Verbal Nouns, the Present Participle, and the Infinitive

Verbal Nouns
Verbal nouns,  like other nouns, are either masculine or feminine (although the vast majority are masculine). Here are some basic guidelines to gender of verbal nouns :
Masculine the word ends in -adh (the most common ending) sgrobhadh - writing
the last vowel is broad i.e. either a, o or u ceannach - buying
Feminine the word ends in -achd coiseachd - walking
the last vowel is narrow i.e. either e or i seinn - singing

The verbal nouns are used in the same way as they are in English :
anns an sgrobhadh - in the writing
seinn mhath - good singing
le coiseachd - by walking

The Present Participle

The present participle is formed from the verbal noun by adding either ag or  a' ag is placed before a verbal noun beginning with a vowel,  and a' in all other cases.
The present participle is used in much the same way as in English to convey a continuous action in the present tense :
Tha mi ag obair - I am working
A bheil sibh a' cluich? - Are you playing?
Chan eil e a' sgrobhadh - He isn't writing
Bha iad a' fuireach - The were staying
An robh iad a' seinn - Were they singing?
Cha robh mi ag ithe - I wasn't eating

In spoken Gidhlig the a in a' and ag is hardly pronounced, particularly if the preceding word ends in a vowel :
Written Pronounced
Tha e ag iarraidh Tha e kiarraidh
Tha mi a' coiseachd Tha mi coiseachd

Using the present participle and the past tense of the verb To Be conveys a continuous action in the past :
Bha mi a' seinn - I was singing
An robh e ag l? - Was he drinking?
Cha robh iad a' dol - They were not going

There are a number of common Present Participles that do not always express continuous actions :
Present Participles Action
ag iarraidh - wanting Tha mi ag iarraidh airgead - I want some money
Bha mi ag iarraidh airgead - I wanted some money
ag obair - working Tha mi ag obair ann am banca - I am working in a bank / I work in a bank
Bha mi ag obair ann am banca - I was working in a bank /  I worked in a bank
a' creidsinn - believing Tha mi a' creidsinn sin - I believe that
Bha mi a' creidsinn sin - I believed that
a' smaointinn - thinking Tha e a' smaointinn - He is thinking / He thinks
Bha e a' smaointinn - He was thinking / He thought
a' ciallachadh - meaning Tha e a' ciallachadh - It means
Bha e a' ciallachadh - It meant


The infinitive is formed from the verbal noun preceded by a. This a is the remains of the preposition do (meaning to) and like do will lenite an initial consonant whenever possible :
a bhith - to be
a dhol - to go
a chluiche - to play
a sheinn - to sing
a thogail - to build, to lift
lenition of initial consonant after the preposition a
a dh'fhuireach - to stay
a dh'ithe - to eat
a dh'l - to drink
lenited fh is silent and like verbal nouns beginning with a vowel lenition is marked by adding dh' immediately after the preposition a
a leughadh - to read
a nighe - to wash
a ruith - to run
a sgrobhadh - to write
verbal nouns beginning with  l, n, r, sg, sm, sp or st cannot be lenited in writing

As in English it is possible to convey the future tense by using the verbal noun a' dol - going followed by an infinitive :
Tha mi a' dol - I am going Tha mi a' dol a sheinn aig a' chilidh - I am going to sing at the ceilidh
Tha mi a' dol a cheannach leabhar - I am going to buy a book
Tha mi a' dol a dh'fhaicinn an duine - I am going to see the man

The present participle iarraidh is followed by the verbal noun. Three exceptions to this rule are with
a thighinn - to come, a dhol - to go and a bhith - to be :
Tha mi ag iarraidh coiseachd air an fheur - I want to walk on the grass
Tha i ag iarraidh a dhol dhan phirc - She wants to go to the park
Tha e ag iarraidh a thighinn dhachaigh - He wants to come home
Tha iad ag iarraidh a bhith trang - They want to be busy


no - or

airgead (m) - money, silver banca (m)  - bank
rd (m) - hammer talla (m) - hall
pirc (f) - park  

Dun Deagh - Dundee Obar Dheathain - Aberdeen
Peairt - Perth Portrgh - Portree
Struighle - Stirling Tairbeart - Tarbert

The first element  is the verb root (equivalent to the second person imperative) followed by the verbal noun
bruidhinn, bruidhinn (ri) - speak (to) buail, bualadh - strike
ceannaich, ceannach (do) - buy (for) cluich, cluiche - play
coisich, coiseachd - walk cuir, cur - put, place
fg, fgail - leave faic, faicinn - see
fuirich, fuireach (ri) - stay, wait (for) iarr, iarraidh (air) - want, ask (for)
iasgaich, iasgach - fish ionnsaich, ionnsachadh - learn
ith, ithe - eat leugh, leughadh (ri) - read (to)
leum, leum - jump, leap obraich, obair - work, operate
l, l - drink rach, dol - go
ruith, ruith - run seinn, seinn - sing
sgrobh, sgrobhadh (gu) - write (to) till, tilleadh - return
tog, togail - build , lift tisich, tiseachadh (ri) - start, begin (to)

EXERCISE 1 Translate into English
1.An robh sibh ag iarraidh seinn aig a' chilidh? Bha 2.Bha a' chaileag a' cluich leis a' ch
3.Chan eil iad a' fuireach ann an Struighle 4.Tha mi a' leughadh pipear aig an uinneig
5.Chan eil iad a' tilleadh gus a' mhadainn 6.A bheil sinn a' dol dhan talla? Tha
7.Bha an gille ag iasgach aig a' mhuir 8.Nach robh thu a' ruith air an rathad? Cha robh
9.Nach eil i ag obair aig an taigh? 10.Tha i ag iarraidh sgrobhadh gun fhear sin
11.Tha mi ag iarraidh a dhol gu Dun Deagh 12.Tha iad a' cur iasg ann an uisge
13.Bha iad ag ithe mun bhrd 14.Tha Miri a' dol a dh'ithe anns an taigh-sta

EXERCISE 2 Translate into Gidhlig
1.He was speaking to (ri) Calum 2.The car is not starting
3.He was learning Gidhlig 4.I want to go to the park with the dog
5.Do you want to return to the beginning 6.The bad boy was running in (air) the street
7.Was it wet or dry on the moor? It was wet and cold 8.They stay in Perth,  but they are from () Portree
9.I am going to buy a new book with the money 10.He was striking with the hammer
11.I am going to leave Tarbert because I am going to Aberdeen 12.The fish (na h-isg) were leaping out of (a-mach s) the water

1.Were you wanting to sing at the ceilidh? Yes 2.The girl was playing with the dog
3.They don't live (stay) in Stirling 4.I am reading a paper at the window
5.They aren't returning until (the) morning 6.Are we going to the hall? Yes
7.The boy was fishing at (the) sea 8.Were you not running on the road? No
9.Is she not working at home (the house)? 10.She wants to write to that man
11.I want to go to Dundee 12.They are putting a fish in water
13.They were eating around (about) the table 14.Miri is going to eat in the hotel

1.Bha e a' bruidhinn ri Calum 2.Chan eil an cr a' tiseachadh
3.Bha e ag ionnsachadh Gidhlig 4.Tha mi ag iarraidh a dhol dhan phirc leis a' ch
5.A bheil sibh ag iarraidh tilleadh dhan tiseachadh 6.Bha am balach dona a' ruith air an t-srid
7.An robh e fliuch no tioram air a' mhonadh? Bha e fliuch agus fuar 8.Tha iad a' fuireach ann am Peairt, ach tha iad Portrgh
9.Tha mi a' dol a cheannach leabhar r leis an airgead 10.Bha e a' bualadh leis an rd
11.Tha mi a' dol a dh'fhgail Tairbeart oir tha mi a' dol gu Obar Dheathain 12.Bha na h-isg a' leum a-mach s an uisge

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