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The Scottish Gaelic course just got its first two tips and notes! :D

Thank you for writing them! They help a lot! I've posted them below for anyone who hasn't got access to them yet:


Welcome to Scottish Gaelic on Duolingo! Fàilte gu Duolingo na Gàidhlig!

Gaelic, although it may appear quite different at first is a very regular language with consistent grammar rules and a sensible spelling system that accurately represents Gaelic sounds.

Indefinite Nouns

There is no indefinite article in Gaelic. The word cù which means dog could be translated as either "a dog" or simply "dog". Nice and easy, so far so good.

Word Order

The basic word order of Scottish Gaelic is:

  • Verb | Subject | Object

The important thing to remember at this stage is that the verb (doing word) generally goes at the start of a sentence.

In a basic descriptive sentence the adjective would come at the end.

  • Tha | Anna | snog

  • Verb | Subject | Adjective

This sentence translates as "Anna is nice."

Using "tha" and "chan eil"

"Tha" and "chan eil" are both present tense forms of the verb to be. This verb is your friend. Think of it as your Gaelic bestie. There are lots of ways to use it that will unfold as the course progresses.


Seo is a useful word. It can mean either "this is" or "here is" although for consistency we have tended to translate it as this is.


As a general rule, words are spelled as they're pronounced in Scottish Gaelic. Once you are comfortable with Gaelic spelling (don't worry we'll help) then the system will be a learners best friend. Generally, stress is on the first syllable in Gaelic. We are lucky to have recording from a range of speakers. Dialectal differences are actually quite small in Scottish Gaelic and our recordings are an example of the most standardised form of Gaelic. You will hear some small variations in accent, which will help prepare you for Gaelic in the wild. Pronunciation challenges found throughout our course will help accustom you to Gaelic sounds not found in English.


IRN BRU is Scotland's best selling soft drink. It is fizzy and orange and comes from Cumbernauld.


Leat vs. Leibh

In this skill you will come across some simple ways of thanking people. Like many European languages the form you use will depend on who you are speaking to.

  • Tapadh leat - When thanking one peer or one child.
  • Tapadh leibh - When thanking someone older or more senior.
  • Tapadh leibh - When thanking more than one person, regardless of age or formality needed.

This distinction runs through the language and although it can seem a little confusing at first, practice will embed it very quickly. You are very unlikely to offend anyone by choosing the wrong form, and even if you did they probably wouldn't have much craic anyway.

The Adjective follows the Noun

The adjective almost always follows the noun in Gaelic.

  • cat mòr - a big cat
  • cù snog - a nice dog

Masculine or Feminine?

All nouns in Gaelic have a gender, masculine or feminine. We used to have a neuter gender too but we lost it on a ferry in the middle ages.

The Magic of Lenition

The gender the noun often causes a special type of consonant mutation called lenition. You can see an example of this with the words like madainn and oidhche (both feminine nouns) and feasgar (a masculine noun).

  • Feasgar math - Good afternoon
  • Madainn mhath - Good morning
  • Oidhche mhath - Good night

Singular feminine nouns usually cause this lenition (in writing) in adjectives starting with the consonants:

  • b c d f g m p r s and t

But not in those beginning with:

  • l n r or sg, sm, sp, st and vowels.

You don't need to memorise this now, the best way to become comfortable with is is gradual exposure throughout the course. Lenition happens for lots of reasons.

The Vocative Case

The vocative case is used when addressing something or someone. It is cool and sounds great and is absolutely worth learning. We do not go into it in (forensic) detail at this stage, but it helps to be able to recognise the vocative case in action at this stage, before we go to town on it in the Names 1.

Here are some examples:

Caraid is the Gaelic for friend.

  • caraid - nominative Case (the basic form) = Seo caraid (This is a friend).
  • a charaid - vocative case (used to address someone) = Halò a chàraid (Hello friend).

Tidsear is the Gaelic for teacher.

  • tidsear - nominative case = Seo tidsear (This is a teacher).
  • a thidseir - vocative case - Halò a thidseir. (Hello teacher.)

Piuthar is the Gaelic for sister.

  • piuthar - nominative case - Seo piuthar (This is a sister.)
  • a phiuthar - vovative case - Halò a phiuthar (Hello sister)

When using the vocative with a noun starting with a vowel the "a" particle disappears. It is common in most languages when vowels come together like this for one of them to drop off:

Ollamh is the Gaelic for professor.

  • ollamh - nominative case = Seo ollamh (This is a professor)
  • ollaimh - vocative case - Halò ollaimh. (Hello professor)
December 2, 2019



Oh my goodness the Mods are so awesome. Thanks for sharing!


These notes are great! And funny! Usually I find Duolingo notes a little dry and not necessarily very helpful. These are so well written that they’re enjoyable to read with an endearing love of the grammar whilst giving me a good level of information. I especially appreciated an unintimidating introduction to lenition. Thanks!


Thanks Hope! We will try and keep them as lighthearted and as funny as grammar can be!


Mòran taing!

The Gaelic mods can fly over tall buildings!


Feasgar math a chàirdean! Grammar notes for the third skill “Food 1” are also now up. It’s not a very grammar heavy into but it does go into detail on haggis and guga!


Mòran taing, a CIMacAonghais! Thank you for all the work you and the team are doing that you and the team have done! :-) Added the tips and notes here https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/35374916 for anyone interested!

Also, can mòran taing be translated as "Thanks a lot, thank you very much" or is there another word/phrases for that ann an Gàidhlig (in Gaelic)? :-)


Mòran taing is absolutely grand for that! Cùm a’ dol! - Keep it up!


Loving this course so far! Great explanation here too.


Tapadh leat, Aidan!


Already love the the notes. I hope they’ll keep it up!


Thank you! Just the been playing the Witcher 3 right now! We are planning on including notes for all skills. Glad you enjoy them!

[deactivated user]

    You're totally amazing and dedicated! Thanks! :)


    Nice! It does make me wonder about the neuter gender and that ferry in the middle-ages. Were they just being funny or is there a story behind it that I'm missing?


    They’re just being funny. Old Irish (the ancestor of all Goidelic languages, spoken roughly around 7th–9th century) had three grammatical genders, but during Middle Irish period (~10th–12th c.) all dialects lost the neuter gender, so all Irish, Manx, and Scottish Gaelic languages have only masculine and feminine.

    Though traces of the neuter gender can be found in some Classical Gaelic/Early Modern Irish (Gàidhlig Chlasaigeach, Gaeilge Chlasaiceach, the literary language of Ireland and Scotland of 13th–17th century) texts, but that stage of the language already generally doesn’t have neuter as a separate grammatical category.


    Interesting, good to know. Thanks for sharing.


    Thank you! So the time period fits, it just doesn't have a lot to do with ferries or crossing water. :)


    These notes are indeed lovely! Will you be enabling accents in the desktop version?


    That's terrific! Just so it's clear: Vocative is the only noun case in Scottish Gaelic? Or are there more? Cases have largely kept me away from Slavic languages, but learning just one or two shouldn't be too big an obstacle.


    Hi! Gaelic has four cases - nominative, genitive, vocative and dative. The vocative is only when addressing someone (or more rarely something). Dative is fun. Genitive is even more fun. We don't go into these in a huge amount of detail in this first iteration of the course but hope to when we graduate from Beta and expand the content.


    Nice! Can’t wait to see the future of the Scottish Gaelic course! I’m loving it so far!


    Delighted! We are very focused on fixing anything we missed in Alpha and getting the course as stable as possible for a course at this stage. Grammar notes are the other big thing. Once we are out of Beta the hope is to expand the course significantly! :)


    Genitive is arguably the most difficult one to learn from a learners perspective. The reason being is that genitive shows itself by way of word mutations in a more advanced way than any other case.

    That being said masculine genitive nouns generally believe similarly to female dative case nouns. So if you learn the dative case you've already learnt half the genitive case.

    And also the genitive case falls fairly regular rules. So once you learn the rules you have it.


    This is a great approach: get your hands dirty and don't be afraid to babble and immerse yourself in the language before you start to formalize rules for learning it. It's not really technically correct, but my method of understanding noun cases goes like this: genitive is for when the noun is "generating" semantic content or is at the origin ("of", "from") and dative is for when the noun is receiving meaning or is at the destination ("to", "with"). That helps me explain why those noun cases exist. For the other two I just wing it and it usually works :-D


    I think so. The tricky part is the lenition and the definite articles. I've just been going in blind and copying as much as I can in a notebook and in a word document, and I've been finding it helps a lot with understanding it. I recommend giving the slavic languages a go though. Since you've been learning some of the romance languages, Romanian might be a good way to ease your way into them. Hope that makes sense.


    It also does have a genitive, eg. ubhal ‘(an) apple’, ubhail ‘of an apple’. Or Èirinn ‘Ireland’, Gàidhlig na h-Èireann ‘Irish language’, lit. ‘the Gaelic of the Ireland’.

    Historically there was also dative, but I think it disappeared entirely in Scottish (or merged with nominative, Èirinn is historically dative, the old nominative was Éire). The name of Scotland – Alba – seems to sometimes still use its old dative (eg. à Albainn, ‘from Scotland’), but generally the same form is used for nominative and dative.

    It’s funny that in (official standard) Irish the situation is exactly symmetric and reverse to Scottish, regarding the two countries’ names. Ireland officially has separate nominative Éire and dative Éirinn, while Scotland is just (old dative) Albain.


    No. You've got:

    • nominative (default, e.g. "am balach")
    • dative (typically following prepositions, e.g. "air a' bhalach")
    • genitive (typically grammatical ownership, e.g. "còta a' bhalaich")
    • vocative (addressing, e.g. "a bhalaich")

    Those given examples just show masculine singular as an example; gender and number come into play.

    Some people talk about the accusative case too, but that's completely academic as it's not marked in any way.


    Thanks for that - very helpful indeed.


    Thank you so much for this as there were several things puzzling me but make more sense now.


    Thanks. I was taking classes, but found it a little confusing sometimes, having also learned Irish. The app is great, hut discovering these forums, and this help is excellent!!


    Whew, that's a relief, I was starting to worry. C'mon now, Navajo course creators!


    that is- a lot of languages. wow.


    This course was well set up, but these notes are awesome! Thank you!!


    Tapadh leat a charaid! Seo gu math.

    I love all the different voices and accents in the Scottish course. Wish Irish had such nice recordings!


    Hey just incase folk see this, we finished the tips and notes today. There are now 13.5k words worth of helpful grammar tips in the course. Thank you for you patience!


    Thank you so much for posting that.


    Thanks! My family informed me my Gaelic sucks...hence the refresher. Any help is appreciated!


    Excellent post. Thanks for clarifying a couple of things!


    Tadadh leat!!!

    I realized a lot of this was going on but it's nice to see the actual rules spelled out.


    Cumbernauld. I didn’t know that.


    Will the tips be available on the app soon? I had no idea there were tips for Gaelic until I decided to change it up and use my computer. If only I'd known... They are so helpful!


    Unfortunately, at least of 20th December 2019, only the course made by the people who work at Duolingo have tips on mobile:

    • Spanish
    • French
    • German
    • Italian
    • Portuguese
    • Japanese
    • Chinese

    I think that's all of the ones available. I might have missed some though. Please let me know if I have :-)

    You can always find the tps and notes on duome and the duonotes wikia if you want to be able to view them on mobile and aren't doing the course on your mobile browser:

    Hope that helps a bit at least!


    Is there a particular skill or set of notes dedicated to lenition? Here's the equivalent for Irish:


    I was certain I had seen something similar for Gàidhlig, but it may not have been on the duolingo.com site.

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