"I have two buses."

Translation:Tha dà bhus agam.

September 5, 2020

2 Comments
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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackFergusonP-VA

So is "bus" singular and "bhus" plural?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/silmeth

No. Both are singular forms. Plural would be busaichean.

You might want to read the tips and notes to the lessons, they explain most of those things.

Words in Gaelic can be lenited in some contexts, that means their first consonant changes to a weaker consonant – stops become fricatives (/b/ changes to /v/, /k/ changes to /x/…), /s/ and /t/ become /h/, /f/ disappears entirely. Lenition is commonly marked by h written after the consontant. Thus lenited bus /bus/ is bhus /vus/.

An overview of lenition is presented in the tips and notes for the Phrases skill.

One of the contexts triggering lenition are the numerals aon (one) and (two), thus one bus is aon bhus – and the numeral also takes the singular form, so two buses is dà bhus.

The fact that takes singular (rather than plural) form is noted in the tips and notes for the Numbers skill.

The reason why takes singular form¹ is that Old Irish had a separate dual number that for most nouns became identical to singular, or singular dative, and when the separate dual forms disappeared they were replaced by singular instead of plural after the numeral meaning two. You would still use the plural form to refer to two items without the numeral, though, eg. tha dà bhus agam, tha na busaichean an-sin ‘I have two buses, the buses are there*.

You can access the tips and notes in the web browser version of Duolingo at https://duolingo.com, and also on the https://duome.eu/tips/en/gd website. Unfortunately the tips might not be available in the Duolingo mobile app – so if you are on a mobile device you might want to open your web browser for the reading.


¹ actually singular dative if that form is different than nominative, that happens in some feminine words, but you don’t need to worry about that right now

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