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Learn Present Continuous Verb Use in Gaelic

written by: Gillian Hendrie • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 8/28/2012

In this second lesson in our series on learning Scots Gaelic, recycle what you already know. Use the structure "tha + pronoun" with present continuous verbs to talk about what people are doing right now.

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    Review of First Lesson

    In A First Lesson in Scots Gaelic we learned the verb tha (to be) with the personal pronouns and some adjectives, so that we can now say:

    • “A’ bheil thu fuar?” “Chan eil. “

    A nice word to introduce at this stage would be idir [eejir] (at all).This word is used a lot in conversation: sometimes three times in a row!

    • “A’ bheil thu fuar?” “Chan eil (mi) idir. “ (Not at all!)

  • slide 2 of 8

    Exercise 1: Revision

    Part A: What would you answer to these questions?

    1.A’ bheil sibh trang?

    2.Ciamar a tha thu?

    3.Nach eil iad sgìth?

    Part B: What questions may have prompted these responses?

    1.Tha. Tha mi blàth.

    2.Chan eil. Tha e mòr.

    3.Tha gu math, tapadh leat.

    (Sample answers are given at the end of this article.)

  • slide 3 of 8

    Pronunciation Symbols

    The guide to pronunciation (written in square brackets after each Gaelic word) follows normal English pronunciation, with the following additions:

    • X indicates the sound of "ch" in German "ach" and Scots "loch"
    • G indicates a guttural "g" sound, getting towards the "r" in French "croissant"
    • ö is the sound of "ö" in German "schön" or as in French eau.

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    A Few Verbs

    These present continuous verbs all have a’ in front (or ag, for those beginning with a vowel).

    • a’ tighinn [a chee in] = coming
    • a' dol [a doll] = going
    • a’ bruidhinn[a bree in] = talking
    • a’ smaointean [a smön chin] = thinking
    • a’ deanamh[a jay a noo] = doing/making
    • ag obair[ag oh bir] = working
    • ag ionnsachadh [ag yon su XaG] = studying
    • a’ cluich [a klooX] = playing
    • a' peantadh [a pentaG] = painting
    • ag ithe [ag iXe] = eating
    • ag ol [ag oll] = drinking

    Click this link to get this list of verbs as a download.

    (Some verbs do not fit into this structure, but we will deal with those in a later lesson.)

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    Sentence Construction

    Simply use the tha + pronoun structure followed by the verb. For example:

    • Tha mi a' tighinn. = I'm coming.
    • Tha e ag ionnsachadh. = He's studying.
    • A' bheil thu ag obair? = Are you working?
    • Tha sinn a' cluich. = We're playing.

  • slide 6 of 8

    Exercise 2

    Translate these sentences.

    1. Tha mi ag ionnsachadh Gàidhlig.

    2. A' bheil sibh a' tighinn?

    3. A' bheil iad trang? Tha. Tha iad ag obair.

    4. Chan eil e a' cluich. Tha e a' peantadh.

    5. Tha e a' bruidhinn, nach eil? Chan eil. Tha e a' smaointean.

    (Answers are at the end of the article.)

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    Sample Answers to Exercise 1

    Part A

    1. Tha. / Tha mi. / Tha. Tha mi trang. / Chan eil. Chan eil mi trang idir.

    2. Tha mi gi math, tapadh leat/leibh.

    3. Tha, tha iad (glè) sgìth./ Chan eil. Chan eil iad sgìth (idir).

    Part B

    1. A' bheil thu/sibh blàth? / Nach eil thu/sibh blàth?

    2. A' bheil e beag? / Nach eil e beag?

    3. Ciamar a tha thu/sibh?

  • slide 8 of 8

    Answers to Exercise 2

    1. I'm learning/studying Gaelic.

    2. Are you coming?

    3. Are they busy? Yes, they're working.

    4. He isn't playing. He's painting.

    5. He's speaking, isn't he? No, he's thinking.