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A wee tip that helped me a lot with spelling in Gaelic

So I think this is one of the things you usually learn first in beginner Gaelic classes and I'm sure it'll be added to the beta eventually, but for those who don't know yet, there are two kinds of vowels in Gaelic. There's slender (i, e) and broad (a, o, u). A really important rule is caol ri caol is leathann ri leathann, or "broad with broad and slender with slender." This means that if you have a single constonant with a vowel on either side, then they are ALWAYS both broad vowels or both slender vowels.

e.g. say you are trying to remember how to spell "Ciamar" in "Ciamar a tha sibh?" Well, you know right away that "Caimar" and "Camiar" etc MUST be wrong, because they have a broad/slender combination around the 'm'! Some other basic words that I've found this rule helps with are "duilich," "tioraidh, " "madainn," "tapadh" etc but I'm sure there will be many more. It doesn't always give you the full answer, but it rules out a lot of wrong combinations! If you just remember the location of one or two vowels, you can often use this rule to fill in the blanks.

Hope this helps! Happy learning!

You can read more here (broad vs. slender also affects pronunciation) : http://www.akerbeltz.org/index.php?title=Broad_vs_Slender

December 1, 2019



This rule is actually the same in Irish - right down to the same vowels in the same categories. I'd not thought to use it for spelling, however - thanks for that bit of common sense! :D

Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach.


Another tip might be that Gaelic only uses 18 letters


Not always. There are exceptions to this rule though (often former compound nouns that have amalgamated into one word) which are all valid by GOC, so the spelling rule is not a 100% guarantee a word is or isn't spelled correctly or not.


  • Diluain (formerly "Di Luain")
  • airson (formerly "air son")
  • esan ("e" + emphatic suffix)
  • deànte (sort of past participle adjective from "dèan", this one might not be GOC tbh)


Ooh, this is good to know! Thanks! Apologies for the overzealousness :^)


This is very helpful, thank you for sharing!


Thank you, I needed this reminder! I'd read about it on the Irish course but have been forgetting to apply this rule when attempting to spell words recently. XD Maybe I'll need less trials now. ;)


Thanks for sharing!


Thank you for your helpful! it's really useful


This is very handy!


Thanks for the tip!


Halò AmberLenno, that is a very good tip indeed! Have an lingo. Tapadh leat gu mòr.


Try the book Scottish Gaelic in Twelve Weeks, which explains this plus constonant pronounciations


Thanks for the book tip!

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