The Assertive Verb

The Assertive Verb is used to bring part of a sentence forward for emphasis. This is required in GÓidhlig as stress in speech is not usually marked by tonal changes.  The Assertive Verb is known to present many problems to the learner and examples of usage are probably best learned off.

The following examples use only the independent form of the verb Is which is best translated directly as It is. In both literature and spoken GÓidhlig the accepted practice is to shorten Is to 'S, and particularly before words beginning with a vowel or fh.

1. To translate I am, you are, he is, it is &c when followed by :
a) a proper noun e.g.
'S mise Calum - I'm Calum (lit. It is I Calum)
'S ise MÓiri - She's MÓiri (lit. It is she MÓiri)
'S iadsan Iain is Eilidh - They're John and Helen  (lit. It is they John and Helen)

b) a common noun with a definite article e.g.
'S esan am fear? - He's the man?
'S e sin am balach - That's the boy
'S iadsan na h-Albannaich - They're the Scots people

c) a common noun with a possessive adjective e.g.
'S esan m' athair - He's my father
'S e do ch¨? - It's your dog?
'S e sin mo thaigh - That's my house

d) a pronoun e.g.
'S mise - It's me, I am Is sinne - It's we, We are
'S tusa - It's you, You are Is sibhse - It's you, You are,
'S esan - It's he, He is 'S iadsan - It's they, They are
'S ise - It's she, She is

Note: All personal pronouns used with the Assertive Verb are usually in their emphatic forms, with tusa replacing thusa after Is

d) demonstrative pronouns, with 'S e being optional and understood e.g
'S e seo  - This is
'S e sin - That is
'S e siud - Yon is

2. To translate the verb To Be when the first word is either (a) an adjective or (b) an indefinite noun. The word order is the reverse of English. The meaning is very emphatic and except for category (a) is mostly restricted to the written language.

(a) adjective :
Is b˛idheach an lÓ (e) - It's a beautiful day - lit. Is beautiful the day
Is m˛r am balach (e) - The boy is big - lit. Is big the boy
Is furasta a' cheist sin - That question is easy - lit. Is easy that question

(b) an indefinite noun :
Is saor am fear sin - That man is a joiner - lit. Is a joiner that man
Is iasg bradan - A salmon is a fish -  lit. Is a fish a salmon
Is banaltram am boireannach seo - She is a nurse -  lit. Is a nurse this woman

Note: The Assertive Verb must never be followed directly by a definite or proper noun :
He is the sailor - 'S esan an se˛ladair - never  Is an se˛ladair esan
M˛rag is the singer - 'S i M˛rag an seinneadair never Is M˛rag an seinneadair


Other Forms of the Verb Is

The dependent form of the Assertive Verb is subsumed into the negative and  interrogatives which have become simply Chan, An and Nach

Negative statements :
Cha doirbh a' cheist sin - That question is not difficult
Cha sibhse - It is not you
Chan esan mo bhrÓthair- He is not my brother
Cha mh˛r am balach e - He is not a big boy
Chan fhurasta an obair sin * - That job is not easy

* Cha as usual will lenite the following consonant. However, words beginning with d, t or s tend to resist lenition after Cha.
lenited f is silent so Chan replaces Cha just as it also does before a vowel .

Interrogative statements :
An tusa mo mhÓthair? - Are you my mother?
An e sin do thaigh? - Is that your house?
Am mise do ghrÓdh? * - Am I your love?

* An becomes Am before words beginning with b, f, m or p.

Negative Interrogative statements :
Nach math sin? - Isn't that good?
Nach fhurasta a' cheist sin? - Isn't that question easy?
Nach ise do phiuthar? - Is she not your sister?


Other Tenses of the Assertive Verb

The past and conditional forms are identical and the meaning arises from context.

The independent form is Bu, and lenites the following word if possible. Before words beginning with a vowel or fh this is contracted to B' in both literature and speech :
B' e sin mo bhean - It was my wife
Bu mh˛r am beud - It was a great pity
B' e sin - That was

The dependent forms in the past and conditional are Cha bu, Am bu and Nach bu. Before a vowel these are contracted to Cha b', Am b' and Nach b' in both literature and speech :
Cha bu mhise - It wasn't me
Am b' e sin do ch¨ ? - Was that your dog?
Nach b' ise do phiuthar? - Was she not your sister?

In practice the Assertive Verb is usually followed by a relative clause. In this situation the spoken language mostly only uses its present tense as the tense and meaning are realised from the relative clause that follows, unless greater emphasis is needed :
An ise a bha a' snÓmh anns a' mhuir? - Is it (Was it = understood) her who was swimming in the sea?
'S tusa a bha anns an sgoil - It's (It was = understood) you who was in school
Cha mhise a bha ann - It isn't (It wasn't = understood) me who was there
Nach sinne a bha toilichte? - Isn't it (Wasn't it = understood) us who were pleased?
An e do ch¨ a bha a' comhartaich? - Is (was = understood)  that your dog who was barking?
Nach ise do bhean a bha anns an tubaist? - Is (was = understood) is not your wife who was in the accident?

Frequently in spoken GÓidhlig An e, 'S e, Chan e  and Nach e are used before the emphatic personal pronouns when they precede a relative clause. Compare with first four statements in the previous section:
An e ise a bha a' snÓmh anns a' mhuir? - Is it (Was it = understood) her who was swimming in the sea?
'S e thusa a bha anns an sgoil - It's (It was = understood) you who was in school
Chan e mise a bha ann - It isn't (wasn't = understood) me who was there
Nach e sinne a bha toilichte? - Isn't it (Wasn't it = understood) us who were pleased?


The Assertive Verb with the Dependent Clause

The Assertive Verb like all others can be used in reported speech (dependent clause). In general you only need use the independent clause in the present tense as the meaning is realised from the other verbs. In the present tense these are gur and nach:
Tha mi ag rÓdh gur ise mo mhÓthair - I say that she is my mother
Tha mi a' creidsinn gur e do ch¨ a  bha a' comhartaich - I believe it is (was = realised) your dog who was barking
Bha mi 'n d˛chas nach esan a bhiodh ann - I was hoping that he wouldn't be there


Using the Assertive Verb to Introduce Adverbial and Prepositional Clauses

There is a special form of the Assertive Verb to introduce and emphasise adverbial and prepositional phrases. In practice only the present tense is used as the tense and meaning are realised by the subordinate clause.
In the present tense this is Is ann, which in both literature and spoken GÓidhlig is contracted to 'S ann :
'S ann fon bh˛rd a bha am ball - The ball was under the table. (lit. It's under the table that the ball was)
'S ann a-nochd a chý mi thu - I will see you tonight (lit. It's tonight I will see you)
'S ann ormsa a tha an cnatan - I have a cold (lit. It is on me that there is a (the) cold)

The negative Chan ann, the interrogatives An ann and Nach ann are also heard :
Chan ann an-diugh a rugadh mi - I was not born today (lit. It is not today that I was born)
An ann aig an sgoil a bha thu an-diugh? - Were you in school? (lit. It is   in school that you were today?)
Nach ann tric a bhios tu thall thairis? - Are you not abroad often? (lit. It is not often that you will be abroad?)

The dependent clause (reported speech) forms are gur ann and nach ann :
Tha mi a' creidsinn gur ann fon bh˛rd a bha am ball - I believe that the ball was under the table
(lit. I believe that is under the table that the ball was)
Tha e ag rÓdh nach ann tric a bhios e a-muigh - He says that he isn't out often
(lit. He says that it is not often that he will be out)

Be careful and economical with the use of the Assertive Verb in all the above examples as emphasis is always implied by its usage.
Two of its more important usage are given in the following sections

1. You have already met the idiomatic use of the preposition aig and its prepositional pronouns. This idiom does not convey a sense of ownership but merely in one's possession :
Tha peann agam - I have a pen
Tha c¨ agam - I have a dog

Whereas the use of the Assertive Verb with the preposition le and its prepositional pronouns conveys a more permanent ownership. The prepositional pronouns themselves are used with their emphatic suffices:
'S ann le MÓiri a tha a' chroit - MÓiri owns the croft (lit. It is with MÓiri that the croft is)
'S ann leamsa a tha an taigh sin - I own that house (lit. It is with me that house is)
An ann leatsa a tha an cÓr? - Do you own the car?  (lit. It is with you the car is?)

Where there is no subordinate clause a more simple structure is frequently heard :
Is le MÓiri a' chroit - MÓiri owns the croft (lit. It is with MÓiri the croft)
Is leamsa an taigh sin - I own that house (lit. It is with me that house)
An leatsa an cÓr? - Do you own the car?  (lit. It is with you the car?)

2
. Personal attributes and professions with a sense of permanence and completeness can be conveyed using the prepositional ann and its prepositional pronouns with the assertive verb :
'S e saor a tha ann an Iain - Iain is a carpenter (lit. It's a carpenter that is in Iain)
Chan e balach a tha ann - He is not a boy (lit. It's not a boy that is in him)
'S e se˛ladair a tha ann - He's a sailor (lit. It's a sailor that is in him)
'S e caileag a tha innte - She's a girl  (lit. It's a girl that is in her)

As you met in lessonbl.gif (1632 bytes)one.gif (974 bytes)seven.gif (973 bytes) the verb To Be in association with the augmented prepositions of ann can also be used to express occupation or state of an individual. This form has less emphasis but may be further elaborated :
Tha e na shaor anns a' chompanaidh sin - He is a carpenter (lit. He is in his carpenter) in that company
Chan eil e na bhalach - He is not a boy (lit. He is not in his boy)
Tha e na she˛ladair air a' bhÓta seo - He's a sailor (lit. He is in his sailor) on this boat
Tha i na caileig - She's a girl  (lit. She is in her girl)
Bha iad nan seinneadairean - They were singers (lit. They were in their singers)

All augmented prepositions are shown in

NEW WORDS

Adjectives
doirbh - difficult eireachdail - handsome
fiadhaich - fierce, wild neo-chiontach - innocent
sona - happy tiugh - thick, dense

Adverbs
thall thairis - abroad

Nouns
beud (m) - fault, pity bradan (m) - salmon
companaidh (m) - company eun (m) - bird
lighiche (m) - doctor, medic (commonly: dotair (m) seinneadair (m) - singer
Sgiathanach (m) - Skye person sgoilear (m) - pupil, scholar
Uibhisteach (m) - Uist person
Órdsgoil (f) - high school, secondary school iolaire (f) - eagle
long (f) - ship r¨naire (f) - secretary

Verbs
comhartaich, comhartaich - bark snÓmh, snÓmh - swim
teagaisg, teagasg (do) - teach (to)

Verbal Phrases
Tha mi 'n d˛chas gu - I  hope that Tha sinn an d˛chas gu - We hope that
Tha thu 'n d˛chas gu - You hope that Tha sibh an d˛chas gu - You hope that
Tha e 'n d˛chas gu - He hopes that Tha iad an d˛chas gu - They hope that
Tha i 'n d˛chas gu - She hopes that

EXERCISE 1 Translate into English
1.Is saighdear e 2.Nach b˛idheach a' chaileag sin
3.Is e ministear a tha innte 4.Is r¨naire e dhan chompanaidh sin
5.Tha e ag rÓdh gur Sgiathanach e 6.Tha mi a' creidsinn gur e Uibhisteach a tha innte
7.An iasg iolaire? Chan e 8.Is i mo phiuthar an seinneadair aig a' chŔilidh a-nochd
9.Nach lÓ brŔagha e? 10.Is iasg bradan

EXERCISE 2 Translate into GÓidhlig using the Assertive verb IS. The element to be emphasised has been underlined. Remember adjectives can be stressed using 'S ANN
1.I am a sailor on that ship 2.He is my brother Calum
3.They say that the bird is an eagle 4.We think he is handsome
5.He is a carpenter 6.My brother is a doctor
7.The dog is fierce 8.She is a good singer
9.I am a secretary 10.He is innocent of the crime

EXERCISE 3 Translate into GÓidhlig using the present tense of the verb TO BE with the augmented pronouns
1.I am a sailor on that ship 2.They say that the bird is an eagle
3.We think he is handsome 4.He is a carpenter
5.My brother is a doctor 6.I am a secretary
7.She is a good singer 8.They are pupils in the high school

EXERCISE 4 Translate into GÓidhlig using the Assertive verb BU. The element to be emphasised has been underlined. Remember adjectives can be stressed using 'S ANN
1.I was a sailor on that ship 2.We were happy
3.They say that the bird was an eagle 4.We think he was handsome
5.He was a carpenter 6.My brother was doctor
7.The dog was fierce 8.She was a good singer
9.I was a secretary 10.He was innocent of the crime

EXERCISE 5 Translate into GÓidhlig using the past of the verb TO BE with the augmented pronouns
1.I was a sailor on that ship 2.We were happy
3.They say that the bird was an eagle 4.We think he was handsome
5.He was a carpenter 6.My brother was a doctor
7.I was a secretary 8.She was a good singer

EXERCISE 6 Translate into English
1.'S ann an-diugh a bha mi anns a' bhaile 2.'S ann leotha a tha am bÓta
3.'S ann anns a' mhuir a bha mi a' snÓmh 4.'S ann airsan a tha an dŔideadh
5.An ann anns an abhainn a bha thu? Chan ann 6.Nach ann tric a bha thu tinn nuair a bha thu ˛g? 'S ann
7a.An leatsa an cÓr? 'S e
7b.An ann leatsa a tha an cÓr? 'S ann
8.Ann an a-mÓireach a bhios tu a' falbh air saor-lÓithean? Chan ann
9.'S ann ormsa a bha c˛ta tiugh blÓth 10.An ann anns an sgoil sin a bha thu a' teagasg? 'S ann

ANSWERS - EXERCISE 1
1.He's a soldier 2.Isn't that girl beautiful
3.She's a minister 4.He's secretary for (to) that company
5.He says he's a Skyeman 6.I believe that she's a Uibhist woman
7.Is an eagle a fish? No 8.My sister is the singer at the ceilidh tonight
9.Isn't it a lovely day? 10.A salmon is a fish

ANSWERS - EXERCISE 2 The most common is given first where more than one possibility exists
1a.'S e se˛ladair air an luing sin a tha annam
1b.Is se˛ladair air an luing sin mi
2.'S esan Calum, mo bhrÓthair
3a.Tha iad ag rÓdh gur e iolaire a tha anns an eun
3b.Tha iad ag rÓdh gur iolaire an t-eun
4a.Tha sinn a' smaointinn gur ann eireachdail a tha e
4b.Tha sinn a' smaointinn gur eireachdail e
5a.'S e saor a tha ann
5b.Is saor e
6a.'S e dotair a tha nam bhrÓthair
6b.Is dotair mo bhrÓthair
7a.'S ann fiadhaich a tha an c¨
7b.Is fiadhaich an c¨
8a.'S e seinneadair math a tha innte
8b.Is seinneadair math i
9a.'S e r¨naire a tha annam
9b.Is r¨naire mi
10a.Is neo-chiontach den eucoir e
10b.'S ann neo-chiontach den eucoir a tha e

ANSWERS - EXERCISE 3
1.Tha mi nam she˛ladair air an luing sin 2.Tha iad ag rÓdh gu bheil an t-eun na iolaire
3.Tha sinn a' smaointinn gu bheil e eireachdail 4.Tha e na shaor
5.Tha mo bhrÓthair na dhotair 6.Tha mi nam r¨naire
7.Tha i na seinneadair math 8.Tha iad nan sgoilearan anns an Órdsgoil

ANSWERS - EXERCISE 4 The most common is given first where more than one possibility exists
1a.'S e se˛ladair air an luing sin a bha annam
1b.B' e se˛ladair air an luing sin a bha annam
1c.Bu she˛ladair air an luing sin mi
2a.'S ann sona a bha sinn
2b.Bu shona sinn
3a.Tha iad ag rÓdh gur e iolaire a bha anns an eun
3b.Tha iad ag rÓdh gum b' e iolaire a bha anns an eun
3c.Tha iad ag rÓdh gum b' iolaire an t-eun
4a.Tha sinn a' smaointinn gur ann eireachdail a bha e
4b.Tha sinn a' smaointinn gum b' eireachdail e
5a.'S e saor a bha ann
5b.B' e saor a bha ann
5c.Bu shaor e
6a.'S e dotair a bha nam bhrÓthair
6b.B' e dotair a bha nam bhrÓthair
6b.Bu dotair mo bhrÓthair
7a.'S ann fiadhaich a bha an c¨
7b.B' fhiadhaich an c¨
8a.'S e seinneadair math a bha innte
8b.B' e seinneadair math a bha innte
8c.Bu sheinneadair math i
9a.'S e r¨naire a bha annam
9b.B' e r¨naire a bha annam
9c.Bu r¨naire mi
10a.'S ann neo-chiontach den eucoir a bha e
10b.Bu neo-chiontach den eucoir e

ANSWERS - EXERCISE 5
1.Bha mi nam she˛ladair air an luing sin 2.Bha sinn sona
3.Tha iad ag rÓdh gun robh an t-eun na iolaire 4.Tha sinn a' smaointinn gun robh e eireachdail
5.Bha e na shaor 6.Bha mo bhrÓthair na dhotair
7.Bha mi nam r¨naire 8.Bha i na seinneadair math

ANSWERS - EXERCISE 6 The emphasised element is underlined
1.I was in town today 2.They own the boat
3.I was swimming in the sea 4.He has (the) toothache
5.Were you in the river? No 6.Were you not often sick when you were young? Yes
7a. & 7b.Do you own the car? Yes 8.Will you be going away on holiday tomorrow? No
9.I wore a thick warm coat 10.Were you teaching in that school? Yes

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