"I am living in Cornwall."
Translation:Tha mi a' fuireach anns a' Chòrn.
Short answer: ann an means 'in' WHEN THERE IS NO ARTICLE and anns an means 'in the'.
Long answer: Some languages, notably Welsh, have tons of these tiny and confusing words where changing one letter changes the word completely, but one word can have vastly differing forms. We are lucky that that rarely happens in Gaelic, but here is one place where it does, so here goes.
an is the basic word for 'in', and they are of course related anyway. In principle it can be confused with an 'the', an 'their' and an used in questions, but this tends not to happen as they are usually occur in different parts of the sentence before different types of word. As most people don't get confused (judging by the lack of comments in these pages) the best thing is not to worry or you might get confused. So let's move on.
Let's consider three situations
With an article
- an always changes to anns
- So we get anns an, anns a', anns an t-, anns na, anns na h- as appropriate (but don't worry if you have not met all of these yet!)
- These can all be abbreviated (entirely up to you) to san, sa, san t-, sna, sna h-
- Rule: 'in the' always has an s in it somewhere
With an indefinite noun
- In the last century or two, for an unclear reason, an when meaning 'in' and followed by an indefinite noun, was changed to ann an
- ann an and anns an look very similar and confusing but they are completely different. In particular, the an in ann an DOES NOT mean 'the'
- You will still hear an in very formal Gaelic or in fixed expressions like Tha mi an dòchas 'I am in hope', thus 'I hope', but otherwise it is normally ann an
- Rule: ann never means 'in'
With possessives such as mo 'my'
- NEITHER of these structures is used for ‘in my’ etc. This is/will be covered elsewhere in the course
an changes to am before b,m,p,f EXCEPT when it causes lenition, in ALL ITS MEANINGS
an changes to a' when it DOES cause lenition except f (as fh is silent) as t and d don’t lenite after the article anyway. an NEVER causes lenition after ann but always after anns when possible (not d, t) which means so that means p,c,b,g,m,f
This means it impossible to get * anns am and * ann a'
This is horrendous, so I have probably made mistakes/omissions, so please let me know. Just remember this sort of problem is rare in Gaelic and common in Welsh. D
That is a very good point. The combination of not knowing (1) if an is an article and (2) if there should be one is a pretty nasty combination as not knowing (1) stops you learning (2) as you go along. This is where the rule of thumb that the form with the article ALWAYS has an s and the form without NEVER has an s comes in handy. D