1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Scottish Gaelic
  4. >
  5. Prepositional Pronouns


Prepositional Pronouns

I've seen a lot of questions here regarding prepositional pronouns. If you don't know what they are, they are a combined word made up of a preposition (for example at) with a pronoun (for example me). They are EVERYWHERE in Gaelic. Some of the phrases you will have seen already which use them include "Tha Gàidhlig agam" and "Tha fèileadh orm".

I thought I would put together a list of some of them. This is not a complete list, I am only listing four of the important ones. There are 16 of them in total which can be listed this way. Some are way more common than others.

Aig (at) • Agam (at me) • Agad (at you – singular informal) • Aige (at him) • Aice (at her) • Againn (at us) • Agaibh (at you – singular formal/plural) • Aca (at them)

Le (with) • Leam (with me) • Leat (from you – singular informal) • Leis (from him) • Leatha (from her) • Leinn (from us) • Leibh (from you – singular formal/plural) • Leotha (from them)

Air (on) • Orm (on me) • Ort (on you – singular informal) • Air (on him) • Orra (on her) • Orinn (on us) • Orribh (on you – singular formal/plural) • Orra (on them)

Bho (from) • Bhuam (from me) • Bhuat (from you – singular informal) • Bhuaithe (from him) • Bhuaipe (from her) • Bhuainn (from us) • Bhuaibh (from you – singular formal/plural) • Bhuapa (from them)

December 6, 2019


[deactivated user]

    Thank you! It would be nice to have posts like this stickied for newcomers.


    Can prepositional pronouns refer to masculine and feminine words, or just people ? So for example would this be correct?

    Càite a bheil mo lèine ghorm? Tha mi a ’creidsinn gu bheil an cat na shuidhe oirre


    I think I would just say "air" for that. But I am not sure if that's grammatically correct.


    It is 100% correct to use oirre. Of course if the respondent does not know the gender of lèine (especially if it were not ghorm but uaine), or is not experienced enough to automatically adjust the pronoun, then you could hear air, but I don't think a fluent Gael would ever do that.

    The masculine tends to be the default in most masculine/feminine languages, but there is a particular reason why it happens in Gaelic, Manx and Irish, which also explains why the majority of our nouns are masculine, unlike other masculine/feminine languages.

    These three languages are, as far as I know, the only masculine/feminine languages that derive from a masculine/feminine/neuter language and which have cases. In many of the cases the neuter was the same as the masculine. For example in Old English, his would be used for its as well, and this effectively led to the neuter being subsumed into the masculine when the neuter was lost.


    Curious about this too. In Irish I’d use the feminine (uirthi) but I’m sure there are people who’d use “air” too.


    Yes (Irish speaker, leath-líofa lofa), I'd use "air" if I didn't know the gender of the thing referred to.
    I'm always amazed at how similar the two languages are - and then I see Bho = from, and I realise how different they are.


    Sometimes either the Scots or the Irish do something whacky that it difficult to explain, but sometimes the difference is only skin deep. In this case, the bh is entirely optional (although that has not been mentioned on this course). Without it, o closely resembles the Irish ó including the lenition, the use of the dative case and the prepositional pronouns. So if you use the Irish forms of this word you will be fully understood by a fluent Gàidhlig speaker, if not by a Duolingo graduate.

    The only remaining question is then where the optional bh comes from. There are no bh forms in Old Irish. But there are plenty of forms that start with a u, such as ua, and you will be familiar with the prepositional pronouns in Modern Irish that start with a u (as they do in Gaelic if you take the bh off). Now u, word-initially before a vowel, can be a /w/, which is one of the ways to pronounce bh. So that seems to be what might have happened. It's not actually clear where the u comes from, but we can't deny it's there, even in Irish.


    Thanks for that. If I'd seen UO instead of BHO I'd have guessed at the similarity.
    If my Irish were just a bit better, I'd be tempted to try a bit of Gáidhlig! (sorry for the acute accent!)


    We never object to acute accents from Irish people, and there are a few words where we accept them from people who learnt Gàidhlig before 1988 (when the rules changed), but we do not accept them from anyone else.


    Go raibh míle maith agat, DaibidhR. Beir bua!


    this is extremely helpful, thanks so much!


    Good help - bho fhear à Dùn Èideann

    Related Discussions

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