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Lesson 1: The Gaelic Simple Sentence

Copyright (C) 1994


* 1.1: Tha Present Tense
* 1.2: Faclair
* 1.3: Obair
* 1.4: Chan eil
* 1.5: Nach eil
* 1.6: A Bheil
* 1.7: Obair eile

Tha, Present Tense

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 sgth.
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.

sgth tired
fluich wet
teth hot
fuar cold
tinn sick
tioram dry
luath swift
dubh black
bn fair, white
mr big, great
beag small, little
agus and
ach but
c m. dog
cat m. cat
teine m. fire
dorus m. door
taigh m. house
falt m. hair
Seumas m. James
Miri f. Mary
aig at
air on
anns in
an the, (definite article)


Now let us make some sentences.

Tha mi sgth.
I am tired.

Tha Seumas sgth.
James is tired.

Tha Miri sgth.
Mary is tired.

Tha Seumas agus Miri sgth.
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 c 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 Miri tioram. Tha i tioram.
Mary is dry. She is dry.

Tha mi sgth agus tha thu sgth. Tha sinn sgth.
I am tired and you are tired. We are tired.

Tha an c mr ach tha an cat beag.
The dog is big but the cat is small.

Tha an c dubh ach tha an cat bn.
The dog is black but the cat is fair.

Tha an c dubh anns an taigh.
The black dog is in the house.

Tha Seumas mr aig an dorus.
Big Seumas is at the door.

Tha falt bn air Miri 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.

Chan eil

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

Nach eil

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?

A Bheil

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.

*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?

Obair eile

Here are some more sentences:

A bheil thu sgth? Chan eil, chan eil mi sgth.
lit: Are you tired? Am not, I am not tired.
Are you tired? No, I am not tired.

Nach eil i fluich? Tha, tha i fluich agus fuar.
lit: Is she not wet? Is, she is wet and cold.
Is she not wet? Yes, she is wet and cold.

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 sgth? 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 c mr agus an cat bn 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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