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Struggling with some grammatical issues.

I feel like I’m doing pretty well with the lessons, but as they continue to get more difficult, I’m finding myself struggling with punctuation and grammatical problems. For example: Tapadh leat/leibh. Math/mhath. I’m having a hard time figuring out when and why I need to be making proper switches. I recognize that I’m missing some grammatical rules for the differences, but as of yet I have not been able to figure out those rules.

Then there the use of “a” in the Gaelic translations. For example: “... ,(comma) friend.” “....a charaid.” vs “....charaid.” I’m finding myself making this mistake more frequently because again, I’ve failed to discover the rules for the proper usage.

Any help and explanation would be greatly appreciated!

December 1, 2019



Try skimming though this:



Which skills are you finding particularly difficult? I think the answer for when to use "a charaid" vs just "charaid" is the vocative case - when you're addressing the friend. With "tapadh leat" vs "tapadh leibh", it's to do with something called lenition which is something I haven't yet quite understood. I believe it's also used in Irish, and possibly Welsh, so I might have a look at those courses when I've finished Scottish Gaelic so I can learn more about it. The only other things I could recommend is write down the words and sentences in a notebook with their translations as you go through the course. I've found that helpful. Also feel free to use the duolingo wikia to see what words are taught in each skill: https://duolingo.fandom.com/wiki/Scottish_Gaelic

I hope that helps. Keep going with it though! Why are you learning Scottish Gaelic out of interest?


tapadh leat and leibh aren't to do with lenition, it's to do with formal (also plural) vs informal speech. Leat and leibh are prepositional pronouns. They are a combination of the word "le" (meaning with) and the words for me, you, they, etc.

The full list (for le) is: leam - with me leat - with you (singular/informal) leis - with him leatha - with her leibh - with you (plural/formal) leotha - with them

The difficulty people find with this learning from English is that English has lost the singular informal in common use (outside of the Yorkshire dialect) and now only uses the plural word you. In terms of English:

Leat = thou Leibh = you

There are probably about 10 of these as basically every common pronoun has a composite list form like this. The most common ones are probably aig (at), air (on), le (with), do (to), de (of/off).


I speak a language that still makes the distinction between formal and informal and the fact that the formal version is used for parents and grandparents in Scottish Gaelic takes more getting used to for me. It's quite interesting though. ;)


Something I've always found interesting is how every language I've come across with the formal/informal 'you' has different rules regarding whom you would use it with. It's a bit tough when you think you know the rules and then all of a sudden, you find that you don't :)


Also the rules vary with regional variations within a language. Try saying "vous" to a French Canadian and they may take offense that you imply that they are old.


Thank you so much!


Thank you! That does help some, and I’ve seen a little about lenition but I don’t understand what it means.

I’m learning Scottish Gaelic simply for personal pleasure. I’ve discovered my family(McMullin) originally traces back to Scotland and I’ve Always had an interest in my family heritage!


lenition is a fancy word which means "aspiration". It's marked by a h at the beginning of a word.

math mhath

It basically makes the word easier to pronounce in that sentence as it's hard not to aspirate those words in instances where the word is lenited . It's frequently used by adjectives following feminine nouns, following superlatives such as glè, or as a marker for the genitive case (the genitive case is the term for "possession". In English, the genitive case is that little `s which goes on the end of words).


Woah nice! Maybe take a look at the other Celtic languages (Irish and Welsh) as they have some good explanations on features. What skill have you got up to so far on the Scottish Gaelic course? Hope you manage to finish it one day! :-)


Welsh is a maybe. It stems from a different branch of the Celtic languages than do Irish and Scottish-Gaelic, and is considerably different from either. Even the alphabet itself is different.

If you'd like something to contrast, definitely look to Welsh. But I would recommend Irish first because it and Scottish-Gaelic are quite similar (does the rule "caol le caol agus leathan le leathan" look familiar? This is the Irish version). You can also spy in on the Irish Tips and Notes here: https://duome.eu/tips/en/ga That way you don't have to go through the entire course for them. :)

For the record ... Welsh Tips and Notes: https://duome.eu/tips/en/cy

Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach.


What skill have I got up to? I just started the other day so I’m just starting “food” at the beginning. Oh I’ll finish it! I’d love to speak Scottish Gaelic fluently!


I'm up to the "Days" skill now. Hopefully finishing the skill soon. You can check my progress here: https://duome.eu/ccf-uk_2018/progress

What about you, a charaid? :-)


You’re a lot farther than I am. Work and life have been busy and I’m only at the first “feeling” level.


(disclaimer: also a learner, might be wrong)

My interpretation:

“charaid” = you are talking about a friend e.g. "he is my friend"/ “a charaid” = you are adressing the friend e.g. "thank you, friend!" (I think this is also true of names for people, so you would say "a Seòras" if you were talking to Seòras or "a màthair" if you were talking to you mother - unless the name already starts with a vowel, in which case you would miss it out, so you would just call your father 'àthair' or Eilidh 'Eilidh,' for example)

Tapadh leat/tapadh leibh - I think the only thing you need to worry about here is informal/formal. 'leat' is for one person you are friendly with, 'leibh' is for formal or multiple people. It's the same as tu/vous in French or the equivalent in most European languages. I don't think it has much to do with lenition but I could be wrong

'math/mhath' this is definitely lenition. Certain words lenite the words that come after them (add an 'h') and certain ones don't. Two examples that do are glè and madainn - hence why you would say 'glè mhath' and 'madainn mhath,' but say, feasgar doesn't, so you say 'feasgar math' - I haven't found any good rule for telling this so far, so I think you might just have to learn them


You are about 99% correct there.

The slight mistakes are that it would be a Sheòras and a mhàthair.

There is kind of a rule for when to use lenition. I'm not the best at explaining it as it's years since I learned all this so I will find a link on a website. The reason feasgar doesn't lenite math though is because feasgar is a masculine word whereas madainn is feminine.



"a Sheòrais"

You need to slenderise masculine names.

There isn't a simple rule for when to lenite – it's used in a number of different ways.


Thanks folks! Didn't pick up on that one!


This is great, thank you!


Frankly I think you are going to need to consult a basic SG book alongside your Duolingo lessons in order to make these grammar issues clear. The alternative (one I have found invaluable) is a teacher--for very very little money you can get lessons on iTalki from a SG teacher (I recommend Steaphan) and it really smooths over these questions. But your questions ARE easily answered by the basic books--I like Colloquial Scottish Gaelic and Teach Yourself Gaelic in Three Months, but there are tons of them.

Learn Scottish Gaelic in just 5 minutes a day. For free.