Copyright (C) 1994
1.1: Tha Present Tense
1.4: Chan eil
1.5: Nach eil
1.6: A Bheil
1.7: Obair eile
The verb to be in English maps to two different
verbs in Gaelic. One of these two verbs is Bi, the
present tense of which is tha. Conjugating tha
with the personal pronouns yields:
Tha mi I am
Tha thu You are (informal)
Tha e He is
Tha i She is
Tha sinn We are
Tha sibh You are (formal)
Tha iad They are
Note that gaelic has two personal pronouns for you,
one corresponding to the informal situation of peers, children,
friends, etc. The other form is a more formal one used for elders
and other cases requiring a show of respect.
Tha is used in constructions linking a noun to
a condition, e.g.:
James is tired.
In Gaelic this would be
Tha Seumas sgìth.
Note that the order of the elements is different from the english case
and that the verb is first, followed by the subject, followed by the
extensions and direct objects.
Here is a short list of vocabulary words to enable us to construct
some simple sentences.
bàn fair, white
mór big, great
beag small, little
cù m. dog
cat m. cat
teine m. fire
dorus m. door
taigh m. house
falt m. hair
Seumas m. James
Màiri f. Mary
an the, (definite article)
Now let us make some sentences.
Tha mi sgìth.
I am tired.
Tha Seumas sgìth.
James is tired.
Tha Màiri sgìth.
Mary is tired.
Tha Seumas agus Màiri sgìth.
James and Mary are tired.
Tha an teine teth.
The fire is hot.
Tha Seumas anns an taigh.
James is in the house.
Tha an cù aig an dorus ach tha an cat anns an taigh.
The dog is at the door but the cat is in the house.
Tha Seumas fluich. Tha e fluich.
James is wet. He is wet.
Tha Màiri tioram. Tha i tioram.
Mary is dry. She is dry.
Tha mi sgìth agus tha thu sgìth. Tha sinn sgìth.
I am tired and you are tired. We are tired.
Tha an cù mór ach tha an cat beag.
The dog is big but the cat is small.
Tha an cù dubh ach tha an cat bàn.
The dog is black but the cat is fair.
Tha an cù dubh anns an taigh.
The black dog is in the house.
Tha Seumas mór aig an dorus.
Big Seumas is at the door.
Tha falt bàn air Màiri agus tha falt dubh air Seumas.
lit: Fair hair is on Mary and black hair is on James.
Mary is fair-haired and James is black-haired.
Very good. Now we will look at the negation of tha. To
express this we use chan eil and so conjugation yields:
Chan eil mi I am not
Chan eil thu You are not
Chan eil e He is not
Chan eil i She is not
Chan eil sinn We are not
Chan eil sibh You are not
Chan eil iad They are not
And while we are at it let us introduce the negative interrogative nach eil.
Nach eil mi Am I not?
Nach eil thu Are you not?
Nach eil e Is he not?
Nach eil i Is she not?
Nach eil sinn Are we not?
Nach eil sibh Are you not?
Nach eil iad Are they not?
The fully interrogative form is a bheil, sometime written as
am bheil or a' bheil, but all forms reflect that
the m is practically silent before b.
Is she not wet? Yes, she is wet and cold.
A bheil mi Am I?
A bheil thu Are you?
A bheil e Is he?
A bheil i Is she?
A bheil sinn Are we?
A bheil sibh Are you?
A bheil iad Are they?
Here are some more sentences:
A bheil thu sgìth? Chan eil, chan eil mi sgìth.
lit: Are you tired? Am not, I am not tired.
Are you tired? No, I am not tired.
lit: Is she not wet? Is, she is wet and cold.
Nach eil i fluich? Tha, tha i fluich agus fuar.
Note that the response to the interrogative, either negative or
positive, is the appropriate form of the verb. There is no
form of yes or no in Gaelic.
A bheil sibh teth an-diugh? Tha mi teth ach chan eil Seumas teth.
Are you hot today? I am hot but Seumas is not hot.
Nach eil Seumas sgìth? Chan eil ach tha e fluich agus fuar.
Is not James tired? No but he is wet and cold.
A bheil Seumas fluich? Nach eil e tinn?
Is James wet? Is not he sick?
Tha an cù mór agus an cat bàn anns an taigh. Tha iad tioram.
The big dog and the fair-haired cat are in the house. They are dry.
Nach eil an cu dubh luath? Chan eil, chan eil e luath.
Is not the black dog swift? No, he is not swift.
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