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  5. "Òbh Òbh, seo an duine agam."

"Òbh Òbh, seo an duine agam."

Translation:Oh dear, this is my husband.

April 15, 2020



Is there a systematic explanation for when to use agam and when to use mo?

As a beginner, it looks like 'an duine agam' and 'mo dhuine' should mean much the same thing.

If it's a specific case where duine means man in one case and husband in the other, what about with general nouns? Would there be any great difference between 'an cù agam' and 'mo chù'?

(Apologies for any lenition etc. errors)


The general rule is that inalienable possession – things that are naturally yours and you can’t sell them or buy new ones, so body parts, often family members, etc. – get possessive pronouns mo, do, ur, etc., while your other, alienable, belongings get the an X agam, an X agad, an X agaibh, etc.

But there are many exceptions, some nouns don’t follow the patterns for no clear reason, eg. my wife is mo bhean but my husband is an duine agam. It is briefly explained in tips and notes to the Duolingo Body 2 lesson and you can read more about it on the Akerbeltz article Possessives and syllabic structure or Ar n-Athair a tha air nèamh.


Thank you very much for your detailed reply :-)

So to check I've understood:

  • inalienable possession gets possessive pronouns like mo
  • alienable possession gets the inflected form of the preposition aig like agam, agad
  • there exist idiosyncratic exceptions like the pair mo bhean vs an duine agam.


Yes, that’s correct. :)

Just notice that besides inflected form of aig you also need the definite article with common nouns in the alienable construction: an taigh agad (the house at you), a’ phàirc aige (the park at him), am bàta aice (the boat at her).


Thank you.

One way to remember it, for me, is that the usage with aig is a little parallel to the English construction "the car of mine". Just a little mnemonic I've started to use.

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