1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Scottish Gaelic
  4. >
  5. "I sit and work."

"I sit and work."

Translation:Bidh mi a' suidhe agus ag obair.

September 12, 2020



Surely either the 'tha' form of the verb 'to be' or the present continuous 'bidh' should be equally acceptable in this case.


tha mi a' suidhe agus ag obair¹ would be I am sitting and working, it should not be accepted for habitual/iterative I sit and work. For the latter you have to use the future/habitual tense, either with bidh mi ag… (as in this sentence: bidh mi a’ suidhe…) or directly with the appropriate verbs (eg. suidhidh agus oibrichidh mi – but I am not sure if this is accepted by the course).

¹ or rather tha mi nam shuidhe, lit. I am in my sitting, but that form is not yet taught in the course


Tha mi gad tuigsinn


Thank you Silmeth. I had the same question as KeithHalle1, but I now have two follow on questions. 1. Does that mean Gaelic doesn't have a simple present tense like in English, but is always either present continuous or habitual?
2. Is the simple present tense in English ('I eat' or 'I sing' or 'I know' 'I understand') always this future/habitual in Gaelic? I do always eat but not continuously; I may sing only occasionally; but I may always know something (e.g that night follows day), and I have only just got understanding right now. How do I tell?


English doesn’t have a ‘simple present’ that wouldn’t be habitual either. I eat means I eat once in a while/every day/every week/often/always/etc. If you want to say that the eating is happening now, you say I am eating (now). It’s the same distinction as in English between ithidh mi (or bidh mi ag ithe) vs tha mi ag ithe.

I write a letter every day is habitual, I am writing a letter is progressive/continuous.

In Gaelic it’s just that the future tense is actually a merge of old future and old present (habitual) tenses, and so it expresses both future (I will eat) and habitual (I eat) actions.

And Gaelic has habitual form of the verb to be, thus you have both tha (is (at the moment, or in general) vs bidh (is (once in a while, or often, habitually)).

So Gaelic actually can distinguish between I eat every day (perform the action each day) and what Hiberno-English would express as I do be eating every day (perform the action each day, and the action takes some time during which other events may occur) – a distinction that standard English grammar doesn’t express.

There are a few verbs in English (I want, I see, I understand) that use the simple present in non-habitual meaning (you say I see or I understand rather than I am seeing, I am understanding, even if the seeing or understanding thingy is happening right now) – and to some extent the same is true for some verbs in Gaelic, eg. you can say chì mi… for I see…, but you can also use the continuous form: tha mi a’ faicinn…, lit. I am at seeing.

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