEMYN common KEN other (indefinite) KENSA first

4 beginning with L

LACKA worse LENT slow LEUN full LOWEN happy

2 beginning with M

MENOWGH frequent MEUR(2) great (also as quantifer 'much')

2 beginning with N


2 beginning with O

OGAS near OLL all

9 beginning with P

PARYS ready PELL far PERSONEK personal PERTHYNEK relevant PLOS dirty POOS heavy PO·SSYBYL possible PÙB every PY which

10 beginning with S

SAW safe (also used as preposition 'save' and conjunction 'but') SCANT scarce SCAV light SECÙND second SËGH dry SELVENEK basic SEMPEL simple SPLADN bright, splendid SQWITH tired SUR sure

3 beginning with T

TEG beautiful, fair TOBM hot, warm TRADY·CYONAL traditional

3 beginning with U

UHEL high USKYS fast UTHYK terrible

1 beginning with V

VAS useful

1 beginning with W

WOLCÙM welcome

1 beginning with Y

YÊYN cold

111 most useful VERBS 

1 beginning with A

ASWON recognize

2 beginning with B


14 beginning with C

CAFOS get, find CANA sing CARA love, like CHAUNJYA change CLÔWES hear, smell, taste, feel CODHA fall CONVEDHES understand CÔWSEL speak, talk CRESY believe CRIA shout CROFFOLAS grumble CUDHA cover CÙNTELL collect CÙSCA sleep

15 beginning with D

DALLATH begin DANVON send DAUNCYA dance DEBRY eat DEGEA close DESKY learn DESMYGY imagine DON carry DOS come, arrive DÔWYS choose DREHEDHES reach DRY bring DYBE·RTH separate, depart DYGHTYA manage DYSQWEDHES show

6 beginning with E

EGERY open ERHY order ERVIRA decide ESEDHA sit EVA drink ÊWNA correct

1 beginning with F


16 beginning with G

GALLOS be able GASA leave, let GAVA forgive GELWEL call GODHVOS know GORFEDNA finish GORRA put GORTHEBY reply GORTOS wait GOVYN ask GWARY play GWELES see GWERES help GWETHA protect GWETYAS expect GWIL make, do

5 beginning with H

HEDHY stop HENWEL name DELL HEVEL it seems HOLYA follow HÙMBRANK lead

4 beginning with K


6 beginning with L


6 beginning with M

MEGY smoke MERAS look MERKYA notice METYA meet MOS go MYDNAS want to, will

1 beginning with O

OBERY operate

10 beginning with P

PASSYA pass PERTHY bear PESY pray, request PÊSYA continue PLEGYA bend, please PONYA run POWES rest PREDERY think PRENA buy PROFYA offer

6 beginning with R

RADNA divide, share RECÊVA receive RECKNA calculate REDYA read REMEMBRA remember RY give

5 beginning with S

SCREFA write SENSY hold SERRY annoy SETTYA set SEVEL stand

8 beginning with T

TEDNA pull TERRY break TÔWLEL throw TRAILYA turn TROUVYA find TÙCHYA touch, concern TYBY have an idea TYLLY pay

1 beginning with U

ÛSYA use

1 beginning with V


3 beginning with W

WHARVOS happen WHELAS seek, try to WHERTHYN laugh

122 most useful OTHER WORDS

11 beginning with A

A2 1 relative, interrogative, vocative particle 2 prep from, of AGA3 pron their, them AGAN pron our, us AGAS pron your, you AN(2) article the ARTA adv [back] again ASSA2 (ASS before vowel of form of bos) particle how (exclamation) AVA·RR adv early AVE·LL pron like, as AVOROW adv tomorrow AWO·S prep for (restricted use, mostly ‘because of’, occasionally ‘for the sake of’ or 'in spite of' in fixed phrases)

4 beginning with B

BYS(2) prep until BYTEGY·NS adv however BŸTH adv ever, even; it also appears as VËTH meaning ‘any’ usually with a negative or ‘even’ with a comparative BYTHQWETH adv ever (past reference)

10 beginning with D

DE adv yesterday DELL2 conj as, that DHA2 pron your, you (singular familiar) DHANA adv then (usually consequence) DHE2 prep to (occasionally at) DRE2 (usually DER before vowel) through, by means of DREFEN because of DRES across, past DY there (motion towards) DYSTO·WGH immediately

5 beginning with E

interj yes ENA adv there (position), then ERNA·2 (ERNAG before vowels in bos) conj until ÈS prep than EV pron he, it (masculine reference); also appears as unstressed VA

2 beginning with F

FATE·LL2 adv/conj how, that FEST adv very

2 beginning with G

GANS prep with (accompaniment), by (agency) GROMERCY interj thank you

9 beginning with H

HA (usually HAG before vowels) prep/conj with (attribute, circumstance), and HANETH adv tonight HEB(2) prep without HEBMA pron this [one] (masculine reference, HOBMA when feminine reference) HEDHYW adv today HEDNA pron that [one] (masculine reference, HODNA when feminine reference) HONEN pron self HY pron she, it (feminine reference) HY3 pron her

11 beginning with I

IN prep in IN BÀN adv up IN DADN2 prep under IN KERDH adv away (motion) IN KEVER prep about (with possessive pronoun only) IN LE prep instead of [IN] MES adv out (motion) [IN] MESK prep among INDELMA adv like this INTER prep between (occasionally among) INWE·DH adv also, in addition

5 beginning with K

KEBMYS quant so much, so many KEFRË·S too, even KEPA·R HA prep [just] like KYN5 conj though KYNS adv/prep before

5 beginning with L

LE quant less LEBMYN adv now LIES quant many LOWR quant enough, a lot LYHA quant least

11 beginning with M

-MA mobile suffix this MÀN adv at all (with negative) MAR2 so, as MAR4 (MARS before vowels in bos) conj if MARNAS prep except, only (with negative) MARTESEN adv perhaps MAY5 (MAYTH before vowels pre-mutation and h, MA before na) conj where, when, so that MÈS conj but MOY quant more MOYHA quant most MY pron I, me; also appears as ME, VY

12 beginning with N

-NA mobile suffix that NA (usually NAG before vowels) adv/conj nor NA2 (NAG before vowels in bos) particle not interj no NAMNYGE·N adv just now NANE·YL adv neither NANS particle YW / O ago NEB pron some, any NEBES quant a little, a few NEFRA adv ever (present / future reference) NY pron we, us NY2 (NYNS before vowels in bos) particle not

7 beginning with O

OBMA adv here OGASTY· adv almost ONLY adv only ORTH prep up against, at OTTA (OT before vowels) interj there is/are OW3 pron my, me OW4 (OWTH before vowels and h) particle forming present participle 

5 beginning with P

PÀN2 conj when conj or PÒR2 adv very PORA·N adv exactly PYW pron who

5 beginning with R

RAG prep/conj for RE pron some, ones RE(2) particle forming perfect tense RE2 quant too much RYB prep beside

2 beginning with S

SOLABRË·S adv already SPESSLY adv especially

2 beginning with T

TRAWEYTHYOW adv sometimes TY pron you (singular familiar); also appears as TE, JY

1 beginning with U

UNWEYTH adv once, even (with negative)

7 beginning with W

WÀR2 prep on WÀR NANS adv down WARBY·DN prep against WARLE·RGH prep after WHATH adv still WHY pron you WOSA prep after (time)

6 beginning with Y

Y pron they, them Y2 pron his, him, it, its (masculine reference) Y5 (YTH before vowels pre-mutation and h) affirmative particle YN5 particle forming adv from adj YN SCON adv quickly, soon YTHO· adv/conj therefore, [and] so

Key to the abbreviations

adj adjective adv adverb col collective conj conjunction du dual feminine interj interjection masculine pl plural prep preposition pron pronoun quant quantifier sth something. Primary stress is usually on the penultimate syllable of a word. Where this is not the case, a dot after a vowel indicates that the stress falls on the syllable containing that vowel.


Plural forms for nouns that employ them are given after and indicating the gender of the singular. Note that tra 'thing' is traditionally labelled feminine, but it is in fact a fossil neuter. It works like a feminine with an 'the' and udn, and with attributive adjectives, but like a masculine with dew, try and peswar, and any pronouns are masculine reference. Singulatives built to collective nouns are given after col – every singulative is feminine, and forms a plural by replacing final -en with -ednow.

For each verb the form given is the verb-noun (gerund), except for dell hevel which has no verb-noun. Apart from past participles and the occasional imperative, bos, cara, dos, gallos, godhvos, gwil, mydnas are the only verbs for which you need learn other forms to use in simple conversation.

Cornish grammatical categories are highly interchangeable. Nouns (including verb-nouns) may be used as adjectives and, in some cases, adjectives may be used as nouns. Adjectives may generally be used as adverbs, and vice versa. Numerals are both nouns and adjectives. Cornish prepositional phrases are frequently equivalent to English clauses introduced by subordinating conjunctions.

Superscript numbers indicate the 'state' that usually follows the word in question. Where the number is in parenthesis, the relevant state is triggered only in certain circumstances. Correct use of the relative particle a2, the negative particles na2, ny2, and the affirmative particle y5 is fundamental to Cornish sentence structure. Consult your coursebook for details.

© 2020 Ian Jackson