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  5. "a tidsear" but not "a ollamh…


"a tidsear" but not "a ollamh" ?

Really enjoying my lessons but this confused me a bit... the "a" goes before "teacher" but not "professor"? Anyone know why?

December 14, 2019



When speaking to someone, if you said something like "hello friend!" - the Gaelic form would put "a" in front of the noun - a charaid! - if the noun starts with a consonant.

With teacher the Gaelic is

teacher = tidsear

but if saying "hello teacher!" it would be "halò a thidseir" ---- the noun is lenited (h) and slenderized (i replaces a) and "a" is put in front.

For ollamh - this starts with a vowel, so "a" is not used, but in this word there is a spelling change: Hello professor! = Halò ollaimh!"

This called the vocative case. There are a few rules for this which the course developers will probably explain as we go along. tidsear and ollamh show how words that start with consonants put the "a" in front and words that start with vowels do not. The spelling changes depend on the gender and spelling of the basic noun.


Thank you very much for your clear and concise response, I appreciate it!


Hi Amy! If you are using the web version there are now grammar notes that could help with this. The answer below is excellent though!

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