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A First Lesson in Scots Gaelic

written by: Gillian Hendrie•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 2/7/2013

Learn a few simple sentences in Scots Gaelic. Use the verb "to be" with adjectives and ask some questions.

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    Tha e Furasda! It's Easy!

    Some aspects of Gaelic grammar are incredibly easy – so let’s start with one.First of all, there’s no verb conjugation: the verb form stays the same no matter who’s doing the action.For example, the following list shows the verb "tha" [ha]= to be(positive) used with the personal pronouns.

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    Tha [ha] = To Be (Positive Meaning)

    tha [ha]= to be(positive)

    I am= tha mi[ha mee]

    you are (singular)= tha thu[ha oo]

    he/it is= the e[ha e]

    she/it is= tha i[ha ee]

    we are = tha sinn[ha shin]

    you are(plural or polite)= tha sibh[ha shiv]

    they are= tha iad[ha iyat]

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    Other Forms of the Verb

    There are separate forms for the negative meaning ("... is not") and for asking questions, as shown below. Note that the character X has been used to transliterate the sound of “ch" in the Scottish “loch" or German “ach".

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    Chan Eil

    chan eil [Xan yil] = to be (negative)

    I’m not = chan eil mi

    you’re not = chan eil thu

    he isn’t = chan eil e

    she isn’t = chan eil i

    we aren’t = chan eil sinn

    you aren't (pl or polite)= chan eil sibh

    they aren't = chan eil iad

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    Question Forms

    A' bheil [a vil] (+ pronoun) = Am I…? Are you...? etc.

    Nach eil [naX il] (+ pronoun) = Am I not...? Aren’t you…? etc.


    Are you tired? = A' bheil thu sgìth? (See below for adjectives.)

    Aren't you busy? = Nach eil thu trang?

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    The easiest way to complete these sentences is with an adjective, so here are a few to choose from:

    beag [bek] = small

    mòr [as English “more"] = big

    blàth [bla:] = warm, hot

    fuar [foo ar] = cold

    sgìth [skee] = tired

    leisg [layshk] = lazy

    trang [trang] = busy

    We can also add glè [glay] (meaning “very") before the adjective.

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    First Sentences

    I’m tired. = Tha mi sgìth.

    I’m very tired. = Tha mi glè sgìth.

    Are you cold? = A' bheil thu fuar?

    She isn’t very busy. = Chan eil i glè trang.

    Aren’t they small? = Nach eil iad beag?

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    Get this vocabulary as a download.