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This article describes the grammar of the Scottish Gaelic language.

Grammar overview

The 10th-century Book of Deer contains the oldest known text from Scotland that contains distincly Scottish Gaelic forms, here seen in the margins of a page from the Gospel of Matthew.

Gaelic shares with other Celtic languages a number of interesting typological features:[1]

Tha taigh agam "I have a house" (lit. "A house is at me")
Tha an cat sin le Iain "Iain owns that cat" (lit. "Is the cat that with Ian")
Tha cat agadsa ach tha cù agamsa "You have a cat but I have a dog"

Consonant mutations

Lenition and slenderisation (also referred to as palatalisation or "i-infection") play a crucial role in Scottish Gaelic grammar.[2]

Lenition (sometimes inaccurately referred to as "aspiration"), as a grammatical process, affects the pronunciation of initial consonants, and is indicated orthographically by the addition of an ⟨h⟩:

Lenition is not indicated in writing for words beginning with ⟨l, n, r⟩. Nor does it affect words that begin with either a vowel, or with ⟨sg, sm, sp, st⟩. In most cases, lenition is caused by the presence of particular trigger words to the left (certain determiners, adverbs, prepositions, and other function words). In this article, the leniting effect of such words is indicated, where relevant, by the superscript "+L" (e.g. glè+L "very").

Slenderisation, on the other hand, is a change in the pronunciation of the final consonant of a word, and it is typically indicated by the addition of an ⟨i⟩:

In monosyllabic words, slenderisation can cause more complex changes to the vowel:

Slenderisation usually has no effect on words that end in a vowel (e.g. bàta "boat"), or words whose final consonant is already slender (e.g. sràid "street"). In rare cases, for example in words where a historic silent final consonant is elided in spelling, this may re-appear in the slenderised form, e.g. tlà (< tlàth) usually slenderises to tlàith.

Most cases of slenderisation can be explained historically as the palatalizing influence of a following front vowel (such as -⟨i⟩) in earlier stages of the language. Although this vowel has now disappeared, its effects on the preceding consonant are still preserved.[3] Similarly, lenition of initial consonants was originally triggered by the final vowel of the preceding word, but in many cases, this vowel is no longer present in the modern language.[4]

Many word-final consonants have also disappeared in the evolution of Scottish Gaelic, and some traces of them can be observed in the form of prosthetic or linking consonants (⟨n-, h-, t-⟩, etc.) that appear in some syntactic combinations, for example, after some determiners (see below).[5]

Nouns

Gender and number

Gaelic nouns and pronouns belong to one of two grammatical genders: masculine or feminine. Nouns with neuter gender in Old Gaelic were redistributed between the masculine and feminine.

The gender of a small number of nouns differs between dialects. A very small group of nouns have declensional patterns that suggest mixed gender characteristics. Foreign nouns that are fairly recent loans arguably fall into a third gender class (discussed by Black), if considered in terms of their declensional pattern. It is arguable that feminine gender is under pressure and that the system may be becoming simplified with the feminine paradigms incorporating some typically masculine patterns.

Nouns have three grammatical numbers: singular, dual (vestigially) and plural. Dual forms of nouns are only found after the numeral (two), where they are obligatory. The dual form is identical in form to the dative singular; depending on noun class, the dual is therefore either the same in form as the common singular (the nominative-accusative, Class 1 nouns, Class 3 and Class 4 nouns), or have a palatalised final consonant in nouns of Class 2 and Class 5. Plurals are formed in a variety of ways, including suffixation (often involving the suffix -(e)an) and slenderisation. Pluralisation, as in Irish Gaelic and Manx, can vary according to noun class, however on the whole depends on the final sound of the singular form.

Three Grammatical Number Forms: Singular, Dual (Vestigial), Plural
Noun Class Example English
1 aon òran, dà òran, trì òrain one song, two songs, three songs
2 aon uinneag, dà uinneig, trì uinneagan one window, two windows, three windows
3 aon ghuth, dà ghuth, trì guthan one voice, two voices, three voices
4 aon bhàta, dà bhàta, trì bàtaichean one boat, two boats, three boats
5 aon chara, dà charaid, trì càirdean one friend, two friends, three friends

Cardinal Numerals

For counting, or with numerals that are not followed by a noun, the form is slightly different.

Cardinal Counting Numerals
Gaelic Numeral English
Translation
a h-aon one
a dhà two
a trì three
a ceithir four
a còig five
a sia six
a seachd seven
a h-ochd eight
a naoidh nine
a deich ten
a h-aon deug eleven
a dhà dheug twelve

Cases

Nouns and pronouns in Gaelic have four cases: nominative, vocative, genitive, and dative (or prepositional) case. There is no distinct accusative case form; the nominative is used for both subjects and objects. Nouns can be classified into a number of major declension classes, with a small number of nouns falling into minor patterns or irregular paradigms. Case forms can be related to the base form by suffixation, lenition, slenderisation, or a combination of such changes. See the example paradigms below for further details.

The case system is now under tremendous pressure and speakers exhibit varying degrees of paradigm simplification.[citation needed]

Prepositional or dative

Nouns in the dative case only occur after a preposition, and never, for example, as the indirect object of a verb.

Vocative

Nouns in the vocative case are introduced by the particle a+L, which lenites a following consonant, and is elided (and usually not written) before a vowel. The vocative form of feminine singular nouns is otherwise identical to the nominative; additionally, masculine singular nouns are slenderised in the vocative.

Genitive

In the genitive construction, the genitive follows the word it governs: taigh m' athar house my father (genitive) "my father's house".

Indefinite and definite

Gaelic has no indefinite article. may mean either "dog" or "a dog", and coin may mean either "dogs" or "some dogs."[6]

The definite article is discussed below in full under articles. A noun or noun phrase is considered to be definite if it fulfils one of the following criteria.[6]

Pronouns

Personal pronouns

Gaelic has singular and plural personal pronouns (i.e., no dual forms). Gender is distinguished only in the 3rd person singular. A T-V distinction is found in the 2nd person, with the plural form sibh used also as a polite singular.[6]

Person Pronoun English
Simple Emphatic
Singular 1st mi mise I, me
2nd Familiar thu
tu
thusa
tusa
you
Respectful sibh sibhse
3rd Masculine e esan he, him
Feminine i ise she, her
Plural 1st sinn sinne we, us
2nd sibh sibhse you
3rd iad iadsan they, them

In most cases the Classical Gaelic lenited form of tu, i.e. thu, has become generalised. Tu is retained in constructions where it is preceded by a verb ending in -⟨n⟩ -⟨s⟩ or -⟨dh⟩ (incl. historic -⟨dh⟩):

Emphatic personal pronouns

The emphatic pronouns are used to express emphasis or contrast:[6]

Emphatic forms are found in all pronominal constructions:

Adjectives

Adjectives in Gaelic inflect according to gender and case in the singular. In the plural, a single form is used for both masculine and feminine genders, in all cases (although it may be lenited depending on the context).

Adjectives normally follow the noun they modify, and agree with it in gender, number and case. In addition, in the dative singular of masculine nouns, the leniting effect of a preceding definite article (see Articles below) can be seen on both the noun and the following adjective:

A small number of adjectives precede the noun, and generally cause lenition. For example:

Determiners

Possessive determiners

Gaelic uses possessive determiners (corresponding to my, your, their, etc.) differently from English. In Gaelic, possessive determiners are used mostly to indicate inalienable possession, for example for body parts or family members.

As indicated in the following table, some possessive determiners lenite the following word. Before a word beginning with a vowel, some of the determiners have elided forms, or require a linking consonant.[6]

Person Determiner Examples
before
consonant
before
vowel
Singular 1st mo+L m' mo mhàthair, m' athair my mother, my father
2nd Familiar do+L d' do mhàthair, d' athair your mother, your father
Respectful ur ur n- ur màthair, ur n-athair your mother, your father
3rd Masculine a+L a a mhàthair, (a) athair "his mother", "his father"
Feminine a a h- a màthair, a h-athair her mother, her father
Plural 1st ar ar n- ar màthair, ar n-athair our mother, our father
2nd ur ur n- ur màthair, ur n-athair your mother, your father
3rd an/am an am màthair, an athair their mother, their father

The 3rd plural possessive a takes the form am before words beginning with a labial consonant: ⟨b, p, f, m⟩.

As discussed above, the linking consonants n- and h- reflect the presence of a final consonant that has disappeared in other contexts. Ar and ur are derived from genitive plural forms that originally ended in a nasal.[7] The feminine singular a derives from a form ending in final -⟨s⟩, whose only trace is now the prefixation of h- to a following vowel.[8]

To refer to non-permanent possession, one uses the preposition aig, as described above:

Emphatic suffixes with possessive determiners

Emphatic suffixes are used with possessive determiners, and other parts of speech, to lend emphatic or contrastive power. They are used following nouns preceded by possessive pronouns to emphasize the pronominal element. Notice that -sa replaces -se in the first person singular in comparison to the pronominal emphatic suffixes above.[6]

Person Emphatic suffix Example English
Singular 1st [noun]-sa mo làmh-sa my hand
2nd Familiar [noun]-sa do cheann-sa your head
Respectful [noun]-se ur n-aodann-se your face
3rd Masculine [noun]-san a uileann-san his elbow
Feminine [noun]-se a co-ogha-se her cousin
Plural 1st [noun]-ne ar n-ogha-ne our grandchild
2nd [noun]-se ur teaghlach-se your family
3rd [noun]-san am baile-san their town

Articles

Gaelic has a definite article but no indefinite article:

The singular article is often used to designate an entire class.[6]

Abstract nouns consistently take the singular article, as well.[6]

The form of the (definite) article depends on the number, gender, case of the noun. The following table shows the basic paradigm, as used when there is no assimilation to the initial sounds of the following word.

Singular Plural
Masculine Feminine
Nom. AN AN+L NA
Dat. AN+L
Gen. AN+L NA NAN

The superscript +L indicates that the following word is lenited. The actual realization of the capitalised forms in the paradigm above depends on the initial sound of the following word, as explained in the following table:

used in: masc. nom. sing.
AN an t- before vowel
am before ⟨b, f, m, p⟩
an elsewhere
used in: fem. nom. & dat. sing.,
masc. dat. & gen. sing.
AN+L a'+L before ⟨b, m, p, c, g⟩
an+L before ⟨f⟩
an t- before ⟨s⟩ + vowel, ⟨sl, sn, sr⟩
an elsewhere (before ⟨d, n, t, l, r, sg, sm, sp, st⟩, vowel)
used in: fem. gen. sing.,
nom. & dat. plural
NA na before consonant
na h- before vowel
used in: gen. plural
NAN nam before ⟨b, f, m, p⟩
nan elsewhere

Putting all of those variants together into one table:

Before: ⟨b, m, p⟩ ⟨c, g⟩ ⟨f⟩ ⟨s⟩ + vowel,
⟨sl, sn, sr⟩
⟨d, n, t, l⟩,
⟨r⟩,
⟨sg, sm, sp, st⟩
vowel all else
Nom. Singular Masculine am an am an an an t- an
Feminine a'+L a'+L an+L an t- an an+L
Plural na na na na na na h- na
Dat. Singular Masculine a'+L a'+L an+L an t- an an an+L
Feminine
Plural na na na na na na h- na
Gen. Singular Masculine a'+L a'+L an+L an t- an an an+L
Feminine na na na na na na h- na
Plural nam nan nam nan nan nan nan

The forms of the definite article trace back to a Common Celtic stem *sindo-, sindā-. The initial ⟨s⟩, already lost in the Old Irish period, is still preserved in the forms of some prepositions (for example le "with" becomes leis before an article, similarly (ann) an "in", becomes anns — see below). The original d can be seen in the form an t-, and the leniting effect of the form an+L is a trace of a lost final vowel. The form na h- reflects an original final -⟨s⟩.[9]

Example paradigms

The following examples illustrate a number of nominal declension patterns, and show how the definite article combines with different kinds of nouns.

Masculine definite noun paradigms

Feminine definite noun paradigms

Verbs

Verbal constructions may make use of synthetic verb forms which are marked to indicate person (the number of such forms is limited), tense, mood, and voice (active, impersonal/passive). Gaelic has very few irregular verbs, conjugational paradigms being remarkably consistent for two verb classes, with the two copular or "be" verbs being the most irregular. In the paradigm of the verb, the majority of verb-forms are not person-marked and independent pronouns are required as in English, Norwegian and other languages. Alongside constructions involving synthetic verb forms, analytic (or 'periphrastic') aspectual constructions are extremely frequently used and in many cases are obligatory (compare English "be + -ing" and Spanish "estar + [verb]-ndo" verbal constructions). These structures convey tense, aspect and modality, often in fused forms.

'Verbal nouns' play a crucial role in the verbal system, being used in periphrastic verbal constructions preceded by a preposition where they act as the sense verb, and a stative verb conveys tense, aspect and mood information, in a pattern that is familiar from other Indo-European languages. Verbal nouns are true nouns in morphology and inherent properties, having gender, case and their occurrence in what are prepositional phrases, and in which non-verbal nouns are also found. Verbal nouns carry verbal semantic and syntactic force in such core verbal constructions as a result of their meaning content, as do other nouns found in such constructions, such as tha e na thost "he is quiet, he stays silent", literally "he is in his silence", which mirrors the stative usage found in tha e na shuidhe "he is sitting, he sits", literally "he is in his sitting". This is similar to words such as bed in English and letto in Italian when used in prepositional phrases such as in bed and a letto "in bed", where "bed" and letto express a stative meaning. The verbal noun covers many of the same notions as infinitives, gerunds and present participles in other Indo-European languages.

Traditional grammars use the terms 'past', 'future tense', 'conditional', 'imperative' and 'subjunctive' in describing the five core Scottish Gaelic verb forms; however, modern scholarly linguistic texts reject such terms borrowed from traditional grammar descriptions based on the concepts of Latin grammar. In a general sense, the verb system is similar to that found in Irish, the major difference being the loss of the simple present, this being replaced by the periphrastic forms noted above. These periphrastic forms in Irish have retained their use of showing continuous aspect. The tense–aspect system of Gaelic is ill-studied; Macaulay (1992) gives a reasonably comprehensive account.

Copula verbs

The number of copular verbs and their exact function in Gaelic is a topic of contention among researchers. There is a certain amount of variation in sources, making it difficult to come to a definitive conclusion about certain aspects of copular verbs. However, there is some information that consistently shows up across these sources, which we will discuss in this section.

Gaelic has two copular "be" verbs, though some grammar books treat them as two parts of a single suppletive verb:

Bi: attributes a property to a noun or pronoun; its complement is typically a description that expresses position, state, non-permanent characteristic (see further below)

Tense form
Present Independent tha
Relative tha
Dependent bheil, eil
Present imperfective, future Independent bidh, bithidh
Dependent bi
Past perfective Independent bha
Dependent robh
Past imperfective bhiodh

Is: Historically called the “copula” verb, is can be used in constructions with nominal complements and adjectival complements. It also has the additional function of “topicalization”, a term that means a certain element of a sentence is being emphasized as the topic of interest.[10]

Tense form
Present Independent is, ’s
Relative as
Past bu, before a vowel and ⟨fh⟩: b’

Is:

In English, italics (for text) and stress (for speech) are used to emphasize different elements of a sentence; one can also change the word order to put the emphasized element first. Scottish Gaelic, however, does not use stress and very rarely uses word order changes to create emphasis. Instead, it uses topicalization, for example when “a sentence with the verb is followed by the element topicalised” (MacAulay, 189). This equates the English fronting device "it is X that...":

Examples (from MacAulay, pages 189–190):

1
The subject is emphasized

Is

is

e

3SG-MASC-PN

Iain

Ian

a

REL

thug

gave

an

the

leabhar

book

do

to

Anna

Anna

an-dè

yesterday

Is e Iain a thug an leabhar do Anna {an-dè}

is 3SG-MASC-PN Ian REL gave the book to Anna yesterday

"It is Ian who gave the book to Anna yesterday."

2
The direct object is emphasized

Is

is

e

3SG-MASC-PN

an

the

leabhar

book

a

REL

thug

gave

Iain

Ian

do

to

Anna

Anna

an-dè

yesterday

Is e an leabhar a thug Iain do Anna {an-dè}

is 3SG-MASC-PN the book REL gave Ian to Anna yesterday

"It is the book that Ian gave to Anna yesterday."

3
The indirect object is emphasized

Is

is

ann

in-it

do

to

Anna

Anna

a

REL

thug

gave

Iain

Ian

an

the

leabhar

book

an-dè

yesterday

Is ann do Anna a thug Iain an leabhar {an-dè}

is in-it to Anna REL gave Ian the book yesterday

"It is to Anna that Ian gave the book yesterday."

4
The adjunct is emphasized

Is

is

ann

in-it

an-dè

yesterday

a

REL

thug

gave

Iain

Ian

an

the

leabhar

book

do

to

Anna

Anna

Is ann {an-dè} a thug Iain an leabhar do Anna

is in-it yesterday REL gave Ian the book to Anna

"It was yesterday that Ian gave the book to Anna."

5
The complement is emphasized (for aspectual sentences)

Is

is

ann

in-it

a’

at

toirt

giving-VN

an

the

leabhair

book-GEN

do

to

Anna

Anna

a

REL

bha

was

Iain

Ian

Is ann a’ toirt an leabhair do Anna a bha Iain

is in-it at giving-VN the book-GEN to Anna REL was Ian

"It was giving the book to Anna that Ian was."

The fronting use of is is part of its general function of ascribing descriptions to a complement (see below). Most commonly one will see classificatory or adjectival complements, as shown below:

(a)

Is

is

duine

man

Iain

Ian

Is duine Iain

is man Ian

"Ian is a man."

(b)

Is

is

math

good

sin!

that

Is math sin!

is good that

"That is good!"[10]

Bi: Historically called the “substantive” verb, tha (the present indicative independent 3rd person singular form of bi) can be used in constructions with adjectival complements, locative predicates, and in aspectually marked sentences (MacAulay, page 180).

Examples (MacAulay, page 178):

(c)
adjectival complement

Tha

is

an

the

càr

car

mòr

large

Tha an càr mòr

is the car large

"The car is large."

(d)
locative

Tha

is

an

the

càr

car

air

on

an

the

rathad

road

Tha an càr air an rathad

is the car on the road

"The car is on the road."

(e)
aspectually marked

Tha

is

an

the

càr

car

a’

at

siubhal

travelling

Tha an càr a’ siubhal

is the car at travelling

"The car is travelling."

It is also possible to use tha to describe a noun or pronoun with a nominal complement by using an embedded pronoun (MacAulay, page 179):

(f)
Example with tha

Tha

is

Iain

Ian

na

in.3SG.MASC.PN (in-his; for convenience)

shaighdear

soldier

Tha Iain na shaighdear

is Ian {in.3SG.MASC.PN (in-his; for convenience)} soldier

"Ian is a soldier."

(g)
Example with is

Is

is

saighdear

soldier

Iain

Ian

Is saighdear Iain

is soldier Ian

"Ian is a soldier."

The two usages carry a semantic contrast. Is shows a permanent state, while tha shows that the state of being a soldier is temporary in some way or other. Often the tha construction is used when someone has just become a soldier, for example, while the is construction shows that being a soldier is a part of Ian's persona.

Notice that the example using is exhibits a diversion from the typical VSO word order. In Classical Gaelic, is incorporates the subject (3rd person singular), the noun or adjective that follows is in the nominative, and the second noun/pronoun is objective in case. In Modern Gaelic, this has been reanalysed as V – Topic/Complement – S, or V – S – S, a "double nominative construction", as it were. Latin based descriptions, however, assume the first analysis. The tha example maintains VSO/VSC word order, where the complement is a prepositional phrase that states what state the subject is in (in the state of being a soldier); cf. tha e na shuidhe and tha e na thost above.

The difference between tha and is is that tha describes psychologically temporary states:

tha mi sgìth "I am tired"
tha an duine reamhair "the man is fat"

Is, on the other hand, describes more permanent conditions — that is, states of being that are intrinsic and/or not seen as having an assumed end:

is beag an taigh e "it's a small house"
is Albannach mi "I am Scottish"

In the last example, for instance, if someone were to become a Scottish citizen, the phrase would be :Tha mi nam Albannach a-nise "I am Scottish now".

Verb forms, tense and aspect

Tense and aspect are marked in Gaelic in a number of ways.

Present tense is formed by use of the verb tha and the verbal noun (or participle) form of the main verb. The construction, unlike Irish Gaelic, is neutral to aspect. Apart from this, tense and aspect marking are very similar in the two languages.

Tha mi a' bruidhinn. "I am speaking" or "I speak" (lit. "Am I at speaking")

The perfective past in regular verbs is indicated by lenition of the initial consonant, and d'/dh addition with verbs that start with a vowel or ⟨f⟩ (do is the underlying form in all cases):

bruidhinn [ˈpri.ɪɲ] "speak": bhruidhinn mi [ˈvri.ɪɲ mi] "I spoke"
òl [ɔːl̪ˠ] "drink": dh'òl mi [ɣɔːl̪ˠ mi] "I drank"
fuirich [ˈfuɾʲɪç] "wait, stay": dh'fhuirich mi [ˈɣuɾʲɪç mi] "I waited/stayed"

Gaelic conjugates verbs to indicate either the present imperfective or the future tense:

bruidhnnidh mi "I speak", "I will speak", "I speak (at times/occasionally/often)".

The habitual continuous and future continuous is expressed by using the habitual verb bi:

Bidh mi a' bruidhinn "I speak (regularly)", "I will be speaking", "I am speaking as a normal habit", etc.

As in other Celtic languages, Scottish Gaelic expresses modality and psych-verbals (such as "like", "prefer", "be able to", "manage to", "must"/"have to", "make"="compel to") by periphrastic constructions involving various adjectives, prepositional phrases and the copula or another verb, some of which involve highly unusual syntactic patterns when compared to English.

Prepositions and similar words

Prepositions in Gaelic govern either the nominative, dative (prepositional),[6] or genitive case.

All so-called "compound prepositions" consist of a simple preposition and a noun, and therefore the word they refer to is in the genitive case:

Some prepositions have different forms (ending in -⟨s⟩ or -⟨n⟩) when followed by the article. In the case of -⟨s⟩, this is from the original initial ⟨s⟩- of the definite article (Old Irish in, ind from Proto-Celtic *sindos, *sindā, etc.), while the -⟨n⟩ continues the article fused with the preposition, with the article being repeated sometimes in modern Scottish Gaelic (eg. Old Irish fond euch "under the horse", Scottish Gaelic fon each or fon an each, in Classical Gaelic fán eoch):

Inflected prepositions with personal pronouns

Prepositions that mark the dative take the conjugated dative forms of the personal pronouns, thus *aig mi "at me" and *le iad "with them" are incorrect. Such prepositions have conjugated forms, like verbs (see Inflected preposition). The following table presents some commonly used paradigms.[6]

+ "me" "you,
sg. fam."
"him" "her" "us" "you, pl." "them"
mi thu e i sinn sibh iad
"at" aig agam agad aige aice againn agaibh aca
"on" air orm ort air oirre oirnn oirbh orra
"with" le leam leat leis leatha leinn leibh leotha
"in" ann an annam annad ann innte annainn annaibh annta
"to, for" do dhomh dhut dha dhi dhuinn dhuibh dhaibh

Emphatic forms

Like the personal pronouns, inflected prepositions have emphatic forms derived by adding the following suffixes:[6]

+ sa sa san se e se san
"at" aig agamsa agadsa aigesan aicese againne agaibhse acasan
"on" air ormsa ortsa airsan oirrese oirnne oirbhse orrasan
"with" le leamsa leatsa leisan leathase leinne leibhse leothasan
"in" ann an annamsa annadsa annsan inntese annainne annaibhse anntasan
"to, for" do dhomhsa dhutsa dhasan dhise dhuinne dhuibhse dhaibhsan

Inflected prepositions with possessive determiners

When the preposition an "in" (often found in the combined form ann an) is followed by a possessive determiner, the two words create a combined form.[6] This also occurs with ag, the form of aig used with verbal nouns, and a+L.[6] As the last elements of these forms are the possessive determiners, the expected mutations occur.

+ "my" "your,
sg. fam."
"his" "her" "our" "your, pl." "their"
mo do a a ar ur an
"in" [ann] an nam+L nad+L na+L na [h-] nar [n-] nur [n-] nan/nam
"at" ag gam+L gad+L ga+L ga [h-] gar [n-] gur [n-] gan/gam
"to" a+L am+L ad+L a+L a [h-] ar [n-] ur [n-] an/am

Emphatic forms

The emphatic forms of inflected prepositions based on possessive determiners follows the emphatic forms of the emphatic suffixes with possessive determiners. That is, the suffix is added to the noun following the possessive determiner rather than to the possessive determiner itself.[6]

+ sa sa san se ne se san
"in" ann an nam+L {noun}-sa nad+L {noun}-sa <na+L {noun}-san na [h-] {noun}-se nar [n-] {noun}-ne nur {noun}-se nan/nam {noun}-san
"at" aig gam+L {noun}-sa gad+L {noun}-sa ga+L {noun}-san ga [h-] {noun}-se gar [n-] {noun}-ne gur {noun}-se gan/gam {noun}-san

Less formally, gam etc can undergo lenition – i.e. gham, ghad etc (sometimes erroneously spelled dham, dhad etc) and there are two n-less variants of nam and nad:

+ sa sa san se ne se san
"at" aig gham+L {noun}-sa ghad+L {noun}-sa gha+L {noun}-san gha [h-] {noun}-se ghar [n-] {noun}-ne ghur {noun}-se ghan/gham {noun}-san
"in" a 'am+L {noun}-sa 'ad+L {noun}-sa

References and notes

  1. ^ See Celtic languages#Characteristics of Celtic languages.
  2. ^ The phonological aspects of these processes are discussed in Scottish Gaelic phonology. See also Irish initial mutations.
  3. ^ Lewis & Pedersen (1989), §167ff; Calder (1923), §6
  4. ^ Thurneysen (1946), §230ff; Calder (1923), §19
  5. ^ Thurneysen (1946), §§230, 236ff; Calder (1923), §§13, 48
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Ó Maolalaigh, Roibeard; Iain MacAonghuis (1999). Scottish Gaelic in Three Months. DK Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0-7894-4430-5.
  7. ^ Lewis & Pedersen (1989), §357 (⟨ⁿ⟩ indicates nasal mutation):
    *nserōm > *ēsar/asar > OI athar > arⁿ > ar n-
    *sweserōm > *sear > OI sethar > farⁿ > (bh)ur n-
  8. ^ Lewis & Pedersen (1989), §358; Thurneysen (1993), §§240, 441 ("g" indicates gemination):
    *esjās > OI ag > a h-
  9. ^ Lewis & Pedersen (1989) §200; Thurneysen (1993) §467
  10. ^ a b MacAulay, D., Dochartaigh, C.Ó., Ternes, E., Thomas, A.R., & Thomson, R.L. (1992). The Celtic languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Full reference citations

See also