Copyright (C) 1994
2.1: Bha, Past tense
2.2: Cha robh
2.3: An robh
2.4: Nach robh
2.6: The Verbal Noun
2.8: Obair eile
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
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
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?
Completion of the verb tense for bha rests with the negative
interrogative form, nach robh, as usual, preceded by the signalling
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
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 Màiri 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 cù dubh? An robh falt dubh air Màiri?
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 Màiri bhàn 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 sgìth.
They were not wet but they were tired.
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 Màiri bheag a' dol dhan bhaile.
Little Mary was going to (the) town.
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 òl drinking
a' leughadh reading
a' sgrìobhadh writing
ag ionnsachadh learning
a' fuireach staying
a' bruidhinn speaking
Beurla f. English
a' fàs growing
a' campachadh camping
a' dèanamh doing
dé what (interrogative)
bainne m. milk
leann m. beer
a' cluich playing
clàrsach f. harp
pìob f. bagpipe, pipe
fidheall f. fiddle
monadh m. moor, upland
anns a' mhonadh on the moor
Sìne f. Jean, Janet
Calum m. Malcolm
an-diugh m. today
trang busy (adjective)
gu trang busily (adverb)
a' dannsadh dancing
a' seinn singing
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 Gàidhlig? Chan eil, tha iad a' bruidhinn Beurla.
Are they speaking Gaelic? No, they are speaking English.
An robh e a' bruidhinn Gàidhlig? Bha. An robh e a' leughadh Gàidhlig? Cha robh.
Was he speaking Gaelic? Yes. Was he reading Gaelic? No.
Nach robh i ag ionnsachadh Gàidhlig an-diugh? Bha.
Was not she learning Gaelic today? Yes.
Nach robh Seumas agus an cù dubh anns an achadh an-dé?
Were not Seumas and the black dog in the field yesterday?
Cha robh. Bha Seumas aig an sgoil an-dé ach bha Calum anns an achadh.
No. Seumas was at (the) school yesterday but Calum was in the field.
Dé tha Màiri a' dèanamh? Tha i a' cuideachadh Sìne.
What is Mary doing? She is helping Jean.
Tha an cù a' ruith anns a' mhonadh.
The dog is running on the moor.
Bha Calum a' cluich pìob-mhór agus bha Sìne a' cluich clàrsach.
Calum was playing a bagpipe abnd Jean was playing a harp.
Chan eil mi a' ceannach an taigh.
I am not buying the house.
Dé bha Sìne a' dèanamh anns an taigh? Bha i ag òl bainne.
What was Janet doing in the house? She was drinking milk.
Nach robh Calum agus an cù a' ruith anns a' mhonadh an-dé? Cha robh, bha Calum anns an sgoil agus bha an cù 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.
Dé tha sibh a' dèanamh? Tha Sìne 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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