"Tha mi a' ceannach còta."

Translation:I am buying a coat.

June 10, 2020

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Why is 'I buy a coat' wrong here?


Because tha mi a’ ceannach còta does not mean I buy a coat, it is a progressive tense meaning I am buying a coat (at the moment), I am in the process of buying a coat (lit. I am at buying (of) a coat).


Thanks! So presumably Scots Gaelic (like English) has another form of the present tense equivalent to 'I buy a coat' (eg every winter, as opposed to now)?


Actually Gaelic has two forms for that, both using what is called the future tense (but it can express both future and present habitual meanings – the modern Gaelic future tense actually comes from merging two separate Classical Gaelic tenses: future and present which are still separate in Irish).

I think (but don’t quote me on that) the more common way would be to say bidh mi a’ ceannach còta, I will be buying a coat or I buy a coat, literally I (usually, habitually) am at buying (of) a coat, or in Hiberno-English I do be buying a coat.

The other way is to use the future tense directly: ceannaichidh mi còta (I will buy a coat or I buy a coat).


Im a bit confused with the structure. I thought it was always verb-subject-adjectiv/noun structure but here we have a verb-subject-verb again - noun. Is ot the normal with compound verbs?


No. We have verb - subject - prepositional phrase. I (subject) am (verb) at buying (prepositional phrase).

ceannach is a noun meaning (the act of) buying.


Does the apostrophe in a' indicate that it's an abbreviation or shortening of something else? If so, then of what? If not, then what does it mean?


It is a shortening of ag, the older form o the preposition aig at (so literally a’ ceannach is at buying).


So would ag ceannach be acceptable as an answer?


Nope. The rule is pretty much: if it begins with a consonant, it takes a', and if it begins with a vowel, it takes ag.

  • a' ceannach > buying
  • a' faicinn > seeing
  • a' dol > going


  • ag innse > telling
  • ag òl > drinking
  • ag ithe > eating

There's only one exception to this rule, which is ag ràdh (saying ) :)

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