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Intro updated 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 updated 2020-11-11 ^

I Like Gaelic

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

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:

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:

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 updated 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:

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):

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"

Tidsear is the Gaelic for "teacher"

Piuthar is the Gaelic for "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:

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 updated 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:

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:

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 updated 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

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:

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:

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:

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 updated 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

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:

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:

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:

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 updated 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:

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.

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

Verbal Noun 2 - a’ ceannach

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:

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

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.

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 updated 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:

Agad - At You

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

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:

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

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

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

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 updated 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.

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:

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!

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:

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

Verbal Nouns

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

a’ faireachdainn

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 updated 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:

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:

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. updated 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:

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

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:


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 updated 2022-01-28 ^

Aon (one) causes lenition

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

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:

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:

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 updated 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

Vowels cannot lenite:

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

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


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:

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

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:

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 ):

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.

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 updated 2020-12-13 ^

Trì is the magic number

Plurals begin with the number three in Gaelic:

trì = 3 | ceithir = 4 | còig = 5

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 updated 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

There are two great mnemonics to remember this:

Big Fat Members of Parliament

Big Fluffy Mucky Pigs

All Other Consonants - an

Vowels - an t-

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 updated 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:

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 dhearg - a red dress


Tha dreasa dearg. - A dress is red.

Feumaidh mi / Feumaidh tu

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'.


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

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 updated 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:

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 dhearg - a red dress


Tha dreasa dearg. - A dress is red.

Feumaidh mi / Feumaidh tu

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'.


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

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 updated 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:

Càit a bheil?

This is how you ask where something is:

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

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 updated 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)

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

ann an = in (before all other letters)

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:

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:

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:

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:


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 updated 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:

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:

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

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.

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 updated 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

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:

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)

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

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 updated 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 updated 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:

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:

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.


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.


3. Names that begin with F

Names that begin with F followed by a consonant

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 updated 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.


Compare with:

Cha robh

Compare with:

An robh

Compare with:

Nach robh

Compare with:

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:

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 updated 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:

2. Adding -aichean / -ichean

3. Slenderising the Noun

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

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):.

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:

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:

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 updated 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).


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.


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.


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.


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 updated 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.


an t-acras

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

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

an fhearg

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

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

2. You generally use them when identifying.

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

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 updated 2020-11-27 ^

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:

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:

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

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:

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 (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 updated 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

a-muigh - no movement

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

a-staigh - no movement

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 updated 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.

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':

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:

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 updated 2020-11-29 ^

A Tale of Two Sundays


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:

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

Dà Dheug

Have a look at some of these numbers:

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:

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 updated 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".

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

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

This implies that you are playing rugby at that moment.

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.

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

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:

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

math dhut - 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:

We use le when we are using an object:

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 updated 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:

Here we are describing a house as green.

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 ......... .

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.

'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 updated 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


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

Half past

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

Quarter past

Quarter to

Dà vs. Dhà

These are two forms of the same number.

We use before a noun:

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:

Questions with "Cuin"

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.


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 updated 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:

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

a' fàs

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


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.

N.B. Something similar happens when describing 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 updated 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:

Chan e

Use this for negative statements:

An e

Use this for questions:

Nach e

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

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.

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:

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

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:

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

Seo, Sin, Siud

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

The key difference between them is distance to the speaker:

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:

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...


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 updated 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:

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

dotair = doctor

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:

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


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

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 updated 2020-11-29 ^

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

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:

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?


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 adjective:

Seann comes before the adjective and always lenites when possible:

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


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 updated 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):

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:

To make the command polite, you add:

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

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:

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 updated 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 updated 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):

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:

To make the command polite, you add:

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 updated 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:

Negative past tense

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

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.):

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 updated 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:

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



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 updated 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:




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:


Vowel changes

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


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 updated 2021-01-19 ^


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

luchd - the plural of neach

Luchd is the plural form of the word neach:

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:

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 updated 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?):

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):

...and lenite it:

How much?

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

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

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 updated 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?):

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):

...and lenite it:

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:

Some are similar, but do not slenderise:

Some become squished:

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:

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 updated 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:

Past tense questions

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

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 updated 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:

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 updated 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:

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:

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:

leis / leatha

Some more handy prepositional pronouns here:

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:

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 updated 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.:

...but not after deich:

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:

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:

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:

...but the next two do not:

Treasamh is sometimes shortened to treas:

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 updated 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:

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

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:

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

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:

Am feum is the questioning form:

Towns updated 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):

The VOCATIVE case, which we use to address people (and even objects, should the need ever arise):

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:

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

an gàrradh - the garden

am mapa - 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

an doras - 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

an sgoil - the sgoil

S followed by other letters

an saoghal - the world

(Saoghal is a masculine noun. )

an t-sràid - 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

Am Ploc - 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 updated 2020-12-13 ^

How are you?

We come across some new ways to ask people how they are in this skill:

Dè do naidheachd?

And in response:

Dè do chor?

A good response would be:

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:

Abair is still commonly used as part of an exclamation and to add emphasis:

leinn / leotha

Some new prepositional pronouns with le to add to our collection:

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 updated 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

an oifis - the office

an uinneag - 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")

An t-Eilean Sgitheanach - The Isle of Skye (meaning "the winged isle")

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

an fhèis - the festival


Remember siud? It means something is a good bit of distance from you:

Ud is its cousin. It comes after the noun and describes where things are, rather than pointing out where they are:

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 updated 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:

Here is another common structure, so you can shake up those introductions:

We can also ask questions with these structures, some of which we have already seen:

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"?


Bet ya didn't see that coming.

How about our old pal dona?

"Nas dona" maybe?

Again, a flat nope.

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":

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:

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:

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 updated 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:


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!

His and Hers - consonants

In this skill, we learn some new possessive adjectives:



This works very similarly, but we also lenite when we can:

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.


Right, so. This one requires a wee bit of attention.

It used to be common to see possession for males written as so:


The a here is not pronounced and is, more often than not, left out in writing:

Context is your friend, and in a normal conversation this isn't half as confusing as it seems in isolation.

Longer / Shorter

fada - long

goirid - short

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

dhìot - off you

Work 3 updated 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.

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:

When a name begins with b, f, m, or p, we use ann am rather than ann an:


We have already seen how to say where we are from:

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:


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 updated 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":

N.B. We use tu and not thu after am faca and nach fhaca.

cluinn - hear

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").

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 updated 2020-12-13 ^

Seo dhut!- Here you go!

Dhut is another handy prepositional pronoun. It is a combination of do ("to") and thu ("you").

Irregular verb - thoir

In this skill, we come across the past tense forms of the irregular verb thoir, meaning "give":

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:

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:

When the name begins with a vowel, we fire a dh' at the start. Gaelic hates its vowels meeting. Hates it.

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:

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 updated 2020-12-13 ^

Irregular verb - faigh

Irregular verb #4 coming right up:


Another prepositional pronoun with bho:

bho + mi = bhuam

On / Off

To ask someone to switch something on, you use cuir air:

To ask someone to turn something off, you use cuir dheth:


Gun means "without", and it lenites the next word when possible:

gun (without ) + feum (use ) = gun fheum (useless )

You can also use "gun" when not having a go at Iain:

Cuir fòn gu…

When you phone someone in Gaelic, you often use the verb cuir with gu :

Cooking updated 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:

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:

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:

B' fheàrr - I would prefer

We have met 'S fheàrr leam... (meaning "I prefer...") already:

B' fheàrr leam... means "I would prefer...".


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 updated 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

am mìos seo - this month

N.B. The definite article is used in the examples above.

This works with days of the week, too:

dhi / dha

Some handy prepositional pronouns with do:

bh' ann

We have used plenty of these 'framed' structures before, with 's e and th' ann:

We can make this a past tense statement by swapping out th' ann for its cousin, bh' ann:

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 updated 2022-01-28 ^

Ordinal numbers

Some more ordinal numbers to get our teeth into here.

We have already seen:

The other ordinal numbers will look pretty familiar.

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.

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").

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.


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 updated 2022-04-19 ^

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:




Most months are masculine:

...but the ones after August are feminine:

Why? - Carson?

This is how we ask why something is:

You need the a after carson if you are using it in a full sentence.

You can also use carson by itself:


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:

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":

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:

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:


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.

For any grammar gluts out there, this verb is the past autonomous form of the verb beir. You don't need to know that to use it.

Emotion updated 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:

iongnadh - surprise

Another structure with air here:

ùidh - interest

We'll take you by the hand through this one.

In Gaelic, you have interest in things:

sunnd - mood

Useful whether you are in great form or a total stormer of a 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.

uile - all

This is seriously handy.

Family 3 updated 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:

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!



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:

If the word begins with a consonant, you can relax and enjoy some much needed me time:

When the word begins with a vowel, we need to do something a bit different - step in our hero n-.

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:

N.B. The t in tuirt is normally pronounced closer to a d.

The verbal noun form is ag ràdh:

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

dhuibh - to you (polite / plural)

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 updated 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:

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":

...or "arrive":

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!


Ath (next ) always comes before the noun, and the noun lenites when it can:

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)

This implies that Iain is far away from you.

a-bhos - over (here)

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 updated 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:

This follows the pattern we have already seen. The other seasons do not:


Before a definite article, bho transforms like a phoenix into the magnificent bhon:

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:

Verbal noun:

Questions updated 2020-12-13 ^


We have already seen how to ask questions using tha and bha paired with , carson, cuin, and :

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 :

After bhios, the word thu becomes tu:

Questions with càite

Càite works a little differently. Verbs take on a different (dependant or secondary) form:

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:

To ask someone what they would prefer, you use dè b' fheàrr:

Health updated 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:

Past tense form:

It can also mean "catch up with":


It can also mean "give birth to" when not combined with air:

Contrast the above with:

Other forms:

A good old fashioned row

Trod and ri pair like cheese and a mid-range wine to give someone a good telling off:

Putting out (Barfing)

In Gaelic, to say you are being sick, you use a combo of cuir ("put") and a-mach ("out"):

That's you all set for the next time you eat something dodgy! Key vocab covered. Job done.

Cèilidh updated 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)

...or -aidh, when the last vowel is broad (a, o, or u).

N.B. We use the future tense in Gaelic for things that will happen in the future and things that happen often or occasionally:

Double N.B. There is a slight difference between these simple forms and forms that use bidh:

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:

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:

Future questions

To ask a question in the future tense for both vowels and consonants (except BFMP), you add an before the root:

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 updated 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.:

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:

More practice with the simple future tense

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 updated 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:

We are about to come across some new handy forms of ann:

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

This implies movement. You are going from standing to a seated position.


Starting to make sense? The second structure doesn't involve movement. You are in a state of being seated.

seasamh - standing

This also implies movement from a seated/lying/crouching tiger position to a standing one.


laighe - lying

This is going from a standing position to a lying one. Again, the key difference here is movement.


This is you just lying down, chillin'.

sìneadh - stretching

You might do this before a run or a really strenuous Gaelic session. Again, movement.


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.

Highland updated 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:

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

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).

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 updated 2020-12-27 ^

I Loathe Politics!

A friendly competitiveness is important in a democracy:

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.

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?

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.

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 updated 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?

We now come to the questioning form of this structure:

We are also introduced to the interrogative form:

tro - through

Tro is a preposition and a serial leniter, flinging about extra hs like it’s nobody’s business:

Irregular verbs, but in the future!

Remember this?

These are the past tense forms of the irregular verb "rach". In the future tense, we use:

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 updated 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 updated 2020-12-27 ^

Future tense irregular verb #2 - faic

Another irregular verb in the bag.

ma - if

Ma means “if”:

After ma, we use the relative future form bhios.:

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:

Let's try that again:

Part 1 saoilidh mi - I think

Part 2 tha Iain gòrach - Iain is stupid

Together, we get:

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:

Part 1 tha mi toilichte - I am happy

Part 2 chan eil Iain ann - Iain isn't there

This becomes:

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.

Both meaning - I will see you tomorrow.

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):

WRONG (shame, possibly banishment):

If you wanted to say “I will see Iain tomorrow”, you would always use the former.

History 2 updated 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 updated 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:

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).


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:

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 updated 2020-12-27 ^


To say there is ‘only’ a certain amount of something, we use the following combinations:

You also hear dìreach being used in this way:

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:

We use fon before a noun that has a definite article, and it generally lenites the noun by triggering the dative case:

T, D, and N are dental consonants, and when they come together, they often block lenition:


This is also true for the prepositions dhan and bhon:

She is standing, he is sitting

Remember this?

When we want to say “he is standing”, we use a similar structure:

When we want to say “she is standing”, we use na but without the lenition:

Irregular future verb #3 - toir


Describing updated 2022-01-28 ^

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:

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:

In more formal Gaelic (rarely used in speech), you will come across slightly different rules for feminine nouns, which often slenderise (gain an extra i).

Although the above is more common in everyday chat, we won't mark you wrong for taking this approach,:

There are examples of this structure elsewhere 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:

Here are some examples with size and colour only:

Quality and colour now:

The full monty a-nis:

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 updated 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:

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 updated 2022-04-19 ^

nar seasamh / nan cadal

Remember these bad boys?

We use these forms of ann to describe states of being. We add a few more of these to our collection in this skill.

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"

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:

Counting in the tens with -deug

So far, we have learned to count objects up to ten.

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.


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.


Notice that the deug loses its 'h', as is now leniting bàta instead.


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.

I hope you enjoyed your delicious nounwich.

Fighting updated 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


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:

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.


This does not work because thu cannot hang out and relax after a verbal noun.


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.

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.

Gad is a contraction of ga and do.

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.

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 updated 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".

We also use dèan to talk about praying in Gaelic.

Nam falach

Remember nan?

When the verb that follows iad starts with B, F, M, or P, we use nam instead of nan.


Remember fear and , which both mean "one"?

Feadhainn is another very useful word which means ones or some. This can be used for both objects and people.

About Us updated 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:

ga - at him

This works very similarly:

When the verbal noun begins with a vowel, there is no change:

ga - at her

This works similarly, but without lenition:

When the verbal noun begins with a vowel, we have to add a h- before the verb:

Làidir, ach nas treasa

Treasa is the irregular comparative form of the adjective làidir.

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:

cò leis

This is how we ask who something (or often, someone) belongs to:

This can also be used for people, although we don't come across this in detail in this part of the course:

Europe updated 2022-04-19 ^


We have already come across the very similar rugadh:

Thogadh works in pretty much the same way.

Future tense irregular verb! - ruig

Another irregular future tense form. Nice.

We use forms of ruig to mean "to arrive" or "to reach".


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:

...or it can be used as an adjective:

Some more examples:

Work 4 updated 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:

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:

We can use this exact same structure to describe what we do for a living:

Some new forms - "nar" and "nur"

Now we can complete the whole set of these special prepositional pronouns:

When the noun begins with a vowel, we proceed it with n-:

Relative updated 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:

We use it when addressing people:

It can be used to show possession:

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:

Note the contrast with the following, which do not use a relative particle (a):

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:

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:

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:

Have a look at this bhios form being used outside of a question:

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.

Mòd updated 2021-04-07 ^


Another irregular future verb. We are crushing these.

N.B. - cluinnidh can also be used to discuss the present.

This is also true of chì.

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.

Mura h-eil

Remember ma?

Mura is the negative equivalent.

In this unit, we come across mura h-eil, which is used in the present tense.

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

gad - at your

ga - at him / at 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

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:

gar - at us

gur - at your (polite / plural)

This guy works the same as gar above:

We have already seen the change that happens when a vowel is thrown into the mix, when we encountered nar and nur:

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:

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 updated 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:


Good luck!

We come across a handy phrase to say 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:

...or more polite / for wishing a few folk luck:

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:

Past Connections - Gun robh / Nach robh

Remember gu bheil and nach eil?

These have past tense equivalents:

I hope / I expect

We come across some handy constructions in this unit:

These can be used with these connectives:

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:

All together now:

present tense

gu bheil

nach eil

past tense

gun robh

nach robh

future tense

gum bi

nach bi

World updated 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!

I Can updated 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:

We can change who we are talking about by swapping the form of do used:

You can also use do with a name:

There are also negative and question forms of this, but these patterns should look pretty familiar:

I know!

You can apply the rules above to say that you know someone. This is to say that you know who someone is:

I should!

Another freebie! We can apply a very similar pattern to say that you should do something:


This is a handy word with a couple of potential meanings. In this unit we come across it being used as 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 updated 2022-04-19 ^

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 a lovely thing!

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:

We have used the word duilich to mean "sorry" so far, but it can also be used to mean "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!

There is also a comparative form of doirbh, which can be used, but the above form is more common:


This is a handy preposition, meaning "of". It always lenites the following noun when it can:

I Need updated 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:

In this structure, the verb ithe comes after the noun cèic. This is why we call it inversion.

In this structure, the verb òl comes after the noun uisge.

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:

If you can't add an h, then don't!

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:

Nach Fhaod / Nach Fheum

We come across the interrogative questions forms of faod and feum here:

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:

And they can be used with bu chòir:

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 updated 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


We have seen a few ways to say you are happy in Gaelic:

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.

We don't come across these in the skill, but the pattern here is one we have already seen:

Science updated 2020-12-13 ^

Slenderising in the dative case

We have already seen a brief example of this happening. Definite feminine nouns in the dative case can often slenderise.

This sounds really complicated, but it's not too bad.

Generally, doing this with most words is considered quite formal Gaelic. Still lovely, but it is fairly high register.

There are some words that are set usages where this always happens.

Grian is one of these words.

In the dative case this becomes anns a' ghrèin.

There are more of these set usages out there for us to collect.


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 updated 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 an > san

If the consonant is not one that takes lenition, we use san instead:

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:

It can also be used for giving birth:

Proverbs updated 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 ___.

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:

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!

I Would updated 2020-12-13 ^

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

N.B. - Adding in mi is not necessary.

Bhiomaid - we would

This works in the same way:

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:

N.B - tu is used instead of thu with conditional statements.

N.B - The emphatic form bhitheadh is pretty common, and you may well come across it in the wild.


This follows a similar pattern to those we have seen:

We can use the same pattern for bhithinn and bhiomaid:


To ask someone what they would prefer, we say:

Dè a b' fheàrr...

...and then add le in the appropriate prepositional pronoun form:

Màiri updated 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!

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!

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:

Fair play, a Mhàiri!

To turn the root into a question, we add an or nach into the mix:

Conditional tense - F + vowels

This is very similar to the above, but we lenite too:

Turning this into a question is easy enough! We need to use am because of the whole BFMP thing:

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

goid - steal

pòs - marry

Remember BFMP:

nuair - when

This is handy and can also be used as a connective:

We use a bhios after nuair, rather than bidh:

Genitive updated 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 updated 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.

If the root ends with a slender vowel (e or i), then you add -inn instead:

ith - eat

cluich - play

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:

For words that end in a slender vowel, we add -eamaid

You have taken on all four tenses and won, or at least drawn! Sgoinneil fhèin! This is a big step.

Landscape updated 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 updated 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:

If the word is already slenderised, then happy days! Half the work is done for you:

Didn't I learn possession ages ago?

Yes, there are other structures that show possession. Sometimes the genitive is needed. Sometimes you can choose:


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-:

Other changes

Sometimes the noun changes in different ways. Sometimes it doesn't change at all:

Sometimes a slender word has the slenderisation taken away and an a is added:

a' mhuir - the sea

an t-sùil - the eye

Some are technically irregular, although they might look similar to other patterns:

a' ghrian - 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:

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.



-al ending:


-an ending:


-ach ending


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 updated 2020-12-13 ^

Iain is Alone

To say that someone is alone, we use one of the handy special prepositional pronouns with ann:

Iain looks awful

Coltas is the Gaelic word for "appearance". You use this in combination with air:

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:


This is the form of de that we use before the definite article.

Den triggers ye olde dative case and causes lenition:

far or càite?

These words both mean where - so far, so good!


Generally used to ask a question:


Used to say or point out where something or someone is:

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