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Learning Scottish Gaelic from English

Created: 2022-04-11
Last Goal: 2023-02-12
Timezone: UTC-6

Last update: 2023-03-19 09:16:10 GMT+3


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Intro #2 · 2020-11-11 ^

Welcome to Scottish Gaelic on Duolingo!

Fàilte gu Duolingo na Gàidhlig!

Although it may appear quite different at first, Gaelic is a very regular language, with consistent grammar rules and a sensible spelling system that accurately represents Gaelic sounds.

Indefinite Nouns

There is no indefinite article in Gaelic. The word , which means dog, could be translated as either "a dog" or simply "dog". Nice and easy, so far so good. This skill does not explore words with the definite article (equivalent to "the" in English) at all.

Word Order

The basic word order of Scottish Gaelic is:

Verb | Subject | Object

The important thing to remember at this stage is that the verb (the 'doing word') generally goes at the start of a sentence.

In a basic descriptive sentence, the adjective would come at the end:

Verb Subject Adjective
Tha Anna snog

This sentence translates as "Anna is nice."

Using "tha" and "chan eil"

Tha and chan eil are both present tense forms of the verb "to be". This verb is your friend. Think of it as your Gaelic bestie. There are lots of ways to use it that will unfold as the course progresses.


Seo is a useful word. It can mean either "this is" or "here is" - although for consistency, we have tended to translate it as "this is".


As a general rule, words are spelled as they are pronounced in Scottish Gaelic. Once you are comfortable with Gaelic spelling (don't worry, we'll help), then the system will be a learner's best friend.

Generally, stress is on the first syllable in Gaelic. We are lucky to have recordings from a range of speakers. Dialectal differences are actually quite small in Scottish Gaelic and our recordings are an example of the most standardised form of Gaelic. You will hear some small variations in accent, which will help prepare you for Gaelic in the wild. Pronunciation challenges found throughout our course will help accustom you to Gaelic sounds not found in English.

An 18 Letter Alphabet

The Gaelic alphabet contains 18 letters. This is the perfect amount of letters. Anything more would be frivolous and wasteful. There is no J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y, or Z. This is a major inconvenience during games of Gaelic Scrabble, but otherwise presents no difficulty.


IRN BRU is Scotland's best selling soft drink. It is fizzy and orange and comes from Cumbernauld.

cat m (a) cat
muc f (a) pig
m (a) dog
balach m (a) boy
caileag f (a) girl
agus and
mòr big
beag small
tha to be, is
chan eil to be (negative), is not
math good
dona bad
Gàidhlig f Gaelic
f (a) cow
piseag f (a) kitten
seo this/here (is)
tunnag f (a) duck
cearc f (a) chicken/hen
Calum male name
Anna female name
Eilidh female name
Iain male name
Mòrag Morag (female name)

m = masculine

f = feminine

Food and Drink #4 · 2020-11-11 ^

I Like Gaelic

In this skill, you will come across talking about your likes and dislikes:

  • Is toil leam... – I like...

  • Cha toil leam... – I don’t like...

These phrases don’t translate nicely into English word for word, so for now, it’s best to just think of the full phrase as one item at this stage.

Leam: Our First Prepositional Pronoun

A prepositional pronoun is when a pronoun ("me", "you", "him", etc.) comes together with a preposition ("with", "on", "at", etc.) to make a beautiful word baby. We will see many more examples of these in the course and you do not need to understand what a prepositional pronoun is at this stage to use leam like a champ.

In this lesson, we are learning to say that something is, or isn’t, liked "by me", using the prepositional pronoun leam.

Leam consists of two words:

  • le - a preposition (meaning "with" or "by" in English)
  • mi - a pronoun (meaning "me" or "I")

Is toil leam Gàidhlig. – I like Gaelic.

(literally, "Gaelic is liked by me.")

These will become clearer in future lessons. For now though, remember the phrases is toil leam and cha toil leam to talk about your likes and dislikes, and keep an eye out for future prepositional pronouns.

Prepositional Pronoun English Translation
le with/by
leam with/by me
leat with/by you (singular)
leis with/by him
leatha with/by her
leinn with/by us
leibh with/by you (plural/formal)
leotha with/by them

Toil vs. Toigh

It is common to see toigh in place of toil:

  • Is toigh leam... = Is toil leam...

We have opted to teach toil as it is more common. These are two very similar but distinct words, and neither is correct over the other.

Guga for Beginners

Guga (or the Ness Chicken) is a famous delicacy from the Isle of Lewis. The people of Ness have been taking fledgling gannets from a remote rock in the ocean for food since time immemorial. The young birds are salted on the spot and brought back to the island for food. This is one of only two seabird hunts still continuing in Europe. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds regard the hunt as ecologically sustainable.

Guga is generally something you either love or hate. It tastes a bit like mackerel and the smell while cooking is generally a lot stronger than the taste. Some love it. It has been described as "strong duck stewed in cod liver oil and salt". Blasta! (Tasty!)

Haggis - Scotland's Mystery Mince

Haggis is all the best bits of a sheep (the lungs, heart, and liver) rolled up into its stomach and boiled. It is traditionally eaten on Burns Night on the 25th of January, but is popular all year round. Vegetarian haggis is also popular and worth a try. Neither variety roams free on the hills though; the wild haggis is unfortunately extinct.

aran m bread
hama m ham, bacon
ìm m butter
cèic f (a) cake
biadh m food
blasta tasty
is toil leam I like
sgadan m (a) herring
buntàta m potato, potatoes
iasg m (a) fish
càise m cheese
uisge m water
cha toil leam I don't like
gu mòr alot
taigeis f (a) haggis
rìs m rice
brochan m porridge
seo this (pronoun)
uisge-beatha m whisky
salann m salt
sin that (pronoun)
piobar m pepper
idir at all
guga m salted gannet
brot m soup

Phrases #8 · 2020-12-08 ^

Leat vs. Leibh

In this skill, you will come across some simple ways of thanking people. Like many European languages, the form you use will depend on who it is you are speaking to:

Tapadh leat.

When thanking one peer or one child.

Tapadh leibh.

When thanking someone older or more senior.

Tapadh leibh.

When thanking more than one person, regardless of age or formality needed.

This distinction runs through the language and although it can seem a little confusing at first, practice will embed it very quickly. You are very unlikely to offend anyone by choosing the wrong form, and even if you did they probably wouldn't have much craic anyway.

The Adjective Follows the Noun

The adjective almost always follows the noun in Gaelic:

  • cat mòr - a big cat

  • snog - a nice dog

Masculine or Feminine?

All nouns in Gaelic have a gender, masculine or feminine. We used to have a neuter gender too, but we lost it on a ferry in the Middle Ages.

The Magic of Lenition

The gender of the noun often causes a special type of consonant mutation called lenition. Usually, this causes an extra h to appear after the initial consonant. You can see an example of this with words like "madainn" and "oidhche" (both feminine nouns), and "feasgar" (a masculine noun):

  • Feasgar math. - Good afternoon. / Good evening.

  • Madainn mhath. - Good morning.

  • Oidhche mhath - Good night.

Singular feminine nouns usually cause this lenition (in writing) in adjectives starting with the consonants:

B, C, D, F, G, M, P, S, and T

...but not in those beginning with:

L, N, R, SG, SM, SP, ST, and vowels.

You don't need to memorise this now. The best way to become comfortable with it is gradual exposure throughout the course. Lenition happens for lots of reasons.

The Vocative Case

The vocative case is used when addressing something or someone; a noun or proper noun. It is cool and sounds great and is absolutely worth learning. We do not go into it in (forensic) detail at this stage, but it helps to be able to recognise the vocative case in action at this stage, before we go to town on it in the Names skill.

Here are some examples:

Caraid is the Gaelic for "friend"

  • caraid - nominative case (the basic form)
    • Seo caraid. - This is a friend.
  • a charaid - vocative case (used to address someone)
    • Halò, a charaid! - Hello, friend!

Tidsear is the Gaelic for "teacher"

  • tidsear - nominative
    • Seo tidsear. - This is a teacher.
  • a thidseir - vocative
    • Halò, a thidseir! - Hello, teacher!

Piuthar is the Gaelic for "sister"

  • piuthar - nominative
    • Seo piuthar. - This is a sister.
  • a phiuthar - vocative
    • Halò, a phiuthar! - Hello, sister!

When using the vocative case with a noun that begins with a vowel, the 'a' particle disappears. It is common in most languages when vowels come together like this for one of them to drop off:

Ollamh is the Gaelic for professor:

  • ollamh - nominative
    • Seo ollamh. - This is a professor.
  • ollaimh - vocative
    • Halò, ollaimh! - Hello, professor!

halò hello
fàilte f welcome
tìoraidh bye
slàinte f cheers, health
tapadh leat thank you (sin/inf)
a charaid friend (vocative)
madainn f morning
madainn mhath good morning
f tea
feasgar m afternoon, evening
feasgar math good afternoon
Anndra Andrew
oidhche f night
oidhche mhath goodnight
bainne f milk
siùcar f Sugar
a sheanair m grandfather (vocative)
a mhàthair f mother (vocative)
tapadh leibh thank you (for/plu)
athair m father (vocative)
ollaimh m professor (vocative)
a thidseir m teacher (vocative)
a bhalaich m boy (vocative)
a bhràthair m brother (vocative)
a phiuthar f sister (vocative)
sgoinneil brilliant
Ealasaid Elizabeth
Iseabail Isobel
ceud mìle fàilte a hundred thousand welcomes

Feelings #3 · 2020-11-10 ^

Now It's Personal (Pronouns)

A personal pronoun is a word that replaces the name of a person or persons. We are looking here at the basic forms of these. Gaelic also has forms used to show emphasis, which you will stumble upon on your quest in due course.

Personal pronouns in Gaelic are nice and simple. There is no distinction between "I" and "me", "he" and "him", "she" and "her", or "them" and "they", as we find in English. There is an informal singular word for "you" (thu) and also a formal / plural "you" (sibh). This follows the same pattern we explored with leat and leibh before.

Personal Pronoun English Translation
mi I / me
thu you (singular)
e he / him / it (when standing in for a masculine word)
i she / her / it (when standing in for a feminine word)
sinn we / us
sibh you (plural/formal)
iad they / them

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Just before anyone gets freaked out, saying "sorry" in Gaelic is actually pretty easy. We just wanted to shoehorn an Elton John reference in here.

In this skill, we explore the use of duilich and gabh mo leisgeul. Both of these can be used to apologise in different contexts:

Tha mi duilich.

You would generally use this when you are actually sorry i.e. when you are experiencing the actual emotion of sorrow, are sympathising, or are apologising with sincerity. Use this when things get real.

Gabh mo leisgeul.

This means "excuse me" and translates word-for-word into English as "take my excuse". You would more likely use this when you bump into someone or spill their IRN BRU. You can also use it to flag someone down and get their attention.

Gaelic's Golden Rule: Broad with Broad / Slender with Slender

Gaelic spelling can seem intimidating at first glance, although it is on the whole very sensible and regular, once you are accustomed to the rules. This golden rule however will help you know if you are going in the right direction. Gaelic shares this rule with the Irish language.

In Gaelic, vowels are regarded as either broad or slender:

  • broad - A, O, U

  • slender - I, E

When vowels are split by a consonant or consonants, they will either be broad and broad on both sides, or slender and slender. This won't tell you exactly how to spell a word, but will help you rule out many wrong combinations.

Examples in the Feelings skill include:

  • broad with broad
    • brònach
    • spòrsail
    • ciamar
    • Seumas
  • slender with slender
    • leisgeul
    • duilich
    • toilichte

There are a few exceptions, but let's ignore them for now. These are usually words that were formerly a composite of two words that have been squished together.

Sibh: 'Shiv' or 'Shoo'?

Most pronunciation differences in Gaelic are fairly mild. However, there are two common ways to say the word sibh:

Pronounced as shiv

The most frequently heard in this course by far.

Pronounced as shoo

Common in Lewis and the north of Scotland. This occurs in a couple of places in the course. Bonus points when you spot it!

mi me, I
thu you (inf/sin)
gu math well
sgìth tired
toilichte happy
brònach sad
a-nis now
ceart gu leòr fine
e he, it
crosta cross
cho so
i she, it
greannach grumpy
spòrsail fun
ciamar a tha how is
gabh mo leisgeul excuse me
sibh you (for/plu)
duilich sorry
Seumas James, Seumas

About Me #1 · 2021-02-05 ^

To Be Or Not To Be - Using the Verb "Bi".

Like Spanish, Gaelic has two verbs which mean "to be". We have encountered two presents tense forms of bi so far:

Tha - the present tense positive form:

e.g. Tha Mòrag snog. - Morag is nice.

Chan eil - the present tense negative form:

e.g. Chan eil Mòrag snog. - Morag is not nice.

I Am From - Using "Bi"

To describe where you are from you in Gaelic, you can use the verb bi in combination with a preposition:

à - from

  • Tha mi à Alba. - I am from Scotland.

  • Tha IRN BRU à Alba. - IRN BRU is from Scotland.

  • Chan eil mi à Alba. - I am not from Scotland.

  • Chan eil IRN BRU à Sasainn. - IRN BRU is not from England.

None of the place names you come across in this skill have a definite article in front of them. We will explore this later on in the course.

To ask someone else where they are from you would use:

  • Cò às a tha thu? - one person who is not significantly older or with more seniority

  • Cò às a tha sibh? - more than one person, or someone older or with more seniority

Is mise Duo

The other verb that means "to be" is the copula is. Forms of bi such as tha and chan eil are more often used to describe things. The verb is is often used to define things:

  • Is mise Mòrag - I am Morag

Morag knows who she is. We hear ya Morag. Morag is not describing but defining herself as Morag.

Spoiler: We can and will do a lot more with this verb as we explore further.

To ask someone who they are, you would use:

  • thusa? - one person who is not significantly older or with more seniority

  • sibhse? - more than one person, or someone older or with more seniority

There is also a phrase for "What is your name?" that we will encounter, but for the moment this will do the same job.

Emphatic Personal Pronouns - a first glimpse

Mise is the emphatic form of the personal pronoun mi. Likewise, thusa is an emphatic from of thu, and sibhse is an emphatic form of sibh.

Emphatic forms will be explored in detail later, but remembering them as part of these common phrases will be really helpful at this stage of the tree.

Congratulations, you have used the two most common verbs in Gaelic! You are smashing this out of the park!

Màiri Mairi, Mary
cò thusa who are you (inf/sin)
is mise I am
Seòras George
Alba f Scotland
à from, out of
Sasainn f England
Èirinn f Ireland
Canada f Canada
Alba Nuadh f Nova Scotia
Aimearaga f America
cò às a tha thu where are you from (inf/sin)
Glaschu Glasgow (city)
Dùn Èideann Edinburgh (city)
Inbhir Nis Inverness (city)
Steòrnabhagh Stornoway (town)
Lunnainn London
trang busy
cò sibhse who are you (for/plu)
*cò às a tha sibh where are you from (for/plu)
àlainn lovely
barraigh Barra (island)
Leòdhas Lewis (island)
Ìle Islay (island)
Muile Mull (island)

P. Details #3 · 2020-11-30 ^

To Be Or Not To Be - Using the Verb "Bi".

Like Spanish, Gaelic has two verbs which mean "to be". We have encountered two presents tense forms of bi so far:

Tha - the present tense positive form:

e.g. Tha Mòrag snog. - Morag is nice.

Chan eil - the present tense negative form:

e.g. Chan eil Mòrag snog. - Morag is not nice.

I Am From - Using "Bi"

To describe where you are from you in Gaelic, you can use the verb bi in combination with a preposition:

à - from

  • Tha mi à Alba. - I am from Scotland.

  • Tha IRN BRU à Alba. - IRN BRU is from Scotland.

  • Chan eil mi à Alba. - I am not from Scotland.

  • Chan eil IRN BRU à Sasainn. - IRN BRU is not from England.

None of the place names you come across in this skill have a definite article in front of them. We will explore this later on in the course.

To ask someone else where they are from you would use:

  • Cò às a tha thu? - one person who is not significantly older or with more seniority

  • Cò às a tha sibh? - more than one person, or someone older or with more seniority

Is mise Duo

The other verb that means "to be" is the copula is. Forms of bi such as tha and chan eil are more often used to describe things. The verb is is often used to define things:

  • Is mise Mòrag - I am Morag

Morag knows who she is. We hear ya Morag. Morag is not describing but defining herself as Morag.

Spoiler: We can and will do a lot more with this verb as we explore further.

To ask someone who they are, you would use:

  • thusa? - one person who is not significantly older or with more seniority

  • sibhse? - more than one person, or someone older or with more seniority

There is also a phrase for "What is your name?" that we will encounter, but for the moment this will do the same job.

Emphatic Personal Pronouns - a first glimpse

Mise is the emphatic form of the personal pronoun mi. Likewise, thusa is an emphatic from of thu, and sibhse is an emphatic form of sibh.

Emphatic forms will be explored in detail later, but remembering them as part of these common phrases will be really helpful at this stage of the tree.

Congratulations, you have used the two most common verbs in Gaelic! You are smashing this out of the park!

Màiri Mairi, Mary
cò thusa who are you (inf/sin)
is mise I am
Seòras George
Alba f Scotland
à from, out of
Sasainn f England
Èirinn f Ireland
Canada f Canada
Alba Nuadh f Nova Scotia
Aimearaga f America
cò às a tha thu where are you from (inf/sin)
Glaschu Glasgow (city)
Dùn Èideann Edinburgh (city)
Inbhir Nis Inverness (city)
Steòrnabhagh Stornoway (town)
Lunnainn London
trang busy
cò sibhse who are you (for/plu)
*cò às a tha sibh where are you from (for/plu)
àlainn lovely
barraigh Barra (island)
Leòdhas Lewis (island)
Ìle Islay (island)
Muile Mull (island)

Clothes #3 · 2020-11-19 ^

Shoes on Me, Pants on You - Orm and Ort

Remember the prepositional pronouns leam (with me) and leat (with you)? Remember how fun that was? Good times, those were the days.

This skill introduces two new prepositional pronouns to conquer. They are really useful for describing what you are (or aren't) wearing, as well as having loads of other uses.

Orm - On Me

This is a combination of the words air (meaning "on") and mi (meaning "me" or "I"). Although in English we might say "on me", in Gaelic we must combine these words into one mighty superword:

  • Tha drathais orm. - I have underpants on.

  • Chan eil lèine orm. - I do not have a shirt on.

Ort - On You

This is a combination of the words air (meaning "on") and thu (meaning "you"). There is also another word we use to show respect or when talking to more than one person, but probably best to begin with telling one person what they are wearing before moving on to crowds.

  • Tha drathais ort. - You have underpants on.

  • Chan eil lèine ort. - You do not have a shirt on.

Verbal Nouns

Is it a verb? Is it a noun? It's sort of both, and it is super useful. This is the first time we come across a verbal noun in this course. These are similar to "-ing" words in English. This is a common way of forming the present tense in Gaelic. If you can use one verbal noun (you can, you've got this), then you can use any of them.

Verbal Noun 1 - ag iarraidh

  • Tha mi ag iarraidh fèileadh. - I am wanting a kilt.

  • Tha mi ag iarraidh IRN BRU. - I am wanting IRN BRU.

  • Tha mi ag iarraidh taigeis. - I am wanting haggis.

Verbal Noun 2 - a’ ceannach

  • Tha mi a’ ceannach fèileadh. - I am buying a kilt.

  • Tha mi a’ ceannach IRN BRU. - I am buying IRN BRU.

  • Tha mi a’ ceannach taigeis. - I am buying haggis.

This pattern repeats with almost all verbal nouns. Once you know one, it's just a case of learning new ones!

N.B. When the word begins with a vowel, the verbal noun is formed with ag. Gaelic vowels from different words do not like to hang out together and the 'g' keeps them separate:

  • ag iarraidh

When the word begins with a consonant, the verbal noun is formed with an a' at the beginning:

  • a' ceannach

I am wanting a kilt

Those of you from outside of Scotland may find these structures a little strange, but they more accurately reflect what is going on in the Gaelic than "I want a kilt". This type of structure is actually pretty common in Scotland, possibly in part due to the influence of Gaelic.

Phrasing it in this way will really help us to teach the differences between things that are happening more immediately (I am wanting) and things that happen regularly or as a matter of habit as the course progresses (I want).

Fèileadh - Kilt

A kilt is a piece of cloth and SO MUCH MORE. Traditionally worn by men as part of Scottish Highland dress, they are also worn by women and children. Each family (or clan) has their own tartan (or several). Underpants are optional.

  • Tha fèileadh orm. - I have a kilt on.

  • Chan eil drathais orm. - I don't have underpants on.

Congratulations, you have just learned how to tell people if they are wearing clothes or not!

orm on me
lèine f (a) shirt, top
lèine-t f (a) t-shirt
sgiort f (a) skirt
bròg f shoe
brògan f shoes
seall look
briogais f trousers, pants
bòtannan m boots, wellies
còta m (a) coat
ort on you (inf/sin)
bonaid f (a) bonnet, bunnet
drathais f underwear
ag iarraidh wanting
a' ceannach buying
dreasa f (a) dress
speuclairean m glasses
geansaidh m (a) sweater, jumper
uaireadair m (a) watch
*sinn we, us
iad they, them
stocainnean f socks
fèileadh m (a) kilt
aodach m clothes
seacaid f (a) jacket

Pets #7 · 2020-11-15 ^

Agam - At Me

Agam is another prepositional pronoun and consists of the words aig (meaning "at") and mi (meaning "me" or "I"). It would be wrong to say aig mi. We have to combine the two words into a superword - agam.

We don't have a verb like "have" in Gaelic (totally unnecessary, honest) but we can use combinations of aig to show possession:

  • Tha peata agam. - I have a pet. (There is a pet at me)

  • Tha cù agam. - I have a dog. (There is a dog at me)

Agad - At You

Agad is a combination of aig (at) and thu (you - informal / singular).

  • Tha peata agad. - You have a pet. (There is a pet at you)

  • Tha IRN BRU agad. - You have IRN BRU. (There is IRN BRU at you)

We can use lots more combinations of aig to show what we have and don't have.

Glè - Very

Lenition (adding an 'h' after the first consonant) is part of what makes Gaelic so funky. The word glè causes lenition in the adjective that follows it whenever possible:

  • Glè + beag = Glè bheag (Very small)
  • Glè + math = Glè mhath (Very good)

You can't lenite a vowel. Just try it. It's impossible:

  • Glè + òg = Glè òg (Very young)

Verbal Nouns

Is it a verb? Is it a noun? It's sort of both, and it is super useful. This may be the first time we come across a verbal noun in this course. These are similar to -ing words in English. This is a common way of forming the present tense in Gaelic. If you can use one verbal noun (you can, you've got this), then you can use any of them.

Verbal Noun 1 - a’ faicinn

  • Tha mi a’ faicinn cat. - I am seeing a cat.

  • Tha mi a’ faicinn muc. - I am seeing a pig.

N.B See the notes for Clothes 1 to see why we use "I am seeing" and not "I see".

Verbal Noun 2 - a’ cluinntinn

  • Tha mi a’ cluinntinn cat. - I am hearing a cat.

  • Tha mi a’ cluinntinn tunnag. - I am hearing a duck.

This pattern repeats with almost all verbal nouns. Once you know one, it's just a case of learning new ones!


This is the Gaelic for "spider" and it means 'a fierce little stag'. Another much less common word for spider is poca-salainn, which means a bag of salt. Top class words. 10/10.

Currently the audio for damhan-allaidh doesn't work when the word appears on one tile, due to the way the software reads the hyphen. It is read as normal in the recorded sentences.

agam at me
luch f (a) mouse
eun m (a) bird
cuilean m (a) puppy
brèagha pretty, beautiful
peata m (a) pet
agad at you (inf/sin)
uan m (a) lamb
each m (a) horse
caora f (a) sheep
glè very (lenites)
losgann m (a) frog
àrd tall, high
òg young
èibhinn funny
gòrach stupid
a' faicinn seeing
a' cluinntinn hearing
damhan-allaidh m (a) spider
radan m (a) rat
coineanach m (a) rabbit
gobhar m (a) goat

Weather #2 · 2020-12-01 ^

The Weather (is Frequently Awful)

Scotland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. To balance this out, it was afflicted with some interesting weather! This is often a hot topic in Gaelic conversations, and this skill will teach you how to describe rain, snow, wind, and also the word for sunny (in case you happen to be using your Gaelic abroad).

Disclaimer: It's not that bad. Just remember a jacket (seacaid).

The most simple way to describe the weather is to use tha + i + an adjective.

  • Tha i fuar. - It is cold.

  • Tha i fliuch. - It is wet.

  • Chan eil i blàth. - It is not warm.

The word for "weather" (sìde) is feminine in Gaelic, so we teach the personal pronoun i and not e. The word for "day" (latha) is masculine, and so you can also see e used in place of i. Phrases like Tha i fuar are certainly more common than Tha e fuar, but neither is wrong and both would be understood.

Taking "Bi" to the Next Level - A Bheil

This is the question form of bi:

  • Tha i fuar. - It is cold.

  • Chan eil i fuar. - It is not cold.

  • A bheil i fuar? - Is it cold?

To say "yes", you would respond tha.

To say "no", you would respond chan eil.

Taking "Bi" to the Next Level After the Next Level - Nach Eil

This is the negative interrogative form of bi. I like to think of it as a question with an attitude. With most of these questions, you would expect the answer to be yes, as they aren't really genuine requests for information!

  • Nach eil i fuar? - Isn't it cold?

  • Nach eil Iain dona? - Isn't Iain bad?

Also great for starting conversations about the weather, or how terrible Iain is.

Gu Math

Gu math is a really useful adverb that can be used in a few different ways. We have seen it used before to indicate that someone is well:

  • Tha mi gu math. - I am well.

We can also use it in combination with an adjective to change its meaning.

  • Tha i gu math gaothach. - It is really windy.

  • Tha i gu math grianach. - It is really sunny.

Verbal Nouns

See Clothes 1 for an explanation of what these bad boys are.

a’ faireachdainn

  • Tha mi a’ faireachdainn sgìth. - I am feeling tired.

  • Tha mi a’ faireachdainn fuar. - I am feeling cold.

N.B. See Clothes 1 to read why we use "I am feeling" and not "I feel".

Certain exercises in the course involving tiles often render words like a’ faireachdainn as:

a faireachdainn

This is due to how the code reads the apostrophe, and is a problem shared with other courses. Duolingo staff are working on a fix. The correct form with an apostrophe should always appear first - but please bear this in mind when tile challenges appear.

fliuch wet
fuar cold
gaothach windy
blàth warm
grianach sunny
a bheil to be (question), is
ceòthach misty, foggy
garbh rough, wild
a-muigh outside, out
a' faireachdainn feeling
sgòthach cloudy
gu math really, quite
dorcha dark
Marsaili Marjory
nach eil to be (interrogative question), isn't
teth hot
grànda horrible, ugly

Phrases 2 #18 · 2020-11-15 ^

Slàinte mhath!

Cheers! Slàinte is a Gaelic word for "health", and this is a common way to give a toast.

Slàinte is a feminine word and so it lenites (by adding an h) to the adjective that follows when possible:

Slàinte + math = Slàinte mhath.

A chàirdean - Addressing a group

This is a great way to address a group of people. The Gaelic word for "friends" is caraidean, but this changes to a chàirdean in the vocative case (the form you use to address people or things).

Is sinne Runrig - Gaelic Superstars

Runrig is a now retired band, formed in the Isle of Skye in the 70s. They are popular, both in Scotland and overseas. Many people have learned Gaelic having first experienced the language through the lyrics of Runrig:

Is sinne - We are

Is sinne Runrig. - We are Runrig.

Sinne is the emphatic form of sinn (meaning we or us ).

Informal Singular vs. Polite / Plural

We have already seen this distinction between thu / sibh and leat / leibh.

The phrases taught in this skill are designed to give you things you can use from the very start. Don't worry about breaking them down into their individual parts at this stage. One thing to keep an eye on is the distinction between the informal singular that occurs in this skill:

  • 'S e do bheatha - You are welcome (to someone of a similar age or younger)

  • 'S e ur beatha - You are welcome (to more than one person, or someone older or more senior)

  • Dè an t-ainm a th’ ort? - What is your name? (to someone of a similar age or younger)

  • Dè an t-ainm a th’ oirbh? - What is your name? (to someone older or more senior)

Dè tha dol? - What's going (on)?

This is an extremely common phrase. A common response is chan eil mòran, which means "not much".


A very informal way to say goodbye in Gaelic is tìoraidh (bye / cheerio) or tìoraidh an-dràsta (bye / cheerio now).

There are more formal ways to say goodbye in Gaelic:

  • Mar sin leat - Goodbye (for someone of similar age or younger)

  • Mar sin leibh - Goodbye (for multiple people, or for someone older or more senior)

This phrase originated as a response to beannachd leat / leibh, which literally means "blessing with you".

Mar sin leat / leibh would traditionally have only been used as a response to a goodbye and translates as "with you also".

This distinction is no longer strictly observed in modern Gaelic, and both mar sin leat / leibh and beannachd leat / leibh can be used to say goodbye, regardless of who initiated the goodbye.

cuidich mi help me
slàinte mhath good health
dè tha dol what's going on
chan eil mòran not much
a chàirdean f friends
tìoraidh an-dràsta bye just now
a-rithist again
mòran taing many thanks
's e do bheatha you are welcome (inf/sin)
's e ur beatha you are welcome (for/plu)
feumaidh mi falbh I need to go
na gabh dragh don't worry
Alasdair male name
Ùna Una, female name
a' tuigsinn understanding
mar sin leat goodbye (inf/sin)
mar sin leibh goodbye (for/plu)
dè an t-ainm a th' ort what is your name (inf/sin)
dè an t-ainm a th' oirbh what is your name (for/plu)
Cailean Colin
Beathag Beth, Rebecca
Raonaid Rachel
Dòmhnall Donald
cuideachd too, also
math fhèin excellent
is sinne we are
obh obh oh dear
Runrig a legendary Gaelic band
cuideachd too, also

Rain etc. #2 · 2020-12-20 ^

Conversation Starters 101: Cò Ris a Tha an t-Sìde Coltach?

This is how you ask what the weather is like in Gaelic. Moaning about the weather is like catnip for Scottish people. This is your in.

This is probably the longest phrase you have come across so far. Don't worry about its constituent parts at this stage, just think of it as a set phrase to remember. Cut yourself some slack if you muddle it up. It is very useful, so it is worth tackling. It is also very fun to say.

You could also say:

Ciamar a tha an t-sìde?

This is not wrong, but it is a lot less idiomatic and not nearly as common in everyday speech.

Sìde vs. Aimsir

There are two common words for weather in Gaelic:

Sìde and Aimsir

Both are common, both are feminine, and both are equally easy to use. We have stuck with sìde at the moment so as not to overload your burgeoning Gaelic brains.


We come across another structure that at first glance looks a little more complicated using the adverb ann.

Ann is quite open ended, but we use to indicate that something is present. It is very common when we are discussing the weather. It can mean “present”, “here”, or “there”, depending on the context:

  • Tha reòthadh ann. - There is frost.

  • Tha dealanaich ann. - There is lightning.

This structure can be used for much more than just the weather though:

  • Tha Seòras ann. - George is there.

  • Tha cat ann. - A cat is there.

Practice makes perfect here. You will see this combination used a lot in Gaelic.

an-dràsta vs. a-nis

Gaelic has two common words meaning "now":


meaning just now, as in right at this moment; implies that the situation could change.


a more generalised now; nowadays.

For example:

  • Tha Iain snog a-nis. - Iain is nice now.


  • Tha Iain ann an-dràsta. - Iain is there just now.

sneachd f snow
reòthadh f (a) frost
an t-uisge (the) rain, water
ann here, there, present
ach but
dealanaich lightning
tàirneanaich thunder
fhathast still, yet
no or
an-dràsta just now, right now
an-diugh today
cò ris a tha an t-sìde coltach what is the weather like
an t-sìde the weather

Numbers #2 · 2022-01-28 ^

Aon (one) causes lenition

The number one in Gaelic cause lenition on the noun that follows whenever possible:

  • aon + bàta = aon bhàta (one boat)

  • aon + piseag = aon phiseag (one kitten)

Dà (two) causes lenition and is singular

Gaelic used to maintain quite a distinct 'dual' form when referring to two things only. This has broken down in many ways, but it is still important to know that the plural form of a noun is not used with the number two in Gaelic. Instead, we use the singular. (two), like aon (one), causes lenition on the noun that follows:

  • + bàta = bhàta (two boats)

  • + piseag = phiseag (two kittens)

Cia mheud? - How many?

This is how we ask "how many" in Gaelic. Unlike in English, when we ask this in Gaelic we use the singular form of the noun:

  • bàta - boat

  • bàtaichean - boats

  • Cia mheud bàta? - How many boats?

A common alternative to cia mheud is cò mheud, which means the same thing.

That was pretty easy. COUNT yourselves lucky... (Tha mi duilich / I am sorry)

bus m (a) bus
càr m (a) car
bàta m (a) boat
aon one (lenites)
cia mheud...? how many...?
eala f (a) swan
asal m (a) donkey, ass
uinneag f (a) window
two (lenites)
òran (a) song

Family #3 · 2020-12-31 ^

Feminine and masculine nouns

As we have seen, all nouns in Gaelic are either masculine or feminine. Feminine nouns cause lenition to the adjective that follows (usually marked by adding an 'h'):

piuthar = a sister

  • piuthar + math = piuthar mhath (a good sister )
  • piuthar + mòr = piuthar mhòr (a big sister )
  • piuthar + beag = piuthar bheag (a little sister )

Vowels cannot lenite:

  • piuthar + onarach = piuthar onarach (an honest sister )
  • piuthar + ainmeil = piuthar ainmeil (a famous sister )

L, N, R, and SG, SM, SP, and ST do not take an extra 'h':

  • piuthar + luath = piuthar luath (a fast sister )
  • piuthar + neònach = piuthar neònach (a strange sister )
  • piuthar + reamhar = piuthar reamhar (a fat sister )
  • piuthar + sgriosail = piuthar sgriosail (a dreadful sister )

Adjectives lenite when they directly describe a noun, but not in a simple, descriptive statement. For example:

  • Piuthar mhath. - A good sister.


  • Tha piuthar math. - A sister is good.

DISCLAIMER Although words specific to men are generally masculine, and those specific to women generally feminine, this is not always the case. For example, the word boireannach (woman ) is taught later in the course and is a masculine noun. That'll keep you on your toes!

aon and cause lenition

Who doesn't love a recap? Aon (one ) and (two ) cause lenition to the noun that follows, if possible:

  • aon bhràthair - one brother
  • dà bhràthair - two brothers
  • dà phiuthar - two sisters

There are specific words in Gaelic used for counting people. Strictly speaking, this is the correct way of two counting people:

  • dithis bhràithrean - two brothers
  • dithis pheathraichean - two sisters

The numbers used specifically for people (including dithis) are taught later in Tree 2. “Dà bhràthair” and “dà phiuthar” are used (probably increasingly so), but this is less idiomatic.


Plurals are formed in a number of ways in Gaelic, and we will explore this in detail (excruciating detail) later in the course.

We encounter some examples in this skill:

  • piuthar - sister
  • peathraichean - sisters
  • bràthair - brother
  • bràithrean - brother

againn - at us

Remember our good friends agam and agad? This is another one of those mighty prepositional pronouns with aig. Againn consists of aig (at ) and sinn (we / us ):

  • Tha cù againn. - We have a dog.
  • Tha uisge-beatha againn. - We have whisky.

An duine agam - My husband

Duine is the Gaelic word for "a person" or "a man". The word agam is often used to show possession.

  • an duine - the man
  • agam - at me
  • an duine agam - my husband

The word duine doesn't really mean "husband" until it is combined with aig to show possession.

N.B. We will explore words with the definite article soon!


Gaelic English
bràthair m (a) brother
piuthar f (a) sister
bràithrean m brothers
peathraichean f sisters
seanair m (a) grandfather
teaghlach m (a) family
athair m (a) father, dad
leanabh f (a) baby
mac m (a) son
seanmhair f (a) grandmother
nighean f (a) daughter, girl
màthair f (a) mother, mum
ainmeil famous
antaidh f (an) auntie
uncail m (an) uncle
duine f (a) husband, person, man
an duine agam my husband
againn at us
clann f children
luath fast, quick
reamhar fat
onarach honest, honourable
sgriosail dreadful
laghach pleasant, nice
neònach strange, weird

Numbers 2 #10 · 2020-12-13 ^

Trì is the magic number

Plurals begin with the number three in Gaelic:

trì = 3 | ceithir = 4 | còig = 5

  • trì bàtaichean - three boats
  • ceithir bàtaichean - four boats
  • còig piseagan - five kittens

No lenition, no problem!

Plurals are formed in a few different ways in Gaelic, and we will break that down soon. At the moment, we are just looking at when you need a plural word.

leabhar m (a) book
rathad m (a) road
sgian f (a) knife
aon one (lenites)
sgillinn f pence, penny
stais f (a) moustache
latha m (a) day
smiogaid f (a) chin
not m (a) pound
trì three
ceithir four
còig five
sia six
bàtaichean m boats
mucan f pigs
piseagan f kittens
seachd seven
ochd eight
naoi nine
deich ten
coin m dogs
cait cats
a' faighinn getting, finding

Food 2 #17 · 2020-11-18 ^

The Masculine Definite Article

This is it. The moment we have all been waiting for. The formulation of the masculine definite article in Gaelic. My heart is in my mouth.

Words Beginning with BFMP - am

  • am bàta - the boat

  • am mions - the mince

  • am piobar - the pepper

There are two great mnemonics to remember this:

Big Fat Members of Parliament

Big Fluffy Mucky Pigs

All Other Consonants - an

  • an sùgh - the juice

  • an leann - the beer

Vowels - an t-

  • an t-uisge - the water

  • an t-aran - the bread

  • an t-ìm - the butter

I'll tell you what. That was worth the wait. Can't wait for the feminine article, buzzing for that.

sùgh m (a) juice
leann m (a) beer
sùbh-làir m (a) strawberry
uachdar m cream
suiteas candy, sweet, sweets
an the (masc)
am the (masc- bfmp)
an t- the (masc- vowels)
fìon m wine
mions m mince
botal m (a) bottle
brot m soup
paidh m (a) pie
ubhal m (an) apple
orainsear m (an) orange
isbean m (a) sausage
aran m bread
ìm m butter
bu toil leam I would like
ag ithe eating
snèap f (a) turnip, swede, neep
reòiteag f (an) ice cream
biadh m food
ugh m (an) egg
ag òl drinking
cha bu toil leam I would not like
tomàto m (a) tomato
uinnean m (an) onion
curran m (a) carrot

Colors #13 · 2020-12-13 ^

Using "aig"

Gaelic doesn't have a direct translation for the verb "to have". Who needs it right? Instead, we can use the preposition aig (at) to show possession:

  • Tha cat aig Calum. - Calum has a cat.

  • Tha bàta aig Anna. - Anna has a boat.

Lenition (adding an 'h') after feminine nouns

We come across some more examples of adjectives being lenited after feminine nouns here:

Dreasa is a feminine noun. It means "a dress":

  • dreasa + gorm = dreasa ghorm (a blue dress)

  • dreasa + geal = dreasa gheal (a white dress)

  • dreasa + fada = dreasa fhada (a long dress)

  • dreasa + dearg = dreasa dhearg (a red dress)


dreasa dhearg - a red dress


Tha dreasa dearg. - A dress is red.

Feumaidh mi / Feumaidh tu

  • Feumaidh mi - I need

  • Feumaidh mi biadh. - I need food.

  • Feumaidh tu - You need.

  • Feumaidh tu biadh. - You need food.

After the verb feumaidh, you need to use tu and not thu. We will see this with some other verbs too, but we will point it out whenever it occurs. We've got your back (druim).

Gu leòr - Galore!

The English word 'galore' (think "Whisky Galore") comes from the Gaelic gu leòr, meaning 'enough'.

  • math gu leòr - good enough

  • goirid gu leòr - short enough


A 'bonnet' or 'bunnet' is a type of functional but stylish woollen flat cap. The Gaelic for this is bonaid. The bonnet is a key part of a school of fashion we have just made up called "crofter chic".

The Grass is Blue - A Different Spectrum of Color

It is often said that languages give you a different perspective on the world. The color spectrum in Gaelic doesn't always align with the English one. One of the main differences is how Gaelic views blue and green.


Liath - light blue, but can also mean grey.

Gorm - blue / blue-green


Uaine - green

Gorm - green that occurs in nature

  • Tha am feur gorm. - The grass is green.

We will explore Gaelic colors in further detail later, as there are some other differences, but we will explain them as we come across them.

aig at
geal white
dubh black
orains orange
purpaidh f purple
ùr new
e he, it (masc)
dearg red
pinc pink
gorm blue, dark blue, natural green
feumaidh mi I need
feumaidh tu you need (inf/sin)
buidhe yellow
glas grey
uaine green
donn brown
liath light blue, grey
briogais ghoirid f shorts, short pants
putan m (a) button
goirid short
fada long
gu leòr plenty, enough
a' dèanamh doing, making
crios m (a) belt
a' goid stealing
a' cumail keeping
deise f (a) suit (of clothes)
eile other, another

Colours #2 · 2019-12-28 ^

Using "aig"

Gaelic doesn't have a direct translation for the verb "to have". Who needs it right? Instead, we can use the preposition aig (at) to show possession:

  • Tha cat aig Calum. - Calum has a cat.

  • Tha bàta aig Anna. - Anna has a boat.

Lenition (adding an 'h') after feminine articles

We come across some more examples of adjectives being lenited after feminine nouns here:

Dreasa is a feminine noun. It means "a dress":

  • dreasa + gorm = dreasa ghorm (a blue dress)

  • dreasa + geal = dreasa gheal (a white dress)

  • dreasa + fada = dreasa fhada (a long dress)

  • dreasa + dearg = dreasa dhearg (a red dress)


dreasa dhearg - a red dress


Tha dreasa dearg. - A dress is red.

Feumaidh mi / Feumaidh tu

  • Feumaidh mi - I need

  • Feumaidh mi biadh. - I need food.

  • Feumaidh tu - You need.

  • Feumaidh tu biadh. - You need food.

After the verb feumaidh, you need to use tu and not thu. We will see this with some other verbs too, but we will point it out whenever it occurs. We've got your back (druim).

Gu leòr - Galore!

The English word 'galore' (think "Whisky Galore") comes from the Gaelic gu leòr, meaning 'enough'.

  • math gu leòr - good enough

  • goirid gu leòr - short enough


A 'bonnet' or 'bunnet' is a type of functional but stylish woollen flat cap. The Gaelic for this is bonaid. The bonnet is a key part of a school of fashion we have just made up called "crofter chic".

The Grass is Blue - A Different Spectrum of Colour

It is often said that languages give you a different perspective on the world. The colour spectrum in Gaelic doesn't always align with the English one. One of the main differences is how Gaelic views blue and green.


Liath - light blue, but can also mean grey.

Gorm - blue / blue-green


Uaine - green

Gorm - green that occurs in nature

  • Tha am feur gorm. - The grass is green.

We will explore Gaelic colours in further detail later, as there are some other differences, but we will explain them as we come across them.

Home #2 · 2020-12-10 ^

You like?

Remember our friends is toil and cha toil?

Get ready to meet the more questionable member of the family - an toil:

  • An toil leat am biadh? - Do you like the food? (asking one person of a similar age or younger)

  • An toil leibh am biadh? - Do you like the food? (asking more than one person, or someone older or more senior)

Càit a bheil?

This is how you ask where something is:

  • Càit a bheil am biadh? - Where is the food?

N.B. The Gaelic Orthographic Conventions document (not a page turner) recommends this now be written as "càit a bheil", and not "càite a bheil" (as we had in Tree 1). This is pronounced the same and both spellings are frequently seen. We've updated this in Tree 2.

aige / aice / aca

  • aca = aig + iad (at them )

    • Tha taigh aca. - They have a house.

  • aice = aig + i (at her / it )

    • Tha taigh aice. - She has a house.

  • aige = aig + e (at him / it )

    • Tha taigh aige. - He has a house.

Aige and aice are fairly similar in pronunciation, but context will almost always make it clear which one is being used.

A small house or a toilet? - An important distinction

The Gaelic for "the small house" is an taigh beag.

The Gaelic for "the toilet" is an taigh-beag.

All language is beautiful.


Gaelic English
taigh m (a) house
gàrradh m (a) garden
coimpiutair m (a) computer
an toil leat...? do you like...? (inf./sing.)
deasg m (a) desk
iuchair f (a) key
flat m (a) flat / (an) apartment
bòrd m (a) table, board
preas m (a) cupboard, closet
mapa m (a) map
dealbh m (a) picture, photo
soitheach m (a) dish, container
amar m (a) bath, bathtub
eadar-lìon m internet
òrd m (a) hammer
aca at them
seòmar-cadail m (a) bedroom
sin... that is...
seo... this is..., here is...
aige at him, at it (masc)
taigh-beag m (a) bathroom, toilet
frids m (a) fridge
balla m (a) wall
càit a bheil...? where is...?
an toil leibh...? do you like...? (pol/plu)
leabaidh f (a) bed
teine m (a) fire
doras m (a) door
aice at her, at it (fem)

About Me 2 #2 · 2020-12-16 ^

ann an / ann am

In this skill, we start to look at ways to say where you are.

ann am = in (before BFMP)

  • baile > (a) town
  • ann am baile > in a town

  • margadh > (a) market
  • ann am margadh > in a market

N.B. Remember "Big Fat Members of Parliament".

ann an = in (before all other letters)

  • sgoil > (a) school
  • ann an sgoil > in a school

  • ospadal > (a) hospital
  • ann an ospadal > in a hospital

N.B. Although ann an and ann am resemble the definite masculine articles an and am, we only use them before indefinite nouns (words without "the" before them). We teach how to say "in the" later in the course.

a’ fuireach

This verbal noun can be combined with ann an or ann am to show where you live:

  • Tha mi a’ fuireach ann an Glaschu. > I am living in Glasgow.

N.B. "I live in Glasgow" would be an acceptable translation, but "I am living" more closely reflects what is going on with the Gaelic.

ag obair

This verbal noun can be combined with ann an or ann am to show where you work:

  • Tha mi ag obair ann am Peairt. > I am working in Perth.

N.B. "I work in Perth" would be an acceptable translation here, but "I am working" more closely reflects what is going on with the Gaelic.

In Barra, not on Barra

In Gaelic, you are in an island, rather than on an island:

  • ann am Barraigh > in Barra
  • ann am Muile > in Mull
  • ann an Leòdhas > in Lewis

N.B. We made a wee mistake in Tree 1, and so "Finland" is translated as "Fionnlainn". This is wrong - it ought to be "an Fhionnlann". We've fixed it in Tree 2. Sorry!

an seo / an sin

Remember seo and sin? We can use these related words to show location:

  • Tha mi an seo. > I am here.
  • Tha mi an sin. > I am there.


Gaelic English
ann an... in... / in a... / in an...
ann am in... / in a... / in an... (BPFM )
ag obair working
Dùn Dè Dundee (city)
Sruighlea Stirling (city)
Sealtainn Shetland (group of islands)
sgoil f (a) school
a' fuireach living, staying
Obar Dheathain Aberdeen (city)
ospadal m (a) hospital
oilthigh m (a) university
Inbhir Àir Ayr (town)
Peairt Perth (city)
muga m (a) mug
Port Rìgh Portree (town)
baile (a) town
Fìobha Fife (kingdom)
Astràilia Australia
Afraga a Deas South Africa
Nirribhidh Norway
an seo here (location)
an sin there (location)
Sealainn Nuadh New Zealand
Iapan Japan
Uibhist Uist (group of islands)
bùth m/f (a) shop, store
oifis f (an) office
margadh m (a) market
taigh-òsta m (a) hotel
Tiriodh Tiree (island)

Phrases 3 #7 · 2020-11-23 ^

Drop it like it's hot - the disappearing "mi"

In Gaelic, it is quite common to drop the word mi in certain phrases when answering a question.

Example 1:

Iain: Ciamar a tha thu, Eilidh?

Eilidh: Tha mi gu math.


Eilidh: Tha gu math.

Example 2:

Iain: Ciamar a tha thu, Eilidh?

Eilidh: Tha mi gu dòigheil.


Eilidh: Tha gu dòigheil.

Tha Gàidhlig agam - I have Gaelic

This is how you would say you are a Gaelic speaker in the language. While in English you might say you 'speak' a language, in Gaelic you 'have' languages.

To say you speak some or a little Gaelic, you would say:

  • Tha beagan Gàidhlig agam. - I have a little Gaelic.

Commands and Plural / Polite Commands

Remember the leat/leibh and thu/sibh distinction? Well, it features in many of the phrases used in this unit.

The root (or basic) form of the verb is also the command form in Gaelic. This is how you boss people around in Gaelic speaking communities:

  • thig - come

  • thig a-steach - come in

When addressing more than one person or a person more senior, you use a special polite / plural command by adding '-ibh' or '-aibh'.

  • Thigibh a-steach, a chàirdean. - Come in, friends.

  • Thigibh a-steach, a sheanair. - Come in, Grandad.

We add '-ibh' and not '-aibh' in this example because of Gaelic's golden spelling rule - broad with broad (a,o,u), slender with slender (i,e).

Congratulations (Enjoy your news)

Meal do naidheachd is how you would say congratulations to someone who is younger than you or around your age. It literally translates as "enjoy your news", which is objectively nice.

For someone older / more senior or a group of people you would use mealaibh ur naidheachd. Remember broad with broad!

You don't need to worry too much about the details of these changes at this stage as we will break them down in much more detail. It is worth becoming accustomed to these common polite forms so that you can use these in the wild from the get go!

Gabhaibh mo leisgeul - Take my excuse

We have already met the informal / singular form gabh mo leisgeul in Feelings 1.

We would use gabhaibh mo leisgeul for saying excuse me to someone older / more senior, or to a group of people of any age.

  • Gabhaibh mo leisgeul, a chàirdean. - Excuse me, friends.

  • Gabhaibh mo leisgeul, a sheanmhair. - Excuse me, grandmother.

FULL HOUSE - Prepositional Pronouns with "aig"

BINGO! I am not sure if this is how bingo works but you have just collected your first full set of prepositional pronouns!

Prepositional Pronoun English Translation
aig at
agam at me
agad at you (singular)
aige at him
aice at her
againn at us
agaibh at you (plural/formal singular)
aca at them

Congratulations, you are basically Donnie Dòtaman. If you don't know who Dòtaman is, then please consider this the only piece of homework the course will ever issue!

meal do naidheachd congratulations
deoch f (a) drink
tha gu dòigheil really well
tha gu math well
ist hush, shh
chan eil càil nothing at all
tha Gàidhlig agam I have Gaelic
beagan Gàidhlig a little Gaelic
a bheil Gàidhlig agad do you have Gaelic (inf/sin)
tha fios agam I know
chan eil fios agam I don't know
sibh you (for/plu)
chì mi a-rithist thu see you later (inf/sin)
a h-uile duine everyone, everybody
chan eil gu dona not bad
a ghràidh m love (vocative)
thig a-steach come in
m' eudail darling
agaibh at you (for/plu)
mealaibh ur naidheachd congratulations (for/plu)
thigibh a-steach come in (for/plu)
Eairdsidh Archie
Oighrig Effie, Euphemia
a' bruidhinn talking, speaking
ag ionnsachadh learning
is and (contraction)
a bheil Gàidhlig agaibh do you gave Gaelic (for/plu)
chì mi a-rithist sibh see you later (for/plu)
gabhaibh mo leisgeul excuse me (for/plu)

Body #2 · 2020-11-23 ^

Hair Colour

Gaelic has some different colours that we use for hair and fur.

  1. ruadh - red / ginger (not dearg )

    falt ruadh - red hair

  2. bàn - fair / blonde (not buidhe or geal )

    falt bàn - fair hair

  3. liath - grey (not glas )

    falt liath - grey hair

Your head and your hair are on you

  • Tha falt donn ort. - You have brown hair.

  • Tha ceann mòr ort. - You have a big head.

Using agam in this instance would imply that you have come into possession of a hair or a head!

Using agam is perfectly normal with most other body parts though:

  • Tha beul mòr agam! - I have a big mouth!

Broilleach is a body part, not a chest of drawers

For the avoidance of doubt, this refers to the area above your stomach but below the neck. It is not furniture or something pirates would store treasure in before submerging.

Duine - a person or a man

Duine is a word that has a dual meaning. It can mean either "man" or the ungendered "person", depending on the context.

Prepositional Pronouns with "air" - air / oirre

We have previously used prepositional pronouns with air to describe what we are wearing. In this skill, we use them to talk about our hair (and also our head):

air (on) + e = air (on him)

  • Tha falt fada air. - He has long hair.

air (on) + i = oirre (on her)

  • Tha falt fada oirre. - She has long hair.

falt m hair
beul m (a) mouth
broilleach m (a) chest (body part)
maol bald
grànda ugly, horrible
ceann m (a) head
aodann m (a) face
tinn ill, sick
goirt sore
fallain healthy
làmh f (a) hand
cluas f (an) ear
sùil f (an) eye
sròn f (a) nose
duine m man, person, husband
goirid short
druim m (a) back
caol thin
cas f (a) leg, foot
teanga f (a) tongue
liath grey (hair)
ruadh ginger, red (hair)
bàn fair, light, blonde (hair)
glan clean
salach dirty
air on him, on it (masc)
oirre on her, on it (fem)

Animals #3 · 2022-01-28 ^

The Feminine Article

All words in Gaelic are either masculine or feminine. We have already come across the masculine article in Food 2, but this is the first time we have come across the feminine article, outside of the odd set phrase.

A couple of things to keep in mind:

  1. It is slightly more complicated than the masculine article, but not by much.

  2. The rules are the rules. Gaelic is a very regular language. Once you know them, you know them.

  3. Don't try and memorise which words are masculine and feminine in a list. You will gradually notice patterns related to gender and memorise which category common words fall into. We will hold your hand. Don't worry about remembering the genders of all words you come across, unless you find that helps. As the saying goes, Fort William wasn't built in a day.

Category 1 - B C G P M

a’ + lenition

Indefinite Noun Definite Noun
bean (a wife) a’ bhean (the wife)
caileag (a girl) a' chaileag (the girl)
grian (a sun) a’ ghrian (the sun)
piuthar (a sister) a’ phiuthar (the sister)
màthair (a mother) a' mhàthair (the mother)

Category 2 - F

an + lenition

Indefinite Noun Definite Noun
faoileag (a seagull) an fhaoileag (the seagull)
feannag (a crow) an fheannag (the crow)

Category 3 - S followed by L, N, R and vowels

an + t-

Indefinite Noun Definite Noun
sùil (an eye) an t-sùil (the eye)
sràid (a street) an t-sràid (the street)
slige (a shell) an t-slige (the shell)

Category 4 - All other sounds

an + no change

Indefinite Noun Definite Noun
ialtag (a bat) an ialtag (the bat)
eaglais (a church) an eaglais (the church)
deoch (a drink) an deoch (the drink)
rèis (a race) an rèis (the race)
nathair (a snake) an nathair (the snake)
staidhre (a staircase) an staidhre (the staircase)
sgoil (a school) an sgoil (the school)

an the (fem)
obair f (a) job
ialtag f (a) bat
staidhre f (a) staircase, stairs
eaglais f (a) church
nathair f (a) snake
rèis f (a) race
a' the (fem) + lenition
grian f (a) sun
clach f (a) stone, rock
crùbag f (a) crab
an the (fem) + lenition
fiacail f (a) tooth
feòrag f (a) squirrel
feannag f (a) crow
fuil f blood
an t- the (fem)
sràid f (a) street
slige f (a) shell

Names #2 · 2020-11-26 ^

The Vocative Case

Gaelic has four cases. The perfect amount for any language. Much of what we have looked at has been in the nominative case - which could be described as the basic way of doing things. Think of it as vanilla flavour.

Here is a sentence in the nominative case:

  • Tha Mòrag math.

Gaelic has a special case that we use when addressing people or even things (saying hello, how are you, etc.). This is called the vocative case. Think of it as strawberry flavour.

In the following sentence the word Mòrag is in the vocative case:

  • Madainn mhath, a Mhòrag.

There are two other cases in Gaelic which we do not explore in detail at this stage - the dative case (pistachio flavour) and the genitive case (chilli flavour).

We will break down below exactly how the vocative case works. It is one of Gaelic's many interesting features.

In this skill we will look at female names only. We will get to the boys in the next one. The differences aren't huge between them.


1. Lenitable Consonants - B, C, D, G, M, P, S, T (but not F for now)

  1. Add vocative particle a.

  2. Lenite the word.


  • Mairead > Halò, a Mhairead

  • Beathag > Madainn mhath, a Bheathag

2. Names that begin with a consonant or comination that does not lenite - L, N, R, SG, SM, ST, SP

  1. Add vocative particle a.


  • Raonaid > Halò, a Raonaid.

  • Leagsaidh > Halò, a Leagsaidh.

3. Names that begin with F

Names that begin with F followed by a consonant

  • Flòraidh > Halò a Fhlòraidh.

4. Vowels

Vowels in Gaelic hate each other. Specifically, they hate to be seen next to one another. When two vowels appear together in Gaelic, one is often dropped. This makes Gaelic streamlined, like a wet cormorant.

The vocative particle a is dropped before a vowel because of this vowel vendetta.

Ealasaid (Elizabeth - a woman's name)

BROKE / WRONG - Halò, a Ealasaid.

BESPOKE / CORRECT - Halò, Ealasaid.

Cultural Context

It would generally be considered rude to translate a French name such as Pierre into Peter in English. The same is not true for Gaelic. Most native Gaelic speakers would be known by their Gaelic name in Gaelic, and its 'translation' in English. Someone known as 'Oighrig' in Gaelic would almost certainly known by its translation 'Effie' in English . We want to show learners what actually happens in Gaelic communities and so we have followed this convention.

Some Gaelic names such as Iain and Mòrag are so common in Scottish English that they are not translated in the course.

It is becoming increasingly common for parents to give children a Gaelic name as their given / recorded name, which is lovely.

a Bheathag f Beth, Rebecca (voc)
a Mhàiri f Mairi, Mary (voc)
a Mhòrag f Morag (voc)
Catrìona f Catriona
a Chatrìona f Catriona (voc)
ceart right, correct
ceàrr wrong, incorrect
coibhneil kind
càirdeil friendly
Eubha f Eva
Mairead f Margaret
a Mhairead f Margaret (voc)
inntinneach interesting
annasach unusual
Ealasaid f Elizabeth
a Raonaid f Rachel (voc)
Leagsaidh f Lexie, Lexy
a Leagsaidh f Lexie, Lexy (voc)
gu dòigheil really well, well
Flòraidh f Flora
a Fhlòraidh f Flora (voc)
pòsta married

Hobbies #4 · 2021-04-14 ^

The Past Tense of "Bi"

Up until now, we have mainly been dealing with the present tense (living in the moment). In this skill we encounter the past tense forms of the verb bi. We have already encountered its present tense forms: tha, chan eil, a bheil, and nach eil. We will show examples of these side by side with the past tense forms for comparison. See if you can spot a pattern.


  • Bha mi fuar. - I was cold.

Compare with:

  • Tha mi fuar - I am cold.

Cha robh

  • Cha robh mi blàth. - I was not warm.

Compare with:

  • Chan eil mi blàth - I am not warm.

An robh

  • An robh e math? - Was it good?

Compare with:

  • A bheil e math? - Is it good?

Nach robh

  • Nach robh sin sgoinneil? - Wasn't that brilliant?

Compare with:

  • Nach eil sin sgoinneil? - Isn't that brilliant?

Gaelic has no word for 'yes' or 'no'

Similar to our sister languages Irish and Manx, Scottish Gaelic has no catch-all word for yes and no. We get on perfectly fine without it. Yes and no are clearly overrated.

In Gaelic, we answer a question by 'echoing' a verb. You use the positive or negative form of the verb that the question was asked in. This sounds complicated, but in practice it is fairly easy to get the hang of.

When asked the following question:

A bheil thu sgìth? - Are you tired?

you should answer either:

Tha - Yes


Chan eil - No

If we change the verb, the answer to the question also changes:

  • An robh thu sgìth? - Were you tired?

    • Bha - Yes

    • Cha robh - No

How to talk about talking

In Gaelic, we often combine a verbal noun with a preposition:

Verbal Noun - a' bruidhinn - talking


Preposition - ri - with


Chan eil mi a' bruidhinn ri Iain. - I am not talking with Iain.

Often in English we would use 'talking to'. The literal meaning of prepositions like ri don't align neatly between Gaelic and English. Look out for this. These little differences are part of what makes learning a language special.

bha was, were, to be (past tense)
còmhla ri f with, along with, together with
a' leughadh reading
gu to
a' sgrìobhadh writing
faisg air close to, near
cha robh was not, were not, to be (negative)
an-dè yesterday
litir f (a) letter
a' coiseachd walking
a' ruith running
leabharlann f (a) library
an robh was, were, to be (question)
a-raoir last night
a' snàmh swimming
a' cadal sleeping
nach robh wasn't, weren't (negative question)
a-riamh ever
ri with, to
a' dol going
feasgar an-dè yesterday afternoon/evening
madainn an-dè yesterday morning
a' seinn singing
a' sreap climbing
Màrtainn Martin
tuathanas (a) farm
drochaid f (a) bridge

Travel #2 · 2020-11-27 ^


Gaelic has a few different ways to make a noun plural. The following isn't an exhaustive or overly technical list, but it will give you an overview of some of the most common ways of doing so!

1. Adding -ean / -an

Keep the broad with broad (a, o, u) and slender with slender (i, e) rule in mind when looking at these examples:

  • stèisean > stèiseanan

    (station > stations)

  • eilean > eileanan

    (island > islands)

  • tiocaid > tiocaidean

    (tickets > tickets)

2. Adding -aichean / -ichean

  • càr > càraichean

    (car > cars)

  • bàta > bàtaichean

    (boat > boats)

  • trèana > trèanaichean

    (train > trains)

  • bus > busaichean

    (bus > buses)

3. Slenderising the Noun

Nouns are slenderised by adding an i before the last consonant:

  • cat > cait

    (cat > cats)

  • òran > òrain

    (song > songs)

Irregular Plurals

Gaelic can make a noun plural using some regular ways not listed above and also in ways that follow few or no rules at all (dangerous rebel noun):.

  • cù - coin

    (dog > dogs)

  • piuthar > peathraichean

    (sister > sisters)

The key here is not to get bogged down in trying to memorise every possible plural formation. Gaelic's plurals aren't overly complicated, but the best way to learn them is spotting patterns through gradual exposure.

The Plural Article

Gaelic has only two plural articles in the nominative case and they aren't affected by the gender of the noun! Yay!


Use this before consonants:

  • càraichean > na càraichean

    (cars > the cars)

  • coin > na coin

    (dogs > the dogs)

  • bàtaichean > na bàtaichean

    (boat > the boats)

Na h-

Use this before vowels. Gaelic vowels hate hanging out next to each other and so we need a bouncer 'h-' to keep them separate:

  • uinneagan > na h-uinneagan

    (windows > the windows)

  • eileanan > na h-eileanan

    (islands > the islands)

trèana m (a) train
trèanaichean m trains
plèana m (a) plane
plèanaichean m planes
stèisean m (a) station
na the (plural)
na h- the (plural - vowels)
bàtaichean m boats
càraichean m cars
a' falbh leaving, going
daor expensive, dear
saor cheap, inexpensive
dìreach just
eilean m (an) island
eileanan m islands
uinneagan windows
a' stad stopping (motion)
tiogaid f ticket
tiogaidean f tickets
airgead m money
seall look
seall air look at
fosgailte open
dùinte closed
an t-Eilean Sgitheanach (The Isle of) Skye
a' draibheadh driving

Names 2 #12 · 2020-12-13 ^

Boyzone - The Vocative Case with Masculine Names

We have already seen how female names work in the vocative case. There are some small differences to watch out for here.

1. Lenitable consonants - B, C, D, G, M, P, S, T (but not F for now)

  1. Add an a before the noun. This is known as a vocative particle.

  2. Lenite the word (add an h after the initial consonant) and slenderise (add an i before the last consonant).


  • Calum
    • Madainn mhath, a Chaluim.
  • Tormod

    • Madainn mhath, a Thormoid.
  • Pàdraig

    • Halò, a Phàdraig.
  • Seumas

    • Feasgar math, a Sheumais.

2. Names that begin with a consonant or consonant combination that does not lenite - L, N, R, SG, SM, ST, SP

  1. Add vocative particle a.

  2. Slenderise when possible.


  • Niall
    • Halò, a Nèill.
  • Ruairidh

    • Halò, a Ruairidh.

N.B. The name Ruairidh is already slenderised and you can't double slenderise or your tongue would fall out, obviously.

3. Names that begin with F

Names that begin with F followed by a consonant follow pattern number 1 above.


  • Frìseal
    • Halò, a Fhrìseil.

Names that begin with F followed by a vowel follow a slightly different pattern.

  1. The vocative particle a is omitted.
  2. Masculine names lenite and slenderise.


  • Fionnlagh
    • Halò, Fhionnlaigh.
  • Fearghas

    • Halò, Fhearghais.

4. Vowels

Remember: vowels hate standing next to one another in separate words. The tension would be unbearable.

  1. The vocative particle a is dropped before a vowel because of the vowel vendetta.
  2. Masculine names beginning with vowels still slenderise.

Aonghas (Angus - a man's name)

BROKE / WRONG - Halò, a Aonghais.

BESPOKE / RIGHT - Halò, Aonghais.

cudromach important
bochd poor, ill
a Sheumais m James, Seumas (voc)
a Chaluim m Calum (voc)
Pàdraig m Patrick
a Phàdraig m Patrick (voc)
Tormod m Norman
a Thormoid m Norman (voc)
Uilleam m William
Uilleim m William (voc)
Aonghas m Angus
Aonghais m Angus (voc)
Eòghann m Ewan
Eòghainn m Ewan (voc)
Ruairidh m Ruairidh, male name
a Ruairidh m Ruairidh (voc)
Niall m Niall
a Nèill m Niall (voc)
slaodach slow
Fionnlagh m Finlay
Fhionnlaigh m Finlay (voc)
Frìseal m Fraser
a Fhrìseal m Fraser (voc)
glic clever
Fearghas m Fergus
Fhearghais m Fergus (voc)

Feelings 2 #12 · 2020-11-27 ^

The State of you - States of being with "air"

In Gaelic, we often use the preposition air (on) to describe states of being.


  • orm - on me

  • ort - on you

  • air - on him / it

  • oirre - on her / it

an t-acras

  • Tha an t-acras orm. - I am hungry.

Literally, this translates as "the hunger is on me".

  • Tha an t-acras ort. - You are hungry.

Literally, this translates as "the hunger is on you".

an fhearg

  • Tha an fhearg oirre. - She is angry.

Literally, this translates as "the anger is on her."

  • Tha an fhearg air. - He is angry.

Literally, this translates as "the anger is on him".

BINGO - Prepositional Pronouns with "Air"

We have now collected all the prepositional pronouns with air. Gotta catch 'em all!

Prepositional Pronoun English Translation
orm on me
ort on you
air on him / on it (masculine)
oirre on her / on it (feminine)
oirnn on us
oirbh on you (plural / polite)
orra on them

Greas ort! / Greasaibh oirbh!

This is a handy way to tell someone to get their skates on (hurry up) in Gaelic.

Literally, it would translate as "hurry on you".

Orra vs. Oirre

The pronunciation of these words is quite similar. In the wild, context should make it pretty clear which one is being used. The rr in orra (on them) is more rolled. Don't sweat this one, it'll come with practice. Context is your friend.

Emphatic Pronouns - Pronouns with OOMPH

Emphatic pronouns are extra special forms of pronouns that show emphasis. They don't have a direct equivalent in English. You would just use stress and tone of voice.

Emphatic Pronoun English Translation
mise me
thusa you
esan him / it (masculine)
ise her / it (feminine)
sinne we / us
sibhse you (plural / polite)
iadsan they / them

1. Use emphatic pronouns when you want to emphasise

  • Tha thusa fuar. - YOU are cold.

  • Tha esan fuar. - HE is cold.

  • Tha iadsan fuar. - THEY are cold.

2. You generally use them when identifying.

This commonly happens when the pronoun appears by itself or when using the Gaelic verb is:

  • Mise! - Me!

  • Thusa a-rithist! - You again!

  • Is mise Calum. - I am Calum.

  • Is sinne Calum agus Mòrag. - We are Calum and Morag.

We will have lots more opportunities to practice this as the course progresses, and we will explore phrases with is + emphatic pronouns in more detail as the course expands.

greas ort hurry up (inf/sin)
greasaibh oirbh hurry up (for/plu)
bòidheach beautiful
làidir strong
lag weak
acras m hunger
eagal m fear
tha an t-acras orm I am hungry
tha an t-eagal orm I am scared
oirnn on us
mise me, I (emphatic)
thusa you (inf/sin) (emphatic)
sibhse you (for/plu) emphatic
pathadh m thirst
tha am pathadh orm I am thirsty
fearg f anger
tha an fhearg orm I am angry
esan he, it (emphatic)
ise she, it (emphatic)
dragh m worry
tha dragh orm I am worried
cabhag f (a) hurry, rush
tha cabhag orm I am in a hurry
cnatan m (a/the) cold
tha an cnatan orm I have the/a cold
orra on them
oirbh on you (for/plu)
an dèideadh m (a) toothache
tha an dèideadh orm I have (a) toothache
Mìcheal m Michael
gaol m love
gràin f hate
tha gaol agam ort I love you (sin/inf)
tha gaol agam oirbh I love you (plu/for)
tha gràin agam ort I hate you (sin/inf)
tha gràin agam oirbh I hate you (plu/for)

Countries #2 · 2022-07-18 ^

Countries - Gaelic on Tour

Most countries in Gaelic are grammatically feminine and many of them have a definite article in front of them.

The rules you came across in the Animals skill, for using the definite article with feminine nouns, can be seen in action in lots of places in this skill:

  • a' Ghearmailt - Germany

    (Literally - the Germany)

  • a' Chuimrigh - Wales

    (Literally - the Wales)

  • an t-Suain - Sweden

    (Literally - the Sweden)

  • an Fhraing - France

    (Literally - the France)

  • An Ruis - Russia

    (Literally - the Russia)

  • An Eilbheis - Switzerland

    (Literally - the Switzerland)

Contrast this with Alba (Scotland) and Èirinn (Ireland), which do not have a definite article.


When we want to say something is in a place preceded by the definite article (a the word) then we have to use anns:

  • Tha mi anns an Fhraing. - I am in France.

  • Tha mi anns a' Ghearmailt. - I am in Germany.

Compare this with a place that is not preceded by a definite article:

  • Tha mi ann an Alba. - I am in Scotland.

  • Tha mi ann am bùth. - I am in a shop.

This is an example of one of Gaelic's four cases in action - the dative case. There is more to explore with anns and we will use this further as the course expands.

Na Dùthchannan Ceilteach - The Celtic Nations

Scotland is one of the six nations where a Celtic language is spoken. We come across some of Celtic nations in this skill:

  • Alba (Scotland) - Hilly, wet, generally awesome

  • Èirinn (Ireland) - Less hilly, wet, generally awesome. Irish is closely related to Scottish Gaelic, especially varieties spoken in Donegal.

  • Eilean Mhanainn (Isle of Man) - Famous for cats with no tails, and fast bikes. Manx is closely related to Scottish Gaelic.

  • a' Chuimrigh (Wales) - Hilly, wet, generally awesome. Great singers. Not bad at rugby. Welsh is less closely related to Gaelic than Irish or Manx.

  • a' Chòrn (Cornwall) - Although legally part of England, many believe Cornwall to be a distinct nation in its own right. The Cornish language (which is closely related to Welsh) is being revived and the number of speakers is growing.

  • a' Bhreatann Bheag (Brittany) - The Breton language is similar to Welsh and Cornish. The Gaelic names translates as "the little Britain". Interestingly, the Irish language word for Wales and not Brittany is "an Bhreatain Bheag".

a' Chuimrigh f Wales
a' Ghearmailt f Germany
Eilean Mhanainn The Isle of Man
a' Phòlainn f Poland
pìob-mhòr f Highland Pipes, Bagpipes
Innis Tìle Iceland
anns in (before article)
ceòl m music
a' Bheilg f Belgium
a' Phortagail f Portugal
clann children, kids
craobh f (a) tree
a' Ghrèig f Greece
An Roinn-Eòrpa Europe
An Spàinn f Spain
an Rìoghachd Aonaichte the United Kingdom
An Ruis f Russia
An Tuirc f Turkey
An Fhraing f France
An t-Suain f Sweden
a' Chòrn f Cornwall
Breatainn f Britain
fidheall f (a) fiddle, violin
an Fhionnlann f Finland
an Eadailt f Italy
An Ostair f Austria
an Eilbheis f Switzerland
Sìona f China
a' Bhreatann Bheag f Brittany
abhainn f (a) river

Pets 2 #10 · 2020-11-29 ^

a-mach vs. a-muigh

These two words could both be translated as "out", but they are quite different in their usage.

a-mach - implies there is movement

  • Tha Iain a' dol a-mach. Tha mi toilichte.

    Iain is going out. I am happy.

a-muigh - no movement

  • Tha Iain a-muigh. Cha toil leam e.

    Iain is out. I don't like him.

a-steach vs. a-staigh

These two words could both be translated as "in". They follow a similar pattern to the one above.

a-steach - implies movement

  • Ist, tha Iain a' tighinn a-steach!

    Be quiet, Iain is coming in!

a-staigh - no movement

  • Tha Iain a-staigh. Tha mise a' falbh.

    Iain is in. I am leaving.

N.B. In Uist, Barra, and Eriskay, a-staigh is often used even when there is movement involved:

Òbh òbh, tha Iain a' dol a-staigh. - Oh dear, Iain is going in.


Just a quick note on usage, eagalach means that something is scary, and not that something is itself afraid:

Tha mi eagalach. - I am scary.


Tha an t-eagal orm. - I am scared.

a-staigh inside
Niseag f The Loch Ness Monster
cait m cats
coin m dogs
peata m (a) pet
peataichean m pets
pàirc f (a) park
eagalach scary
each m (a) horse
eich m horses
radan m (a) rat
radain m rats
baga m (a) bag
a-mach out (motion)
bìodach tiny
feumail useful
coineanach m (a) rabbit
coineanaich m rabbits
a-steach in, inside (motion)
mathan m (a) bear
mathain m bears
tarbh m (a) bull
tairbh m bulls
broc m (a) badger
gleann m (a) glen, valley
gleanntan m glens, valleys
caora f (a) sheep
caoraich f sheep
eun m (a) bird
eòin m birds
iasg m (a) fish
èisg m fish, fishes
coille f (a) forest
sligeanach m (a) tortoise
dìleas loyal
loch m lake, loch
a' leum jumping
Èirisgeidh Eriskay (top class island)
daoine m people, men
gràineag f (a) hedgehog
gràineagan f hedgehogs
leòmhann m (a) lion
feur m grass

Body 2 #6 · 2022-01-28 ^

Types of Possession

Gaelic has two ways of expressing possession - inalienable and alienable. This sounds pretty scary, but in practice it is reasonably straightforward.

Inalienable Possession

This is the first time we come across this type of possession in the course. Mo (my) and do (your) are possessive adjectives. They both lenite when possible.

This type of possession is typically used for body parts, clothes, close family members (but not husbands), as well as other some other things. But this is not a hard and fast rule.

  • mo làmh - my hand

  • mo cheann - my head

  • do làmh - your hand

  • do cheann - your head

Inalienable possession with vowels

Gaelic vowels hate each other, so the 'o' in mo and do scarpers when confronted with another vowel. The apostrophe shows that a letter has disappeared. Before a vowel mo becomes m' and do becomes d':

  • m' athair - my father

  • d' athair - your father

  • m' aodann - my face

  • d' aodann - your face

Alienable Possession

This is what we have been using so far. You tend to use it for possessions and things you own. For some reason you also use it for husbands, although this is the typical pattern rather than an explicit rule:

  • An taigh agam. - My house.

  • An càr agam. - My car.

  • An duine agam. - My husband.

mo my (lenites)
do your (lenites) (inf/sin)
coltach ri like similar
a' coimhead looking, watching
sean old
stamag f (a) stomach
air on
tòn f bum, buttocks
cluasan f ears
sàbhailte safe
beul m (a) mouth
glùn f (a) knee
bodhaig f (a) body
gàirdean m (an) arm
gàirdeanan m arms
eadar between
ag èisteachd listening
casan f legs, feet
làmhan f hands
briste broken
aodann m (a) face
amhach f (a) neck, throat
m' my (vowels)
d' your (vowels) (sin/inf)
a' dannsa dancing
corrag f (a) finger
gleansach shiny
cugallach shoogly, wobbly

Days #3 · 2020-11-29 ^

A Tale of Two Sundays

  • Diluain - Monday

  • Dimàirt - Tuesday

  • Diciadain - Wednesday

  • Diardaoin - Thursday

  • Dihaoine - Friday

  • Disathairne - Saturday


Gaelic, however, has two words for Sunday. Both are universally understood and common:


The Lord's Day - traditionally used in many predominately Catholic and Episcopalian communities, such as Barra, Eriskay, and South Uist.

Latha na Sàbaid

The Sabbath Day - traditionally used in many Presbyterian areas, such as Lewis and Harris.

There are no rules as to which word for Sunday you must use. The picture is far more mixed than it used to be, and it would be an oversimplification to say it was still based purely on religious denomination / area. Choose whichever one you like!

N.B. Many days of the week break Gaelic's golden spelling rule, as they were formally written as composite words joined by a hyphen - Di-luain, Di-màirt.

N.B. Mark 2 Accents are important! Latha na Sàbaid means "the day of the Sabbath", but Latha na Sabaid - without the accent - means "the day of fighting"!

Future Tense Forms of "bi"

Remember when we met bha? What a day!

We are about to meet the future tense forms of bi, which we will see alongside the present and past tense forms. Look out for a pattern.



Bidh mi sgìth. - I will be tired.


Tha mi sgìth. - I am tired.


Bha mi sgìth. - I was tired.

Cha bhi...


Cha bhi mi sgìth. - I will not be tired.


Chan eil mi sgìth. - I am not tired.


Cha robh mi sgìth. - I was not tired.

Am bi...


Am bi e math? - Will it be good?


A bheil e math? - Is it good?


An robh e math? - Was it good?

Nach bi...


Nach bi thu ag obair? - Won't you be working?


Nach eil thu ag obair? - Aren't you working?


Nach robh thu ag obair? - Weren't you working?

N.B. These future tense forms can also be used to show habitual actions (things that happen regularly), but this does not occur in this skill.

On Monday

Although it is common in English to use "on Monday", "on Sunday" etc., this is not necessary in Gaelic:

  • Bidh mi a' faicinn Màiri Diluain. - I will be seeing Màiri on Monday.

It is not necessary to use the word air (on ) in Gaelic.

Dà Dheug

Have a look at some of these numbers:

  • aon deug - eleven
  • dà dheug - twelve
  • trì deug - thirteen
  • ceithir deug - fourteen
  • còig deug - fifteen
  • sia deug - sixteen
  • seachd deug - seventeen
  • ochd deug - eighteen
  • naoi deug - nineteen
  • fichead - twenty

Note that the "dheug" in "dà dheug" is lenited. loves to lenite the following word. It's like its whole thing.

So...umm, twenty is singular

Nouns following fichead (twenty) are not plural in Gaelic:

  • Fichead muc. - Twenty pigs.

  • Fichead . - Twenty dogs.

  • Fichead cat. - Twenty cats.

Diluain m Monday
Dimàirt m Tuesday
Diciadain m Wednesday
Diardaoinm Thursday
Dihaoine m Friday
Disathairne m Saturday
Didòmhnaich m Sunday
Là na Sàbaid Sunday
bidh will be, to be (future)
a' sgioblachadh tidying
aon-deug eleven
dà-dheug twelve
trì-deug thirteen
ceithir-deug fourteen
còig-deug fifteen
sia-deug sixteen
seachd-deug seventeen
ochd-deug eighteen
naoi-deug nineteen
fichead twenty
a' feuchainn trying
a-màireach tomorrow
cha bhi won't be, to be (negative)
am bi will be, to be (question)
nach bi won't be, to be (interrogative question)
ag èigheachd shouting
a' togail lifting, building
sinne we, us (emphatic)
a-nochd tonight
iadsan they, them (emphatic)
a dh'aithghearr soon
air ais back
Na Hearadh Harris (Island)
sàmhach quiet
seachdain f (a) week

Family 2 #9 · 2020-11-29 ^

Mo chreach!

This is about as expressive as expressions go!

This means "oh dear" or "oh goodness" and is generally a great exclamation from when you are shocked, surprised, or mildly horrified.

It is a shortened form of oh mo chreach sa thàinig, which literally means "oh my destruction has come."

Dramatic much? Nope, just right. Gaelic nails it again.

Is tusa

We have already become acquainted with our good friend the emphatic pronoun thusa.

After the verb is, this becomes tusa. Don't worry too much about why that it, but please believe me that it is much more fun to say.

a' coinneachadh ri

This combination of a verbal noun and a preposition (ri ) allows us to talk about meeting someone. This type of meeting is one that you expect, as opposed to bumping into someone in the street.

a' cèilidh air

Have you ever heard of a cèilidh? As a noun, a cèilidh is a traditional gathering; usually with singing, often with dancing, and always with craic (good fun). Used as a verb in combination with the preposition air, it means "visiting".

  • Bha mi a' cèilidh air Calum. - I was visiting Calum.

  • Cha bhi mi a' cèilidh ort an-diugh, Iain. - I won't be visiting you today, Iain.

a' coinneachadh meeting
cuideachail helpful
pàrantan m parents
facalm (a) word
faclan m words
faclair m (a) dictionary
faclairean m dictionaries
a' cèilidh visiting
caraidean m friends
tusa you (inf/sin) (emphatic)
spaideil fancy, well dressed
mìorbhaileach marvellous
seada m (a) shed
modhail well behaved, polite
mì-mhodhail naughty, badly behaved
co-ogham (a) cousin
doileag f (a) doll
mo chreach oh dear, dear me
dhachaigh home
thalla go away
Beurla f English (language)
dèideag f (a) toy
taigh-seinnse m (a) pub, bar

Sport #3 · 2020-11-29 ^

"Bidh" as continuous actions

We have already seen future tense forms of bi used to describe ... well ... things that happen in the future:

  • Bidh mi a’ falbh a-màireach. - I will be leaving tomorrow.

  • Cha bhi mi a’ cadal a-nochd. - I won't be sleeping tonight.

Bidh can also be used to describe things that happen regularly (the present habitual):

  • Bidh mi a’ cluiche rugbaidh a h-uile Disathairne. - I play rugby every Saturday.

  • Bidh mi ag ithe taigeis a h-uile latha. - I eat haggis every day.

There is an important difference when using tha and bidh to discuss the present tense:

  • Tha mi a’ cluiche rugby. - I am playing rugby.

This implies that you are playing rugby at that moment.

  • Bidh mi a’ cluiche rugby. - I play rugby.

This is a more general statement and implies that playing rugby is something you do often. It could also mean that you will be playing rugby at some point in the future, but in practice, context will make the true meaning clear.

  • Tha mi ag ithe taigeis. - I am eating haggis.

This implies you are chowing down on some delicious mixed offal at that moment.

  • Bidh mi ag ithe taigeis. - I eat haggis.

This implies that eating haggis is something you do often. Fair play to you.

Singular nouns after "a h-uile"

This is an extremely useful word that is not only intensely practical, but very fun to say. Nouns after a h-uile are always singular, not plural:

  • a h-uile duine - everybody
  • a h-uile latha - every day
  • a h-uile duine ach Iain - everybody but Iain

The Greatest Game of all Time - Iomain (Shinty)

Shinty is traditional Gaelic game played predominantly in the Highlands, by both men and women. It involves a large wooden stick, a small leather ball, and a significant amount of bravery from all who play it. Every year an international shinty-hurling match takes place between Scotland (Alba ) and Ireland (Èirinn ). Scotland's men have won this four years in a row, so we probably won't update this just in case they lose in the future.

Another word for shinty is camanachd (a shinty stick is called a caman ). Both iomain and camanachd are commonly used.

Some more uses of math

math air - good at

  • Tha mi math air iomain. - I am good at shinty.

  • Chan eil Iain math air iomain idir. - Iain is not good at shinty at all.

math dhut - good for you

  • Tha iomain math dhut. - Shinty is good for you.

  • Tha brochan math dhut. - Porridge is good for you.

Le or Ri

There are two propositions in Gaelic that can be translated as "with" and they are each used in different situations. Trying to memorise them all would be counterproductive at this stage and ri in particular can be used loads of interesting contexts.

We use còmhla ri to describe who we are with:

  • Tha mi còmhla ri Iain. Cuidich mi! - I am with Iain. Help me!

We use le when we are using an object:

  • Bha mi a’ cluiche le ball. - I was playing with a ball.

We will explore many more uses of these prepositions (we have come across a good few already) as the course progresses.

Highland vs. Lowland

Mainland Scotland is divided almost in two by the Highland Boundary Fault. On one side is the Highlands, and the Lowlands are on the other. The terms 'Highland' and 'Lowland' are open to interpretation and some areas could reasonably claim to belong to one or the other.

The following Gaelic terms are used to refer to a cultural area and not a geographical one, but it has become common to use them to refer to the geographic Highlands and Lowlands:

a’ Ghàidhealtachd - The Highlands (meaning the place of the Gaels or Gaelic speakers)

a’ Ghalldachd - The Lowlands (meaning the place of the non Gaels or non Gaelic speakers)

Gaelic was spoken at one point across almost all areas of the Lowlands, as is evident in place names. Galloway in the far southwest has a particularly rich Gaelic heritage.

ball-coise m football, soccer
iomain f shinty (a Gaelic sport)
iasgach m fishing
a h-uile every
goilf m golf
geama m (a) game
ball m (a) ball
cunnartach dangerous
math air good at
rothair m (a) bicycle
ag iasgach fishing
deiseil ready, finished
a' cluiche playing
ciamar how
tràigh f (a) beach
teanas m tennis
a' seòladh sailing
rothaireachd f cycling
le with, by
rugbaidh m rugby
An Gearasdan m Fort William (town, state of mind)
còmhla ri chèile together
uaireannan sometimes
an-dràsta fhèin right now
spòrs f sport, sports, fun
furasta easy
math dhut good for you (inf/sin)
dannsa Gàidhealach m Highland dancing
doirbh difficult, hard
a' Ghàidhealtachd f the Highlands
a' Ghalldachd f the Lowlands
a' sgitheadh skiing
an uairsin then
rèidio m (a) radio
telebhisean m (a) television

Food 3 #9 · 2020-11-29 ^

Using 'S e + th’ ann

Gaelic has two verbs which mean "to be". This is the perfect amount.

There are many exceptions, but in general we use bi to describe things and is to define them:

  • Tha an taigh uaine. - The house is green.

Here we are describing a house as green.

  • 'S e taigh dearg a th’ ann. - It is a red house.

Here we are defining the object as a red house.

Using these structures we can define almost any object:

'S e ......... a th’ ann. - It is ......... .

  • 'S e cat snog a th’ ann. - It is a nice cat.

  • 'S e feòrag a th' ann. - It is a squirrel.

  • 'S e am bòrd mòr a th’ ann. - It is the big table.

  • Mo chreach, 's e Iain a th’ ann. - Oh dear, it is Iain.

Cus (Too much)

We don't really have a coherent grammar point to make here, but the Gaelic for "too much cous cous" is cus cous cous, all pronounced the same way.

Is toil vs. 'S toil

Is toil is quite commonly written as 's toil. The apostrophe represents a missing letter. Both are correct and they would generally be pronounced the same in a normal conversation.

Answering questions in the verb

Who needs a set word for "yes" and "no"? Not us, that's who. Here are some more examples of questions being answered in the correct verb:

  1. Am bu toil leat biadh? - Would you like food?

    • Bu toil. - Yes.

    • Cha bu toil. - No.

  2. An toil leat Màiri? - Do you like Mairi?

    • Is toil. - Yes.

    • Cha toil. - No.

  3. An toil leat Iain? - Do you like Iain?

    • Cha toil. - No.

Is fheàrr leam - I prefer

  1. Is toil leam cofaidh, ach is fheàrr leam tì.

    I like coffee, but I prefer tea.

  2. Is toil leam uisge, ach is fheàrr leam uisge-beatha.

    I like water, but I prefer whisky.

  3. Is toil leam taigeis, ach is fheàrr leam marag dhubh.

    I like haggis, but I prefer black pudding.


You have already come across this word in a different context - math fhèin (meaning excellent). It is generally used to stress the word that precedes it. Math fhèin could be literally translated as "good itself."

Similar to our friends the emphatic pronouns, we can use fhèin (a reflexive pronoun) to emphasise whom or what we are talking about.

  • An toil leat fhèin am biadh?

    Do you yourself like the food?

's e it is
a th' ann that it is
milis sweet
taigh-bìdh (a) restaurant
cidsin m (a) kitchen
seòclaid f (a) chocolate
am bu toil leat would you like (inf/sin)
am bu toil leibh would you like (for/plu)
dinnear f (a) dinner
bracaist f (a) breakfast
ith eat
ceapaire m (a) sandwich
cus too much
aran-milis m shortbread
marag-dhubh f (a) black pudding
spìosrach spicy
searbh bitter
gabh take, have
a' gabhail taking, having
bradan m (a) salmon
feòil f meat
na don't
fhèin self (emphasises
measan m fruit, fruits
glasraich f vegetables
truinnsear m (a) plate
is fheàrr leam I prefer
glainne f (a) glass
cupa m (a) cup
mòr-bhùth m/f (a) supermarket
Albannach Scottish
Eadailteach Italian
Sìonach Chinese
seòclaid theth f (a) hot chocolate
sgreamhail disgusting

Time #2 · 2020-11-29 ^

Telling the Time

To ask what the time is in Gaelic you say:

Dè an uair a tha e?

Gaelic English
uair one o’ clock (not aon uair )
dà uair two o’ clock (nouns are singular after )
trì uairean three o' clock
ceithir uairean four o' clock
còig uairean five o' clock
sia uairean six o' clock
seachd uairean seven o' clock
ochd uairean eight o' clock
naoi uairean nine o' clock
deich uairean ten o' clock
aon uair deug eleven o’ clock
dà uair dheug twelve o' clock


  • Tha e trì uairean. - It is three o’ clock.

  • Tha e naoi uairean. - It is nine o’ clock.

N.B Duolingo's software does not like answers with numbers in them. We can only accept answers without numerals in them.

Half past

  • leth uair an dèidh uair - half past one (01:30)

  • leth uair an dèidh sia - half past six (06:30)

  • leth uair an dèidh aon uair deug - half past eleven (11:30)

N.B. - Leth uair às dèidh is also very common.

Quarter past

  • cairteal an dèidh trì - quarter past three (3:15)

  • cairteal an dèidh naoi - quarter past nine (09:15)

  • cairteal an dèidh dà uair dheug - quarter past twelve (12:15)

Quarter to

  • cairteal gu trì - quarter to three (02:45)

  • cairteal gu naoi - quarter to nine (08:45)

  • cairteal gu deich - quarter to ten (09:45)

Dà vs. Dhà

These are two forms of the same number.

We use before a noun:

  • Tha dà chù agam. - I have two dogs.

  • Tha e uair. - It is two o’ clock.

We use dhà when the number stands alone. We also use dhà when counting. There are special forms to use when counting that we have not yet encountered:

  • Tha dhà agam. - I have two.

  • Tha e leth uair as dèidh dhà. - It is half past two.

  • The e cairteal an dèidh dhà. - It is quarter past two.

  • Tha e cairteal gu dhà. - It is quarter to two.

Questions with "Cuin"

  • Cuin a tha sin? - When is that?

  • Cuin a bha sin? - When was that?

There is a special form we need to use with the future tense of "be", so we left it in the cupboard labelled 'do not open' for now.

Bliadhna vs. Am-bliadhna

This one can cause a little confusion.

  • bliadhna - a year

  • a' bhliadhna - the year (feminine noun)

  • am-bliadhna - this year


  • Bidh mi a’ cluich iomain am-bliadhna. - I will play shinty this year.

21 - 29

Forming the numbers from 21 to 29 is easy. We aren't even lying this time!

Gaelic English
fichead twenty
fichead 's a h-aon twenty one
fichead 's a dhà twenty two
fichead 's a trì twenty three
fichead 's a ceithir twenty four
fichead 's a còig twenty five
fichead 's a sia twenty six
fichead 's a seachd twenty seven
fichead 's a h-ochd twenty eight
fichead 's a naoi twenty nine

Knowing what is going on with these numbers will probably help you remember them.

's is a contraction of agus.

Fichead 's a trì would literally translate as "twenty and three". This pattern persists through numbers up to 100, which we will explore in detail later.

N.B. There are two counting systems in Gaelic. We have been using what is often described as the modern system so far in this course. There is also a more traditional system, which is very common among native speakers and is based on counting in twenties, similar to French.

'dè an uair a tha e what time is it
uair one o'clock, an hour
dà uair two o' clock
trì uairean three o' clock
ceithir uairean four o'clock
aon uair deug eleven o'clock
dà uair dheug twelve o'clock
an dèidh after
cèilidh f (a) traditional gathering
pàrtaidh m (a) party
madainn an-diugh this morning
feasgar an-diugh this afternoon/evening
madainn a-màireach tomorrow morning
feasgar a-màireach tomorrow afternoon/evening
ma-thà then
cloc m (a) clock
cuin when
boireannach m (a) woman
tràth early
sin thu fhèin well done (inf/sin)
leth uair an dèidh half past
sin sibh fhèin well done (plu/for)
mionaid f (a) minute
mionaidean f minutes
dhà two (standalone)
fadalach late
fichead 's a h-aon twenty one
fichead 's a dhà twenty two
fichead 's a trì twenty three
fichead 's a ceithir twenty four
fichead 's a h-ochd twenty eight
cairteal an dèidh quarter past
tha mi coma I don't care
cairteal gu quarter to
bliadhna f year
bliadhnaichean f years
am-bliadhna this year
aois f age
dè an aois a tha how old is
mìos m (a) month

Weather 2 #14 · 2020-11-29 ^

Adjectives That Come Before the Noun

Remember when we told you that adjectives come after the noun? Well sit down friend, we need to have a talk…

Although the overwhelming majority of adjectives in Gaelic come after the noun, there are some that come before the noun too. The ones we come across always lenite the noun that follows if they can:

  • deagh - good

  • droch - bad

Here is a snapshot of them in action. Just look at them go:

  • deagh latha - a good day

  • droch latha - a bad day

  • deagh mhadainn - a good morning

  • droch mhadainn - a bad morning

  • deagh fheasgar - a good afternoon

  • droch fheasgar - a bad afternoon

a' fàs

This handy verbal noun can have two meanings. It can mean "grow" and also "become":

  • Tha a’ chraobh a’ fàs. - The tree is growing.

  • Tha i a' fàs fuar. - It is becoming cold.


The Highland midge is tiny, biting insect with a wingspan of about 2-3mm. They are absolutely vital to the ecology of the Highlands and Islands. That being said, I would happily fire each and every one of them into the surface of the sun if given the chance.

When discussing midges in the plural sense (they mostly hang out in swarms), we use a feminine noun that is plural in meaning, but singular in grammar.

  • Cha toil leam a’ mheanbh-chuileag. - I do not like the midges.

N.B. Something similar happens when describing children:

  • Cha toil leam a’ chlann. - I do not like the children.

turadh m (a) dry spell
gu dearbh indeed, certainly
tioram dry
gealach f (a) moon
deagh good
droch bad
soilleir bright, clear
clachan-meallain f hailstones, hail
reòite frozen
a' fàs growing, becoming
caran somewhat, a bit
dìle f (a) downpour, deluge, flood
a' cur putting
cuir put
sgrathail awful
suas up
sìos down
ciùin calm, still
latha m (a) day
àite m (a) place
miotagan f gloves, mittens
a' mheanbh-chuileag f midges
muir m sea
adhar m sky, air

Home 2 #7 · 2020-11-29 ^

Forms of "is"

Remember all those forms of bi we have been learning? In this skill, we meet forms of the verb is. Keep an eye out for a similar pattern here. All of the following examples are discussing the present tense.

'S e

Use this for positive statements:

  • 'S e cat a th' ann. - It is a cat.

  • 'S e cù a th' ann. - It is a dog.

Chan e

Use this for negative statements:

  • Chan e bàta a th' ann. - It is not a boat.

  • Chan e geama a th' ann. - It is not a game.

An e

Use this for questions:

  • An e taigh mòr a th' ann? - Is it a big house?

  • An e eun a th’ ann? An e plèana a th' ann? - Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

Nach e

Use this for questions that you probably know the answer to:

  • Nach e latha snog a th’ ann? - Isn't it a nice day?

  • Nach e taigh ùr a th' ann? - Isn't it a new house?

Think of this structure as a sandwich (ceapaire ). Each slice of bread is part of the verb meaning "to be". The noun is the delicious filling:

bread filling bread
's e taigh a th' ann
it is a house that it is

The apostrophe in a th’ ann represents the missing letter a. The a in tha is dropped before ann because, as we well know by this point, Gaelic vowels from other words hate each other.

  • a th’ ann = a tha ann

Fear / Tè

Think of these words as stand-ins or stunt doubles for other nouns.

Fear stands in for masculine nouns. stands in for feminine nouns.

Peann (meaning "pen") is a masculine noun:

  • Tha am peann briste, feumaidh mi fear eile. - The pen is broken, I need another one.

Sgian (meaning "knife") is a feminine noun:

  • Tha an sgian briste, feumaidh mi eile. - The knife is broken, I need another one.

Fhìn vs. Fhèin

Remember fhèin? It's something called a reflexive pronoun that we often use to emphasise whom or what we are talking about:

  • An toil leat fhèin Calum? - Do you yourself like Calum?

When talking in the first person (about yourself or ourselves), another form of the word "fhèin" is often used:

  • Is toil leam fhìn IRN BRU. - I myself like IRN BRU.

  • Cha toil leam fhìn Iain. - I do not like Iain myself.

  • Bha sinn fhìn sgìth. - We were tired ourselves.

Seo, Sin, Siud

Here we meet the final member of the trio of seo, sin, and siud.

  • Seo taigh dearg. - This is a red house.

  • Sin taigh dearg.* - That is a red house.

  • Siud taigh dearg. - Over there is a red house.

The key difference between them is distance to the speaker:

  • seo - very close, basically giving it a cuddle

  • sin - a little further away, out of cuddling distance

  • siud - further away, similar to 'over there', or the old fashioned 'yonder'

There is more legwork to be done with these three amigos, but this is a good introduction!

Magic elongating adjectives

Adjectives that have only one syllable become longer when attached to a plural noun:

  • taighean matha - good houses
  • taighean beaga - small houses
  • taighean mòra - big houses
  • taighean dearga - red houses
  • taighean ùra - new houses

Thoir dhomh

This is a first glimpse of a new prepositional pronoun. Gotta catch em’ all!

thoir - give (a command)


dhomh - to me


Thoir dhomh... - Give me...


  • Thoir dhomh an sgian, Iain! - Give me the knife, Iain!

trom heavy
aotrom light
forca f (a) fork
togalach m (a) building
seòmar m (a) room
uabhasach terrible
faigh get, find
peann m (a) pen
chan e is not
fhìn self (strengthener)
spàin f (a) spoon
làr m (a) floor, ground
an e is (question)
nach e isn't (interrogative question)
fada air falbh far away
tog lift, build
flùr m (a) flower
flùraichean m flowers
taighean m houses
fear m one (masc), a man
f one (fem), a woman
peansail m (a) pencil
rud m (a) thing
thoir dhomh give me
thoir give
dhomh to me
beò alive
marbh dead
siud over there, yonder

Work #7 · 2020-11-29 ^

CROFTING 9 TO 5 - Talking about work

We can use the verb is and its forms ('s e, chan e, an e, and nach e ) to talk about people's jobs in Gaelic, but we need to add some more prepositional pronouns to our growing collection to do so:

  • annam (ann + mi ) - in me

  • annad (ann + thu ) - in you

  • annaibh (ann + sibh ) - in you (formal / plural)

The literal meanings of these prepositional pronouns are not overly helpful here. Here is how they work in the field:

dotair = doctor

  • 'S e dotair a th’ annam.

  • 'S e dotair a th’ annad.

  • 'S e dotair a th’ annaibh.

N.B. These could also be written as Is e dotair a th’ annam etc.

Is toil le

We have used the preposition le in a variety of ways:

  • An toil leat biadh spìosrach? - Do you like spicy food.

  • Is fheàrr leam mions. - I prefer mince.

  • Tha mi a’ cluiche le ball. - I am playing with a ball.

We have so far used prepositional pronouns (great guys) to discuss likes and preferences, but we can also use le without a pronoun attached:

  • Is toil le Màiri guga. - Mairi likes salted gannet.

  • Cha toil le Iain daoine eile. - Iain doesn't like other people.


The word neach means "person" and is used in many job titles:

  • neach-ciùil - musician

  • neach-bùtha - a shop worker

  • neach-frithealaidh - a waiter / server

Crofting for dummies

Crofting is a traditional form of land tenure found in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. Often, small parcels of "better" are worked by individuals and families, while a larger area of poorer land is used commonly for grazing animals. A croft is a croit and a crofter is a croitear.

annam in me
nurs m (a) nurse
dotair m (a) doctor
tidsear m (a) teacher
glanadair m (a) cleaner
a' glanadh cleaning
poileas (a) police officer
a' teagasg teaching
annad in you (inf/sin)
banca m (a) bank
ollamh m (a) professor, lecturer
colaiste f (a) college
iasgair m (a) fisher
tuathanach m (a) farmer
dè an obair a th' agad what is your job (sin/inf)
dè an obair a th' agaibh what is your job (plu/for)
rùnaire m secretary
annaibh in you (for/plu)
sam bith any
a' seasamh standing
neach-ciùil m (a) musician
neach-bùtha m (a) shopkeeper
neach-frithealaidh m (a) waiter, server
an siud over there, yonder
croitear m (a) crofter
croit f (a) croft
a' sabaid fighting
sagart m (a) priest
ministear m (a) minister
neach-smàlaidh m (a) firefighter
feòladair m (a) butcher
ailtire m (an) architect
ge-tà though
còcaire m (a) cook, chef
saor m (a) joiner
clachair m (a) stonemason
comasach capable
dìcheallach hardworking, diligent
leisg lazy
ceist f question
fad an latha all day
a' còcaireachd cooking

Sayings #4 · 2022-07-18 ^

Is math sin

This is a common expression / exclamation meaning "that is good". It is often credited as being the source of the word "smashing". True or not, it's a good way to remember it!

Gaelic Similes

We use the following construction to make comparisons and form similes in Gaelic:

Cho (as) + adjective + ri (with) + noun

  • Cho mòr ri taigh. - As big as a house.

As happy as a shoe

Some Gaelic expressions can seem a little unusual at first glance. This next one is common and an absolute gem:

  • Cho sona ri bròig. - As happy as a shoe.

Nobody knows what made the shoe so happy, and it certainly isn't telling anybody anytime soon.

Hawk-eyed learners among you may notice that the word bròg has been slenderised to bròig. We do not go into the grammar as to why this happens here (didn't want to rush it), but the change is caused by an aspect Gaelic's dative case.

B’ àill leibh

This term means "pardon". Use this for when you haven't understood what has been said. Although leibh is normally used as a polite form, here it is part of a set usage. You would use b’ àill leibh even with a child.

N.B. We have spelled b’ aill leibh without an accent in the course. As mistakes go, it is not the worst. The word, although spelled with an accent, is pronounced with a short vowel sound in modern Gaelic. We will correct this in iteration 2 of the course.

The Scottish Wildcat

The Scottish Wildcat - cat-fiadhaich - is Britain's last native wild feline. Once found across the entirety of these islands, this critically endangered animal is now found only in the North and East of Scotland.

Adjectives that precede the noun

Most adjectives follow the noun in Gaelic, but as we have seen a select few (the chosen ones) come before.

Remember deagh and droch?

  • latha math - a good day


  • deagh latha - a good day


  • latha dona - a bad day


  • droch latha - a bad day

Out with the old, in with a different form of the old

In this skill we are introduced to a new form of an old friend:

sean = old

Sean comes after the noun:

  • cat sean - an old cat

  • cù sean - an old dog

  • Tha mi sean. - I am old.

Seann comes before the noun and always causes lenition when possible:

  • seann chat - an old cat

  • seann chù - an old dog

We have to use sean when making a simple descriptive statement:

  • seann charaid - an old friend


  • Tha an caraid agam sean.

The words seanair (grandfather) and seanmhair (grandmother) are partly made up the word sean:

seanair = sean + athair

seanmhair = sean + màthair

Meal do naidheachd, tha thu deiseil! Seo IRN BRU agus uisge-beatha!

This was the original end point of the course. You should be proud! Have a 5 minute (max) break and then crack on!

làn full
falamh empty
cat-fiadhaich m (a) wildcat
seas stand
suidh sit
uabhasach terrible
b' àill leibh pardon, I didn't hear
is math sin that is good, smashing
cathair f (a) chair
leisgeadair m (a) layabout, lazy person
fiadh m (a) deer
stiall ort on you go (inf/sin)
fileanta fluent
foighidneach patient
sgarbh m (a) cormorant
ròn m (a) seal
bodach m (an) old man
cailleach f (an) old woman
cruaidh hard
bàrd m (a) poet
sona happy
coltach similar, alike
rudeigin m something
beinn f (a) mountain
cuideigin f someone, somebody
bog soft
iarann m iron (metal)
lofa m (a) loaf
sionnach m (a) fox
seann old
iongantach amazing
mil f honey
ball iomain (a) shinty ball
geàrr m (a) hare
sealcheag f (a) snail/slug
sealcheig f (a) snail/slug (dative)
seòlta cunning

Languages #2 · 2020-12-22 ^

Just Tell Me What To Do

This skill teaches us how to boss people around using the command form of the verb.

In Gaelic, we give commands using the root or basic form of the verb (the vanilla version):

  • Ionnsaich Gàidhlig! - Learn Gaelic!

  • Bruidhinn Gàidhlig! - Speak Gaelic!

  • Èist ri Runrig! - Listen to Runrig!

Plural/Polite commands

Believe it or not, it is possible to give commands politely. You use these forms for someone older or more senior and for a group of any size:

  • Ionnsaichibh Gàidhlig, a chàirdean! - Learn Gaelic, friends!

  • Bruidhnibh Gàidhlig, a chàirdean! - Speak Gaelic, friends!

  • Gabhaibh mo leisgeul, a chàirdean! - Excuse me, friends!

To make the command polite, you add:

  • -ibh when the last vowel is an e or an i. These are known as slender vowels.

  • -aibh when the last vowel is an a, o, or u. These are known as broad vowels.

Some words, such as "bruidhinn", undergo a more noticeable change. They become squished:

  • bruidhinn > bruidhnibh

You will learn to spot these with practice.

Prepositional pronouns with "ri"

Ri is a handy preposition that can mean "with" or "to".

We encounter some prepositional pronouns with ri in this skill:

Prepositional Pronoun English Translation
ri with / to
rium with / to me
riut with / to you (singular)
ris with / to him
rithe with / to her
rinn with / to us
ribh with / to you (plural / formal)
riutha with / to them

For example:

  • Èist rium. - Speak to me.

  • Bruidhinn rithe. - Speak to her.

Dae ye ken Scots an aw?

Scotland has multiple languages. Gaelic is the Celtic one spoken by you and various other cool people. Scots (A' Bheurla Ghallda ) is a Germanic language closely related to English. Both Gaelic and Scots are known to increase your charm, charisma, and ability to look wistful in a glen.

deònach willing
bruidhinn talk, speak
Ceap Breatainn Cape Breton (island)
Fraingis f French (language)
rium with me, to me
èist listen
bruidhnibh talk, speak (plu/for)
Gàidhlig na h-Èireann f Irish (language)
Gearmailtis f German (language)
cànan m (a) language
riut with you, to you (sin/inf)
ribh with you, to you (plu/for)
èistibh listen (plu/for)
ionnsaich learn
a' Bheurla Ghallda f Scots (language)
ris with him, with it (masc)
Cuimris f Welsh (language)
Còrnais f Cornish (language)
Cànan Soidhnidh Bhreatainn British Sign Language (BSL)
Cànan Soidhnidh Aimearaga American Sign Language (ASL)
ionnsaichibh learn (plu/for)
rithe with her, with it (fem)
càirdeach related
Spàinntis f Spanish (language)
Ceilteach Celtic
Gàidhlig Mhanainn f Manx (language)

The Sea #2 · 2020-12-13 ^

Fliuch, Fliuch, Fliuch

This skill focuses on building vocab for your many nautical adventures.


St. Kilda is a now deserted archipelago, 62 miles west of the Isle of Harris. The last inhabitants (all Gaelic speakers) voted to leave in 1930, after their way of life became unsustainable. This ended at least 4000 years of community on the islands. St. Kilda is now a Dual Unesco World Heritage Site. It is proud home to a (frankly excessive) number of seabirds.

What's a Mallaig?

Mallaig (Malaig ) is a state of mind / fishing town in the west coast Highlands. It is where the famous Jacobite Steam Train stops to allow tourists to have their lunch stolen by seagulls.


Raasay is an island off the coast of Skye and famously home to one of Scotland's finest poets, Sorley MacLean (Somhairle MacGill-Eain ).


"What's that?"

"I don't know, but it has eight legs."

"Let's call it that then."

And that is how the octopus got its name in Gaelic.

seòladair m (a) sailor
muc-mhara f (a) whale
Hiort St. Kilda
fodha under (it/him)
sgileil skilfull
air bòrd onboard
sgiobair m (a) skipper, captain
taigh-solais m (a) lighthouse
cuan m (an) ocean
leumadair m (a) dolphin
leumadairean m dolphins
tonn m (a) wave
tonnan m waves
farsaing wide
a' sgreuchail screaming, screeching
Bhatarsaigh Vatersay
faoileagan f seagulls
cearban m (a) shark, basking shark
spùinneadair-mara m (a) pirate
Malaig Mallaig
tìr m land
Ratharsair Raasay
feamainn f seaweed
ochd-chasach m (an) octopus
pitheid f (a) parrot

Hobbies 2 #7 · 2020-12-13 ^

You talking to me?

Much like in the Languages skill, this skill helps you boss people around.

In Gaelic, we give commands using the root or basic form of the verb (the vanilla version):

  • Ruith! - Run!

  • Coisich! - Walk!

  • Cluich ball-coise! - Play football!

  • Seinn! - Sing!

Plural/Polite Commands

If you want to boss people around politely or tell a group of people what to do, you use the forms below:

  • Ruithibh! - Run!

  • Coisichibh! - Walk!

  • Cluichibh ball-coise! - Play football!

  • Seinnibh! - Sing!

To make the command polite, you add:

  • -ibh when the last vowel is an e or an i. These are known as slender vowels.

  • -aibh when the last vowel is an a, o, or u. These are known as broad vowels.

To increase politeness further, reduce shouting / brawling to a sensible minimum.

ruith run
sgioba m (a) team
a' fighe knitting
sgioblaich tidy
coisich walk
taigh-dhealbh m cinema
cluich play
air falbh away
còmhlan-ciùil m (a) band
còisir f (a) choir
seinn sing
ruithibh run (plu/for)
cluichibh play (plu/for)
tàileasg m chess
geama-bùird m (a) board game
coisichibh walk (plu/for)
pàipear-naidheachd m (a) newspaper
nobhail f (a) novel
leugh read
leughaibh read (plu/for)
seinnibh sing (plu/for)
pròiseil proud

School #8 · 2020-12-28 ^

The actual past tense

We have got some serious mileage out of the word bha up until now. This skill takes the first brave steps towards using the simple past tense in Gaelic:

  • Bha mi a' sgrìobhadh leabhar. - I was writing a book.

  • Sgrìobh mi leabhar. - I wrote a book.

  • Bha mi a' leughadh leabhar. - I was reading a book.

  • Leugh mi leabhar. - I read a book.

Negative past tense

To make a past tense statement negative, we add cha do before the verb:

  • Sgrìobh mi litir. - I wrote a letter.

  • Cha do sgrìobh mi litir. - I did not write a letter.

  • Leugh mi leabhar. - I read a book.

  • Cha do leugh mi leabhar. - I did not read a book.

None of these examples involve written lenition, but it's coming. Steel yourselves. It's easy enough.

Command or past tense?

Sometimes the command and past tense forms look the same, but you can tell which one is which by the presence of a noun or pronoun (mi, thu, e, etc.):

  • Leugh mi leabhar. - I read a book.

  • Leugh leabhar! - Read a book!

  • Sgrìobh thu litir. - You wrote a letter.

  • Sgrìobh litir! - Write a letter!

N.B. Exclamation marks are optional and indicate shouting.

Gaelic Medium Education

Gaelic Medium Education (Foghlam tro Mheadhan na Gàidhlig ) is available in around 60 schools in Scotland, spread across the Highlands, Islands, and Lowlands. According to Education Scotland, "Gaelic Medium Education is recognised for successful and high-quality achievement in which young people gain all the benefits of bilingualism." Sgoinneil!

sgrìobh write, wrote
cha do sgrìobh didn't write
leugh read
cha do leugh didn't read
bi be
na don't
foghlam m education
sgeulachd f (a) story
aiste f (an) essay
faiceallach careful
a' cuideachadh helping
matamataig m mathematics
leasan m (a) lesson
sgoilear m (a) pupil
obair-dachaigh f homework
bòrd-geal m (a) whiteboard
bòrd-dubh m (a) blackboard
pàipear m paper
bun-sgoil f (a) primary school
àrd-sgoil f (a) high school
seòmar-teagaisg m (a) classroom
cleachd use
a' cleachdadh using
tidsearan m teachers
glaodh m glue

Arts #8 · 2020-12-29 ^


Another couple of prepositional pronouns with ann to add to the collection. These are part of the same set as annam, annad, and annaibh:

  • 'S e dannsair a th' ann. - He is a dancer.

  • 'S e seinneadair a th' innte. - She is a singer.

Peat and Diesel

Stornoway-based supergroup. They sing songs about dangerous van driving, herring, and wet feet, and make frequent use of Gaelic.

Make your own day - look them up.

Accents are important


  • a genre or style of literature
  • a play for theatre, radio, television, or film
  • specific mode of fiction represented in performance: a play, opera, mime, ballet, etc.


  • a small drink of strong booze

peant m paint
a' peantadh painting
bruis f (a) brush
air leth exceptional
dealbhadair m (an) artist
dath m (a) color
sgrìobhadair m (a) writer
ùghdar m (an) author
fad na tìde all the time
tìde f time
cleasaiche m (an) actor
rùisgte naked
àrd-ùrlar m (a) stage, platform
talla-cluiche m (a) theatre
dealbh-chluich f (a) play
pinnt m (a) pint
a' rànaich crying
ann in him, in it (masc)
innte in her, in it (fem)
tric often
dràma m drama
talla m (a) hall
seinneadair m (a) singer
a' gàireachdainn laughing
mòine f peat
dìosal m diesel
cruthachail creative
sgrìobhadh m writing
dannsair m (a) dancer
eagalach scary

Compare #4 · 2021-01-13 ^

Go Compare

In this skill, we learn to use adjectives to make comparisons. All the comparative adjectives we come across here follow a pattern. We will help you wrestle the irregular ones into submission later on.

Here is the pattern:

STEP 1 Add nas (meaning "more") before the adjective.

STEP 2 Slenderise (add an i after the last vowel).

STEP 3 Elongate (tack an e on at the end).

The simplest way to learn this pattern is to see it in action:


  • Tha Màiri brònach. - Mairi is sad.

  • Tha Màiri nas brònaiche. - Mairi is sadder.


  • Tha Iain gòrach. - Iain is stupid.

  • Tha Iain nas gòraiche. - Iain is stupider.


  • Tha d' athair slaodach. - Your father is slow.

  • Tha d' athair nas slaodaiche. - Your father is slower.

These are key phrases.

There are some variations to get used to here, but this is the basic pattern. Words that begin with an f followed by a vowel work slightly differently:


  • Tha i fuar an-diugh. - It is cold today.

  • Tha i nas fhuaire an-diugh. - It is colder today.

Vowel changes

Sometimes in order to slenderise, there has to be a bigger vowel change:


  • Tha mo sheanair trom. - My grandfather is heavy.

  • Tha mo sheanair nas truime. - My grandfather is heavier.

Trom can also mean "pregnant", but this is unlikely in the context above.

nas more, most
òige younger, youngest
sine older, oldest
brònaiche sadder, saddest
Peadar m Peter
na than
luaithe faster, fastest
blàithe warmer, warmest
slaodaiche slower, slowest
fhuaire colder, coldest
aotruime lighter, lightest
truime heavier, heaviest
riutha with them, to them
draibh drive
draibheadh m driving
rinn with us, to us
glice cleverer, cleverest
ruith f running
mar-thà already
gòraiche stupider, stupidest
coiseachd f walking

Work 2 #4 · 2021-01-19 ^


In this skill, we learn how to describe the work lives of a group of people:

  • 'S e seòlaidairean a th' annainn. – We are sailors.

  • 'S e amadain a th' annta. – They are idiots.

luchd - the plural of neach

Luchd is the plural form of the word neach:

  • neach-smàlaidh - a firefighter

  • luchd-smàlaidh - firefighters

Although luchd has a plural meaning, it is actually treated as a singular word in grammatical terms.

For example, "the firefighters" would be "an luchd-smàlaidh", and not "na luchd-smàlaidh", as you might expect.

You probably wouldn't raise too many bushy Hebridean eyebrows if you did use the plural article here though.


Remember bi?

Bi sàmhach! - Be quiet!

(...sorry, that was harsh.)

If you are addressing a group of people, or a person who is older than you or that you want to show respect to, we use bithibh:

  • Bithibh modhail, a sheanair! - Behave, grandfather!

  • Bithibh faiceallach, a sheanair! - Be careful, grandfather.

  • Bithibh toilichte, tha sibh ag ionnsachadh Gàidhlig. - Be happy, you are learning Gaelic.

fiaclair m (a) dentist
fiaclairean m dentists
saighdear m (a) soldier
saighdearan m soldiers
iasgairean m fishermen, fisherpersons
annainn in us
bheat m (a) vet
bheataichean m vets
oileanach m (a) student
oileanaich m students
annta in them
gasta splendid, superb
bithibh be (for/plu)
luchd-smàlaidh m firefighters, firemen
neach-lagha m (a) lawyer
luchd-lagha m lawyers
neach-saidheans m (a) scientist
luchd-saidheans m scientists
amadan m (an) idiot (male)
òinseach f (an) idiot (female)
breugach dishonest

Shop #2 · 2021-01-18 ^

The simple past tense - lenited

Depending on what skill you chose to do first, you may have already encountered this in Forest.

We have already stumbled across the simple past tense (waaaaaay back in School, remember?):

  • Leugh e leabhar. - He read a book.
  • Sgrìobh i litir. - She wrote a letter.

To form the simple past tense of a verb that takes an h when leniting, you take the command form of the verb (the root):

  • Ceannaich cearc! - Buy a chicken!
  • Goid cearc! - Steal a chicken!
  • Cuir a' chearc air falbh! - Put the chicken away!

...and lenite it:

  • Cheannaich mi cearc. - I bought a chicken.
  • Ghoid mi cearc eile. - I stole another chicken.
  • Chuir mi cearc anns an drathair. - I put a chicken in the drawer.

How much?

To ask how much something costs, you can use the phrase dè na tha:

  • Dè na tha e? - How much is it?
  • Dè na tha seo? - How much is this?
  • Dè na tha sin? - How much is that?
  • Dè na tha a' chearc àlainn? - How much is the lovely chicken?

You can also ask how much something was by swapping trusty tha for dependable and steadfast bha:

  • Dè na bha e? - How much was it?
  • Dè na bha a' chearc àlainn? - How much was the lovely chicken?

cheannaich bought
cha do cheannaich didn't buy
chuir put
cha do chuir didn't put
loidhne f (a) line
notaichean m pounds
sgeilp f (a) shelf
giotàr m (a) guitar
bùth m/f (a) shop
reic sold, sell
cha do reic didn't sell
a' reic selling
sgillinnean pence (plu)
croit f (a) croft
bàta-luath m (a) speedboat
beartach rich, wealthy
teanta m (a) tent
ghoid stole
cha do ghoid didn't steal
cha do bhruidhinn didn't talk, didn't speak
sporan f (a) purse, wallet, sporran
sgioblaich tidied, tidy
cha do sgioblaich didn't tidy
dè na tha e how much is it
lorg find, found
cha do lorg didn't find
a' lorg finding, looking for
bruis-fhiaclan f (a) toothbrush
fòn m (a) telephone, phone
neach-reic m (a) salesperson
an-asgaidh free, no cost

Forest #3 · 2021-01-14 ^

Scottish wildlife

Please find below a thoroughly researched overview of Scotland's precious wildlife:

Taghan (Pine marten ) - Squirrel munchin', tree climbin' superweasel.

Capall-coille (Capercaillie ) - The name means "forest horse". It is a bird. They are extremely striking. 100% worth a Google.

Fiadh (Deer ) - Ten a penny. Loads of them.

Feòrag ruadh (Red squirrel ) - Imagine a grey squirrel, but red. Very cute.

The Caledonian Forest - A' Choille Chailleannach

The remains of a vast, ancient pine forest that once covered most of Scotland. Tree central.

The simple past tense - lenited

Depending on what skill you chose to do first, you may have already encountered this in Shop.

We have already stumbled across the simple past tense (waaaaaay back in School, remember?):

  • Leugh e leabhar. - He read a book.
  • Sgrìobh i litir. - She wrote a letter.

To form the simple past tense of a verb that takes an h when leniting, you take the command form of the verb (the root):

  • Sreap craobh! - Climb a tree!
  • Na tuit! - Don't fall!

...and lenite it:

  • Shreap mi craobh. - I climbed a tree.
  • Thuit mi. - I fell.

More comparisons

This skill introduces us to some new adjectives for making comparisons.

Some follow the pattern we came across in Compare - make them slender, make them longer:

  • caol > nas caoile - thin > thinner
  • àrd > nas àirde - tall > taller
  • fliuch > nas fliche - wet > wetter

Some are similar, but do not slenderise:

  • gorm > nas gorma - blue > bluer / green > greener

Some become squished:

  • reamhar > nas reamhra - fat > fatter
  • bòidheach > nas bòidhche - beautiful > more beautiful

Plural adjectives and the Squirrel Community

Scotland has two types of squirrels: red squirrels (the goodies); and grey squirrels (the baddies).

Both squirrels are equally good at reminding us that one-syllable adjectives become longer after a plural noun:

  • feòragan liatha - grey squirrels
  • feòragan ruadha - red squirrels

fiadh m (a) deer
fèidh m deer (plu)
sreap climb
beathach m (an) animal
beathaichean m animals
fiadhaich wild
damh m (a) stag
daimh m stags
madadh-allaidh m (a) wolf
madaidhean-allaidh m wolves
a' tuiteam falling
thuit fell
taghan m (a) pine marten
calman m (a) pigeon, dove
a' sealg hunting
shreap climbed
toll m (a) hole
campadh m camping
a' campadh camping
a' cladhach digging
àirde taller, higher, tallest, highest
bòidhche more/most beautiful
reamhra fatter, fattest
caoile thinner, thinnest
cumanta common
bailtean m towns
Cailleannach Caledonian
a' Choille Chailleannach f the Caledonian Forest
fliche wetter, wettest
lus m (a) plant
lusan m plants
capall-coille m (a) capercaillie
seunta magic, magical

Food 4 #6 · 2021-01-15 ^

The simple past tense - vowels

When forming the simple past tense of a verb that starts with a vowel, you take the command form (or root) and add dh' at the start:

  • Ith an t-aran! - Eat the bread!
  • Dh'ith mi an t-aran. - I ate the bread.

Past tense questions

To ask a question in the past tense, we have to add an do before the verb:

  • An do dh'ith thu a' chèic? - Did you eat the cake?

A very Scottish menu

We come across some traditional Scottish sources of fat and happiness in this skill:

marag-gheal (white pudding ) - A pudding sausage made of fat, love, and oats. Unlike marag-dhubh (black pudding ), it contains no blood.

aran-coirce (oatcakes ) - Portable pocket porridge. Like everything else, it's good with butter and cheese.

brot Albannach (Scotch broth ) - A filling soup. Great for surviving the winter.

paidh Albannach (Scotch pie ) - A delicious, no-questions-asked type of pie. It probably has mutton in it. Just leave it at that.

dh'ith ate
cha do dh'ith didn't eat
an do dh'ith did eat?
càl m (a) cabbage
pronn mashed, mash
peur m (a) pear
aran-coirce m oatcake(s)
ròsta roast
àmhainn f (an) oven
piotsa m (a) pizza
staoig f (a) steak
bruich cooked
amh raw, uncooked
fìor true
is fìor thoil leam I really like
grod rotten
dèan do, make
roile m (a) roll
brot albannach scotch broth
marag-gheal f white pudding
paidh albannach m (a) scotch pie
ghabh had, took
loisgte burnt
adag f (a) haddock
ithibh eat (pol/plu)
air fad all
smocte smoked

Sport 2 #6 · 2021-01-15 ^

The simple past tense - crushing it

This skill is chock full of past tense verbs - to allow you to hone your skills and conquer the Gaelic:

  • Breab ball! - Kick a ball!
  • Bhreab mi ball. - I kicked a ball.

  • Cluich iomain! - Play shinty!

  • Chluich mi iomain. - I played shinty.

  • Tilg am ball! - Throw the ball!

  • Thilg mi am ball. - I threw the ball.

  • Snàmh anns an abhainn! - Swim in the river!

  • Shnàmh mi anns an abhainn. - I swam in the river.

Geamannan Gàidhealach / Highland Games

A series of athletic and cultural events, generally taking place in a field. Highland games are popular both in Scotland and overseas, with some of the biggest games taking place in North America.

The most recognisable of the events is "tossing the caber", which involves launching a tree into the air, for the craic and the glory.

The modern games are largely a Victorian invention, although reportedly Queen Victoria herself was absolutely useless in most competitions.

Croladh / Curling

A sport Scotland is actually good at. You scoot rocks across some ice. One of very few sports that heavily involves the use of brooms, along with quidditch.

glac catch
teanas-bùird m table tennis
rèitire m (a) referee
chluich played
cluicheadair (a) player
a' breabadh kicking
shnàmh swam
ghlac caught
bhreab kicked
leum jumped, jump
a' glacadh catching
surfadh-gaoithe windsurfing
a' tilgeil throwing
thilg threw
a' marcachd horseriding
co-fharpais f (a) competition
cudromach important
breab kick
croladh m curling
chaill lost
bhuannaich won
a' buannachadh winning
a' call losing
a' cur car dhen chabar tossing the caber
geamannan Gàidhealach Highland games
caman m (a) shinty stick

Drink #2 · 2021-02-23 ^

I am drunk

Just leaving this here, on the off chance it is needed...

Tha an deoch orm. - I am drunk.

(literally - The drink is on me. )

Tha an deoch air Iain. - Iain is drunk.

(literally - The drink is on Iain. )

The simple past tense - vowels

When forming the simple past tense of a verb that starts with a vowel, you take the command form (or root) and add dh' at the start:

  • Ith uinnean, Iain! - Eat an onion, Iain!
  • Dh'ith Iain uinnean. - Iain ate an onion.
  • Òl e! - Drink it!
  • Dh'òl mi bainne blàth. - I drank warm milk.

The simple past tense - f + a vowel

When a verb begins with an f followed by a vowel, we add dh' at the start and lenite the verb:

  • Fàg e! - Leave it!
  • Dh'fhàg mi e. - I left it.
  • Fosgail an doras! - Open the door!
  • Dh'fhosgail mi an doras. - I opened the door.

nach do

Remember nach eil and its close friend and confidant, nach robh?

We can form an interrogative question in the past tense by firing nach do at the start:

  • Nach do dh'òl thu tì? - Didn't you drink tea?
  • Nach do dh'fhosgail thu e? - Didn't you open it?

leis / leatha

Some more handy prepositional pronouns here:

  • Is toil leis fìon. - He likes wine.
  • Is toil leatha leann. - She likes beer.

What do you like?

Picture the scene. You and your new Gaelic speaking pals are in the pub in Eriskay. You want to buy them a round:

  • Dè as toil leat? - What do you like?
  • Dè as toil leis? - What does he like?
  • Dè as toil leatha? - What does she like?

What's the craic?

The craic (with its various spellings) is a difficult-to-pin-down concept. Most often associated with Ireland, the term craic is very familiar in Gaelic Scotland.

If you have had good craic (deagh chraic ), it generally means you have experienced anything from a good laugh with friends, to chaotic levels of debauchery.

liomaid f (a) lemon
a' fosgladh opening
a Mhìcheil Michael (voc)
a Pheadair Peter (voc)
dh'òl drank
bhodca m (a) vodka
taigh-staile m (a) distillery
branndaidh f (a) brandy
dh'fhosgail opened
mar like
daor expensive
dè as toil leat what do you like
nach do dh'òl didn't drink?
glainne f (a) glass
leis with w) dram
dh'fhàg left
tha an deoch orm I am drunk
leatha with her, with it (fem)
Peigi f Peggy (female name)
leth-phinnt m (a) half pint
fàg leave
craic m craic (fun, a good laugh)
deoch-làidir f alcohol
sineubhar m (a) gin
ceann-daoraich m (a) hangover
a' fàgail leaving
srùbag f (a) cup of tea, small drink, cuppa
leann-ubhail m (a) cider
briosgaid f (a) biscuit
òl drink (command)

Numbers 3 #2 · 2022-04-19 ^

Numbers to 100 - the decimal system

Gaelic has two counting systems; one based on tens, and one based on twenties. These are generally thought of as the "modern" and "traditional" ways of counting, although both are actually very old.

We come across the decimal (10s) system first, although we hope to get to the vigesimal (20s) system eventually. It pays to know both. A native speaker from the Isles is more likely to use the vigesimal system, while it is the decimal system that is usually taught in schools.

If you know your numbers up to ten (in Gaelic ideally), then this should be fairly straightforward:

Gaelic Numeral
deich 10
fichead 20
trithead 30
ceathrad 40
caogad 50
seasgad 60
seachdad 70
ochdad 80
naochad 90
ceud 100

N.B. We use the singular form of a noun after fichead, trithead, ceathrad etc.:

  • Ceathrad paidh. Sgoinneil! - Forty pies. Brilliant!

...but not after deich:

  • Deich paidhean. Glè mhath! - Ten pies. Very good!

Double N.B. Despite what we literally just said, a small handful of nouns use the singular form of the noun for numbers 3-10 as well. One of these is sgillinn ("a penny"), which we meet in this skill.

We can make any number up to 100 using the patterns we have already learned:

Gaelic Numeral
fichead 's a h-aon 21
ceathrad 's a trì 43
caogad 's a naoi 59
seachdad 's a còig 75
naochad 's a h-ochd 98

How many do you have?

To ask how many of something someone has, we use the following:

  • Cia mheud bràthair a th' agad? - How many brothers do you have?
  • Cia mheud caora a th' aice? - How many sheep does she have?

Th' is a shortened form of tha. Remember that we use the singular form of nouns after cia mheud.

Ceud taing / Mìle taing

These are lovely ways of thanking people:

  • ceud taing - a hundred thanks
  • mìle taing - a thousand thanks

This is generally a stronger thanks than tapadh leat / tapadh leibh.

N.B. We use the singular form of a noun after ceud.

Ordinal numbers - dipping our toes

Here, we come across the first three ordinal numbers (for ordering things).

The first one causes lenition if it can:

  • A' chiad chàr. - The first car.
  • A' chiad fhear. - The first one.

...but the next two do not:

  • An dàrna càr. - The second car.
  • An dàrna fear. - The second one.
  • An treasamh càr. - The third car.
  • An treasamh fear. - The third one.

Treasamh is sometimes shortened to treas:

  • An treas balach. - The third boy.

We will encounter more of these as we delve deeper into the Gaelic jungle.

trithead thirty
ceathrad forty
caogad fifty
seasgad sixty
seachdad seventy
ochdad eighty
naochad ninety
ceud (a) hundred
mìle (a) thousand
millean (a) million
àireamh f (a) number
àireamhair m (a) calculator
cunnt count
chunnt counted
a' cunntadh counted
ceud taing a hundred thanks
mìle taing (a)thousand thanks
cùm keep
chùm* kept
dùin close
ciad first
dàrna second
treasamh third
Tòmas Thomas

Dòtaman #5 · 2020-12-13 ^

Donnie Dòtaman

Hat connoisseur, Gaelic cult icon, joiner, thespian.

Donnie Dòtaman is many things to many people. Made famous by being amazing (and also by appearing on a popular Gaelic TV programme), Dòtaman has delighted and confused countless children over the years.

Donnie also starred in the TV series "DIY le Donnie", where he went to Uist, built a chicken coop, and had a lovely time.

Irregular comparisons

When we make a comparative, the adjective usually undergoes a change that we can predict:

  • brònach > nas brònaiche - sad > sadder

Sometimes though, the comparative form goes a little 'off-piste':

  • mòr > nas mòtha - big > bigger
  • beag > nas lugha - small > smaller

Regular practice will help you internalise these. Thankfully, many of the irregular ones are common, so you won't be short of practice.

shuas / shìos

We have already come across suas and sìos:

  • Tha mi a' dol sìos an rathad. - I am going down the road.
  • Tha mi a' dol suas an staidhre. - I am going upstairs.

Shuas and shìos describe where you already are, rather than where you are going:

  • Tha mi shuas an staidhre. - I am upstairs.
  • Bha mi shìos ann an Glaschu. - I was down in Glasgow.

Of course, if you plan on using your Gaelic exclusively in Uist, then you can completely disregard this entire section.

chan fheum / am feum

Chan fheum is the negative form of feumaidh:

  • Chan fheum Dòtaman òrd. - Dotaman doesn't need a hammer.
  • Chan fheum Iain caraidean. - Iain doesn't need friends.

Am feum is the questioning form:

  • Am feum thu an t-òrd? - Do you need the hammer?

Towns #6 · 2020-12-13 ^

What is the dative case?

Trust us. This is going to be really useful.

Gaelic has four distinct grammatical cases. We have come across aspects of all four of them up until now, but only covered two in real detail:

The NOMINATIVE case (the basic form):

  • Tha Calum snog. - Calum is nice.
  • Tha seanmhair a' cluiche rugbaidh. - A grandmother is playing rugby.

The VOCATIVE case, which we use to address people (and even objects, should the need ever arise):

  • Madainn mhath, a Chaluim. - Good morning, Calum.
  • A bheil sibh ceart gu leòr, a sheanmhair? - Are you ok, grandmother?

In this unit, we tackle aspects of the DATIVE case, which is also sometimes known as the prepositional case.

Haven't we seen this before?

Yes! We have used lots of prepositions, but mostly with words that do not have an article in front of them. Prepositions are highlighted below:

  • Ann am baile. - In a town.
  • Aig banca. - At a bank.
  • Còmhla ri caraid. - With a friend.
  • Air bòrd. - On a table.

Why are you telling me all this again?

When a definite noun follows a preposition, Gaelic's dative case begins to work its magic:

Lenitable consonants

am banca - the bank

  • Aig a' bhanca. - At the bank.
  • Anns a' bhanca. - In the bank.

an gàrradh - the garden

  • Anns a' ghàrradh. - In the garden.

am mapa - the map

  • Air a' mhapa. - On the map.

Reminder - We use anns rather than ann am / ann an when a definite article comes before the noun.

SG, SM, SP, ST, D, L, N, R, T

These guys don't like taking lenition here:

an taigh - the house

  • Anns an taigh. - In the house.

an doras - the door

  • Aig an doras. - At the door.

This looks a lot like the feminine article patterns we learned?

It does! That is a handy rough way to remember the pattern here. These rules are very similar to those we learned in Animals, only this time they apply to both masculine and feminine nouns:

a' cholaiste - the college

  • Aig a' cholaiste. - At the college.

an sgoil - the sgoil

  • Aig an sgoil. - At the school.

S followed by other letters

an saoghal - the world

  • Anns an t-saoghal. - In the world.

(Saoghal is a masculine noun. )

an t-sràid - the street

  • Air an t-sràid. - On the street.

(Unlike saoghal, sràid is a feminine noun, and so it is already preceded by a t- in the nominative case. )

Place names

These rules apply for place names that have a definite article:

An Gearasdan - Fort William

  • Anns a' Ghearasdan. - In Fort William.

Am Ploc - Plockton

  • Anns a' Phloc. - In Plockton.

The rules of the dative case may seem complex at first, but you have essentially covered them already when you learned the definite article of feminine nouns. This opens up a huge number of doors for us in terms of what we can say!

News #2 · 2020-12-13 ^

How are you?

We come across some new ways to ask people how they are in this skill:

Dè do naidheachd?

  • Dè do naidheachd? - What's your news? (informal singular)
  • Dè ur naidheachd, a sheanair? - What's your news, grandfather? (polite singular)
  • Dè ur naidheachd, a chàirdean? - What's your news, friends? (plural)

And in response:

  • Dìreach an àbhaist. - Just the usual.
  • Chan eil càil as ùr. - Nothing new.

Dè do chor?

  • Dè do chor? - How's your form? (informal singular)
  • Dè ur cor, a sheanair? - How's your form, grandfather? (polite singular)
  • Dè ur cor, a chàirdean? - How's your form, friends? (plural)

A good response would be:

  • Cor math. - Good form.

It is difficult to translate this phrase directly into English, but it is generally a nice, friendly way to ask how someone is.


Abair is actually a verb in Gaelic that means "say". Most speakers tend to use the verb can for this nowadays:

  • Can sin a-rithist. - Say that again.

Abair is still commonly used as part of an exclamation and to add emphasis:

  • Abair deagh naidheachd! - What good news!
  • Abair amadan! - What an idiot!

leinn / leotha

Some new prepositional pronouns with le to add to our collection:

  • Cha toil leinn Iain. - We don't like Iain.
  • Is toil leotha Iain. Tha iad neònach. - They like Iain. They are strange.

So that's the last of those. And you know what that means... time for a table!

Prepositional Pronoun English Translation
le with / by
leam with / by me
leat with / by you (informal sing.)
leis with / by him
leatha with / by her
leinn with / by us
leibh with / by you (polite sing. / plural)
leotha with / by them

Islands #18 · 2021-02-08 ^

The dative case with vowels

Time for round two with the dative case. Kick its tòn.

Masculine and feminine nouns follow the same pattern here. If t- appears before the word, it disappears:

an t-eilean - the island

  • anns an eilean - in the island

an oifis - the office

  • anns an oifis - in the office

an uinneag - the window

  • air an uinneag - on the window

N.B. Strictly speaking, feminine nouns should be slenderised (an extra i added) in the dative case. This has largely fallen out of use in spoken Gaelic, but is often seen in more formal writing.

After an all night debate, three bottles of whisky, and a brief but intense wrestling match, the team decided on the more colloquial form.

There are some set usages where the feminine noun does slenderise though, and we will point these out as we go.

The same rules apply for place names beginning with vowels:

An t-Òban - Oban (meaning "the little bay")

  • Anns an Òban. - In Oban.

An t-Eilean Sgitheanach - The Isle of Skye (meaning "the winged isle")

  • Anns an Eilean Sgitheanach. - In the Isle of Skye.

The dative case with f

Much like the Spice Girls (na Caileagan Spìosrach ), two become one in the dative case. Masculine and feminine nouns both follow the same pattern. The definite article becomes an, and we lenite:

am fraoch - the heather

  • Tha Iain anns an fhraoch. - Iain is in the heather.

an fhèis - the festival

  • Bha Màiri a' sabaid aig an fhèis. - Màiri was fighting at the festival.


Remember siud? It means something is a good bit of distance from you:

  • Seo an càr. - This is the car.

  • Sin an càr. - That is the car.

  • Siud an càr. - Over there is the car.

Ud is its cousin. It comes after the noun and describes where things are, rather than pointing out where they are:

  • An càr seo. - This car (here).

  • An càr sin. - That car (there).

  • An càr ud. - That car (over there).

A note on Kirkwall

We have included the Gaelic for Kirkwall, the largest town in the Orkney Islands. You will see Baile na h-Eaglaise when you tune into BBC Alba for your nightly weather reports, but you would be more likely to hear ann an Kirkwall than ann am Baile na h-Eaglaise.

Accents are important.

Make sure you include the accent (stràc) on the e in fèis. Accents can change the whole meaning of a word, and you really don't want to get these two mixed up!

(We won't go into detail in case our parents read this..! )

Correction - While we are speaking about missing accents, dòbhran (otter) should be spelled with one. We have banished this team member to St. Kilda for the error. We will fix once we are able.

About Me 3 #9 · 2020-12-13 ^

What's in a name?

Very early on in the course, we learned how to tell people our names, using is mise:

  • Is mise Iain. - I am Iain.

Here is another common structure, so you can shake up those introductions:

  • 'S e Iain a th' orm. - I am called Iain. (literally - It is Iain that is on me. )
  • 'S e Màiri a th' ort. - You are called Mairi.
  • 'S e Ruairidh a th' air. - He is called Ruairidh.
  • 'S e Eilidh a th' oirre. - She is called Eilidh.

We can also ask questions with these structures, some of which we have already seen:

  • Dè an t-ainm a th' orm? - What is my name? (Think the aftermath of a good ceilidh.)
  • Dè an t-ainm a th' ort? - What is your name?
  • Dè an t-ainm a th' air? - What is his name?
  • Dè an t-ainm a th' oirre? - What is her name?
  • na h-ainmean a th' orra? - What are their names?

More irregular comparisons

Math. A real favourite. Good old steadfast math. Never puts a foot wrong.

Guess what its comparison form will be?

"Nas maithe"?

"Nas matha"?


  • Tha sin math. - That is good.
  • Tha seo nas fheàrr. - This is better.

Bet ya didn't see that coming.

How about our old pal dona?

"Nas dona" maybe?

Again, a flat nope.

  • Tha Màiri dona. - Mairi is bad.
  • Tha Iain nas miosa. - Iain is worse.

Gaelic is generally very regular. Think of these small variations as the language letting off some steam. They are so commonly used, you will pick them up with practice.


Many Gaelic surnames are prefixed with Mac for boys and Nic for girls.

Mac by itself is the word for "son", and in this context means "son of…"

Nic is the shortened form of "nighean mhic", and so means "daughter of the son of...", but it doesn't get used outwith the context of names. We use the word nighean for "daughter".

We come across some of these surnames in this unit, but there are a huge number of them! For example:

MacAoidh means "son of Aodh", which is sometimes anglicized to "Hugh". NicAoidh means "daughter of (the son of) Hugh":

  • Calum MacAoidh - Calum MacKay
  • Catrìona NicAoidh - Catriona MacKay

The anglicisation of these names leads to daughters routinely being described as sons in English. Hence "Catriona MacKay", instead of "Catriona NicKay".

Get ready for a premium surname. 10/10. Just magnificent:

  • Calum MacAonghais - Calum MacInnes
  • Eilidh NicAonghais - Eilidh MacInnes

MacAonghais means "son of Angus". NicAonghais means "daughter of (the son of) Angus".

MacInneses are known for their good looks, charm, and writing extensive notes for Duolingo courses.

Masculine and feminine names

Not all Gaelic names begin with "Mac" or "Nic".

Non-Mac/Nic surnames lenite after female names when they can, but not after masculine ones:

  • Anndra Caimbeul - Andrew Campbell
  • Anna Chaimbeul - Anna Campbell
  • Aonghas Grannd - Angus Grant
  • Eilidh Ghrannd - Eilidh Grant

Some Gaelic surnames were clearly given by enemies rather than friends:

Caimbeul (Campbell ) comes from the Gaelic words cam ("squint") and beul ("mouth"). Likewise, Camshron (Cameron ) comes from cam and sròn ("nose"). Charming.

Fashion #2 · 2022-01-28 ^

Gaelic fashion

Do you know your sheepskin from your oilskin?

This skill will further explore possession in Gaelic. We have come across two ways of doing this so far. Time for quick recap.

Firstly, we use the different forms of aig for possessions:

  • an càr agam - my car
  • an cat agad - your cat


  • an duine aice - her husband
  • an nighean aige - his daughter

Secondly, we have mo, do, and friends - known as possessive adjectives. They generally indicate a closer form of possession.

We typically use this form for family members, body parts, and also clothes!

  • mo gheansaidh - my jumper
  • do gheansaidh - your jumper

  • m' ad - my hat

  • d' ad - your hat

His and Hers - consonants

In this skill, we learn some new possessive adjectives:


  • a seacaid - her jacket
  • a ceap - her cap
  • a briogais - her trousers


This works very similarly, but we also lenite when we can:

  • a sheacaid - his jacket
  • a cheap - his cap
  • a bhriogais - his trousers

His and Hers - vowels


Here, we add a h- before the vowel. Gaelic doesn't like vowels from separate words hanging out. Think of h- as a chaperone for a.

  • a h-aodach - her clothes
  • a h-ad - her hat


Right, so. This one requires a wee bit of attention.

It used to be common to see possession for males written as so:

  • a aodach - his clothes
  • a ad - his hat


The a here is not pronounced and is, more often than not, left out in writing:

  • Seo Iain. Is toil leam aodach. - This is Iain. I like his clothes.
  • Seo Calum. Is toil leam ad. - This is Calum. I like his hat.

Context is your friend, and in a normal conversation this isn't half as confusing as it seems in isolation.

Longer / Shorter

fada - long

  • nas fhaide - longer

goirid - short

  • nas giorra - shorter

Did somebody say tweed?

Tweed (clò-mòr ) is a fabric that has been produced in the Isles for a long time. Harris Tweed (Clò na Hearadh ) is world-famous and adored by crofters and fashionistas alike.

dhìom / dhìot

This is the first time we have come across prepositional pronouns with de. They are particularly useful when it comes to stripping off:

dhìom - off me

  • Chuir mi dhìom mo bhriogais. - I took off my trousers.

dhìot - off you

  • Cuir dhìot do chòta. - Take off your coat.

Work 3 #4 · 2020-12-13 ^

Ag obair naoi gu còig

There are plenty more opportunities for us to practice describing what people do for a living in this skill.

  • 'S e seòladair a th' annam. - I am a sailor.
  • 'S e nurs a th' annad. - You are a nurse.
  • 'S e gruagaire a th' ann. - He is a hairdresser.
  • 'S e manaidsear a th' innte. - She is a manager.

We also come across one shiny new form, which allows us to describe what specific people do. It makes no difference whether someone is male or female here:

  • 'S e tidsear a th' ann an Anna. - Anna is a teacher.
  • 'S e amadan a th' ann an Iain. - Iain is an idiot.
  • 'S e dotair a th' ann an Catrìona. - Catriona is a doctor.
  • 'S e saor a th' ann an Dòmhnall. - Donald is a carpenter.

When a name begins with b, f, m, or p, we use ann am rather than ann an:

  • 'S e peantair a th' ann am Flòraidh. - Flora is a painter.
  • 'S e feòladair a th' ann am Mìcheal. - Michael is a butcher.
  • 'S e post a th' ann am Pàdraig. - Patrick is a postman.
  • 'S e draibhear a th' ann am Beathag. - Beth is a driver.


We have already seen how to say where we are from:

  • Cò às a tha thu? - Where are you from?
  • Tha mi à Barraigh. - I am from Barra.

When a place name has a definite article in front of it, we use às instead of à.

This makes our friend the dative case spring into action:

  • Tha mi às a' Ghearasdan. - I am from Fort William.
  • Tha mi às an Òban. - I am from Oban.
  • Tha mi às na Hearadh. - I am from Harris.


The Gaelic for "email" is post-dealain. Just like in English, this means "electronic mail".

This is often shortened to post-d, because the modern Gael has little time to pronounce words in full.

Senses #3 · 2020-12-13 ^

Past tense irregular verbs

Congratulations on conquering the simple regular past tense! It was touch and go there for a second, but we knew you could do it.

As well as what linguists describe as "a lot" of regular verbs, Gaelic also has ten irregular verbs.

We are going to encounter some of these in this skill.

These dangerous mavericks don't follow regular patterns:

faic - see

These are the past tense forms of "faic":

  • Chunnaic mi Iain. - I saw Iain.
  • Chan fhaca mi Iain. - I didn't see Iain.
  • Am faca tu Iain? - Did you see Iain?
  • Nach fhaca tu Iain? - Didn't you see Iain?

N.B. We use tu and not thu after am faca and nach fhaca.

cluinn - hear

  • Chuala mi Màiri. - I heard Mairi.
  • Cha chuala mi Màiri. - I didn't hear Mairi.
  • An cuala tu Màiri? - Did you hear Mairi?
  • Nach cuala tu Màiri? - Didn't you hear Mairi?

N.B. We use tu and not thu after an cuala and nach cuala.

You smell.

Telling someone that they smell is a good way to annoy them in any language.

In Gaelic we need a handy preposition to do this - bhuat. This is a combination of bho ("from") and thu ("you").

  • Tha fàileadh bhuat. - You smell.

We will come across more prepositional pronouns with bho as we go forward.


If you have heard of Scottish Gaelic, you have probably heard of Scotland. If you have heard of Scotland, you will know what tartan is.

You will often hear the word tartan used in conversational Gaelic, but you will likely also come across another word for tartan: breacan. It certainly does no harm to know both.

Tartan Day is a North American celebration of Scottish heritage on April 6, where people go full Scottish. The Gaelic for this is Là a' Bhreacain.

Holidays #2 · 2020-12-13 ^

Seo dhut!- Here you go!

Dhut is another handy prepositional pronoun. It is a combination of do ("to") and thu ("you").

  • Seo dhut. - Here you go.

Irregular verb - thoir

In this skill, we come across the past tense forms of the irregular verb thoir, meaning "give":

  • Thug mi tìodhlac dhut. - I gave you a present.
  • Cha tug mi tìodhlac dhut. - I didn't give you a present.
  • An tug e taigeis dhut? - Did he give you a haggis?
  • Nach tug e taigeis dhut? - Didn't he give you a haggis?

N.B. The t in tug is generally pronounced closer to a d.

Forms of "do"

Add do plus mi to a bowl and bake for 45 minutes and you get the prepositional pronoun dhomh:

  • Thug i caora dhomh. - She gave me a sheep.
  • Thug i caora eile dhomh. - She gave me another sheep.

If you want to talk about a specific person, we use do plus a name. Do causes lenition to occur to the word after it, if possible:

  • Thug mi cèic do Mhàiri. - I gave Mairi a cake.
  • Thug mi briosgaid do Chalum. - I gave Calum a biscuit.

When the name begins with a vowel, we fire a dh' at the start. Gaelic hates its vowels meeting. Hates it.

  • Thug mi curran do dh'Eilidh. - I gave Eilidh a carrot.
  • Thug mi faoileag do dh'Iain. - I gave Iain a seagull.

Là or Latha?

These are, indeed, both words.

Both and latha mean the same thing, and often it comes down to a speaker's preference which one they use. Strictly speaking, should be used for specific day, and latha is more general:

  • Là na Nollaig - Christmas Day
  • Là na Sàbaid - Sunday
  • Tha deagh latha ann. - It's a good day.
  • A h-uile latha. - Every day.

A French turkey

The Gaelic for "turkey" is cearc-fhrangach. This basically means a French chicken or hen. Love it.


Hogmanay (Oidhche Challain ) is a big deal in Scotland. It takes place on New Year's Eve and traditionally involves stumbling in and out of folk's houses, exchanging coal for whisky. There is also a cracking cèilidh on BBC Alba!


Halloween (Oidhche Shamhna ) has its origins in the Celtic Pagan festival Samhain. We are by no means historians or willing to do basic research, but we're pretty sure the Gaels invented Halloween. High five to our cousins in Ireland and the Isle of Man.

Tech #3 · 2020-12-13 ^

Irregular verb - faigh

Irregular verb #4 coming right up:

  • Fhuair mi tablaid ùr. - I got a new tablet.
  • Cha d' fhuair mi peata ùr. - I didn't get a new pet.
  • An d' fhuair thu camara ùr? - Did you get a new camera?
  • Nach d' fhuair thu camara ùr? - Didn't you get a new camera?


Another prepositional pronoun with bho:

bho + mi = bhuam

  • Fhuair thu fòn ùr bhuam. - You got a new phone from me.
  • An d' fhuair thu fòn ùr bhuam? - Did you get a new phone from me?

On / Off

To ask someone to switch something on, you use cuir air:

  • Cuir air a' choire. - Put the kettle on.
  • Cuir air an coimpiutair. - Turn on the computer.

To ask someone to turn something off, you use cuir dheth:

  • Cuir dheth an coimpiutair. - Turn off the computer.
  • Cuir dheth an solas! Tha Iain a' tighinn! - Turn off the light! Iain is coming!


Gun means "without", and it lenites the next word when possible:

gun (without ) + feum (use ) = gun fheum (useless )

  • Tha Iain gun fheum. - Iain is useless.

You can also use "gun" when not having a go at Iain:

  • gun bhainne. - Tea without milk.

Cuir fòn gu…

When you phone someone in Gaelic, you often use the verb cuir with gu :

  • Cuir fòn gu Màiri. - Phone Mairi.
  • Na cuir fòn gu Iain. - Don't phone Iain.
  • Chuir mi fòn gu caraid. - I phoned a friend.

Cooking #3 · 2020-12-13 ^

Irregular verb #5 - dèan

We have already come across dèan, which means "make" or "do", and is useful when forcing people to bake for you:

  • Dèan cèic dhomh! - Make me a cake!
  • Dèan sgonaichean dhomh! - Make me scones!

This verb is irregular (it follows its own rules, it goes its own way).

Right now, we are looking at the past tense forms of dèan only, and aside from the fact they look nothing like dèan, you will recognise some regular patterns:

  • Rinn mi briosgaidean. - I made biscuits.
  • Cha do rinn thu briosgaidean. - You did not make biscuits.
  • An do rinn thu briosgaidean? - Did you make biscuits?
  • Nach do rinn thu taigeis? - Didn't you make haggis?

Why would you deep fry chocolate?

Why not? Deep frying rarely makes something worse.

The deep fried Mars Bar is more of a novelty item than something people eat regularly, as they take up valuable frying space that could otherwise be used for fish and sausages.

It is worth a try though, if you don't plan on moving that day.


There is a Gaelic word for "chips" / "fries" - sliseagan. You don't hear it too often in normal conversations, so we went for the more common tiops, pronounced the same as "chips" in English:

  • Tha mi ag iarraidh tiops! - I want chips!

B' fheàrr - I would prefer

We have met 'S fheàrr leam... (meaning "I prefer...") already:

  • Is fheàrr leam tiops. - I prefer chips.

B' fheàrr leam... means "I would prefer...".

  • B' fheàrr leam an t-iasg. - I would prefer the fish.


There are a few variants for how to say "lunch" in Gaelic. We have used the word lòn.

You might also see biadh meadhan-latha (midday meal ) being used, or more generic words for "meal", like diathad.

A scone made of tatties?

A tattie scone (sgona buntàta ) is indeed a scone made of tatties (potatoes ).

It is normally eaten as part of a balanced fried breakfast and is delicious. Not one of your 5-a-day!


Picture the problem: you are short on time, but have a load of cream, oats, and honey to consume.

You are also absolutely choking for a dram.

Fire them all into a bowl / fancy cup / your outstretched fist, and you have crannachan!

Months #5 · 2020-12-13 ^

Na mìosan - The months

We learn the first six months of the year here:

Am Faoilleach - January

The wolf month. When hungry wolves would come down from the hills looking for some delicious biadh.

How cool is that? Might as well stop now.

An Gearran - February

The gelding month. Geezo, this one is slightly less cool. It's the time of year cattle would be castrated. Moving swiftly on.

Am Màrt - March

This one took its name from yer man the Roman god of war.

An Giblean - April

The pudding month. The month you make puddings. Great craic all round.

An Cèitean - May

The start of the summer! Sometimes it is dry in May.

An t-Ògmhios - June

The young month.

seo chaidh

This is really handy:

an t-seachdain seo - this week

  • an t-seachdain seo chaidh - last week (literally "this week that went" )

am mìos seo - this month

  • am mìos seo chaidh - last month (literally "this month that went" )

N.B. The definite article is used in the examples above.

This works with days of the week, too:

  • Diluain seo chaidh - last Monday
  • Disathairne seo chaidh - last Saturday

dhi / dha

Some handy prepositional pronouns with do:

  • Thug mi taigeis dhi. - I gave her a haggis.
  • Thug mi cèic dha. - I gave him a cake.

bh' ann

We have used plenty of these 'framed' structures before, with 's e and th' ann:

  • 'S e an Cèitean a th' ann. - It is May.
  • 'S e Diluain a th' ann. - It is Monday.

We can make this a past tense statement by swapping out th' ann for its cousin, bh' ann:

  • 'S e an Cèitean a bh' ann. - It was May.*
  • 'S e Diluain a bh' ann. - It was Monday.

The Night of the Haggis?

The 25th of January is a time to loosen the waist belt and celebrate one of Scotland's national poets.

Burns suppers are held to celebrate the poet Rabbie Burns, who wrote in the Scots language. The Gaelic for this is Oidhche na Taigeise (the Night of the Haggis ).

Given that a typical Burns Night celebration involves piping, soup, haggis, and whisky, it is no wonder that they are popular across Scotland and overseas.

Numbers 4 #5 · 2022-01-28 ^

Ordinal numbers

Some more ordinal numbers to get our teeth into here.

We have already seen:

  • a' chiad àite - first place
  • an dàrna àite - second place
  • an treasamh àite - third place

The other ordinal numbers will look pretty familiar.

  • an ceathramh àite - fourth place
  • an còigeamh àite - fifth place

There is no way to make ordinal numbers funny. Sorry. We tried our best.

Irregular verb #6 - thig

We are more than halfway to collecting the past tense irregular verbs. It's like Pokemon… but with verbs.

  • Thàinig sinn an-dè. - We came yesterday.
  • Cha tàinig iad an-dè. - They didn't come yesterday.
  • An tàinig iad a-mach? - Did they come out?
  • Nach tàinig iad fhathast? - Didn't they come yet?

N.B. The t at the beginning of tàinig is generally pronounced closer to a d.

Personal numbers

Gaelic has special numbers for counting between two and ten people.

Gaelic English
dithis two people
triùir three people
ceathrar four people
còignear five people
sianar six people
seachdnar seven people
ochdnar eight people
naoinear nine people

Cia mheud a bh' agad?

To say "how many do you have?", we use "cia mheud a th' agad?".

To make this a past tense question, you swap th' (a shortened form of "tha") for bh' (a shortened form of "bha").

  • Cia mheud caora a th' agad? - How many sheep do you have?
  • Cia mheud caora a bh' agad? - How many sheep did you have?

A baker's dusan

Dusan is the Gaelic for "a dozen" (12 of something ). Nouns that follow "dusan" are in the singular form and not plural, which is something we have already seen happen with "fichead", "trithead", "ceud", etc.

  • dusan ugh - a dozen eggs
  • dusan cearc - a dozen chickens
  • Tha dusan bò anns an taigh. - There are a dozen cows in the house.


Dhan is a really useful preposition meaning "to the".

Dhan is made up of do (to) and the article an.

The article itself is usually dropped:

Dhan bhùth - To the shop.

Dhan taigh. - To the house.

But it is absolutely fine to use the article too:

Dhan a' bhùth. - To the shop

A very common alternative is don. Keep an eye out for both dhan and don when stealing Gaelic road signs to add to your growing collection.

Months 2 #2 · 2022-07-18 ^

The months pt. 2

As promised, here are the other six months of the year:

An t-Iuchar - July

The warm month.

An Lùnastal - August

Named after a festival that marks the start of the harvest season. You will also see it spelled sometimes as An Lùnasdal.

An t-Sultain - September

Seems to have some connection with fattening up. Most likely connected to cattle and not snacks.

An Dàmhair - October

The rutting month. When stags (daimh ) get all frothy about the mouth and start headbutting each other.

An t-Samhain - November

Named after the festival that marked the end of summer, the beginning of winter, and the end of the harvest. Good times.

An Dùbhlachd - December

Love this one. I think to appreciate the sheer joy of this month, it is worth comparing it to our Gaelic cousins:


  • Mí na Nollag - the month of Christmas


  • Mee ny Nollick - the month of Christmas


  • An Dùbhlachd - THE DARKNESS

Most months are masculine:

  • Am Faoilleach
  • An Gearran
  • Am Màrt
  • An Giblean
  • An Cèitean
  • An t-Ògmhios
  • An t-Iuchar
  • An Lùnastal

...but the ones after August are feminine:

  • An t-Sultain
  • An Dàmhair
  • An t-Samhain
  • An Dùbhlachd

Why? - Carson?

This is how we ask why something is:

  • Carson a tha thu sgìth? - Why are you tired?
  • Carson a bha Iain ann? - Why was Iain there?

You need the a after carson if you are using it in a full sentence.

You can also use carson by itself:

  • Bha Iain ann. Carson? - Iain was there. Why?


The Royal National Mòd (Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail ) is a Gaelic cultural festival that takes place in October every year. It involves singing, musicianship, drama, whisky, a small amount of chaos, and a huge number of kilts. We will take a deep dive into all things Mòd further down the tree.

a' bhon-dè

Gaelic has a dedicated word for "the day before yesterday", which is actually really handy:

  • Bha mi ann am Malaig a' bhon-dè. - I was in Mallaig the day before yesterday.

Gaelic - Sleek and streamlined like a fresh caught mackerel

English - Clunky, unwieldy, like a cow in a shed.


Gaelic also has a dedicated word for "the day after tomorrow":

  • Bidh mi ann am Malaig an-earar. - I will be in Mallaig the day after tomorrow.

Gaelic - Smooth and sleek, like a pine marten in a craobh.

English - Graceless, like your uncle dancing at a wedding.

Ordinal numbers

We complete our collection of the ordinal numbers to ten here:

  • an siathamh àite - sixth place
  • an seachdamh àite - seventh place
  • an t-ochdamh àite - eighth place
  • an naoidheamh àite - ninth place
  • an deicheamh àite - tenth place

N.B. When it comes to 6th, 7th, and 8th, sometimes you have to put t- in front of the word. This depends on whether or not the following noun is feminine or masculine, following the normal rules for both genders in the different cases:

"àite" is a masculine noun: an siathamh àite an t-ochdamh àite * an seachdamh àite


"madainn" is a feminine noun: an t-siathamh madainn an t-seachdamh madainn * an ochdamh madainn

From him / From her

Two more handy prepositional pronouns:

  • Fhuair mi tìodhlac bhuaithe. - I got a gift from him.
  • Fhuair mi sgadan bhuaipe. - I got a herring from her.


This is a really handy verb, used to describe where someone was born. It's a form seldom used in the course, and we don't need to really delve into the grammar of it right now.

  • Rugadh Lewis Capaldi ann an Glaschu. - Lewis Capaldi was born in Glasgow.

For any grammar gluts out there, this verb is the past autonomous form of the verb beir (similar to the passive form in English). You don't need to know that to use it.

Emotion #4 · 2022-04-19 ^

An emotional roller-coaster

This skill delves deep into your feels. Many of the structures here are familiar, but we'll take you through those that require a bit of extra thought:

farmad - jealousy

We have seen this type of structure with air before:

  • Tha farmad orm. - I am jealous. (literally - I have jealousy on me. )
  • Tha farmad ort. - You are jealous.
  • Bha farmad oirnn. - We were jealous.

iongnadh - surprise

Another structure with air here:

  • Bha iongnadh orm. - I was surprised.
  • Cha robh iongnadh oirre. - She wasn't surprised.

ùidh - interest

We'll take you by the hand through this one.

In Gaelic, you have interest in things:

  • Tha ùidh agam ann an teanas - I am interested in tennis. (literally - I have interest (at me) in tennis. )
  • Tha ùidh agad ann an Gàidhlig. - You are interested in Gaelic. (literally - You have interest (at you) in Gaelic. )
  • Chan eil ùidh aig Iain ann am ball-coise. - Iain isn't interested in football. (literally - Iain does not have interest (at him) in football. )

sunnd - mood

Useful whether you are in great form or a total stormer of a mood.

  • Tha i ann an deagh shunnd. - She is in a good mood.
  • Tha i ann an droch shunnd. - She is in a bad mood.

Throwback - deagh and droch are two of the very few adjectives that come before the noun in Gaelic, and they leave a trail of lenition in their wake.

Smiling and laughing

Both of these use the irregular verb dèan.

  • Thuit Iain agus rinn mi gàire. - Iain fell and I laughed.
  • Thuit Iain a-rithist agus rinn mi fiamh-ghàire. - Iain fell again and I smiled.
  • Tha e a' dèanamh gàire. - He is laughing.
  • Tha i a' dèanamh fiamh-ghàire. - She is smiling.
  • Dèan fiamh-ghàire! - Smile!
  • Na dèan gàire! - Don't laugh!

uile - all

This is seriously handy.

  • na balaich uile - all the boys
  • na caileagan uile - all the girls
  • na caoraich uile - all the sheep

Family 3 #5 · 2020-12-13 ^

We are family

We have already explored how to say my..., your…, his…, and her… for the close type of possession you have with family members:

  • mo mhàthair - my mother
  • m' athair - my father

  • do mhàthair - your mother
  • d' athair - your father

  • a mhàthair - his mother
  • athair - his father

  • a màthair - her mother
  • a h-athair - her father

Now let's complete the set!

an / am

This one is nice and easy. Whether the word begins with a vowel or a consonant makes no difference.

We do need to remember our big fat members of parliament though!


  • am màthair - their mother
  • am piuthar - their sister


  • an athair - their father
  • an co-ogha - their cousin

ar / ur

The next two behave in the same way.

ar - our


ur - your (polite / plural)

You have already seen this in a few polite phrases:

  • 'S e ur beatha. - You're welcome.
  • ur cor? - How's your form?

If the word begins with a consonant, you can relax and enjoy some much needed me time:

  • ar co-ogha - our cousin
  • ur co-ogha - your cousin
  • ar bràthair - our brother
  • ur bràthair - your brother

When the word begins with a vowel, we need to do something a bit different - step in our hero n-.

  • ar n-athair - our father
  • ur n-athair - your father
  • ar n-antaidh - our auntie
  • ur n-uncail - your uncle

Congratulations, you have amassed the full set of prepositional pronouns, go have a lie down!

Irregular verb #7 - abair

The past tense forms of another handy irregular verb:

  • Thuirt thu rudeigin snog. - You said something nice.
  • Cha tuirt thu sin! - You didn't say that!
  • An tuirt i sin? - Did she say that?
  • Nach tuirt e sin? - Didn't he say that?

N.B. The t in tuirt is normally pronounced closer to a d.

The verbal noun form is ag ràdh:

  • Dè tha thu ag ràdh a-nis, Iain? - What are you saying now, Iain?

Normally, when a verbal noun starts with a consonant, it begins with a' and not ag.

Ag ràdh blazes its own trail and deserves our respect for it.

Prepositional pronouns with do

Some more handy prepositions with do:

dhuinn - to us

  • Thug iad fìon dhuinn. - They gave us wine.

dhuibh - to you (polite / plural)

  • Madainn mhath dhuibh, a chàirdean. - Good morning to you, friends.
  • Feasgar math dhuibh, a chàirdean. - Good afternoon to you, friends.

These are really handy ways to address a group, ideally of friends.

For the curious, "good morning, enemies" is madainn mhath, a nàimhdean.

Although it would be reasonably normal to say "good morning, my friends" in English, you wouldn't use mo here in Gaelic.

Travel 2 #6 · 2020-12-13 ^

Quickly, Slowly - adverbs in Gaelic

In Gaelic, we can easily turn an adjective (describes a noun) into an adverb (describes a verb).

To do this, we add a hefty dose of gu:

  • Tha do mhàthair luath. - Your mother is quick.
  • Ruith i gu luath. - She ran quickly.
  • Tha a' bhò agad slaodach. - Your cow is slow.
  • Choisich a' bhò gu slaodach. - The cow walked slowly.

You have done this umpteen times already with the phrase "tha gu math."

Irregular verb - #8 - ruig

This is a handy irregular verb which can mean either "reach":

  • Ràinig i Malaig. - She reached Mallaig.

...or "arrive":

  • Ràinig i a-raoir. - She arrived last night.

  • Ràinig i Glaschu. - She reached Glasgow.
  • Cha do ràinig i Port Rìgh. - She didn't reach Portree.
  • An do ràinig i an drochaid? - Did she reach the bridge?
  • Nach do ràinig i an drochaid? - Didn't she reach the bridge?

  • Ràinig e an-dè. - He arrived yesterday.
  • Cha do ràinig e fhathast. - He didn't arrive yet.
  • An do ràinig e fhathast? - Did he arrive yet?
  • Nach do ràinig e fhathast? - Didn't he arrive yet?

The past tense forms of ruig are actually pretty regular. Even some irregular verbs are fairly regular in Gaelic.

Irregular verb #9 - rach

Two irregular verbs at once! Must have been in a stormer of a mood when this skill was written!

  • Chaidh mi dhan bhùth. - I went to the shop.
  • Cha deach mi dhan Spàinn am-bliadhna. - I didn't go to Spain this year.
  • An deach iad dhan taigh agad? - Did they go to your house?
  • Nach deach iad dhan t-seada? - Didn't they go to the shed?


Ath (next ) always comes before the noun, and the noun lenites when it can:

  • an ath fhear - the next one
  • an ath thuras - the next time
  • an ath latha - the next day

A note on GOC

The latest round of spelling/orthography reform (Gaelic Orthographic Conventions, or GOC) gracefully clumped some words together with hyphens, for example:

an-ath-sheachdain - next week


GOC recommends using an-ath-bhliadhn' for "next year".

The software really didn't like us ending a word with an apostrophe, so we have used an-ath-bhliadhna without cutting off the final a.

Both are correct, but it is good to know what is most current! We will change it when we can.

thall / a-bhos

These are useful for describing position!

thall - over (there)

  • Tha Iain thall ann an Uibhist. - Iain is over (there) in Uist.

This implies that Iain is far away from you.

a-bhos - over (here)

  • Tha Iain a-bhos airson banais. - Iain is over (here) for a wedding.

This implies that Iain is in the same place as you (shudders ).

Eilean Bhòid - The Isle of Bute

Look, we don't want much from you. We are just happy you are here learning Gaelic. But please do us this one favour.

Remember the accent on the ò in Eilean Bhòid.

Tapadh leibh x

Seasons #3 · 2021-03-19 ^


an geamhradh - winter (cold, wet, short days)

an t-earrach - spring (cold, medium wet)

an samhradh - summer (warm, wet, long days)

am foghar - autumn (cold, wet, brown leaves)

All of the seasons are definite - 'the' winter, 'the' spring, etc.

When we want to say in a season, we use special dative case forms for all except:

  • an geamhradh - winter

  • anns a' gheamhradh - in winter

This follows the pattern we have already seen. The other seasons do not:

  • an t-earrach - spring

  • as t-earrach - in spring

  • an samhradh - summer

  • as t-samhradh - in summer

  • am foghar - autumn

  • as t-fhoghar - in autumn


Before a definite article, bho transforms like a phoenix into the magnificent bhon:

  • bho bhùth - from a shop
  • bhon bhùth - from the shop

This triggers these lovely dative case changes we have come across.


Useful verb klaxon:


Còrd means "enjoy", and it is paired like a fine wine with the preposition ri (with / at) and its forms.

In Gaelic, you enjoy things "with / at" you.

Past tense:

  • Chòrd an taigeis ri Màiri. - Mairi enjoyed the haggis.
  • Chòrd an leabhar rium. - I enjoyed the book.

Verbal noun:

  • Tha seo a' còrdadh rium. - I am enjoying this.
  • Chan eil an guga a' còrdadh ris. - He is not enjoying the guga.
  • Tha Duolingo a' còrdadh rithe. - She is enjoying Duolingo.
  • Chan eil Duolingo a' còrdadh ri Iain idir. - Iain isn't enjoying Duolingo at all.

Questions #2 · 2020-12-13 ^


We have already seen how to ask questions using tha and bha paired with , carson, cuin, and :

  • Dè bha thu ag ithe? - What were you eating?
  • Dè tha thu ag ithe? - What are you eating?

  • Carson a bha thu ag ithe sin? - Why were you eating that?
  • Carson a tha thu ag ithe sin? - Why are you eating that?

  • Cuin a bha a' chèilidh? - When was the ceilidh?
  • Cuin a tha a' chèilidh? - When is the ceilidh?

  • Cò bha a' cluiche iomain? - Who was playing shinty?
  • Cò tha a' cluiche iomain? - Who is playing shinty?

The relative future

After these question forms, bidh transforms into bhios.

Bhios is the relative future form of bidh. You don't need to know what that means to be able to use it well. You use this after dè, carson, cuin, and :

  • bhios i a' dèanamh? - What will she be doing?
  • Cuin a bhios iad a' falbh? - When will they be leaving?
  • bhios a' cluiche? - Who will be playing?
  • Carson a bhios Iain ann? - Why will Iain be there?

After bhios, the word thu becomes tu:

  • Cuin a bhios tu ann? - When will you be there?

Questions with càite

Càite works a little differently. Verbs take on a different (dependant or secondary) form:

  • Càit a bheil thu? - Where are you?
  • Càit an robh thu? - Where were you?
  • Càit am bi thu? - Where will you be?

N.B. The word càite shortens to càit when it comes before a word beginning with a vowel.

am b' fheàrr / dè b' fheàrr

This is how you ask if someone would prefer something:

  • Am b' fheàrr leat marag-gheal? - Would you prefer white pudding?

    • B' fheàrr! - Yes!
    • Cha b' fheàrr! - No!

To ask someone what they would prefer, you use dè b' fheàrr:

  • Dè b' fheàrr leat? - What would you prefer?

    • B' fheàrr leam marag-dhubh. - I would prefer black pudding.

Health #3 · 2020-12-13 ^


Scotland, the healthiest place on earth. Let's go straight to grammar.


Congratulations, you have collected the tenth past tense irregular verb. What do you win, you ask? Ten past tense irregular verbs!

Beir is pretty eclectic. It can mean quite a few things!

It can mean "catch" when combined with air:

Command form:

  • Beir air a' bhall! - Catch the ball!

  • Beir air a' chalman! - Catch the pigeon!

Past tense form:

  • Rug mi air a' bhall. - I caught the ball.

  • Rug mi air a' chalman. - I caught the pigeon.

It can also mean "catch up with":

  • Rug mi air an dotair. - I caught up with the doctor.

  • Rug mi air aig an drochaid. - I caught up with him at the bridge.


It can also mean "give birth to" when not combined with air:

  • Rug a' bhò laogh. - The cow gave birth to a calf.

  • Rug i leanabh. - She gave birth to a baby.

Contrast the above with:

  • Rug i air leanabh. - She caught a baby.

Other forms:

  • Cha do rug mi oirre. - I didn't catch up with her.

  • An do rug thu oirre? - Did you catch up with her?

  • Nach do rug thu oirre? - Didn't you catch up with her?

A good old fashioned row

Trod and ri pair like cheese and a mid-range wine to give someone a good telling off:

  • Bha Màiri a' trod ri Iain. - Mairi was scolding Iain.

  • Bha an dotair a' trod ris. - The doctor was scolding him.

Putting out (Barfing)

In Gaelic, to say you are being sick, you use a combo of cuir ("put") and a-mach ("out"):

  • Tha e a' cur a-mach a-rithist. - He is vomiting again.

  • Chuir Iain a-mach anns an t-sabhal. - Iain vomited in the barn.

  • Na cuir a-mach an-seo! - Don't vomit here!

That's you all set for the next time you eat something dodgy! Key vocab covered. Job done.

Cèilidh #7 · 2021-01-16 ^

Back to the future tense

We have been rolling about in the muck with the simple past tense for as long as I can remember.

Time to tackle the future tense!

To form the future tense, you take the root (the command form) and add either:

-idh, when the last vowel is slender (i or e)

  • Seinnidh mi. - I will sing.

  • Cluichidh mi. - I will play.

...or -aidh, when the last vowel is broad (a, o, or u).

  • Òlaidh mi. - I will drink.

  • Gabhaidh mi. - I will take.

  • Dannsaidh mi. - I will dance.

N.B. We use the future tense in Gaelic for things that will happen in the future and things that happen often or occasionally:

  • Ithidh mi a-nochd. - I will eat tonight.

  • Ithidh mi feòil. - I eat meat.

Double N.B. There is a slight difference between these simple forms and forms that use bidh:

  • Bidh mi a' seinn. - I will be singing.

  • Seinnidh mi. - I will sing.

Negative future

To say something negative in the future tense, we do the following:

CONSONANTS (But not f + a vowel, as Gaelic treats the same as a vowel )

Put cha before the root / command form, and lenite if you can:

  • Cha sheinn i. - She won't sing.
  • Cha ghabh i dram. - She won't take a dram.
  • Cha chluich i ionnsramaid. - She won't play an instrument.

N.B. Words beginning with d or t don't lenite here. While it is possible for d to lenite in Gaelic, it generally doesn't after the word cha.

The same is true for t, and we will see examples of this further on in the course.


Put chan before the root / command form. You can't lenite a vowel. That would be chaos:

  • Chan òl mi. - I won't drink.

  • Chan ith mi. - I won't eat.

Future questions

To ask a question in the future tense for both vowels and consonants (except BFMP), you add an before the root:

  • An gabh thu dram? - Will you take a dram?

    • Gabhaidh! - Yes!

    • Cha ghabh! - No!

  • An ith thu na criospan? - Will you eat the crisps?

    • Ithidh! - Yes!

    • Chan ith! - No!

N.B. You need to use am instead of an before words that begin with BFMP. We will come across plenty of these going forward, but you have already been doing this with am bi questions.

A note on drams

A tè bheag is a small measure (usually of whisky).

A tè mhòr is a large measure.

In a pub setting, a tè bheag would normally get you a single measure (25 - 35ml) and a tè mhòr a double (50 - 70ml).

Outside of a pub this will vary widely, with a tè mhòr getting you somewhere between a decent snifter and a half pint of whisky, depending on the pourer.

gabhaidh - pronunciation

The pronunciation of this can vary a bit. It is most commonly pronounced similar to the English word guy - without a v sound in the middle.

Either way, you will probably get your dram, your sùgh-ubhail, or whatever floats your bàta.

Gabh òran! - Sing a song

If you want to pressure someone into singing, you use the verb gabh (take/have).

Gabh òran! - Sing a song!

Tha mi a' gabhail òran. - I am singing a song.

Ghabh mi òran. Dh'fhalbh mo charaidean. - I sang a song. My friends left.

Gabh òran eile! - Sing another song!

Gabh trì òrain! - Sing three songs!

Gabh òran nas fheàrr! - Sing a better song!

Tha an t-òran sin à Leòdhas. Gabh òran à Èirisgeidh! - That song is from Lewis. Sing a song from Eriskay!

Repeat as needed.

Mountain #5 · 2020-12-13 ^

Beinn Nibheis / Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Scotland at 1345m. I can see it from my window right now, and I can confirm that it is indeed quite big. It's near Fort William (an Gearasdan) in Lochaber (Loch Abar).

The mountain is hugely popular, and on a clear day, the views across the Highlands are spectacular. There is a steep path up the mountain, but many choose even more challenging routes. Any route up is certainly not to be underestimated.

The summit is the collapsed dome of an ancient volcano (coool) and contains the ruins of an observatory.

The true meaning of the name is not certain, but Nibheis is commonly translated as "venomous" or "malicious".

Someone once carried a piano to the summit for charity.

The tallest, the smallest

We have already looked at how to say "taller", "smaller", etc.:

  • Tha a' bheinn seo nas àirde. - This mountain is higher.

  • Tha a' bhròg seo nas lugha. - This shoe is smaller.

In this skill, we learn how to say tallest, smallest, etc.

To do this, we use as, rather than nas. These superlative sentences are used with definite nouns in Gaelic:

  • A' bheinn as àirde. - The highest mountain.

  • A' bhròg as lugha. - The smallest shoe.

  • An taigh as motha. - The biggest house.

More practice with the simple future tense

  • Coisichidh mi. - I will walk.

  • Cha choisich mi. - I won't walk.

  • An coisich thu? - Will you walk?

  • Leanaidh mi. - I will follow.

  • Cha lean mi. - I won't follow.

  • An lean thu? - Will you follow?

Beinn Laomainn / Ben Lomond

A popular hill near Glasgow. The name is most likely a mix of Welsh and Gaelic origin meaning "Beacon Hill".

Am Monadh Ruadh / The Cairngorms

A mountain range in the East Highlands, that also gives its name to a national park.

Monadh is used for a range of hills and is likely of Brythonic origin (Welsh: Mynydd ). The Brythonic languages form the other branch of the Celtic language family and include Welsh, Cornish, and Breton. Monadh may have come from the extinct Pictish language.

An Cuiltheann / The Cuillin

The Cuillinn is a mountain range in the Isle of Skye. Famous for being both craggy, stunning, and foreboding in equal measure. They are a sight to behold, and the view from the top is half decent too.

Mountain Dictionary

bothan - bothy

The word "bothan" can cover quite a wide range of small-ish sheds and buildings. One of them is a mountain bothy. A bothy is a basic shelter, usually left unlocked and available for anyone to use free of charge.

càrn - cairn

A cairn is a pile of stones, sometimes used to mark a summit.

coire - corrie

Our first attempt to describe what a corrie is was a disaster (big mountain hole thing), so we turned to the Walk Highlands website:

"Corries are ice-gouged bowls carved into the side of mountains by glaciers during the last ice age. Often ringed by crags and sometimes cradling a lochan, corries are often known as cirques in the Alps and Pyrenees, combs in the English Lake District, and cyms in Wales."

tàrmachan - ptarmigan

The ptarmigan is many things. It is a survivor, a climber, and a master of camouflage. It is also a bird.

Beach #4 · 2020-12-13 ^

Sitting Down 101

We have got some serious mileage out of the various forms of ann we have come across on our long journey together:

  • Obh obh, tha Iain ann. - Oh dear, Iain is there.

  • Tha mi ann am bùth. - I am in a shop.

  • Tha mi ann an Glaschu. - I am in Glasgow.

  • 'S e nurs a th' annam. - I am a nurse.

  • 'S e amadan a th' annad. - You are an idiot.

We are about to come across some new handy forms of ann:

  • nam... - in my…

  • nad... - in your…

Both of these cause the following word to lenite whenever they can.

We can use these to describe states of being. This sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is. The best thing to do is see it in practice.

For example, Gaelic makes a distinction between the act of sitting (putting yourself in a seated position) and being seated (on your tòn).

suidhe - sitting

  • Tha mi a' suidhe. - I am sitting down.

This implies movement. You are going from standing to a seated position.


  • Tha mi nam shuidhe. - I am sitting. (seated)

  • An robh thu nad shuidhe? - Were you sitting? (seated)

Starting to make sense? The second structure doesn't involve movement. You are in a state of being seated.

seasamh - standing

  • Tha mi a' seasamh. - I am standing up.

This also implies movement from a seated/lying/crouching tiger position to a standing one.


  • Tha mi nam sheasamh. - I am standing.

  • Tha thu nad sheasamh. - You are standing.

laighe - lying

  • Tha mi a' laighe. - I am lying down.

This is going from a standing position to a lying one. Again, the key difference here is movement.


  • Tha mi nam laighe ann an leabaidh. - I am lying in a bed.

  • Tha thu nad laighe ann an leabaidh. - You are lying in a bed.

This is you just lying down, chillin'.

sìneadh - stretching

  • Tha mi a' sìneadh. - I am stretching.

You might do this before a run or a really strenuous Gaelic session. Again, movement.


  • Tha mi nam shìneadh. - I am stretched out.

This is you stretched out flat on the floor after another rigorous Gaelic session.

Future tense - cha + t = no lenition

Cha loves to lenite. T loves to rebel.

  • Cha tog mi caisteal-gainmhich. - I will not build a sandcastle.

Highland #2 · 2020-12-27 ^

The Highlands / A' Ghàidhealtachd

Scotland is traditionally divided into the Highlands and the Lowlands, but defining what these areas are is surprisingly difficult.

We can look at it purely in geographical terms. The Scottish mainland is cut in half, like a terrible magician's assistant, by the Highland Boundary Fault. The area to the north-west of this line is in the Highlands, with the Lowlands on the other side.

There is more to it than lines in the rocks though. The modern name in Gaelic - a' Ghàidhealtachd - means "the land of the Gaels". Generally, the Highlands (as a cultural area) comprises the parts of Scotland where Gaelic remained strongest until more recently, but that again is a pretty sweeping generalisation.

Saying where exactly the Highlands stop and the Lowlands begin would be difficult. The Gaelic definition usually includes the Western Isles, as well as the mainland.

Often associated with empty glens, clans, and battles, the modern Highlands are a beautiful but complex place, best understood through a Gaelic lens.

Going to

We have had plenty of practice talking about places we have been going when there is a definite article involved:

  • Tha mi a' dol dhan Òban. - I am going to Oban.

When the place name doesn't begin with an article, we use a; a form of do meaning "to". This causes lenition when possible:

Geàrrloch - Gairloch

A town in the Northwest Highlands

  • Tha mi a' dol a Gheàrrloch. - I am going to Gairloch.

N.B. "Tha mi a' dol gu Geàrrloch" has a similar meaning, but that would imply you are going to the outskirts of the town, rather than right into the centre.

We will look at how this works with vowels further down / up the tree.

Dùn Omhain - Dunoon

A town in Argyll (the Southern Highlands).

  • Tha mi a' dol a Dhùn Omhain. - I am going to Dunoon.

What's a clan?

The English word clan is derived from the Gaelic word "clann".

Much of Highland society was organised around a clan structure of kinship. Explaining exactly what this was would require genuine research and a pretty serious character limit. In modern terms, a clan (cinneadh ) is a kinship grouping, based on shared identity and descent. Most clans have their own tartan, motto, and coat of arms, and some are headed by a clan chief who may or may not wear tweed.

The lively men

The Gaelic for the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) is na Fir-chlis, which means "the lively / nimble men". The original Gaelic is more poetic than the translation to be fair!

Politics #6 · 2020-12-27 ^

I Loathe Politics!

A friendly competitiveness is important in a democracy:

  • Is lugha orm iad. - I loathe them.

  • Is lugha orra sinn. - They loathe us.

  • Is lugha orm Iain cuideachd. - I loathe Iain too.

The genitive case - a glimpse

The genitive case in Gaelic (which shows possession) has its quirks. We catch a glimpse of it here in a couple of set phrases.

  • Alba - Scotland

  • Pàrlamaid na h-Alba - The Scottish Parliament

The word Alba here is in the genitive case, because it is the parliament of Scotland.

We will take a deep dive into the genitive case at some point in the future (scout's honour ). Don't worry too much about tackling the grammar monster behind this at this stage.

I am asleep

Remember these guys?

  • Tha mi nam chadal. - I am asleep.

  • Bha thu nad chadal. - You were asleep.

We have already come across "tha mi a' cadal" (I am sleeping ).

We're going to level with you: this form with nam, nad, etc. is more idiomatic and will be a better fit for the vast majority of situations. The first structure is still useful and you will see it, especially when you are talking about sleeping in more general terms.

  • Am bi mathain a' cadal fad an latha? - Do bears sleep all day?

A whirlwind tour of Scottish politics

Going to give the most bland, neutral overview of Scottish politics ever.

Scotland is one of the constituent nations of the United Kingdom. Scotland has a parliament, but some powers are held by the government in London. The head of the Scottish Government is the "First Minister" (Prìomh-mhinistear).

Some people want Scotland to be an independent country. Some people don't. There was a referendum on independence in 2014, which the pro-union side won. Some people want there to be another referendum. Some people don't. Who knows what is going to happen!

We are too busy doing the Tips and Notes for Gaelic Duolingo to watch the news, so we assume everything is going grand at the moment.

Lowland #3 · 2020-12-27 ^

The Lowlands / A' Ghalldachd

First off: some parts of the Lowlands are actually quite high, and although the Gaelic term means "the land of the foreigners", Gaelic is certainly not foreign to the Lowlands. Although much of the Lowlands came to be dominated by the Scots language, Gaelic had previously been widespread. The Lowlands are absolutely chock full of Gaelic place names.

Over 40% of all Gaelic speakers in Scotland now live in the Lowlands, with many concentrated in larger cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh. The number of children in Gaelic Medium Education there has grown significantly, and there seems to be an increasing desire to connect with the language.

Want to delve into the meaning of these names? Then check out the excellent Ainmean Àite na h-Alba (AÀA) website for the place name lowdown.

An ann…? / Nach ann…?

Remember this?

  • 'S ann à Glaschu a tha mi. - I am from Glasgow.

  • Chan ann à Pàislig a tha mi. - I am not from Paisley.

We now come to the questioning form of this structure:

  • An ann à Glaschu a tha thu? - Are you from Glasgow?

    • 'S ann! - Yes!

    • Chan ann! - No!

We are also introduced to the interrogative form:

  • Nach ann à Pàislig a tha thu? - Aren't you from Paisley?

tro - through

Tro is a preposition and a serial leniter, flinging about extra hs like it’s nobody’s business:

  • tro bhùth - through a shop

  • tro thaigh - through a house

Irregular verbs, but in the future!

Remember this?

  • Chaidh mi dhan bhùth. - I went to the shop.
  • Cha deach mi dhan bhùth. - I didn't go to the shop.

These are the past tense forms of the irregular verb "rach". In the future tense, we use:

  • Thèid mi a Ghlaschu. - I will go to Glasgow.
  • Cha tèid mi a Dhùn Dè. - I will not go to Dundee.
  • An tèid thu a Ghlaschu? - Will you go to Glasgow?
  • Nach tèid thu a Dhùn Dè? - Won’t you go to Dundee?

N.B. The t in tèid is normally pronounced as a d.

That's us visited the Highlands, Islands, and Lowlands now. We are going to take a quite detour back to the Highlands before flying out to the new old country - Alba Nuadh (Nova Scotia).

History #3 · 2020-12-27 ^

Scottish history / Eachdraidh na h-Alba

The first thing to note about Scottish history is that there is quite a lot of it. Scotland is old, but there was a time before any concept of Scotland as a nation existed (shout out to the Dark Ages). Scotland has probably always been a place of many languages.

Gaels, Picts, Vikings, and Romans

DISCLAIMER - we are neither historians nor factologists!

Various peoples inhabited Dark Ages Scotland. The Gaels (na Gàidheil ) spoke an ancestor of modern Gaelic. The Picts (na Cruithnich ) probably spoke a language related to Welsh. Eventually, the Picts and Gaels united (probably not too peacefully) under a single king to form Scotland (Alba ).

The Vikings (na Lochlannaich ) left a significant legacy; raiding, plundering, and settling the Isles and parts of the north. Many place names in the Isles are of Viking origin.

The Romans (na Ròmanaich ) came, fought, but didn't get on too well with the whole conquest thing. There were also the Britons (na Breatannaich ) speaking a language related to Welsh in Strathclyde (near modern Glasgow); and the Angles (na h-Anglaich ), who spoke a predecessor to Scots / Scottish English which stretched from the Lothians down to Northumbria in England.

Uilleam Uallas - William Wallace

William Wallace was one of the Scottish leaders during the First War of Scottish Independence. Wallace defeated an English army at Stirling Bridge in 1297 (not alone).

He was captured in 1305 and handed over to King Edward the 1st of England, who had him hanged, drawn, and quartered for treason.

His life inspired the famous Braveheart film, which in turn made baring your backside in a kilt synonymous with Scottish culture.

Raibeart Brus - Robert the Bruce

Robert Bruce was king of Scots from 1306 to 1329. He famously led the Scottish army to victory over English armies at the Battle of Bannockburn (Blàr Allt a' Bhonnaich ). Defeating the English tends to go down well in Scottish circles and so many regard him as a national hero.

Flirting #3 · 2022-07-18 ^

Future tense irregular verb #2 - faic

Another irregular verb in the bag.

  • Chì mi Anndra a-màireach. - I will see Andrew tomorrow.
  • Chan fhaic mi Anna a-màireach. - I won't see Anna tomorrow.
  • Am faic thu Teàrlach? - Will you see Charles?
  • Nach fhaic thu Eilidh? - Won't you see Eilidh?

ma - if

Ma means “if”:

  • Ma bha Màiri ann. - If Mairi was there.
  • Ma tha Iain ann. - If Iain is there.
  • Ma thèid sinn dhachaigh. - If we go home.

After ma, we use the relative future form bhios.:

  • Ma bhios Calum ann. - If Calum will be there.
  • Ma bhios tu sgìth, thèid sinn dhachaigh. - If you will be tired, we will go home.

Making links - gu bheil

We use gu bheil in place of tha when we are linking sentences or ideas. You don't need to know the terminology, but this is the secondary or dependent form of tha.

Let's take two parts of a sentence and use gu bheil to combine them:

Part 1 thuirt iad - they said

Part 2 tha Màiri sgìth - Mairi is tired

Together, we get:

  • Thuirt iad gu bheil Màiri sgìth. - They said that Mairi is tired.

Let's try that again:

Part 1 saoilidh mi - I think

Part 2 tha Iain gòrach - Iain is stupid

Together, we get:

  • Saoilidh mi gu bheil Iain gòrach. - I think that Iain is stupid.

Making links - nach eil

This works very similarly to gu bheil but is used for negative statements. When we are linking two parts of a sentence, chan eil becomes nach eil:

Part 1 a bheil thu cinnteach - are you sure

Part 2 chan eil Iain ann - Iain isn't there

This becomes:

  • A bheil thu cinnteach nach eil Iain ann? - Are you sure that Iain isn't there?

Part 1 tha mi toilichte - I am happy

Part 2 chan eil Iain ann - Iain isn't there

This becomes:

  • Tha mi toilichte nach eil Iain ann. - I am happy that Iain isn't there.

Gu bheil and nach eil might seem like a lot to wrap your head around at first. A similar thing happens with all verbs in Gaelic, and getting comfortable with this will stand you in really good stead going forward. It also opens up a lot of new things we can say. Happy days!

Word order

All of the following sentences are ceart. The former in each sequence flows better, and would probably bring the most joy to a native speaker's heart.

  • Chì mi a-màireach thu.
  • Chì mi thu a-màireach.

Both meaning - I will see you tomorrow.

  • Chì mi a-nochd thu.
  • Chì mi thu a-nochd.

Both meaning - I will see you tonight.

This flexibility is mainly there for when you use pronouns (mi, thu, e, i, and friends).

When you are using a noun or a proper noun (name), the word order is more rigid:

CORRECT (endless glory):

  • Chì mi Iain a-màireach.

WRONG (shame, possibly banishment):

  • Chì mi a-màireach Iain.

If you wanted to say “I will see Iain tomorrow”, you would always use the former.

History 2 #3 · 2021-02-07 ^

The Jacobites / Na Seumasaich

Jacobitism was a movement seeking to restore the House of Stewart to the British throne in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Bonnie Prince Charlie (am Prionnsa Teàrlach ) landed in the Isles before raising his standard at Glenfinnan (Gleann Fhionnain ). Gaelic speakers fought on both sides of this conflict, but support for the Jacobite cause was particularly strong in the Highlands and Islands.

The Jacobites were famously defeated at the Battle of Culloden (Blàr Chùil Lodair ) in 1746. Gaelic language and culture were widely suppressed after the battle. This was the last pitched battle to be fought in Scotland.

The Massacre of Glencoe / Murt Ghleann Comhann

38 MacDonalds were massacred at Glencoe in 1692 by members of Clan Campbell. Campbell soldiers arrived and sought shelter with the MacDonalds, who honoured codes of hospitality and took them in. The massacre was not a simple inter-clan feud, with the Campbells being directed by a minister of the British Monarch.

The soldiers arrived at Glen Coe 12 days before the massacre, as friends, seeking shelter due to the fact that the fort was full. The MacDonalds, honouring the Highland hospitality code, duly gave the soldiers quarter in their own houses.

The Highland Clearances / Fuadaichean nan Gàidheal

The Highland Clearances was the large scale eviction of tenants in the Highlands and Islands in the 18th and 19th Centuries. The Clearances dramatically decreased the population in parts of the Highlands and Islands. Many tenants were forced off their land and moved to the coast to engage in kelp harvesting, an industry which would later collapse. Many were displaced to make room for sheep farming. The Highland Potato Famine occurred during the time of the Clearances, increasing hardship for many.

Many Gaels went overseas, resulting in a large overseas Scottish diaspora. Between 1815 and 1870, it is estimated that 50,000 Gaelic speakers went to Nova Scotia.

The Clearances were a complex series of events. Giving a simplified overview of them here would be very difficult. One thing that is clear is that they represented a disaster for many communities, and their legacy is still felt today.

The Stone of Destiny / An Lia Fàil

The Stone of Destiny or Stone of Scone was used in the coronation of Scottish (and later, British) monarchs. In 1950, a group of students travelled to London to steal/liberate the stone from Westminster Abbey and bring it back to Scotland. Among them was Kay Matheson, a Gaelic speaker from Inverasdale (Inbhir Àsdail ). The famous Gaelic song "Òran na Cloiche" celebrates the event.

Highland 2 #3 · 2020-12-27 ^

Back to the Highlands

In Highlands, we looked at how to say where we were going, when the place we are talking about doesn't contain a definite article:

  • Tha mi a' dol a Dhùn Omhain. - I am going to Dunoon.
  • Tha mi a' dol a Chaol Loch Aillse. - I am going to Kyle of Lochalsh.

When the place name starts with a vowel, we still use a but follow it with dh' to keep the vowels separate (because Gaelic vowels hate each other).

  • Tha mi a' dol a dh'Inbhir Nis. - I am going to Inverness.
  • Tha mi a' dol a dh'Ulapul. - I am going to Ullapool.


We have already seen the word Gàidhlig being used as an adjective.

The word Gàidhealach means ‘Gaelic’ too, but it is generally used for people or things that are culturally Gaelic or pertain to the Highlands:

  • leabhar Gàidhlig - a Gaelic book
  • boireannach Gàidhealach - a Gaelic woman
  • dannsa Gàidhealach - Highland dancing

Bò-ghàidhealach - The Highland Coo

Do you feel strongly that normal cattle just aren't hairy enough? Then the Highland Cow (Bò-ghàidhealach ) is the breed for you.

Hardy, rugged, and hairy. 10/10. Excellent cows.

Crofting #7 · 2020-12-27 ^


To say there is ‘only’ a certain amount of something, we use the following combinations:

  • Chan eil ach aon chearc ann. - There is only one chicken.
  • Cha robh ach aon chearc ann. - There was only one chicken.
  • Cha bhi ach aon chearc ann. - There will only be one chicken.

You also hear dìreach being used in this way:

  • Tha dìreach aon chearc ann. - There is just one chicken.

The structures above with ach are more natural and are a great thing to know.

fo / fon

These words mean “under”. You use fo when the noun following it has no definite article. Fo lenites the noun whenever it can:

  • Fo thaigh. - Under a house.
  • Fo thractar. - Under a tractor.
  • Fo chaora. - Under a sheep.

We use fon before a noun that has a definite article, and it generally lenites the noun by triggering the dative case:

  • Fon bhaile. - Under the town.

T, D, and N are dental consonants, and when they come together, they often block lenition:

  • Fon chaora. - Under the sheep.


  • Fon taigh. - Under the house.
  • Fon tractar. - Under the tractor.
  • Fon doras. - Under the door.

This is also true for the prepositions dhan and bhon:

  • Dhan taigh. - To the house.
  • Bhon tractar. - From the tractor.

She is standing, he is sitting

Remember this?

  • Tha mi nam sheasamh. - I am standing.
  • Tha thu nad shuidhe. - You are sitting.

When we want to say “he is standing”, we use a similar structure:

  • Tha e na sheasamh. - He is standing.
  • Bha e na shuidhe. - He was sitting.

When we want to say “she is standing”, we use na but without the lenition:

  • Tha i na seasamh. - She is standing.
  • Bha i na suidhe. - She was sitting.

Irregular future verb #3 - toir


  • Bheir mi isbean dhan chù. - I will give a sausage to the dog.
  • Cha toir mi criospan dhan chat. - I won't give crisps to the cat.
  • An toir thu iasg dhan chat? - Will you give a fish to the cat?
  • Nach toir thu càise dhan luch? - Won't you give cheese to the mouse?

Describing #6 · 2022-07-18 ^

The dative case with an adjective

Before now, we have already taken the plunge into the icy waters of the dative case.

The examples below are all preceded by a definite article, and these changes take place only when the article is involved:

NOMINATIVE an càr - the car an gàrradh - the garden

DATIVE anns a' chàr - in the car anns a' ghàrradh - in the garden

We can add in an adjective here. Adjectives like to copy any changes that happen to the noun:

  • anns a' chàr dhearg - in the red car
  • anns a' ghàrradh mhòr - in the big garden

This also happens when there is no visible lenition on the noun:

NOMINATIVE an leabhar dubh - the black book an taigh mòr - the big house an t-agallamh cudromach - the important interview*

DATIVE anns an leabhar dhubh - in the black book anns an taigh mhòr - in the big house anns an agallamh chudromach - in the important interview*

Screeching Disclaimer

In the examples you come across here, there is little to no difference between the rules for masculine and feminine nouns:

  • ris a' bhalach bheag - to the little boy
  • ris a' chaileag bheag - beside the little girl

In more formal Gaelic, commonly used by native speakers and on the Gaelic news, you will come across the traditional rules for feminine nouns, which slenderise in the dative case where possible (gain an extra i):

  • ris a' chaileig bhig - to the little girl
  • aig an uinneig mhòir - at the big window

There are examples of slenderisation in the course, and it has been also preserved in a good few set phrases.

Adjective order - Size, Quality, Colour

Aye, so size first, then quality, then colour.

Here are some examples with size and quality only:

  • An cù beag snog. - *The nice, little dog.
  • An cat mòr greannach. - The big, grumpy cat.
  • An t-eun beag luath. - The fast, little bird.

Here are some examples with size and colour only:

  • An càr mòr dearg. - The big, red car.
  • An taigh beag geal. - The little, white house.

Quality and colour now:

  • An cat greannach dubh. - The grumpy, black cat.
  • An cuilean brèagha donn. - The beautiful, brown puppy.

The full monty a-nis:

  • An cat mòr àlainn dubh - The big, lovely, black cat.

This is one of these things you will internalise with practice, so don't fret if it takes a while to stuff into your brain.

Alba Nuadh #3 · 2022-04-19 ^

Alba Nuadh / Nova Scotia

Gaelic has been spoken in Nova Scotia continuously since the 18th Century, with the highest concentration of speakers in Cape Breton Island. Today, there is a Gaelic college (Colaisde na Gàidhlig) at St. Anne's and Gaelic courses are taught at St. Francis Xavier University.

The Highland Village in Cape Breton (Baile nan Gàidheal) showcases traditional Gaelic culture. There are ongoing efforts to secure the future of Gaelic in the province and many are learning the language in their communities.

Gàidhlig Chanada / Canadian Gaelic

Nova Scotia's Gaelic tradition is rich. The Gaelic spoken in Nova Scotia is familiar to a Scottish ear (and vice versa) but there are some distinct dialectal features to be found in Canadian Gaelic. This skill is voiced by Nova Scotians. One feature of Cape Breton / Nova Scotia Gaelic to look out for is that a broad L sound (such as that found in "làmh") is often pronounced similarly to an English W.

Step dancing / Dannsa-ceum

Cape Breton's musical and dancing traditions go hand in hand. Step dancing is a distinctive type of percussive dance that is still practiced and celebrated in Cape Breton Island today.

Milling frolic / Froilig-luaidh

Do you like hitting cloth off a table repeatedly? Then you'd love a milling frolic. Milling frolics are traditional gatherings where cloth is "waulked" (hit off a table) to tighten the fabric and make it more watertight. Gaelic songs are sung to keep everyone in time. While this activity was born of a necessity, it it now very much a social gathering!

Gaelic in Canada

Nova Scotia isn't the only part of Canada where Gaelic was and is spoken; there are active Gaelic societies in other provinces too. In the 2016 census, there were 15 people in Prince Edward Island (Eilean Eòin) that listed Scottish Gaelic as their mother tongue.

Some of the things we look at in this skill would be familiar to most Canadians - like ice hockey (hocaidh-deighe) or just hocaidh for short.

Indigenous Peoples

The Maritime Provinces of Canada were already home to indigenous peoples when the Gaels arrived, including the Mi'kmaq people. The Gaelic for an indigenous person is tùsanach and the plural is tùsanaich. The Gaelic for an indigenous Canadian is tùsanach Chanada. The spelling change in Canada here is caused by Gaelic's gentive case, which we have dipped our toes into before - but not covered in detail.

Rich and distinct

We have included some phrases and words that are far more common in Canadian varieties of Scottish Gaelic:

"Cò a b' athair dhut?" - "Who's your father?"

A common expression in Nova Scotia to find out who someone's family is.

"Dè an saoghal a th' agad?" - "How is life treating you?"

You could easily come across this on both sides of the Atlantic. Literally, it is asking what your world is like.

stòr - a store

We use the word bùth in Scotland for things like supermarkets. The word stòr is used in Scotland, but generally for storage areas.

While Canadian Gaelic sometimes has a different word from Scottish Gaelic, sometimes it uses the same word but with a different meaning. The word smeòrach, for example, would mean "a robin" in Canada, but "a thrush" in Scotland. We have really just dipped our toes into Nova Scotian Gaelic, but there is a lot more to explore.


Donair is a famous Halifax delicacy. It consists of spiced beef in a pitta. The Gaelic for "donair" is donair.

An irregular verb - sort of

We have already come across thuirt, the past tense form of abair - "to say".

There is a future tense form of this verb - their ("will say") and chan abair ("will not say").

In most dialects it is far more common to use the verb can in the future tense:

  • canaidh mi - I will say

  • cha chan mi - I will not say

  • an can thu? - will you say?

  • nach can thu? - won't you say?

The dative case and adjectives

Adjectives like to mirror changes that happen to the noun when Gaelic's dative case is triggered:


an cù mòr - the big dog


aig a' chù mhòr - at the big dog


an cat beag - the small cat


aig a' chat bheag - at the small cat

We can see the same thing happen in some Nova Scotia place names:


am Baile Mòr - Antigonish

am Baile Beag - New Glasgow


anns a' Bhaile Mhòr - in Antigonish

anns a' Bhaile Bheag - in New Glasgow

Home 3 #6 · 2022-07-27 ^

nar seasamh / nan cadal

Remember these bad boys?

  • Tha mi nam chadal. - I am asleep.

  • Tha thu nad sheasamh. - You are standing.

We use these forms of ann to describe states of being. We add a few more of these to our collection in this skill.

  • Tha sinn nar cadal. - We are asleep.

  • Tha iad nan cadal. - They are asleep.

  • Tha sinn nar seasamh. - We are standing.

  • Tha iad nan seasamh. - They are standing.

N.B. In the case of iad, if the verb begins with either B, F, M or P, then we use an alternative form that we come across later in the course - nam.

Future tense irregular verb #5 - faigh

Halfway to collecting all the irregular future tense verbs. In it to win it, a chàirdean. In this skill we meet the future tense of gheibh - "to get"

  • Gheibh sinn marag-dhubh. - We will get black pudding.

  • Chan fhaigh sinn marag-dhubh. - We will not get black pudding.

  • Am faigh sinn IRN BRU? - Will we get an IRN BRU?

  • Nach fhaigh sinn glasraich? - Won't we get vegetables?

N.B. - Dialectal variation in Gaelic is not huge, but the pronunciation of gheibh can vary quite a lot! There are two common pronunciations and it is good to recognise both. It can be pronounced similar to "yoh" or "yehv".

Double N.B. - There is an alternative, but still correct, form of "nach fhaigh" - nach faigh.


We have no grammatical point to make here, but dhìochuimhnich ("forgot") is a really long word! Fourteen letters, baby!

That would net you 33 points in a game of Scrabble.

Call me maybe - 's dòcha

'S dòcha means "maybe" and after it, we have to use dependent forms of the verb like gu bheil, instead of tha; or nach eil, instead of chan eil:

  • 'S dòcha gu bheil thu ceart. - Maybe you are right.

  • 'S dòcha nach eil iad a-staigh. - Maybe they aren't in.

Counting in the tens with -deug

So far, we have learned to count objects up to ten.

  • aon bhàta - one boat

  • dà bhàta - two boats

  • trì bàtaichean - three boats

  • ceithir bàtaichean - four boats

  • còig bàtaichean - five boats

The numbers 6, 7, 8, 9, and our good friend 10 all follow the same pattern as the numbers 3, 4, and 5. Things start to look a little different between 11 and 19, though.


  • aon-deug - eleven
  • bàta - a boat
  • aon bhàta deug - eleven boats

The noun sits in the middle of the two halves of the number, like a noun sandwich (nounwich). Aon and continue to cause lenition in the following noun, and the noun is still singular.


  • dà-dheug - twelve
  • dà bhàta dheug - twelve boats

Notice that the deug still takes an 'h', as has strong leniting powers which jump across the noun in the nounwich.


These guys all follow the same pattern as each other. The noun still sits in a noun sandwich. No lenition here (phew!), but the noun is plural.

  • trì bàtaichean deug - thirteen boats

  • ceithir bàtaichean deug - fourteen boats

  • còig bàtaichean deug - fifteen boats

  • naoi bàtaichean deug - nineteen boats

I hope you enjoyed your delicious nounwich.

Fighting #6 · 2022-04-19 ^


As we have seen, Gaelic is simply too powerful to have only one word for "yes" and "no". It does, however, have a handy word for general agreement - seadh.

This is great for expressing understanding or agreement, moving a conversation on, or pretending you are listening.

You can't use it to answer questions though.

gam / gad

These are special prepositional pronouns with aig that we use when a personal pronoun (mi, thu, e, i, etc.) follows a verbal noun. Basically, personal pronouns don't like hanging out by themselves after a verbal noun, so we have to use a special form.

The best way to make sense of this is to see it, so we have given a couple of correct sentences and some incorrect ones below.

gam - at me


  • Tha e a' bualadh mi. - He is hitting me.

AVERT THINE EYES. This one does not work because mi doesn't like hanging out after a' bualadh, which is a verbal noun.


Here is the correct way to do this:

  • Tha e gam bhualadh. - He is hitting me.

Gam causes lenition whenever it can. The "me" part of the sentence is contained in the word gam.

Literally, this would translate as "he is at my hitting".

gad - at you

This works in the exact same way. Gad also lenites the following noun when it can.


  • Tha i a' breabadh thu. - She is kicking you.

This does not work because thu cannot hang out and relax after a verbal noun.


  • Tha i gad bhreabadh. - She is kicking you.

Literally, this would translate as "she is at your kicking".

N.B. This has no effect on your run-of-the-mill noun, only pronouns.

  • Tha mi a' faicinn cat.

  • Tha mi a' cluinntinn eun.

  • Tha mi a' bualadh Iain.

It is only when mi, thu, e, i, sinn, sibh, or iad are needed. We will collect the full set of these special forms as we move through the course.

Double N.B. You quite often see the fuller forms of these used:

Gam is a contraction of ga and mo.

  • Bha iad ga mo bhualadh. - They were hitting me.

Gad is a contraction of ga and do.

  • Tha iad ga do chuideachadh. - They are helping you.

Cothrom na Fèinne

Everyone loves a bit of single combat. This expression derives from one-to-one combat and means "a fair chance". It is used for more than just fighting these days.

  • Cha robh cothrom na Fèinne againn. - We did not have a fair chance.

This comes from an Fhèinn, or in English, the Fianna. These were a famed warrior band from Irish, Scottish, and Manx folklore/mythology. Pretty cool. "A fair chance" in Gaelic is a fair fight.

Spiritual #6 · 2022-04-19 ^

Na Sithichean / The Fairies

Belief in the fairies is old in Gaelic culture (Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man). Forget Disney, these fairies ranged from mischievous to downright lethal.

The Fairies were believed to live in a fairy mound (sìthean), and people traditionally gave these a wide berth!

Tursachan Chalanais / The Standing Stones of Callanish

The Callanish Stones are a Neolithic monument at Callanish on the Isle of Lewis. They are around 5,000 years old. That's even older than Stonehenge. Take that, Stonehenge!

Irregular verb!

To be honest, we have lost count of these now.

These are the future tense forms of dèan, meaning "to make" or "to do".

  • mi aran. - I will make bread.

  • Cha dèan mi aran. - I will not make bread.

  • An dèan thu aran? - Will you make bread?

  • Nach dèan thu aran? - Won't you make bread?

We also use dèan to talk about praying in Gaelic.

  • Rinn mi ùrnaigh. - I prayed. (lit. "I did prayer")

  • mi ùrnaigh. - I will pray. (lit. "I will do prayer")

Nam falach

Remember nan?

  • Tha iad nan cadal. - They are asleep.

  • Tha iad nan seasamh. - They are standing.

  • Tha iad nan suidhe. - They are sitting.

When the verb that follows iad starts with B, F, M, or P, we use nam instead of nan.

  • Tha iad nam falach. - They are hidden.


Remember fear and , which both mean "one"?

  • Fear mòr. - A big one. (masculine)

  • Tè mhòr. - A big one. (feminine)

Feadhainn is another very useful word which means ones or some. This can be used for both objects and people.

  • Bha feadhainn anns an eaglais. - Some were in the church.

  • Bha feadhainn ag ùrnaigh. - Some were praying.

About Us #3 · 2022-04-19 ^

ga - kicking him / kicking her

Personal pronouns like e and i don't like hanging out by themselves after a verbal noun.

We have come across gam and gad in the Fighting skill:

  • Tha Màiri gam bhreabadh. - Mairi is kicking me.
  • Carson a tha Iain gad bhreabadh. - Why is Iain kicking you?

ga - at him

This works very similarly:

  • Tha mi ga chluinntinn. - I am hearing him.
  • Tha mi ga chuideachadh. - I am helping him.

When the verbal noun begins with a vowel, there is no change:

  • Tha mi ga aithneachadh. - I am recognising him.

ga - at her

This works similarly, but without lenition:

  • Tha mi ga cluinntinn. - I am hearing her.
  • Tha mi ga cuideachadh. - I am helping her.

When the verbal noun begins with a vowel, we have to add a h- before the verb:

  • Tha mi ga h-aithneachadh. - I am recognising her.

Làidir, ach nas treasa

Treasa is the irregular comparative form of the adjective làidir.

  • Tha Iain làidir, ach tha Màiri nas treasa. - Iain is strong, but Mairi is stronger.

Some people use nas làidire instead of nas treasa, which is also grand.

Emphatic Prepositions

All prepositional pronouns have an emphatic form. That might seem like a lot to learn, but they all follow a similar pattern.

We come across some emphatic pronouns here:

  • 'S ann leamsa a tha e! - It is mine!
  • Chan ann leatsa a tha e! - It isn't yours!
  • 'S ann leinne a tha e! - It is ours!

cò leis

This is how we ask who something (or often, someone) belongs to:

  • Cò leis a tha an càr dearg? - Who does the red car belong to?

  • Cò leis a tha a' chèic? - Who does the cake belong to?

This can also be used for people, although we don't come across this in detail in this part of the course:

  • Cò leis a tha Màiri? - Who are Mairi's family? (lit. "Who does Màiri belong to?")

Europe #3 · 2022-04-19 ^


We have already come across the very similar rugadh:

  • Rugadh mi ann an Inbhir Nis. - I was born in Inverness.
  • Rugadh mi ann am biona. - I was born in a bin.

Thogadh works in pretty much the same way.

  • Thogadh mi ann am Malaig. - I was brought up in Mallaig.

Future tense irregular verb! - ruig

Another irregular future tense form. Nice.

We use forms of ruig to mean "to arrive" or "to reach".

  • Ruigidh sinn an drochaid a-nochd. - We will reach the bridge tonight.
  • Cha ruig sinn am baile a-nochd. - We will not reach the town tonight.
  • An ruig sinn Dùn Èideann a-nochd? - Will we reach Edinburgh tonight?
  • Nach ruig sinn an Ròimh a-nochd? - Won't we reach Rome tonight?


This is an entirely made up word. Some of the words we come across relating to countries in this skill can be both a noun and an adjective:

For example, Eadailteach can mean a person from Italy:

  • 'S e Eadailteach a th' ann. - He is an Italian.

...or it can be used as an adjective:

  • Biadh Eadailteach. - Italian food.

Some more examples:

  • 'S e Gearmailteach a th' innte. - She is a German.
  • Biadh Gearmailteach. - German food.
  • 'S e Albannach a th' innte. - She is a Scot.
  • Ceòl Albannach. - Scottish music.

Work 4 #2 · 2022-04-19 ^

Putting prepositional pronouns to work

We have already spent a fair bit of time describing what we do using a combination of 's e and ann:

  • 'S e nurs a th' annam. - I am a nurse.
  • 'S e tidsear a th' annad. - You are a teacher.
  • 'S e leabharlannaiche a th' ann an Calum. - Calum is a librarian.

There is another very common way of doing this, and thankfully, we have already scooped up all the necessary grammar when we talked about states of being:

  • Tha mi nam sheasamh. - I am standing.
  • Tha thu nad laighe. - You are lying down.
  • Tha Calum na chadal. - Calum is asleep.
  • Tha Anna nacadal. - Anna is asleep.

We can use this exact same structure to describe what we do for a living:

  • Tha mi nam dhotair. - I am a doctor.
  • Tha thu nad thidsear. - You are a teacher.
  • Tha Calum na innleadair. - Calum is an engineer.
  • Tha Anna na h-innleadair. - Anna is an engineer.

Some new forms - "nar" and "nur"

Now we can complete the whole set of these special prepositional pronouns:

  • Tha sibh nur dotairean. - You are doctors. (plural)
  • Tha sibh nur tidsear. - You are a teacher. (polite)
  • Tha sinn nar tidsearan. - We are teachers.

When the noun begins with a vowel, we proceed it with n-:

  • Tha sibh nur n-ailtirean. - You are architects. (plural)
  • Tha sibh nur n-eòlaiche. - You are an expert. (polite)
  • Tha sinn nar n-innleadairean. - We are engineers.

Relative #3 · 2022-04-19 ^

It's all relative

The letter 'a' by itself does a lot of heavy lifting in Gaelic.

It can act as a preposition meaning to:

  • Tha mi a' dol a Ghlaschu. - I am going to Glasgow.

We use it when addressing people:

  • A Chaluim! Suidh sìos! - Calum! Sit down!

It can be used to show possession:

  • a bhaga - his bag

  • a baga - her bag

Impressive. A real solid all-rounder. It can also act as what is known as a relative particle, which sounds complicated, but thankfully isn't:

  • Am balach a tha sgìth. - The boy that is tired.

  • A' chaileag a bha crosta. - The girl that was cross.

Note the contrast with the following, which do not use a relative particle (a):

  • Am balach sgìth. - The tired boy.

  • A' chaileag chrosta. - The cross girl.

The difference seems minimal, but this opens up quite a few possibilities for us.

Relatively easy - throw in a verbal noun

We can tack a verbal noun onto the end:

  • Am balach a tha a' snàmh. - The boy that is swimming.

  • A' chaileag a bha a' ruith. - The girl that was running.

The relative future

Ok, no bother. We have used tha and bha with both skill and grace. Now it is time to talk about the future.

After the relative particle (a), we use the future form bhios.

You have seen this already when asking questions about things that will happen:

  • Cuin a bhios e deiseil? - When will it be finished?

  • Carson a bhios ise ann? - Why will she be there?

In questions with dè and cò the a is often omitted in both speech and writing, although it is still there! It is just hidden:

  • dè (a) bhios

  • cò (a) bhios

Have a look at this bhios form being used outside of a question:

  • Am fear a bha ag obair. - The one that was working.

  • Am fear a tha ag obair. - The one that is working.

  • Am fear a bhios ag obair. - The one that will be working.

It's in the past!

We can swap out all these forms of the verb bi ('tha', 'bha', and 'bhios') for a past tense verb. Nice.

  • A' chaileag a ghoid caora. - The girl that stole a sheep.

  • Am balach a rinn cèic. - The boy that made a cake.

  • An cat a chunnaic mi. - The cat that saw me.

Mòd #3 · 2022-07-18 ^


Another irregular future verb. We are crushing these.

  • Cluinnidh mi an t-òran ùr. - I will hear the new song.
  • Cha chluinn mi an t-òran ùr. - I won't hear the new song.
  • An cluinn sinn an t-òran ùr? - Will we hear the new song?
  • Nach cluinn sinn an t-òran ùr? - Won't we hear the new song?

N.B. - cluinnidh can also be used to discuss the present.

  • Cluinnidh mi Màiri a' seinn. - I hear Mairi singing.

This is also true of chì.

  • Chì mi sporran air a' bhòrd. - I see a wallet on the table.

Why do I need a Gold Card? What is this?

If you want to claim glory for you and your family at the Mòd, you must first prove yourself in battle (a short conversational exam).

There are different levels of card. Bronze Cards are for those that have learned a bit of Gaelic; Silver Cards for those that have a fair whack of Gaelic; and Gold Cards are for those that have ascended to fluency.

  • Cairt Umha - a Bronze Card
  • Cairt Airgid - a Silver Card
  • Cairt Òir - a Gold Card

Mura h-eil

Remember ma?

  • Ma bhios Iain ann, cha bhi mise ann. - If Iain will be there, I won't be there.

Mura is the negative equivalent.

In this unit, we come across mura h-eil, which is used in the present tense.

  • Mura h-eil iad deiseil, seinnidh còisir eile. - If they aren't ready, another choir will sing.

There are future and past tense forms of this too, which we will get to at some time.

Gar, Gur, Gan and Gam

The G gang.

We have already come across:

gam - at my

  • Tha iad gam chluinntinn. - They are hearing me.

gad - at your

  • Chan eil iad gad chluinntinn. - They are not hearing you.

ga - at him / at it

  • Tha iad ga chluinntinn. - They are hearing him.
  • Tha mi ga ithe. - I am eating it.

N.B. In the second example, the ga is standing in for a masculine noun - for example, aran ("bread").

ga - at her / at it

  • Tha iad ga cluinntinn. - They are hearing her.
  • Tha e ga h-ithe. - He is eating it.

N.B. In the second example, the ga is standing in for a feminine noun - such as cèic ("cake").

Now we meet the rest of the crowd:

gan / gam - at them

When we are talking about "them", we have two options.

We use gam for verbs that begin BFMP and gan for verbs beginning with all other letters:

  • Tha e gam moladh. - He is praising them.
  • Tha i gan cluinntinn. - She is hearing them.
  • Tha iad gan aithneachadh. - They are recognising them.

gar - at us

  • Chan eil iad gar cluinntinn. - They are not hearing us.
  • Tha iad gar moladh. - They are praising us.

gur - at your (polite / plural)

This guy works the same as gar above:

  • Chan eil iad gur cluinntinn. - They are not hearing you.
  • Tha iad gur moladh gu mòr. - They are praising you a lot.

We have already seen the change that happens when a vowel is thrown into the mix, when we encountered nar and nur:

  • Tha iad gur n-aithneachadh. - They are recognising you.
  • Chan eil iad gar n-aithneachadh. - They are not recognising us.

A Bit of Friendly Competition

There are heaps of competitions to take part in at the Mòd, for both children and adults.

We have included some of the most well known solo competitions in this unit:

  • An t-Aigeallan Airgid ("The Silver Pendant") - a solo singing competition for learners.

  • Am Bonn Òir ("The Gold Medal") - a solo singing competition for fluent speakers. This is broadcast live on telly. Intense.

  • An Seann Nòs - another gold medal, but this one is for singing in the traditional style. This one is also a live telly job. Equally intense.

These Boots Are Made for Waulking

A waulking song (òran-luaidh) is sung while waulking tweed. This process (soaking the cloth and battering it on a table) helped strengthen and soften the fabric. There is a waulking competition at the Mòd to prove who the best singers/cloth beaters really are.

Hope #4 · 2022-04-19 ^

I am proud of you!

We come across some handy prepositional pronouns here, that can be used to tell someone how proud you are:

  • asam - à + mi
  • asad - à + thu
  • às - à + e
  • aiste - à + i


  • Tha mo sheanair pròiseil asam. - My grandfather is proud of me.
  • Tha Gàidhlig agad! Tha mi pròiseil asad! - You have Gaelic! I am proud of you!
  • Rinn Màiri marag-dhubh. Tha sinn pròiseil aiste. - Mairi made a black pudding. We are proud of her.
  • Seo Iain. Chan eil mi pròiseil às. - This is Iain. I am not proud of him.

Good luck!

We come across a handy phrase to say good luck:

  • Gur math thèid leat. - Good luck.

Literally, this means "may it go well with you".

"Gur math thèid leibh" is the polite / plural form.

A slightly different form is:

  • Gur math thèid dhut.

...or more polite / for wishing a few folk luck:

  • Gur math thèid dhuibh.

I have been

We have practised talking about things we are / will be doing.

In this skill, we brush the surface of talking about things we have been doing:

  • Tha mi air a bhith ag ithe. - I have been eating.
  • Tha mi air a bhith a' cluiche iomain. - I have been playing shinty.
  • Tha mi air a bhith sgìth. - I have been tired.

Past Connections - Gun robh / Nach robh

Remember gu bheil and nach eil?

  • Saoilidh mi gu bheil thu ceart. - I think that you are right.
  • Chuala mi nach eil Iain snog. - I heard that Iain isn't nice.

These have past tense equivalents:

  • Chuala mi gun robh Iain ann. - I heard that Iain was there.
  • Chuala mi nach robh Iain ann. - I heard that Iain was not there.

I hope / I expect

We come across some handy constructions in this unit:

  • Tha mi an dòchas... - I hope...
  • Tha mi an dùil... - I expect...

These can be used with these connectives:

  • Tha mi an dòchas gu bheil Màiri ann. - I hope that Mairi is there.
  • Tha mi an dùil gu bheil Calum ceart. - I expect that Calum is right.

Future Connections - Gum bi / Nach bi

Remember gun robh and nach robh? Of course you do, that was like... two paragraphs ago!

There are the future tense equivalents:

  • Tha mi an dòchas gum bi Màiri ann. - I hope that Mairi will be there.
  • Tha mi an dòchas nach bi Iain ann. - I hope that Iain will not be there.

All together now:

present tense

gu bheil

nach eil

past tense

gun robh

nach robh

future tense

gum bi

nach bi

World #3 · 2020-12-13 ^

Global Gaelic

A huge number of people around the world are now learning Gaelic. If you live in a faraway exotic land, like Paraguay, Laos, or England, then fàilte!

We take a look at some countries in this skill. Many countries in Gaelic have a couple of acceptable forms, but we have tried to include the most common ones here.

Don't be confused if you see slight spelling variations of country names out in the wild. That's just Gaelic doing its thing.

We would have loved to include more countries and hopefully we will as the course develops further. If your country is not here then you will probably find it in the dictionary, which is full of handy sound files.

Thig - another irregular future tense verb!

  • Thig mi dhan stèisean. - I will come to the station.
  • Cha tig mi dhan stèisean. - I will not come to the station.
  • An tig thu dhan stèisean? - Will you come to the station?
  • Nach tig thu dhan stèisean? - Won't you come to the station?

I Can #3 · 2020-12-13 ^

I Can!

In this unit, we learn some handy structures with our friend, the prepositiondo.

The first set allow us to say what we can do. This is very much in the sense of being capable of:

  • 'S urrainn dhomh snàmh. - I can swim.
  • S' urrainn dhomh sreap. - I can climb.

We can change who we are talking about by swapping the form of do used:

  • 'S urrainn dhut snàmh. - You can swim.
  • 'S urrainn dha snàmh. - *He can swim.
  • 'S urrainn dhi snàmh. - She can swim.
  • 'S urrainn dhuinn snàmh. - We can swim.
  • 'S urrainn dhuibh snàmh. - You can swim. (plural / polite)
  • 'S urrainn dhaibh snàmh. - They can swim.

You can also use do with a name:

  • 'S urrainn do Chalum snàmh. - Calum can swim.
  • 'S urrainn do dh'Iain snàmh. - Iain can swim.

There are also negative and question forms of this, but these patterns should look pretty familiar:

  • Chan urrainn dhomh ruith. - I can't run.
  • An urrainn dhut sgitheadh? - Can you ski?
  • Nach urrainn dhut snàmh? - Can't you swim?

I know!

You can apply the rules above to say that you know someone. This is to say that you know who someone is:

  • 'S aithne dhomh Teàrlach. - I know Charles.
  • Chan aithne dhomh i. - I don't know her.
  • An aithne dhut iad. - Do you know them?
  • Nach aithne dhaibh Iain? - Don't they know Iain?

I should!

Another freebie! We can apply a very similar pattern to say that you should do something:

  • Bu chòir dhomh feitheamh. - I should wait.
  • Cha bu chòir dhut falbh. - You shouldn't go.
  • Am bu chòir dhaibh ruith? - Should they run?
  • Nach bu chòir dhuinn ithe? - Shouldn't we eat?


This is a handy word with a couple of potential meanings. In this unit we come across it being used as anyway:

  • Bidh mise ann co-dhiù! - I'll be there anyway!

Depending on the context, it can take on some other meanings (whether, at least), so keep an eye out for this as you take your learning forward.

Emphatics with "aig"

We have encountered a few of these emphatic prepositional pronouns so far - leamsa, leatsa, leinne.

Here we come across some with aig. These are very common!

Prep. Pronoun Emphatic Form
agam agamsa
agad agadsa
aige aigesan
aice aicese

Sin a' chaora agamsa! - That's my sheep!

Homework #4 · 2022-07-18 ^

Call us Biased

Call us biased, but bilingual education is a wonderful thing. The number of children educated through the medium of Gaelic in Scotland is growing, which is great!

The attainment of children in Gaelic Medium compares well with their English Medium peers (even in attainment in English), and the benefits of bilingualism on the brain are well evidenced and numerous.

This skill gives an overview of some terms that could be useful when it comes to homework help! Websites like Gaelic4Parents are also full of excellent resources for those with children in Gaelic Medium Education.

If you have any questions or if you have an interest in Gaelic Medium Education, you could contact your local school or Comann nam Pàrant (Parents' Organisation), your local authority, or Bòrd na Gàidhlig (the Gaelic Development Board).

Easier / Harder

Some more handy comparative adjectives crop up in this skill:

  • Tha seo furasta. - This is easy.
  • Tha seo nas fhasa. - This is easier.
  • An obair as fhasa - The easiest work.

We have used the word duilich to mean "sorry" so far, but it can also be used to mean "difficult".

  • Tha seo doirbh. - This is difficult.
  • Tha seo gu math duilich. - This is really difficult.

The common way to say "more difficult" or "most difficult" is derived from duilich, rather than from doirbh. You don't need to know what it is derived from to use it though!

  • Tha seo nas duilghe. - This is more difficult.
  • An obair as duilghe. - The most difficult work.

There is also a comparative form of doirbh, which can be used, but the above form is more common:

  • Tha seo nas dorra. - This is more difficult.

You will also see a regular comparative form of doirbh used:

  • Tha sin nas doirbhe. - That is more difficult.


This is a handy preposition, meaning "of". It always lenites the following noun when it can:

  • Dealbh de chù. - A picture of a dog.
  • Dealbh de chat. - A picture of a cat.

I Need #2 · 2020-12-13 ^

The World of Inversion.

This is a doozy! But a good doozy! The following structures will look a bit strange at first, but mastering them will be a hyoooge step forward and will open up loads of new things we can say.

Inversion with a vowel.

We are going to be concentrating on the use of feumaidh and faodaidh initially.

The best way to explain the structure is just to show you it:

  • Feumaidh mi cèic ithe. - I need to eat a cake.

In this structure, the verb ithe comes after the noun cèic. This is why we call it inversion.

  • Feumaidh mi uisge òl. - I need to drink water.

In this structure, the verb òl comes after the noun uisge.

  • Faodaidh sibh na criospan ithe. - You may eat the crisps.

This might take a bit of mental gymnastics to wrap your head around at first, but it is both common and consistent enough that you will be rattling it off in no time. It will take a bit of practice and, importantly, getting it wrong a few times to allow you to get to grips with it.

Inversion with a consonant.

This works very similarly, but with an extra step or two.

We add a before the verb at the end of the sentence, and lenite if we can:

  • Feumaidh mi cèic a dhèanamh. - I need to make a cake.

  • Feumaidh mi an doras a dhùnadh. - I need to close the door.

  • Feumaidh mi seacaid a cheannach. - I need to buy a jacket.

  • Faodaidh tu an tractar a chleachdadh. - You may use the tractor.

  • Feumaidh sinn na ceistean a fhreagairt. - We need to answer the questions.

If you can't add an h, then don't!

  • Feumaidh e leabhar a leughadh. - He needs to read a book.

  • Feumaidh sinn na cearcan a reic. - We need to sell the chickens.

Inversion with f + vowel

Gaelic treats f + vowel combos very similarly to vowels. To do this, we simply add an h, but there is no need to add an a:

  • Faodaidh tu uinneag fhosgladh. - You may open a window.

  • Feumaidh mi geansaidh fhighe. - I need to knit a sweater.

Nach Fhaod / Nach Fheum

We come across the interrogative questions forms of faod and feum here:

  • Nach fheum thu cèic a dhèanamh? - Don't you need to make a cake?

  • Nach fhaod sinn an t-uisge-beatha òl? - Can't we drink the whisky?

N.B. - This is "can't we" as in "aren't we allowed to".

Bu toil / Bu chòir

These inverted structures aren't only used with faodaidh and feumaidh.

They can also be used with bu toil:

  • Bu toil leam cèic a dhèanamh. - I would like to make a cake.

  • Bu toil leam cèic ithe. - I would like to eat a cake.

And they can be used with bu chòir:

  • Bu chòir dhomh cèic a dhèanamh. - I should make a cake.

  • Bu chòir dhomh cèic ithe. - I should eat a cake.

Deoch an Dorais

One for the road! A parting drink.

This literally translates as "drink of the door". This is another wee glimpse of the genitive case in action, as doras becomes dorais.

Garden #5 · 2022-04-19 ^

This skill is a pretty chilled out one about gardening. Pure Gaelic zen.

I like to be in the garden

Right, this one is handy.

a bhith - to be

  • is toil leam a bhith... - I like to be...

  • bu toil leam a bhith... - I would like to be...

  • Is toil leam a bhith a-muigh. - I like to be outside.

  • Bu toil leam a bhith ann an Èirisgeidh. - I would like to be in Eriskay.

  • Is toil leatha a bhith anns a' ghàrradh. - She likes to be in the garden.


We have seen a few ways to say you are happy in Gaelic:

  • Tha mi toilichte.

  • Tha mi sona.

And the ever classic, "tha mi cho sona ri bròig".

Here is another way to say you are just absolutely chuffed. This uses the possessive adjectives and changes depending on who is speaking.

  • Tha mi air mo dhòigh. - I am delighted.

  • Tha thu air do dhòigh. - You are delighted.

We don't come across these in the skill, but the pattern here is one we have already seen:

  • Tha e air a dhòigh. - He is delighted.

  • Tha i air a dòigh. - She is delighted.

  • Tha sinn air ar dòigh. - We are delighted.

  • Tha sibh air ur dòigh. - You are delighted. (polite / plural)

  • Tha iad air an dòigh. - They are delighted.

Science #3 · 2022-07-27 ^

Slenderising in the dative case

We have already seen a brief example of this happening. Definite feminine nouns in the dative case slenderise, where not already slender (which they often are).

This sounds complicated, but it's not too bad. Mostly the final broad vowel is changed to i, or an i is added before the last consonant, or group of consonants.

Gaoth a' ghaoth - the wind*

In the dative case this becomes:

anns a' ghaoith.

However there are some words which change their vowels in order to slenderise their ending.

Grian is one of these words. a' ghrian - the sun*

In the dative case this becomes:

anns a' ghrèin.


Every living language borrows and evolves. Gaelic is no different. You might think that some of these words were just snaffled from the English - planaid, gas, plastaig, etc.

It's ok, they were stolen from Greek first. Greek was cool and didn't mind sharing.

The Wild #2 · 2020-12-13 ^

anns a' > sa

Sometimes in Gaelic we shorten anns a' to sa before a lenitable consonant.

There isn't really a rule of when to do this and when not to. Just roll with it.

  • anns a' choille > sa choille
  • anns a' phàirc > sa phàirc
  • anns a' chàr > sa chàr

anns an > san

If the consonant is not one that takes lenition, we use san instead:

  • anns an taigh > san taigh
  • anns an dùthaich > san dùthaich
  • anns an t-seada > san t-seada

Snake Bull

In Gaelic, the word "dragonfly" is made up of tarbh, which means "bull", and nathair, which means "snake".

This combines to give you tarbh-nathrach. Gaelic is awesome.

N.B. The word nathrach is the genitive form of nathair. Just in case you were worried for a second there. Not tryna confuse you, we promise.

Heather Chicken

In Gaelic, a grouse is a heather chicken (cearc-fhraoich).

Cearc is a pretty generic word for "hen" in Gaelic. If the animal was male, it would be coileach-fraoich.

The Cuckoo's Shoe

A bluebell is a cuckoo's shoe (bròg na cuthaige). I have never seen a cuckoo wearing shoes, so it is difficult to judge whether or not the name is apt.

Dung Blisters

Mushrooms are dung blisters (balgan-buachair). Best not to think about that one too much.

The Flower of the Stooped Head

This one is nice and should banish any thoughts of dung blisters. Daffodils are named after their droopy heads.

The singular is lus a' chrom-chinn, and the plural is lusan a' chrom-chinn. Much nicer than balgan-buachair, which we shall no longer speak of.

Future Tense Irregular Verb - beir

Another irregular verb in the future tense. These are the future tense forms of beir, which has a few different uses.

It can be used to say "catch" or "catch up with" when you pair it with air:

  • Beiridh mi air. - I will catch it.
  • Beiridh mi air Iain sa choille. - I will catch up with Iain in the forest.

It can also be used for giving birth:

  • Beiridh a' bhò laogh as t-earrach. - The cow will have a calf in spring.
  • Cha bheir a' bhò laogh am-bliadhna. - The cow won't have a calf this year.
  • Am beir a' bhò laogh? - Will the cow have a calf?
  • Nach beir a' bhò laogh? - Won't the cow have a calf?

Proverbs #3 · 2020-12-13 ^

Seanfhaclan - Old Words

You will come across some common Gaelic proverbs and sayings in this unit. We have tried to pick ones that fit the grammar we have already covered, but some involve structures we are not already familiar with.

Here is a quick look at the proverbs covered in this unit:

Is treasa tuath na tighearna. - The people are mightier than a lord.

This was the slogan of the Highland Land League / Crofters Party. To this day, huge tracts of the Highlands are owned by a very small number of individuals.

Cha tig ciall ro aois. - Sense doesn't come before age.

Innsidh na geòidh as t-fhoghar e. - The geese will tell it in autumn.

This means that all will be revealed in due course.

Is fheàrr Gàidhlig bhriste na Gàidhlig sa chiste. - Better broken Gaelic than Gaelic in the coffin.

Tìr gun teanga, tìr gun anam. - A land without a language (tongue), a land without a soul.

Thig crìoch air an t-saoghal, ach mairidh gaol is ceòl. - The word will end, but love and music will endure.


We have sprinkled in a few similes which follow a more familiar structure:

Cho ___ ri ___.

  • Cho làn ri gartan. - As full as a tick.

When the noun at the end has a definite article in front of it, we use ris, and that triggers our good friend the dative case:

  • Cho searbh ris an fhìrinn. - As bitter as the truth.
  • Cho fuar ris a' phuinnsean. - As cold as (the) poison.

Your Grandad knew it!

This is a great idiomatic turn of phrase. Literally, b' eòlach do sheanair air means "your grandad knew it".

It generally means something similar to ooh fancy! / I've never seen the likes of that!

  • B' eòlach do sheanair air Duolingo!. - Isn't Duolingo fancy!

I Would #2 · 2022-07-27 ^

The Conditional Tense

Seriously, well done for getting to this stage. Up until now, we have got serious mileage out of the past, future and present tenses.

We are now going to learn how to use the conditional tense.

This is used to talk about things you would do. This could be something that you would do if it were possible, or something you did regularly / habitually.

Again, the easiest way to get comfortable with this is to see it in action. Unlike the past, present and future tense forms of bi, we use a different form for the conditional tense, depending on who we are referring to.

Bhithinn - I would

  • Bhithinn air mo dhòigh. - I would be delighted.
  • Cha bhithinn air mo dhòigh. - I wouldn't be delighted.
  • Bhithinn toilichte ann an Uibhist. - I would be happy in Uist.
  • Cha bhithinn toilichte ann an Glaschu. - I wouldn't be happy in Glasgow.

N.B. - Adding mi to these would be wrong.

Bhiomaid - we would

This works in the same way:

  • Bhiomaid ag obair a h-uile Disathairne. - We would be working every Saturday.
  • Cha bhiomaid ag obair Diluain. - We wouldn't work on Monday.

N.B. - There is a common emphatic form bhitheamaid that you may well come across in the wild.

Bhiodh ... - everyone else would

For "mi", we use bhithinn, and for "sinn", we use bhiomaid. For everything else, we use bhiodh + pronoun:

  • Bhiodh tu... - You would be...
  • Bhiodh e... - He would be...
  • Bhiodh i... - *She would be...
  • Bhiodh sibh... - You would be... (polite / plural)
  • Bhiodh iad... - They would be...

N.B - tu is used instead of thu with conditional statements.

  • Bhiodh tu toilichte le sin. - You would be happy with that.
  • Cha bhiodh tu toilichte le sin. - You wouldn't be happy with that.
  • Bhiodh i ag obair anns a' mhadainn. - She would be working in the morning.
  • Cha bhiodh i ag obair anns a' mhadainn. - She wouldn't be working in the morning.

N.B - The emphatic answer form Bhitheadh / Cha bhitheadh is pretty common, and you may well come across it in the wild.


This follows a similar pattern to those we have seen:

  • Am biodh Màiri ann? - Would Mairi be there?
  • Nach biodh Iain ann? - Wouldn't Iain be there?

We can use the same pattern for bhithinn and bhiomaid:

  • Am bithinn sgìth? - Would I be tired?
  • Nach bithinn sgìth? - Wouldn't I be tired?
  • Am biomaid deiseil? - Would we be ready?
  • Nach biomaid deiseil? - Wouldn't we be ready?

Remember, as there is no 'yes' or 'no' in Gaelic we answer yes or no using the verb itself. We don't use a pronoun with this answer, so when answering the question "Would you...?" you would use Bhiodh or Cha bhiodh, not Bhithinn. The answer is 'yes' not I would, just 'would'.

  • Am biodh tu deònach? - Would you be willing?
  • Bhiodh / Bhitheadh. Bhithinn gu math deònach. - Yes. I would be quite willing.


To ask someone what they would prefer, we say:

Dè a b' fheàrr...

...and then add le in the appropriate prepositional pronoun form:

  • Dè a b' fheàrr leat? - What would you prefer?
  • Dè a b' fheàrr leis? - What would he prefer?
  • Dè a b' fheàrr leatha? - What would she prefer?
    • B' fheàrr leatha fìon. - She would prefer wine.

Màiri #3 · 2022-01-28 ^

Màiri's Adventure Through the Conditional Tense

We have already smashed the conditional tense with bi out of the park.

Bhiodh - Smashed it!

Bhithinn - Crushed it!

Bhiomaid - Ok!

That's a pretty good start; now for every other verb!

Conditional tense - vowels

First, take the root of the verb (the command form).

Then, fire dh'- at the start.

Finally, add -adh to the end if the word ends with a broad vowel (a, o, u):

Òl! - Drink!

  • Dh'òladh Màiri an tì. - Mairi would drink the tea.

If the word ends with a slender vowel (e, i), then we add -eadh to the end. Remember: broad with broad, slender with slender.

Ith! - Eat!

  • Dh'itheadh Màiri a' bhriosgaid. - Mairi would eat the biscuit.

Let's get negative for a moment. For this, we add chan before the word and then the usual -eadh or -adh to the end:

  • Chan itheadh Màiri e. - Mairi would not eat it.
  • Chan òladh Màiri e. - Mairi would not drink it.

Fair play, a Mhàiri!

To turn the root into a question, we add an or nach into the mix:

  • An òladh i am bainne? - Would she drink the milk?

    • Dh'òladh! - Yes!
    • Chan òladh! - No!
  • Nach itheadh i an guga? - Wouldn't she eat the salted gannet?

    • Dh'itheadh! - Yes!
    • Chan itheadh! - No!

Conditional tense - F + vowels

This is very similar to the above, but we lenite too:

  • Fàg e! - Leave it!
  • Dh'fhàgadh Màiri airgead. - Mairi would leave money.
  • Chan fhàgadh Màiri sgillinn. - Mairi wouldn't leave a penny.

Turning this into a question is easy enough! We need to use am because of the whole BFMP thing:

  • Am fàgadh tu airgead? - Would you leave money?

  • Nach fhàgadh tu airgead? - Wouldn't you leave money?

N.B. Whether to say nach fàgadh or nach fhàgadh is a matter of dialect / preference. Both are grand.

Double N.B. - Some words undergo a slight contraction and don't look exactly as you would expect following this pattern. For example - fosgail ("open"). This becomes:


Looks similar, but the root gets a little squished.

Keep an eye out for this. The best thing is just to bear in mind that it happens and try and take a note when you see it. Most roots don't do this.

Consonants - Nearly there, a Mhàiri.

We are following a very similar pattern to the above! If you can lenite, do; if you can't, don't! Do this for both positive and negative statements. You don't need to bother leniting for questions.

sgioblaich - tidy

  • Sgioblaicheadh Màiri. - Mairi would tidy.
  • Cha sgoiblaicheadh Màiri. - Mairi wouldn't tidy.
  • An sgioblaicheadh Màiri? - Would Mairi tidy?
  • Nach sgioblaicheadh Màiri? - Wouldn't Mairi tidy?

goid - steal

  • Ghoideadh Màiri. - Mairi would steal.
  • Cha ghoideadh Màiri. - Mairi wouldn't steal.
  • An goideadh Màiri? - Would Mairi steal?
  • Nach goideadh Màiri? - Wouldn't Mairi steal?

pòs - marry

  • Phòsadh Màiri Iain. - Mairi would marry Iain. (obh obh!)
  • Cha phòsadh Màiri Iain. - Mairi wouldn't marry Iain. (glè mhath!)

Remember BFMP:

  • Am pòsadh Màiri Iain? - Would Mairi marry Iain?
  • Nach pòsadh Màiri Iain? - Wouldn't Mairi marry Iain?

nuair - when

This is handy and can also be used as a connective:

  • Nuair a bha Màiri ann. - When Mairi was here.

  • Nuair a tha Màiri ag obair. - When Mairi is working.

We use a bhios after nuair, rather than bidh:

  • Bidh Iain toilichte nuair a bhios Màiri ann. - Iain will be happy when Mairi is there.

Genitive #5 · 2022-01-28 ^

Let's get genitive!

So far we have come across three cases in Gaelic.

The nominative case - the base form

Tha am balach snog. - The boy is nice.

The dative or prepositional case.

Tha ad aig a' bhalach. - The boy has a hat.

The vocative case - used for addressing.

Madainn mhath, a bhalaich. - Good morning, boy.

Get ready to meet Gaelic's fourth and final case - the genitive!

What is the genitive and why do you keep shouting it at me?

In a nutshell, the genitive case is a way to show possession. It shows that something belongs to something else. It is an aspect of Gaelic, that is quite different from English.

Some people say that that Gaelic's genitive case is difficult...

OK! Let's move on!

Nah honestly, you will be fine. Stay close. Gaelic Duolingo has got your back. The genitive will look quite different from structures you are used to, but the rules are logical and you will crack it. If by any chance you speak Irish or Manx already, you already know the craic here.

What are we looking at here?

Masculine examples only. We will go into feminine and plurals later. We are tackling the article but will also see some examples without it.

The Double Article Rule

We will go into the nuts and bolts of the genitive patterns, but it is good to cover this rule right away.

Have a look below. The word in bold is in the genitive case.

Duilleag an leabhair.

N.B - There is one definite article in this phrase - an.

This sentence can mean one of two things:

A page of the book.


The page of the book.

When dealing with the genitive case, the article only appears before the last noun. Take a look at the correct and incorrect translation of the price of the book below.

Incorrect - a' phrìs an leabhair

This wrong because we can only have an article on the last noun.

Correct - Prìs an leabhair.

We only have one article here. Perfect. Beautiful.

This could also be translated as a price of the book, but context is your friend here.

Whoah there, why do all those nouns look different?

Yeah, about that...

The genitive case triggers mutations in the noun. We will show you some of these most common mutations and break this down step by step.

Masculine Genitive - Non Leniters, d + t and Vowels

How we doing?

Good? Great!

Bad? Also fine!

One of the most common changes is slenderisation (an extra i):

Not all masculine nouns slenderise in the genitive case, but it is common:

Deireadh an rathaid. - The end of the road.

Còmhdach an leabhair. - The cover of the book.

Faclan an òrain. - The words of the song.

N.B These can be translated without the first article, e.g an end of the road. This is the double article rule.

Consonants that lenite - but not S or F

This is similar, but with some extra steps. The article changes, we lenite and we slenderise. The tri-force if you will:

Taigh a' bhalaich. - The boy's house.

(alternatively - the house of the boy)

Cat a' mhinisteir. - The minister's cat.

(alternatively - the cat of the minister)

Earball a' chait. - The cat's tail.

(alternatively - the tail of the cat)

S (but not SG, SM, SP or ST)

Here the article changes to an t- and we slenderise:

Taigh an t-sagairt. - The priest's house.

(alternatively - the house of the priest)

Deireadh an t-saoghail. - The end of the world.

F - nearly done

Before f the article becomes an and we also lenite and slenderise:

Am fitheach. - The raven.

Nead an fhithich. - The raven's nest.

(Alternatively - the nest of the raven)

Am flùr. - The flower.

Fàileadh an fhir. - The smell of the flower.

But not all nouns slenderise?

Some follow other patterns, and some are irregular. Some don't change at all. Don't worry about trying to internalise all this at once. Exposure and practice is the key.

Another common change is adding an extra a onto the noun. Here we follow the patterns above, but instead of slenderising we add an a onto the end of the word.

Uisge an locha. - The water of the lake/loch.

Blas an fhìona. - The taste of the wine.

Some add an e.

Doras an taighe. - The door of the house.

N.B All of these article changes stay the same.

Indefinite examples

We take the grammar bull by the horns and tackle the article straight away.

(adharcan an tairbh - the horns of the bull).

We come across indefinite examples too. No need for any pesky article changes / lenition etc.

uisge locha - lake water / loch water

It can help to think of it as water of a lake/loch.

botal fìona - a bottle of wine


Sluagh can mean either crowd or people:

sluagh mòr - a big crowd

guth an t-sluaigh - the voice of the people

I Would 2 #3 · 2020-12-13 ^

Good News! Deagh Naidheachd!

The good news is that you have basically covered all the grammar here already.

In this skill we take everything we learned from Màiri in the aptly named Màiri skill and apply it to the first person conditional (similar to "bhithinn") and the first person plural conditional (similar to "bhiomaid").

1st Person Conditional - I would

As we saw in the previous skill, vowels take a dh' before them, and consonants lenite if they can.

Combinations of f + a vowel take the dh' and lenition.

If the root ends with a broad vowel (a, o, or u), we add -ainn:

òl - drink Dh'òlainn. - I would drink.*

pòs - marry Phòsainn. - I would marry.*

fàg - leave Dh'fhàgainn. - I would leave.*

To make these negative, we add cha before consonants and chan before vowels and f + vowel combos.

  • Chan òlainn. - I wouldn't drink.
  • Cha phòsainn. - I wouldn't marry.
  • Chan fhàgainn. - I wouldn't leave.

If the root ends with a slender vowel (e or i), then you add -inn instead:

ith - eat

  • Dh'ithinn. - I would eat.
  • Chan ithinn. - I wouldn't eat.

cluich - play

  • Chluichinn Mario Kart. - I would play Mario Kart.
  • Cha chluichinn Tetris. - I wouldn't play Tetris.

N.B. Remember that you don't need mi as the verb is doing that job for you here.

1st Personal Plural Conditional - we would

Snap! Same rules apply here, you just change the word endings.

For words that end with a broad vowel, we add -amaid:

  • Dh'òlamaid. - We would drink.
  • Phòsamaid. - We would marry.
  • Dh'fhàgamaid. - We would leave.

For words that end in a slender vowel, we add -eamaid

  • Ruitheamaid air falbh. - We would run away.
  • Chluicheamaid Crash Bandicoot 3. - We would play Crash Bandicoot 3.
  • Dh'itheamaid cus. - We would eat too much.

You have taken on all four tenses and won, or at least drawn! Sgoinneil fhèin! This is a big step.

Landscape #3 · 2020-12-13 ^


Did you know that the vast majority of Scotland can be found outdoors?

Scotland's landscape is absolutely drenched in Gaelic, and knowing what words to look for can really help you make sense of any map / hill you are lost on.

I thought a Munro was a person?

It was! But now it's a hill! A Munro (Rothach) is any hill in Scotland over 3000ft (914m). There are 282 in total. Ben Nevis (Beinn Nibheis) is the highest, but not necessarily the most challenging.

What's a brae?

A brae (bràigh) is a steep bank of hillside. NEXT QUESTION!

What is the difference between a strath and a glen?

Good question! Both could reasonably be translated as valley, but a strath (srath) in much wider than a glen (gleann). The word strath is common enough in Scottish English, but for clarity we have translated it as "wide valley" in the course.

Pray tell, what is a machair?

It is sandy arable land found on the coast. Common in the Hebrides. This course is nothing if not niche.

Why does Gaelic have lots of different words for hills?

Because we have lots of different shapes of hills. We have really just scratched the surface here! Good luck spotting these features in the wild!

Genitive 2 #3 · 2022-01-28 ^

Exploring the feminine side of the genitive case?

Remember the genitive case? Remember how fun that was?

This lesson explores the genitive case with feminine nouns. The concept is the same as with the masculine nouns!

The most common way

A really common way of forming the genitive with feminine nouns is to slenderise the noun and also add an an extra e at the end. We will look at these first.

The article changes with feminine nouns are more straightforward, though!

If the noun begins with a consonant, we use the article na:

  • cas na muice - the pig's leg (literally, "the leg of the pig")

  • dath na seacaide - the color of the jacket

  • solas na gealaiche - the light of the moon

If the word is already slenderised, then happy days! Half the work is done for you:

  • doras na sgoile - the door of the school

Didn't I learn possession ages ago?

Yes, there are other structures that show possession. Sometimes the genitive is needed. Sometimes you can choose:

  • taigh na caileige - the girl's house (literally, "the house of the girl")


  • an taigh aig a' chaileag - the girl's house (this literally means "the house of the girl", too…)

N.B. Sometimes the e at the end gets dropped in both writing and speech: "taigh na caileig"


If the feminine noun begins with a vowel, we use the article na h-:

  • rathad na h-eaglaise - the road of the church

  • glainne na h-uinneige - the glass of the window

Other changes

Sometimes the noun changes in different ways. Sometimes it doesn't change at all:

  • loch na h-eala - the swan's loch (literally, the loch of the swan )

  • neach-ionnsachaidh na Gàidhlig - the Gaelic learner

Sometimes a slender word has the slenderisation taken away and an a is added:

a' mhuir - the sea

  • fuaim na mara - the sound of the sea

an t-sùil - the eye

  • dath na sùla - the color of the eye

Some are technically irregular, although they might look similar to other patterns:

a' ghrian - the sun

  • solas na grèine - the light of the sun

Plurals - Pattern 1

The noun's gender doesn't make a jot of difference here. We are looking at definite examples only right now.

Many nouns don't change here.

We use the definite article nam before nouns that begin with BFM and P. (Big Fat Members of Parliament). We use the article nan for everything else:

  • nead nam faoileagan - the seagull's nest (literally, "the nest of the seagulls")

  • prìs nam postairean - the price of the posters

  • luchd-obrach nan oifisean - the workers of the offices

  • tidsearan nan sgoiltean - the teachers of the schools

Plurals - Pattern 2

Many one-syllable nouns and nouns that end in -ach, -an, and -al have a genitive plural form that is identical to their nominative singular form.



  • taigh nan cat - the house of the cats

-al ending:


  • cànan nan Gàidheal - the language of the Gaels

-an ending:


  • muinntir nan eilean - the people of the islands

-ach ending


  • sgioba nam balach - the boys' team

Rionnag na Gàidhlig - a star of (the) Gàidhlig

The genitive is probably the most difficult thing we throw at you! It will take time and practice, but much of Gaelic's richness is to be found in its genitive case. When it comes to richness of expression, reading the songs and the landscape, it is well worth the time and effort.

Iain #2 · 2020-12-13 ^

Iain is Alone

To say that someone is alone, we use one of the handy special prepositional pronouns with ann:

  • Tha Iain na aonar. - Iain is alone.

  • Chan eil Màiri na h-aonar. - Mairi is not alone.

  • Tha mi nam aonar. - I am alone.

Iain looks awful

Coltas is the Gaelic word for "appearance". You use this in combination with air:

  • Tha coltas ropach air Iain. - Iain looks scruffy.

  • Tha coltas neònach air Iain. - Iain looks strange.

  • Tha coltas math ort. - You look nice.

N.B. The t in coltas is usually silent.

The Gaelic for "selfie" is fèineag

We have nothing more to add here.

Trust in Iain

In Gaelic you have trust 'at' yourself (aig), but 'in' someone else (ann).

This sounds complicated, but it's not too bad:

  • Tha earbsa agam innte. - I trust her.

  • Chan eil earbsa agam ann. - I don't trust him.


This is the form of de that we use before the definite article.

Den triggers ye olde dative case and causes lenition:

  • Pìos den chèic. - A piece of the cake.

far or càite?

These words both mean where - so far, so good!


Generally used to ask a question:

  • Càit a bheil Iain? - Where is Iain?

  • A bheil Iain an seo? Càite? - Is Iain here? Where?


Used to say or point out where something or someone is:

  • Seall far a bheil Iain! - Look where Iain is!

  • Seall far a bheil a' chaora! Tha i anns an tagsaidh! - Look where the sheep is! It's in the taxi!

We look at present tense statements only in this Iain based skill, but we will explore the past and future versions as the course expands further.


Sin thu fhèin! Tha Gàidhlig agad a-nis! Tha sinn an dòchas gu bheil thu pròiseil asad fhèin!

'S e gaisgeach a th' annad! - You are a hero!

109 skills with tips and notes