Leasan A Dh

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Lesson 2: The Past tense of Bi, Bha, and a look at the Verbal Noun

Copyright (C) 1994


* 2.1: Bha, Past tense
* 2.2: Cha robh
* 2.3: An robh
* 2.4: Nach robh
* 2.5: Obair
* 2.6: The Verbal Noun
* 2.7: Faclair
* 2.8: Obair eile

2.1: Bha, Past tense

The most common form of the english to be is the verb bi, the present tense of which is tha and the past tense of which is bha. Conjugating bha with the personal pronouns yields:

*Bha miI was
*Bha thu You were (informal)
*Bha e He was
*Bha i She was
*Bha sinn We were
*Bha sibh You were (formal)
*Bha iad They were

2.2: Cha robh

In a similar fashion we may define the negative past tense of bi, cha robh. It should be noted that cha is a negative particle which will serve to introduce negative verbs. Conjugatin leads to:

*Cha robh miI was not
*Cha robh thu You were not (informal)
*Cha robh e He was not
*Cha robh i She was not
*Cha robh sinn We were not
*Cha robh sibh You were not (formal)
*Cha robh iad They were not

2.3: An robh

The fully interrogative form is an robh:

*An robh miWas I?
*An robh thu Were you? (informal)
*An robh e Was he?
*An robh i Was she?
*An robh sinn Were we?
*An robh sibh Were you? (formal)
*An robh iad Were they?

2.4: Nach robh

Completion of the verb tense for bha rests with the negative interrogative form, nach robh, as usual, preceded by the signalling particle, nach:

*Nach robh miWas I not?
*Nach robh thu Were you not? (informal)
*Nach robh e Was he not?
*Nach robh i Was she not?
*Nach robh sinn Were we not?
*Nach robh sibh Were you not? (formal)
*Nach robh iad Were they not

2.5: Obair

Now, using the faclair from leasan a h-aon, let us explore some of the differences between tha and bha.

Bha Seumas aig an doras.
James was at the door.

Nach eil Miri aig an doras? Chan eil. Tha i anns an taigh ach bha i aig an doras.
Is not Mary at the door. No. She is in the house but she was at the door.

A bheil an c dubh? An robh falt dubh air Miri?
Is the dog black? Was Mary dark?

Nach robh sibh aig an sgoil? Cha robh. Bha sinn aig an taigh.
Were you not at (the) school? No. We were at home.

Bha Seumas beag agus Miri bhn anns an achadh.
Little James and fair-haired Mary are in the field.

Nach robh iad fluich?
Were they not wet?

Cha robh iad fluich ach bha iad sgth.
They were not wet but they were tired.

2.6: The Verbal Noun

Now we introduce the verbal noun. To express an action, the verbal noun is used. It is related to the verb but is changed into a noun which then falls into a special pattern. This pattern is simple and predictable.

If the present participle (pr. pt.), the noun part of the verbal noun, begins with a vowel, ag is placed in front of the pr. pt. to form the verbal noun (v.n.). Otherwise, a' is placed in front of the pr. pt. to form the v.n. Note that in both of these cases, the added prefix is a shortened form of aig at.

Obair f. is both a noun and a pr. pt. In the case of the pr. pt., it may be translated as working, hence ag obair at working and thus

Tha mi ag obair anns an achadh.
I am working in the field.

Nach robh thu ag obair air an taigh? Bha, bha mi ag obair air an taigh.
Were you not working on the house? Yes, I was working on the house.

Another example with a pr. pt. requiring the a' prefix is dol going.

Bha Miri bheag a' dol dhan bhaile.
Little Mary was going to (the) town.

2.7: Faclair

baile f. town
iasgach f. fishing (pr. pt.)
ag iasgach fishing (v.n.)
obair f. working, work (pr. pt.)
ag obair working (v.n.)
a' dol going
dhan to the (lenites follwoing word)
a' cuideachadh helping
a' ruith running
a' ceannach buying
ag l drinking
a' leughadh reading
a' sgrobhadh writing
ag ionnsachadh learning
a' fuireach staying
a' bruidhinn speaking
Gidhlig f.Gaelic
Beurla f. English
a' fs growing
a' campachadh camping
a' danamh doing
d what (interrogative)
bainne m. milk
leann m. beer
a' cluich playing
clrsach f. harp
pob f. bagpipe, pipe
fidheall f. fiddle
monadh m. moor, upland
anns a' mhonadh on the moor
Sne f. Jean, Janet
Calum m. Malcolm
an-diugh m. today
a-nochd tonight
an-d yesterday
trang busy (adjective)
gu trang busily (adverb)
a' dannsadh dancing
a' seinn singing

2.8: Obair eile

A bheil sibh ag obair an-diugh? Tha, tha sinn ag obair gu trang anns an achadh an-diugh.
Are you working today? Yes, we are working busily in the field today.

A bheil iad a' bruidhinn Gidhlig? Chan eil, tha iad a' bruidhinn Beurla.
Are they speaking Gaelic? No, they are speaking English.

An robh e a' bruidhinn Gidhlig? Bha. An robh e a' leughadh Gidhlig? Cha robh.
Was he speaking Gaelic? Yes. Was he reading Gaelic? No.

Nach robh i ag ionnsachadh Gidhlig an-diugh? Bha.
Was not she learning Gaelic today? Yes.

Nach robh Seumas agus an c dubh anns an achadh an-d?
Were not Seumas and the black dog in the field yesterday?

Cha robh. Bha Seumas aig an sgoil an-d ach bha Calum anns an achadh.
No. Seumas was at (the) school yesterday but Calum was in the field.

D tha Miri a' danamh? Tha i a' cuideachadh Sne.
What is Mary doing? She is helping Jean.

Tha an c a' ruith anns a' mhonadh.
The dog is running on the moor.

Bha Calum a' cluich pob-mhr agus bha Sne a' cluich clrsach.
Calum was playing a bagpipe abnd Jean was playing a harp.

Chan eil mi a' ceannach an taigh.
I am not buying the house.

D bha Sne a' danamh anns an taigh? Bha i ag l bainne.
What was Janet doing in the house? She was drinking milk.

Nach robh Calum agus an c a' ruith anns a' mhonadh an-d? Cha robh, bha Calum anns an sgoil agus bha an c anns an taigh.
Were not Calum and the dog running on the moor yesterday? No, Calum was in school and the dog was in the house.

Bha sinn ag obair air an taigh an-diugh ach tha sinn a' dannsadh an-nochd.
We were working on the house today but we are dancing tonight.

Nach robh sibh ag obair air an taigh? Bha, bha sinn ag obair gu trang air an taigh.
Were you not working on the house? Yes, we were working busily on the house.

D tha sibh a' danamh? Tha Sne agus mi a' dannsadh agus tha Calum a' seinn.
What are you doing? Janet and I are dancing and Calum is singing.

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